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Focus - Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 72 ratings

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4 stars A friend bought the first four studio albums as they were released in the 1970s and we enjoyed listening to them but, although I really liked individual tracks such as 'Hocus Pocus', 'House Of The King', 'Sylvia', 'Tommy' etc., I did not like the entire albums enough to buy them for myself. However, a couple of years ago I had a hankering to hear again the classic FOCUS hits, searched for a good compilation and found this single-CD release which more than satisfies my desire for the best of FOCUS. Almost 77 minutes of excellent music is packed onto one CD with 16 tracks, the last of which is the US Single Version of the first track 'Hocus Pocus'. Now, normally I find Single Edits to be a waste of time as bonus tracks - the original versions are usually better - but I have to say that the US Single Version of 'Hocus Pocus' also rocks: it's like the original on Speed with added bass.

If you are coming to FOCUS for the first time, expect instrumental rock music of the highest order, with excellent guitar, keyboards and flute. Guitarist Jan Akkerman and flautist/keyboard player Thijs Van Leer are rightly legends of the rock world, and you'll understand why when you hear FOCUS' music. Although Thijs Van Leer is famous for his yodelled vocalisations on the track 'Hocus Pocus', you'll find that vocalisations are few and far between on these tracks. Don't expect very progressive symphonic music in the vein of YES, say, but a rather more mainstream rock sound, albeit with a noticeable Continental European feel to it and the occasional medieval undertone too. Some of the tracks are very laid-back and others really rock. The music is so good that, frankly, I cannot conceive of any rock lover not liking it. If you like the music of CAMEL, then you'll like FOCUS.

If you want a good taster of FOCUS but don't feel the need to follow the band's evolution - and its ups and downs - by buying the individual albums then I can heartily recommend this CD. There is only excellent music on this release and, unless you want to investigate the band in depth, it is a good collection of the best that this band produced. It's as much as I personally need. Now, as to the rating of the album, that's easy: a good compilation of music of this quality could only merit at least 4 stars (Excellent addition to any Prog Rock collection). If you want a good 'best of', you need go no further. Highly recommended.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |


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