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Focus Live at the BBC album cover
3.34 | 26 ratings | 7 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Virtuous Woman (10:58)
2. Blues in D (3:46)
3. Maximum (14:01)
4. Sneezing Bull (7:46)
5. Sonata for Flute (2:48)
6. House of the King (3:15)
7. Angel Wings (5:39)
8. Little Sister/What You See (8:18)
9. Hocus Pocus (5:49)

Total Time: 62:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Thijs Van Leer / vocals, organ & flute
- Bert Ruiter / bass, vocals
- Philip Catherine / guitar
- David Kemper / drums

Releases information

CD Hux/BBC no. 51 (1996)

Thanks to M. B. Zapelini for the addition
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FOCUS Live at the BBC ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

FOCUS Live at the BBC reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars If you are a fan of the symphonic "Focus" there is a high possibilty that you will be disappointed with this live release.

Two songs come from their infect "Focus Con Proby" ("Sneezing Bull" and "Maximum"). Only the former is bearable here. The latter was not too exciting on the studio album and its extension to over foreteen minutes won't do a big deal to improve this feeling.

Only three tracks will raise the level of this album to an acceptable one : a pleasant flute solo ("Sonata For Flute"), their fist single release ("House Of The King") which sounds beautiful as usual. But these are short tracks, unfortunately. I guess that the band could not avoid to play the great and unevitable "Hocus Pocus". You'll get the same original band presentation as in "Live At The Rainbow". Still, this version is not as wild as the previous one.

In terms of live recordings, lots of critics were made for the "Rainbow" concert. I believe that it was substantially superior to this "Live At The BBC". And it is not the unreleased album tracks that will save this live recording, I'm afraid.

Lots of full jazz-oriented moments (but this was already initiated before this live set). This is not the "Focus" I like the most (but I made the same comment while reviewing "Mother Focus"). So, be have been warned.

I could not even recommend this album to die-hard "Focus" fans. This one is only if you can digest jazz-rock music, which is not my case.

Two stars.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars Focus non-Proby.

Jan Akkerman is out and Philip Catherine is in. And for those who liked Focus Con Proby except for the presence of P. J. Proby's vocals, here's a nice set of tunes post Akkerman, who is missed, yet Catherine is not too shabby of a replacement either. For those of you who didn't like Mother Focus's lite jazz style, the music here is somewhat of a rebound. Still jazzier than the earlier albums, but most of the liteness that was present on MF is gone.

What really makes this album worth having is that in addition to two tracks that made it to Con Proby, two classic Focus tracks, you get another five new pieces which have never made an appearance on any Focus studio albums. I'd recommend this one over Live AT The Rainbow.

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Somthing of an overlooked gem.

When Jan Akkerman quit Focus Thijs Van Leer was left as the last origianl member (although Bert Ruiter was a relative veteran, having been around since Focus 3). Ship of Memories was salvaged from some abandoned sessions, Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine was drafted in and they made a mostly disappointing album with PJ Proby. The end.

Except it wasn't quite the end. The quartet, thankfully without the Texan trouser splitter in tow, went on tour and the BBC recorded one of their performances which disappeared into the vaults for almost 20 years. The performance featured several otherwise unrecorded pieces, a couple of Con Proby tracks and a brace of their early hits. Philip Catherine proved himself to be a nimble and inventive jazz rock guitarist - no McLaughlin or DiMeola, to be sure, but no slouch either, and it's the jazzier side of his muse that dominates proceedings here. There's more than a hint of the kind of fusion that bands like Brand X and Isotope were playing at about the same time; less obviously rooted in mainstream jazz than, say, RTF or Weather Report, but much closer to jazz than rock. They noodle a bit at times, but they do so very pleasantly and none of the tracks really outstays its welcome. Thijs Van Leer slips in a few symphonic flourishes, notably on Sonata for Flute, and for the most part the hour or so that this disc passes by very agreeably. The only downside is that they were touring as Focus, not the Van leer/Catherine Quartet, and so they had to play some of the old favourites, and this is where the album falls down a bit. Philip Catherine isn't Jan Akkerman, and there isn't much room for any guitarist to put his own stamp on House of the King and Hocus Pocus, but on these two tracks they sound more like a Focus tribute band than the originals.

3.5 stars really. The original and Con Proby material, which makes up the bulk of this CD, is well worth checking out if you're into European jazz fusion of the era, and as long as you're not expecting 'At The Rainbow' Focus fans will probably be pleasantly surprised.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Re-Focussing Focus If this album is purchased without the expectation that it's going to contain any of the wonderful baroque 'n' roll that Focus produced on their first 4 studio albums then you're in for a treat. Fans of Brand X, UK and the funkier jazz-rock fusion of the seventies should g ... (read more)

Report this review (#264679) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Saturday, February 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars FOCUS LIVE AT THE BBC Some of us have been waiting a little while for this release! In fact nearly 30 years have passed since 1976 when Focus made their last tour to the UK D famously since Jan Akkerman had just departed and his place been taken by Philip Catherine, a substitution that in ... (read more)

Report this review (#53488) | Posted by | Wednesday, October 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Don't expect the hear the Focus of the early 70's here, apart from the obligatory Hocus Pocus and an absolutely blistering rendition of House of the King. There is much more jazz-rock than prog-rock, with extensive extemporisation which on first hearing seams to ramble on at times. However, onc ... (read more)

Report this review (#51842) | Posted by | Friday, October 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Since this album were not at ProgArchives albums list, I've decided to add it. And this makes me its first reviewer. "Focus Live at the BBC" features a transitional line-up: David Kemper was still the drummer, Philip Catherine has already been added as guitarist, but there were no Eeef Albers ... (read more)

Report this review (#39419) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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