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




Symphonic Prog

3.53 | 63 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars FOCUS doesn't. They ply several horizontal axes over the course of their 1970s career, and simplistically name these to allow listeners to track their limited progress. For instance, we find a series of tracks "Focus 1", "Focus 2"..."Focus N", and another aptly named "Anonymus". Then there are the numerous pieces named after individuals like "Sylvia", "Janis", and "Bennie Helder". The music is loosely symphonic but also often fusion oriented, with plenty of crossover. The generally common thread is that, the longer the tunes get, the more scattered they become, and familiarity does not improve the picture.

Sure there is an undeniable classic here, that being "Hocus Pocus", combining yodels, manic screams, entertaining solos of all types, and an endearingly dated feel. "Focus II", "Janis", "Tommy" and "Sylvia" all typify their symphonic side in small and pleasurable doses, with even some mellotron here and there. As a sequel to "Hocus Pocus", "Harem Scarem" (get it?) is bogus, while several of the longer cuts like "Focus" and "Anonymus", manically attempt to cash in on Van Leer's flute virtuosity and Akkerman's licks as evenly as possible. Little concept of group synergy seems at work, and as the disk winds down, the quality also dips from its hardly lofty levels.

Playing skills and occasional flashes of brilliance notwithstanding, this is a group whose time passed long ago, earlier than a lot of their less commercially successful contemporaries. The problem with this compilation is that FOCUS was also several groups at once, and it's unlikely that you will be a fan of more than one and a half of those. Moreover, they petered out pretty quickly, so there's no need to try to get a sense of a longer time line as contained herein. If you must, better start with "Moving Waves" and assess future purchases accordingly. My guess is that you will quickly lose what this poorly named group never had.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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