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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

True Greatness

This album is a work of genius. Not to everyone's taste, yet for the aficianado of progressive rock it rarely gets as good as this. We begin with a beautiful arrangement of a Dowland piece with lute, orchestra and rhythm section. This is followed by the first two of some six well delivered solo lute pieces that punctuate the album. Then it is back to the orchestra and rhythm section for a very fast version of the Focus hit House of the King. More lute follows broken up only by Javeh, a very carefully constructed dark mood piece featuring acoustic guitar and orchestra. The final lengthy piece, Lammy, is again carefully constructed. It is breathtakingly beautiful in places. It features orchestra, choir, bass and drum breaks, Akkerman on electric sitar and guitar and lute again (playing another Holborne piece). The whole ends with an incredibly satisfying Amen, way way over the top and yet full of integrity. Masterful! Recorded in New York in the seventies this album has it all and must be the best of the Akkerman albums to date.


Born: 24 December 1946 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A musician of nearly legendary prowess, Jan Akkerman for a time eclipsed Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck among reader polls in England as the top guitarist in the world. Akkerman was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and showed his musical inclinations early, taking up the guitar while still in grade school. His taste and interests were extraordinarily wide-ranging, from pop/rock to classical, with room for blues, Latin, and other influences. He joined his first band, Johnny & His Cellar Rockers,...
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Tabernakel, Jan Akkerman
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