Personnel: Jan Akkerman (lute, organ, acoustic & electric guitars, bass, percussion); Daniel Waitzman (flute); George Flynn (piano, harpsichord, glockenspiel); Tim Bogert (bass); Carnine Appice, Ray Lucas (drums).
This album -- which, despite being third in most discographies, was actually Jan Akkerman's first official solo album -- must have been a real shocker to a lot of Focus. Rather than working from the flashy, electric guitar side of the group's sound, Akkerman chose to expand on the lute sound that he'd explored on Focus III's "Elspeth of Nottingham." Tabernakel represented Akkerman at his most formalistic, playing almost entirely in a classical idiom on lute and acoustic and electric guitars (with one brief side trip to the bass). The repertory is drawn largely from 16th century Tudor England, including compositions by John Dowland and Antony Holborne, rearranged by Akkerman and harpsichord virtuoso and scholar George Flynn. He gives one major concession to progressive rock in the form of the fuzz-laden reinterpretation of "House of the King," which misses the flute part from the Focus original but is still worth hearing as a guitar showcase. Tabernakel is otherwise the real article as far as its classicism -- the 14-minute-long "Lammy" comes close to being pretentious without quite crossing the line, and all of the album is a fascinating solo departure for the guitarist. What makes this album doubly intriguing is that apart from Flynn, Akkerman's accompanists come entirely from the rock world: Tim Bogert, Carmine Appice, and veteran R&B drummer Ray Lucas, none of whom seems to skip a beat in their work here. Recorded at Atlantic Records' studios in New York and released in 1974, when Focus was still near the peak of its fame, Tabernakel sold reasonably well at the time, but had been unavailable from the late '70s until 2002, when Wounded Bird Records reissued it in a good-sounding CD edition. ~ Bruce Eder