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FOCUS

Symphonic Prog • Netherlands


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Focus picture
Focus biography
Of all the groups in the 1970s that combined elements of rock and classical music, FOCUS is, without a doubt, the most notable Dutch group widely known outside the Netherlands. This band has created excitement all over the world during the past few years with their unique sound and musical approach. The two main musicians in the band were flutist/keyboardist/singer Thjis Van LEER and guitarist Jan AKKERMAN. They played a stylishly inventive rock with flutes, keyboards & dazzling guitar, defining the Dutch prog sound. An inspiration to FINCH, TRACE & numerous others. In 1978, the group finally split up, without making too much noise.

Best albums are "Moving Waves" (1972), "3" (1973), "Live at the Rainbow" (1973), and "Hamburger Concerto" (1974). "Waves" and "3" represent the best of the band's earlier intensely progressive period with plenty of sidelong tracks and healthly extended solos. Most will agree that "Live at the Rainbow" and "Hamburger Concerto" (last good album) were their best, moving into a period of more pure classical and jazz influence.

"Focus 8" marks the return of Thjis Van LEER in the true nature of music: tuneful, memorable and a little bit rocky when they want to be. This album contains everything you might want from a FOCUS album ... plenty of flute and keyboards from Thijs, tasty guitar playing from Jan DUMÉE and even some yodeling vocals. Perhaps in summary, the band could have veered a little from the safety of the FOCUS blueprint but "Focus 9" may yet further develop their own voice. No doubt about it, we'll have to count on FOCUS in the new millennium to all of the true Progressive Rock lovers.

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Live in EnglandLive in England
Import
Cherry Red 2016
Audio CD$20.13
$49.99 (used)
Moving WavesMoving Waves
Import · Remastered
RED BULLET 2001
Audio CD$8.49
$6.95 (used)
Live in EuropeLive in Europe
Import
Cherry Red 2016
Audio CD$11.19
$11.18 (used)
Focus 3Focus 3
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$8.36
$7.40 (used)
Hocus Pocus: Best ofHocus Pocus: Best of
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$8.30
$8.29 (used)
In & Out of FocusIn & Out of Focus
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$8.35
$8.35 (used)
Hamburger ConcertoHamburger Concerto
Import
MSI:RED BULLET 2001
Audio CD$8.67
$6.77 (used)
X.X.
Import
Cherry Red 2016
Audio CD$13.99
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APIARY : LOST IN FOCUS CD (2007) USD $3.49 Buy It Now 1h 49m
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3h 37m
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1972 ~ The Monkees ~ Re-Focus ~ LP ~ Signed By Peter Tork ~ Autographed USD $30.00 Buy It Now 4h 25m
Werner Müller Focus On 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) UK FOS17/18 DECCA 1973 USD $18.51 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Fisher, Anna Focus CD USD $5.49 Buy It Now 4h 28m
Focus On Stanley Black UK 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) FOS31/32 DECCA 1977 USD $18.51 Buy It Now 4h 40m
Focus vinyl LP album record Hamburger Concerto UK 2442124 POLYDOR 1974 USD $50.59 Buy It Now 4h 40m
Alcione Focus: Alcione CD USD $5.49 Buy It Now 4h 42m
Swung, Vols. 1-2 by Swung (CD, Nov-2014, 2 Discs, In and Out of Focus) USD $13.85 Buy It Now 4h 44m
Four Classic Albums: Focus/The Soft Swing/West Coast Jazz/Cool Velvet New CD USD $15.26 Buy It Now 5h 9m
In & Out Of Focus [Remaster] by Focus (CD, Feb-2001, Red Bullet) USD $9.50 Buy It Now 5h 13m
At The Rainbow Focus CD album (CDLP) Dutch CDM7489692 EMI 1988 USD $22.72 Buy It Now 5h 14m
Focus Focus 3 CD album (CDLP) Dutch RB66.189 RED BULLET 2001 USD $22.72 Buy It Now 5h 14m
Focus Moving Waves Dutch CD album (CDLP) CDM7488622 EMI 1988 USD $22.72 Buy It Now 5h 14m
Focus "3" 8-Track Tape 1972 Sire USD $1.00 Buy It Now 5h 15m
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Alan Price 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) Focus On Alan Price UK FOS65/66 USD $18.51 Buy It Now 5h 26m
Focus Focus UK vinyl LP album record 2384070 POLYDOR 1974 USD $24.61 Buy It Now 5h 42m
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Focus vinyl LP album record Focus II Dutch 5C056-24385 IMPERIAL 1971 USD $31.11 Buy It Now 5h 55m
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FOCUS**SHIP OF MEMORIES (180 GRAM)**VINYL USD $19.95 Buy It Now 6h 10m
Various Artists : Focus CD (2001) USD $3.99 Buy It Now 6h 16m
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In & Out Of Focus - Focus (CD Used Very Good) USD $10.93 Buy It Now 6h 23m
FOCUS MOVING WAVES 1971 BLUE HORIZON 2931-002 A//1 B//1 EXCELLENT 1ST UK PRESS USD $36.22 Buy It Now 6h 30m
Unknown Artist Mumford: The Focus of Blue Light CD USD $7.17 Buy It Now 6h 32m
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Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Focus on P.J.B.E. Argo ZRDL 1001 lp USD $3.25 [0 bids]
6h 54m
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7h 25m
FOCUS " FOCUS AT THE RAINBOW " SUPERB NMINT VINYLED ORIGINAL RARE UK LP USD $12.98 [0 bids]
7h 27m
FOCUS " IN AND OUT OF FOCUS " SUPERB NMINT VINYLED ORIGINAL UK LP USD $12.98 [0 bids]
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FOCUS "LIVE AT THE RAINBOW" 1973 JAN AKKERMAN HOCUS POCUS USD $9.99 Buy It Now 9h 23m
Rudolph Llanes : Into Focus CD (2004) USD $5.49 Buy It Now 9h 35m
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Focus on the Family : Renewing the Heart for Such a Time as This CD (1999) USD $3.83 Buy It Now 10h 48m
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FOCUS Hamburger Concerto LP Record 1974 IMPORT USD $19.50 Buy It Now 11h 4m

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FOCUS has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

FOCUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FOCUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.47 | 244 ratings
Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In And Out Of Focus]
1970
4.07 | 587 ratings
Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
1971
3.75 | 397 ratings
3
1973
4.25 | 850 ratings
Hamburger Concerto
1974
2.64 | 162 ratings
Mother Focus
1975
3.13 | 124 ratings
Ship Of Memories
1976
2.51 | 75 ratings
Focus Con Proby
1978
3.53 | 58 ratings
Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer: Focus
1985
3.72 | 110 ratings
Focus 8
2002
3.10 | 79 ratings
Focus 9 / New Skin
2006
3.49 | 100 ratings
X
2012
3.48 | 43 ratings
Golden Oldies
2014
3.79 | 14 ratings
Focus and Friends - Focus 8.5 / Beyond the Horizon
2016

FOCUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.42 | 112 ratings
Live At The Rainbow
1973
3.32 | 18 ratings
Live at the BBC
1996
3.87 | 15 ratings
Live in America
2003
3.07 | 6 ratings
Live Legends - The Greatest Hits of Focus
2004
2.71 | 15 ratings
Focus The Greatest Hits
2004
4.67 | 3 ratings
Live In Europe
2009
4.09 | 3 ratings
In Concert 1973
2016
4.67 | 3 ratings
Live In England
2016

FOCUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.07 | 21 ratings
Masters From The Vault
2002
3.95 | 25 ratings
Live In America
2003
4.04 | 13 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
4.80 | 5 ratings
Live in England
2009

FOCUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Masters of Rock 1971 - 1973
1974
4.34 | 4 ratings
The Story of Focus
1974
4.15 | 4 ratings
Focus - Special Polydor
1975
4.94 | 12 ratings
Dutch Masters 1969 - 1973
1975
4.00 | 2 ratings
Focus on Focus 1970 - 1978
1979
4.33 | 3 ratings
House of the King
1983
2.57 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits of Focus
1984
3.54 | 58 ratings
Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus
1994

FOCUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.39 | 8 ratings
Hocus Pocus / Janis
1971
2.60 | 6 ratings
Sylvia
1972
3.07 | 5 ratings
Harem Scarem
1974
3.14 | 5 ratings
House Of The King / O Avondrood
1976

FOCUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Concert 1973 by FOCUS album cover Live, 2016
4.09 | 3 ratings

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In Concert 1973
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finally we have a good sounding live recording of the classic Focus line-up; Van Leer, Akkerman, de Ruiter, Van der Linden. Focus in Concert 1973 sounds better then At the Rainbow and has a more interesting tracklist as well. Showing both their heavy rock side (Anonymous, Hocus Pocus, Sylvia) and their ability to play fine melodic tunes like Focus I, II and III. The recording sound is a bit rough, yet full of detail and spaciousness. A real live recording. Sometimes cleaning up takes away the liveliness. Perhaps Akkerman isn't the king of tone, but boy does he play like a fanatic and it does cut through the mix nicely. This is same year he was named best guitar player in the world.

The first three sides (track 1-7) are from the Partis Theater, London, January 1973. The opening track, Anonymous II is perhaps the most interesting track. In 23 minutes the band shows us what it's all about: combining classical music and jazz in a hard rock atmosphere of excitement and fierce playing. On this first side of the record you can hear all members of the band excelling on their instrument, showing why this was definitely one the best bands ever to come out of the Netherlands. The dynamics of this recording are great and the band jams more subtle and soulful then it would do in later years. On the second side the band plays some of its more melodic songs with Akkerman interpreting his timings freely, thus creating an interesting listening experience for those who have listened to the albums often. Answers? Questions! drags on a bit with its moody improvisations, but the atmosphere has a nice sophistication to it. Side three is a bit more exciting with a great version of Hocus Pocus. Such energy! Thijs van Leer's showmanship really shows here.

The fourth side (track 8-10) has live television studio recordings, Londen, December 1972. The quality of these recordings is significantly less good. The band does play very well on Eruption and Hocus Pocus. Perhaps interesting as an archival release, I myself wil mainly listen to the first three sides of this 2LP edition.

Conclusion. This is the best Focus live record of the classic line-up I know of and I can warmly recommend it to fans of the band and fans of great lively concert recordings. Much better then Live at the Rainbow. Four and a halve stars. Don't miss it!

 Live At The Rainbow by FOCUS album cover Live, 1973
3.42 | 112 ratings

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Live At The Rainbow
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Master of Sensation

2 stars I agree with some of the other reviewers on this site when it comes to this album. While it is true that the band technically performs very well, this recording somewhat lacks the energy required to keep one interested in a live album which is essential since otherwise we are listening to the same tunes we have already heard on studio albums. Perhaps it was different if one actually saw them live but from the evidence of this record Focus are not one of the bands im kicking myself for never having seen live.

As I said energy is somewhat lacking and aside from Hocus Pocus this seems to be the intent as Focus usually were a more laidback band, expressing and developing themes in a very classical manner. While this occassionally worked for them on studio albums it doesnt make for a scintillating live experience. Not much new and exciting is added to the pieces here, although Eruption is more bareable now as we only have 8 minutes rather than the interminable 20 odd minutes on Moving Waves. The two focus pieces are competently played but are carbon copies of the studio recordings. Im falling asleep by the end of side 1. Hocus Pocus wakes me up but this extended live version shows what little material for development there is in this song and actually makes me dislike it by the time it ends. And then if that's not bad enough it resurfaces again after a good rendition of Sylvia. Perhaps im being too harsh on this album but Focus were never the most exciting band and this does nothing to change my opinions. However this is good as background music or for relaxing to.

Also the recording quality here is not too great, but this could be down to the fact ive only heard this via secondhand vinyl. However another reviewer remarked that the sound was 'muted' and this is exactly how I would describe it so I guess getting a new copy wouldn't help.

For established fans only.

 Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves] by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 587 ratings

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Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album is a beautiful masterpiece. After their decent debut album, Focus were up for something really special. Although the cover of this album I find quite repelling, music that sits inside is out of this world. I really like the way that Jan Akkerman's singing guitar goes with Thijs Van Leer's lush, skilled organ playing. This is showcased perfectly on "Eruption", which is probably a highlight of the album - a 23-minute multimovement suite, an essential prog track. This album is very varied. At times presenting a pastoral, church-like moods, sometimes blessing the listener with a heavy rock-out like on "Hocus Pocus". Overall, this album is a work of art and should definitely find itself in a collection of every self-respecting prog nut!
 Mother Focus by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.64 | 162 ratings

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Mother Focus
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Another review for an album from 1975.

A more accessible album from FOCUS in comparison to their previous albums. After their very good and more elaborated (in Progressive Rock Music terms) "Hamburger Concerto" album from 1974, it seems that by 1975 the band was taking things more easily musically speaking, and they decided to record a more "light" album, which in comparison to their next album ("Focus con Proby") still sounds like a FOCUS's album, maybe more thanks to Jan Akkerman's presence on guitars, in his last album appearance with the band in the seventies. The band took a more Pop Rock direction, still with some Prog Rock music inlfuences, but also adding a bit of Jazz-Rock and Funky Music influences. Humor is still present in "Mother Focus" and "I Need a Bathroom". But mainly with three songs written by Bert Ruiter the Funky / Jazz-Rock / Pop comercial musical influences are more present in this album ("Soft Vanilla", "Hard Vanilla" and "Tropic Bird").

The most "Progresive Rock" songs in this album are "Focus IV", "Someone's Crying . . . What?", "All Together . . . Oh, That!", "No Hang Ups", "My Sweetheart" and "Father Bach". All sounding like "Light Prog" but still a bit "Progresssive".

FOCUS as a band was going to explore more the Jazz/ Rock Fusion musical influences with their next album, titled as "Con Proby". Apparently, Akkerman didn't like the new musical direction that the band was trying to have for their next album. So, he left the band (or was fired), and then, with two new guitarists and a new drummer the band recorded the "Con Proby" album (with lead singer P.J. Proby) in 1977, sounding like their lost most of their original musical identity. But some of the first steps towards that Jazz/ Rock Fusion / Funky musical styles were taken in this "Mother Focus" album in 1975, but still having some of the "old" FOCUS's Prog Rock musical style of their previous albums.

This is not a bad album, but also it is not one of their best albums. A 2.5 stars rating from me for this album.

 Focus Con Proby by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.51 | 75 ratings

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Focus Con Proby
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A "strange" album from FOCUS. "Strange" because it is really a Jazz-Rock album from a band called FOCUS. An album which has very little in common to other albums of the band. It is also "strange" because it was done in collaboration on five of the nine tracks with American lead singer P.J. Proby. I really don't know who had the idea to record this very atypical FOCUS album in 1977. It is not a bad album, and in fact all the musicians played very well in this album, but it is a very different album from FOCUS.

The only thing that I knew about P.J. Proby was his 1965 single with "That Means a Lot" on the A-Side (Produced by George Martin), a song that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote, and THE BEATLES tried to record a proper version of this song in 1965, never been satisfied with their versions of this song, and the song was not released until 1996 in their "Anthology 2" album. So, knowing that Proby really is a Pop Rock singer with a long career, for me it is "strange" to see him appear in this album, and more in a Jazz-Rock album in musical style. He appears singing in five of the nine songs in this album (and curiously, all five written mostly by Thijs van Leer in collaboration with Rosalie van Leer, who maybe wrote the lyrics): "Wingless", "Eddy", "Brother", "Tokyo Rose" and "How Long". Proby sings very well in the Jazz-Rock oriented songs, even adding some Soul and Blues influences in his vocals.

The rest of the songs (with some songwriting collaborations from then new guitarists Eef Albers and Philip Catherine, and also from Bert Ruiter, and sometimes with Thijs van Leer) are very typical Jazz-Rock instrumental pieces similar to others from other artists from the same musical genre from the mid to late seventies (JEAN- LUC PONTY, JEFF BECK, BRUFORD, etc.). So, they don't sound very related to the "old" Prog Rock musical style from FOCUS. Maybe Thijs van Leer and Bert Ruiter wanted to play this kind of music, but maybe the change of musical style was "drastic". The new guitarists are very good. The same can be said about drummer Steve Smith (who also played with JEAN-LUC PONTY during that period of time, before joining JOURNEY in 1978, in an also "drastic" change in musical style). I still think that he is a very good drummer but his style is more for the Jazz- Rock style than for the Pop Rock style of JOURNEY.

Well. This is not a bad album. But it seems to me that FOCUS really was losing their "focus" in their musical direction, looking for new musical styles without finding them to really feel themselves satisfied. Maybe by 1977, with Prog Rock losing some of its popularity, they really didn't know what to do. In fact, the band split after this album for several years.

 Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In And Out Of Focus] by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.47 | 244 ratings

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Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In And Out Of Focus]
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This first FOCUS's album is a bit different from their other albums. It seems to me that the main "focus" of this first line-up of the band was to compose and to record more proper songs with lyrics than to "focus" on instrumental music and improvisations like in other albums. So, in this album there are more songs with lyrics than in other albums, sounding like the band was more oriented to sing songs with proper lyrics than to only sing wordless vocals like in other albums. They also used more lead and backing vocals than in other albums. (Their "Focus con Proby" album was also a "songs with lyrics " oriented album, but that album was more a collaboration with lead singer P.J. Proby than a proper FOCUS's album, I think). Thijs van Leer also plays a bit of trumpet in this album, a thing that never happened again with the band.

The album also has some sixties's Pop Rock influences, also sounding to me like being influenced a bit by the early PINK FLOYD's sound ("Focus", "Black Beauty", "Happy Nightmares (Mescaline)", "Why Dream"), with some Psychedelic influences, and also some influences from the early JETHRO TULL's musical style, particularly with Thijs van Leer's flute playing in some instrumental songs ("Anonymous", "House of the King"). There are also some Jazz music influences. But some traces from their very characteristic musical style are present in some songs ("Anonymous", "House of the King"). All the musicians played very well, and in fact this first line-up of the band was very good. Unfortunately, Jan Akkerman apparently was not very happy with this line-up and he left the band after this first album, forming a new band, and also forcing van Leer to split the first line-up of FOCUS to join Akkerman's band and to also name it FOCUS. That second line-up of the band recorded their very good "Moving Waves" album in 1971, which is one of their best albums, in my opinion.

This album, as a whole, sounds a bit dated, maybe because the production of the sound of the album still sounds "very Sixties". But their next album, "Moving Waves", has a much better sound and production. Anyway, this album is very good. It was a very good start for a very good band like FOCUS.

 Hocus Pocus / Janis by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.39 | 8 ratings

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Hocus Pocus / Janis
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Side One of this single has the edited version of "Hocus Pocus", FOCUS's most known song, which was a Hit in several countries in Europe and in the U.S. With a mixture of Heavy Rock guitar parts played by Jan Akkerman and very good drums played by Pierre van der Linden, with some humor by Thijs van Leer, with him playing organ, harmonium, flute, singing without lyrics, yodelling, whistling, and even laughing. I still laugh when I watch to some videos of the band playing this song live, because van Leer was making funny faces and sounds during the part of the song on which he sings and makes his yodelling. A funny song, which in this single edit really lacks some of the best moments. But anyway, it is also a good edited version. There was, at least in the U.S., a single which had this edit on Side One, but on Side Two it had an even faster version of this song, also shorter in lenght in comparison to the original studio version which appears in their "Moving Waves" album from 1971, and also with some Funky music arrangements. The band in concert and on TV appearances tended to play "Hocus Pocus" in a similar way to the faster version, just playing the song and having a lot of fun, and with some of the members of the band almost laughing while seeing and listening to van Leer.

In 2010 there was a brief "revival" for "Hocus Pocus" in the popularity charts in some countries, thanks to its brief appearance on a TV ad. The TV ad was for some sport shoes. The TV ad became very popular and the song too, for a brief period of time.

In the Side Two there is "Janis", which also is a song from their "Moving Waves" album. It is a song with acoustic and electric guitars, several flutes, plus drums and bass, all played with very good arrangements.

For me, their "Moving Waves" album is a very good album. Maybe their best album. And these two songs are very good representatives from that album.

 Golden Oldies by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.48 | 43 ratings

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Golden Oldies
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars Now, let me say that I wasn't expecting ANYTHING when I received this CD. To be honest I was indeed expecting something: a bad something!

I usually don't like re-recorded albums and most of the time I see no point in a band doing it in studio, if you want to record the actual state of your band after changing in its line-up do a live record...

Also, for Focus to do it I can see only ONE explanation: that the band cannot reissue their classic albums because of some issue, that would explain why to go to the studio to do new versions of such classic songs.

Now, having said that let me go to the main topic which is: is this a good record or not?!?

The overall answer is YES!

Focus managed to print in the new versions something very hard for a band to do: maintain the original feel and yet bringing something new to the versions.

In general if you ever saw the band live in the last 10 years or so there's no surprises here. Also if you own one of their live CDs/DVDs of the same period you also know this versions. But, as I said, Focus managed to re-record this songs and give them a new and fresh look but keeping everything that made the originals classics. That's something.

Following leader Thijs van Leer (Hammond, keyboards, flute, vocals) are Pierre van Der Linden (drums) - also from the golden period - , the long time bassist Bobby Jacobs and the new axeman Menno Gootjes. Is nice to see also Jan Dumée doing the screaming vocals part on the classic Hocus Pocus cause he also marked the story of the band when the returned to the stages some 15 years ago.

Overall a great re-recording album. But if you're too `puritan` just skip it.

 X by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.49 | 100 ratings

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X
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars `X' is the tenth album to appear under the banner of the vintage Dutch prog legends name Focus, and fans can rest assured there's plenty of reliable and comfortably well performed predominantly instrumental rock on offer here. Jan Akkerman may be absent, but vintage members Thijs van Leer (flute, keyboards), and drummer Pierre van Der Linden more than hold the fort, and they're very ably backed up by bass player Bobbee Jacobs (a member since the first Focus comeback work in 2002) and Menno Gutjess on guitars. They help bring an energetic fire to the album and to the original duo, and they're more than accomplished musicians that can hold their own with the older fellas. There's not too much that is exactly surprising about the album, as many of the themes that show up sound very close to some of those original melodies and themes on their 70's albums, but it's kind of nice to know what you're getting into right from the start, and it's exceptionally well played.

Up-tempo opener `Father Bachus', virtually a remake of `Hocus Pocus', barrels along at a cracking pace. Punchy drumming, huffing flute and the rapid-fire nimble electric guitar runs are all in place, and it has a nice acoustic outro, but the "Ladies and Gentleman, we proudly present..." announcement is a bit goofy - still shows the band has a sense of humour I suppose! There's lightly jazzy strolling on `Focus 10', a tasteful variety of themes playing with restraint and dignity from all the band, and it's instantly recognisable as Focus. `Victoria' is romantic prog in the grand Camel tradition, driven by stirring electric guitar and victorious piano, but with a few playful moments in the second half thanks to some singing flute. `Amok in Kindergarten' is a late night jazz mood-setter, with spiralling piano and lurking bass sliding around the background of this twisting and sophisticated piece. There's lots of power on the relentless charging rocker `All Hens on Deck', with constantly purring bass, some ragged Steve Howe-flavoured guitar mangling and even a quick spot of classic silly Focus style scat-vocalizing!

Disappointingly it's when the band tries to shake up their formula the results become a little more uneven. The successful streak the album was on becomes a little derailed on the overlong vocal piece `Le Tango'. While there's a nice raspiness to Thijs' voice, and there's a welcome hint of unease to the flamenco guitar and restrained Hammond, the lyrics in the verses repeat too many times. `Hoeratio' is a welcome return to the classical and symphonic pieces the band does so well, with an added near ambience to the soothing guitar strains, but an intrusive scratchy narration over the top hurts it. Thankfully, Menno's scorching extended electric guitar solo in the final minutes and some unleashing drumming lift it briefly again...sigh, if only the band had kept it as an instrumental. `Talk of the Clown', the absolute highlight of the disc, is a sublime medieval madrigal flavoured acoustic folk ditty, and `Message Magic' takes flight with more rising electric guitar romance. Sadly, closer `X Roads' is ruined by another unnecessary mid-track narration. It's a percussion, snarling electric guitar and glistening electric piano driven jazz/fusion workout that still manages grand symphonic themes (and Bobbee gets a flashy ballistic bass solo in the final minute), but the above mentioned voice-over ruins it.

Make no mistake - this often sounds exactly like many other Focus albums, and the band certainly don't want to scare off existing followers with a radical change in sound. Fans can safely add this album to their Focus collection, as it's often simply `more of the same', if well played and professional `more of the same'. It has to be said, if the band had only reconsidered the silly narrations on two of the tracks and kept them instrumental, I feel this album could have earned another star altogether. But most of the time, it's pleasant, undemanding, very well performed and a perfect background or undistracting listen that makes `X' a decent addition to the Focus discography that fans should find much to enjoy about.

Three stars.

 Golden Oldies by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.48 | 43 ratings

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Golden Oldies
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Not all olden and golden

The horrible name 'Golden Oldies' might suggest that this is a compilation album, but in fact it is an album of re-recorded versions of tunes from throughout the band's career. As such it is a lot less interesting than an album of brand new material and it is indeed appropriate to wonder why they felt the need to do this at all. The re-makes of tracks from more recent albums like Aya-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee originally from 2006's Focus 9 and Neurotika and Brother from 2002's Focus 8 are particularly questionable as these are neither olden nor golden. In my opinion these would better have been left out in favour of more classic Focus tunes.

Not surprisingly they open with their biggest hit Hocus Pocus which is still fun to listen to, but this new version does not add anything of value to the original but instead takes away some of its original charm. The best part of this album is definitely tracks three through six: House Of The King, Focus 1, Sylvia and a medley of Focus 3 & 2. These lovely classic Focus tunes sound very good here and make Golden Oldies worth a listen for Focus fans. However, this is also something of a lost opportunity as they could have included several more.

This album is hardly essential and if you possess the original studio albums, you really do not need this one.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Ivan_Melgar_M for the last updates

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