The Complete Jan Akkerman 26CD Box Set
I’ve been wanting to do this unboxing review for a while, and the reason it has taken so long, is that there are 26 CDs, and that’s a lot of listening to get through!
I was introduced to Jan Akkerman like many people via the band Focus. I was at school at the time when they first emerged in the early 1970s, and my music teacher at school started playing Focus albums, instead of the Classical Music stuff that we usually got subjected to. They were a completely instrumental band, apart from the yodelling and vocals from Thijs Van Leer. Jan Akkerman is a superb and very original guitarist, and back then very different in style to all the standard rock music that we were all listening to. He was very different to Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore. I would say he was more like Ronnie Montrose in how he has handled his career. Ronnie Montrose had a kind of attitude that if he was successful at something, then the next album will be totally different because he didn’t want to do the same thing twice! Looking back through Akkermans’ career, you can see his output follows this path. He is very much an independent person, and he mentions this many times in the extensive booklet.
Throughout his career, Jan Akkerman has experimented and tried so many different styles, that this box set is like a music collection in its own right!
The box set is a sturdy Clam Shell box, it is huge so well worth the £70 – £80 price range you can find it for. It also comes with a proper booklet. Those of you who watch my unboxing videos a lot will know that the booklet side of things, is very important to me. The presentation is a key part of the package of what you get for your money, and they certainly have not skimped on this at all.
The box set contains 25 albums, which will keep you busy for a while, there is literally music for every mood! I am going to start with the booklet because it deserves some more praise. This has been put together with the help of Jan Akkerman and Wouter Bessels who has done a superb job with the remastering. The booklet is about 56 pages long, and it includes a career overview by Wouter with plenty of photos. Then, each album has its own write up with photos, credits and personal reflections by Jan Akkerman himself. This is fascinating and really helps get a feeling of what the artist was thinking of at the time.
I imagine there are many fans who may have lost touch with Akkerman’s career over the years, and for me a lot of these albums had passed me by first time around. I mean, this guy experimented with classical music, jazz, techno hard rock, progressive rock, folk, there are solo albums with classical guitar, smooth jazz etc.
There is no area of music that Jan Akkerman has not explored. You get the feeling that he is not that concerned if his fans follow him or not. I do not mean he does not respect his fans (because he does), but the creative spirit is not influenced by what people may think at all.
He has also experimented with different musicians from different genres, there’s an album in here where he’s experimented with dance music and techno stuff, then there’s an album that sounds like ZZ Top. (I bought this a few months ago now, and I’m still discovering new sounds as I go through it).
Jan Akkerman is also very open and honest in the way he talks about his music. There are lots of extra tracks, and again the liner notes help you understand how these fit in.
All the CDs are in single sleeves apart from the live double ‘10,000 Clowns On A Rainy Day’ which is in a gatefold sleeve as it has 2CDs. This is also one of my favourite Jan Akkerman albums, he is on fire here with guitar playing that is full of feeling.
I also love Profile which does not always get great reviews online, it was made during his Focus period, but I just adore it! In the 70s many of us went out and bought Tabernakel expecting more Focus type music, and were a bit confused by the emphasis on lutes and classical music, but this was the start of a musical career full of experimentation. Many of the albums in this box set are very hard to find on their own, and are quite expensive if you do find them. This makes this box set even more essential for Jan Akkerman fans.
The only thing missing (and it’s highly recommended) is his latest album Close Beauty which is sublime, and I also play this a lot as well, and it just flows from the previous 26CDs!
Phil Aston | Now Spinning