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Focus - Hocus Pocus / Janis CD (album) cover

HOCUS POCUS / JANIS

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

2.50 | 5 ratings

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Vibrationbaby
2 stars One of the most recognizable and unusual songs from the top 40 charts in the earl;y 70`s by perhaps the least recognizable groups from that era, Hocus Pocus by Focus peaked at #20 in the UK and made it into the top 10 in the US. While achieving legendary status amongst prog rock fans with their 1971 album Moving Waves, they were paradoxically reduced to the one hit wonder bin with this unusual "novelty" single. It nevertheless paved the way for a couple of lesser known more conventional singles, Sylvia and House Of The King, the latter which was actually recorded in 1969 and originally released on the 1970 album In And Out Of Focus ( it had also previously appeared as a single with Black Beauty on the flip side ).

The B side featured here, Janis, a pastoral lament with melodic flute dubbing accented by jazzy guitar colouring reflects just how overshadowed the rest of Focus` music was by this outlandish Rondo-type composition. A firebreathing piece which contained alternating speed-of-light guitar runs with hysterical yodelling and furious flute connected by frantic drum interludes and heavy guitar riffing, other effects such as deranged accordion, mad whistling and gobeldygook vocals were axed from the single version heard here which clocks in at 3:18.

Written in the studio over a Pierre van der Linden drum improv ( even though he doesn`t even get a writing credit ! ), the track was more of a jab at how serious art rock was becoming at the time and was not meant to be taken seriously. Janis was in fact more representative of the band`s musical prowess and a better indication of what else was to be heard on the 1971 Moving Waves full length LP from which both tracks were taken.

This first single release of Hocus Pocus is perhaps the one which is of more interest to serious collectors as other later single editions featured different B sides including Sylvia and a "fast" version of Hocus Pocus on American releases in early `73 that also appeared on the `75 Dutch Masters compilation and the 2001 Red Bullet CD remaster of Ship Of Memories. Also of note is the sleeve photo here which depicts the previous Focus lineup which had appeared on the 1970 In And Out Of Focus album. Martin Dresden and Hans Cluever were replaced by Cyril Havermans and Pierrevan der Linden on bass and drums recpectively by early 1971.

If anything, the single is an example of the distances that exist between record execs motives and artist`s intentions. They couldn`t even get the cover right here! Nonetheless, it spawned a hit for the band and propelled Focus into rock music folklore. Over the years many bands have attemted to cover the song with varying measures of success most notably German metal band Helloween and UK metal legends Iron Maiden.

Vibrationbaby | 2/5 |

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