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Symphonic Prog • Netherlands

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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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Buy FOCUS Music

Hocus Pocus: Best ofHocus Pocus: Best of
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$8.11
$8.03 (used)
Moving WavesMoving Waves
Import · Remastered
Audio CD$8.08
$6.95 (used)
Hamburger ConcertoHamburger Concerto
Audio CD$7.80
$7.44 (used)
Best of Focus: Hocus PocusBest of Focus: Hocus Pocus
Audio CD$69.88
$6.75 (used)
Live LegendsLive Legends
Classic Rock Legends 2004
Audio CD$3.53
$1.98 (used)
Mother FocusMother Focus
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$7.69
$7.68 (used)
Vinyl$5.00 (used)
Live in EuropeLive in Europe
Cherry Red 2016
Audio CD$8.77
$8.76 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Vinyl LP - Neil Diamond - Focus on Neil Diamond- Double Album USD $1.88 [0 bids]
Various Focus On Jazz LP Philips 6436032 EX/EX 1970s with Tubby Hayes, John Colt USD $14.44 Buy It Now
Rock Unplayed NM! 45 FOCUS Sylvia on Sire USD $4.50 Buy It Now
FOCUS, IN AND OUT OF, LP 1973 US SIRE RECORDS SAS 7404 - A1/B1 - VG USD $10.03 Buy It Now
Focus - In and Out of Focus US 8 Track SIRE M 8147-7404 USD $5.97 Buy It Now
Silverheel Seven Days 9000 Sunsets LP Focus FOCUSLP9 EX/EX 1995 Seven Days 9000 USD $12.55 Buy It Now
FOCUS Moving Waves MP2311 LP Fs1343 USD $4.99 [0 bids]
12m 40s
FOCUS ON NEIL DIAMOND - Vinyl 2 LP Record Set -1972 - BANG & DECCA RECORDS USD $7.53 [0 bids]
14m 44s
72 Focus on the Family Religious Cassette Tapes James Dobson USD $11.14 Buy It Now 19m 20s
Jazz In Focus- Joe Pugliese Hoctor Records Library Lp Ost Holy Grail USD $255.00 [6 bids]
30m 3s
FOCUS Moving Waves LP EX 1971 Sire SAS-7401 US Press Stereo Prog Psych USD $10.00 Buy It Now 57m 32s
Focus "Focus 3" 2 LP Set Die-Cut Cover Original USD $30.00 Buy It Now 1h 18m
Focus Mother Focus LP White Label Promo Japan USD $40.00 Buy It Now 1h 20m
FOCUS, LIVE AT THE RAINBOW, LP 1973 US VG+/VG+ USD $8.02 Buy It Now 1h 27m
Blue Cheer 45 Summertime Blues/Out Of Focus (1107) USD $3.99 Buy It Now 1h 42m
FOCUS 1976 UK Tour Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 54m
FOCUS Hamburger Concerto 1974 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 54m
FOCUS Albums Dutch Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 54m
FOCUS On the Road in UK 1973 Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 57m
FOCUS Sylvia and Tour 1972 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 57m
Jan Akkerman (FOCUS) Profile Tour 1973 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 57m
Jan Akkerman (FOCUS) 1977 UK Tour Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 57m
FOCUS Live @ Rainbow 1973 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $12.49 Buy It Now 1h 57m
Focus Marc Cary Audio CD USD $21.48 Buy It Now 2h 6m
FOCUS Focus 3 2LP 8 Tack Cartridge Tape USD $3.77 Buy It Now 2h 11m
Jan Akkerman Lp Live x FOCUS Ex to Nr Mint Disc USD $3.99 [0 bids]
2h 35m
LP Gracie Fields "Focus On" 1977 2-lp (recorded 1936-1962) UK press NM USD $8.00 Buy It Now 3h 25m
X [12 inch Analog] Focus LP Record USD $46.15 Buy It Now 3h 31m
Focus on Stanley Black - Decca 2 LP set USD $17.45 Buy It Now 3h 50m
FOCUS VINYL live at the rainbow LP record FREE US SHIPPING! USD $12.00 Buy It Now 3h 52m
Beanie Sigel : The Focus CD (2009) USD $9.99 Buy It Now 4h 4m
FOCUS- Hamburger Concerto (Canada LP, 1974) Very Good+ USD $4.00 Buy It Now 4h 38m
Focus on the Center Audio CD USD $13.65 Buy It Now 4h 51m
Focus Live at the Rainbow Vinyl 12" USD $3.00 [0 bids]
5h 31m
Focus Ship Of Memories SEALED ORIGINAL 1977 & S/T 1985 LP Jan Akkerman RARE USD $37.99 Buy It Now 5h 53m
Focus Baroque - G.Finguer (...:oeuvrespourvioleand... [CD New] USD $16.93 Buy It Now 5h 54m
FOCUS Dutch Masters LP 1975 Sire Records VG+ USD $11.95 Buy It Now 6h 4m
Focus At The Rainbow EMI Bovema Holland ?- CDM 7 48969 2 1988 CD MINT/VG- USD $13.80 Buy It Now 6h 13m
Mother Focus by Focus CD, K2HD coding, JVC Victor Japan , audiophile USD $40.07 Buy It Now 6h 15m
FOCUS - Focus Con Proby (LP, 1978) Very Good+ USD $4.00 Buy It Now 6h 57m
Vintage Album - FOCUS - Moving Waters SAS 7401 Sire Records USD $6.99 Buy It Now 7h 21m
CD Steely "Simple Girl" pop on N'Focus 2000 USD $0.01 [0 bids]
8h 11m
Focus vinyl LP album record Greatest Hits Of Focus UK FA4131121 FAME 1984 USD $17.51 Buy It Now 8h 18m
Various-Jazz Focus On Jazz vinyl LP album record UK 6436032 PHILIPS 1975 USD $20.02 Buy It Now 8h 35m
Hocus Pocus: Best of Focus - Focus LP USD $40.84 Buy It Now 8h 45m
Joe Pugliese - Jazz In Focus LP - RARE DJ Breaks, Beats, Samples USD $446.00 [0 bids]
8h 47m
Focus Mother Focus vinyl LP album record UK 2302036 POLYDOR 1973 USD $36.35 Buy It Now 9h 37m
Focus Hamburger Concerto UK vinyl LP album record 2442124 POLYDOR 1974 USD $48.90 Buy It Now 9h 42m
Focus by Drast & Pypa. USD $14.87 Buy It Now 9h 46m
Focus Hamburger Concerto Japanese vinyl LP album record EMS-81016 EMI 1977 USD $53.92 Buy It Now 9h 46m
Focus In Concert tour programme UK TOUR PROGRAMME 1976 USD $60.83 Buy It Now 9h 58m
Focus/Manns/Seves/Salinas/Anonimo/Parra/Bravo/Chac - De Barro Y Maiz [CD New] USD $12.32 Buy It Now 10h
Various-Jazz Focus On Fusion Volumes O... 2-LP (Double ) UK USD $24.17 Buy It Now 10h 10m
Focus Focus 3 USA 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) 2344-039 POLYDOR 1972 USD $43.00 Buy It Now 10h 11m
Cynic Focus - 1st vinyl LP album record Dutch RR9169-1 ROADRUNNER 1991 USD $224.66 Buy It Now 10h 11m
Droid - Focus - Re-Acceleration - 2002 #228910 USD $5.01 Buy It Now 11h 16m
Reality in Focus CD USD $5.99 Buy It Now 11h 21m
Forbidden Society - Focus On Violence - Mindsaw Recordings - 2007 #242724 USD $5.01 Buy It Now 11h 37m
13h 4m
FOCUS ?- Focus 3 (LP) (NM/VG+) USD $32.63 Buy It Now 13h 11m
FOCUS Rock Sensation Music Cassette Karussell Label USD $4.39 Buy It Now 13h 11m
COLLARD-NEVEN, JEAN-PHILIPPE-Out of Focus (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.42 Buy It Now 13h 30m
FOCUS [USED CD] USD $16.00 Buy It Now 13h 32m
NEW Focus Features 10th Anniversary: A Collection of Film Score (Audio CD) USD $26.74 Buy It Now 13h 34m
NEW Embodied Learning: Focus on Knees & Ankles 1 (Audio CD) USD $89.96 Buy It Now 14h 13m
Focus Danse, New Music USD $11.97 Buy It Now 14h 14m
Focus-In And Out Of Focus. Vinyl Album (1973) USD $7.53 Buy It Now 14h 37m
Focus-Live At The Rainbow. Vinyl Album (1973) USD $7.53 Buy It Now 14h 39m
14h 44m
FOCUS Moving Waves SCARCE ORIG BLUE HORIZON UK 1971 EX+ LP 2931-002 A / B USD $57.11 Buy It Now 15h 17m
Thijs Van Leer / Introspection / ( Focus ) 1972 USD $6.26 [0 bids]
15h 26m
FOCUS 8.5/BEYOND THE HORIZON NEW CD USD $19.45 Buy It Now 15h 56m
FOCUS - IN AND OUT OF - SIRE RECORDS-SAS 7404 - SEALED" USD $35.00 Buy It Now 16h 31m
SWEET AND SOUR No Focus / Down The Road OZ 45 The Takeaways USD $7.40 Buy It Now 16h 44m
DOUG PARKISON IN FOCUS Without You / Hair 45 USD $11.12 Buy It Now 16h 49m
Focus "Hocus Pocus/Hocus Pocus II" 45 USD $2.47 Buy It Now 17h 17m
Focus RECORD LOT Con Proby 3 Moving Waves P.J. Proby Thijs van Leer Dutch Prog USD $31.41 Buy It Now 17h 17m
FOCUS Hamburger Concerto Mother Focus double mint prog GERMAN IMPORT a Lp USD $16.56 [0 bids]
17h 17m
JACQUES LOSSIER~FOCUS ON JACQUES LOUSSIER. (Double Album) Decca Records. USD $1.24 [0 bids]
17h 22m
FOCUS Greatest Hits Of Focus 1984 Dutch/UK vinyl LP EXCELLENT CONDITION USD $18.82 Buy It Now 17h 29m
female singerSnezhka Dobreva 60s with Focus '65 !!! USD $14.99 Buy It Now 17h 30m
NEW Out of Focus (Audio CD) USD $28.23 Buy It Now 17h 37m
CHARLIE KUNZ - Focus On [Double Vinyl LP] UK Release FOS 35/36 Jazz *EXC* USD $7.51 Buy It Now 17h 46m
Moving Waves - Focus 8712944331882 (Vinyl Used Very Good) USD $20.66 Buy It Now 18h 2m
Mick Jagger - Rolling Stones - Wired All Night + Out of Focus PROMO CD SINGLE USD $18.95 Buy It Now 18h 3m
FOCUS 3 Double Vinyl LP Polydor Label 2659016 USD $11.29 Buy It Now 18h 6m
Kraut Rock FOCUS Hamburger Concerto NM SD36-100 ORIG EB697 USD $11.99 Buy It Now 18h 10m
Out Of Focus - Four Letter Monday Afternoon (NEW CD) USD $16.31 Buy It Now 19h 13m
19h 25m

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FOCUS discography

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

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

3.48 | 249 ratings
Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In And Out Of Focus]
4.07 | 597 ratings
Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
3.76 | 411 ratings
4.24 | 864 ratings
Hamburger Concerto
2.64 | 169 ratings
Mother Focus
3.13 | 128 ratings
Ship Of Memories
2.51 | 77 ratings
Focus Con Proby
3.53 | 60 ratings
Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer: Focus
3.71 | 114 ratings
Focus 8
3.10 | 81 ratings
Focus 9 / New Skin
3.49 | 104 ratings
3.49 | 44 ratings
Golden Oldies
3.94 | 18 ratings
Focus and Friends: Focus 8.5 / Beyond The Horizon

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

3.43 | 114 ratings
Live At The Rainbow
3.32 | 18 ratings
Live at the BBC
3.88 | 16 ratings
Live in America
3.07 | 6 ratings
Live Legends - The Greatest Hits of Focus
2.71 | 15 ratings
Focus The Greatest Hits
4.50 | 4 ratings
Live In Europe
4.09 | 3 ratings
In Concert 1973
4.50 | 6 ratings
Live In England

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOCUS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 3 by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.76 | 411 ratings

Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Back in 1993 I started buying Focus albums. Moving Waves was the first Focus album I ever heard, I won't forget hearing "Hocus Pocus" in 1989 as a teenager (right smack in the era of New Kids on the Block) and being blown away by this song (to be honest, I remembered hearing this song as a small kid, so it wasn't new to me, just that in 1989 it really caught my attention). I often wondered why I never heard any other Focus songs on the radio. When I finally heard Moving Waves, that album blew me away, not just "Hocus Pocus", but the side-length "Eruption". OK, so I now understand, it's mostly instrumental, which radio stations tended to stay away, and the best cut, other than "Hocus Pocus" was too long and maybe not the most radio friendly. I then bought Focus 3, the US pressing on Sire with the die-cut cover (but without the rainbow "Focus 3" effect, it's just simply a rainbow "Focus 3" logo) and I didn't quite liked it as much. This album really proved to me why you never heard any other Focus songs on the albums, but through the years, I can see why I was a bit hard on the album. Perhaps a bit excessive at times, but then it dawned on me, Cream likely did similar things live, but they'd do it in a blues-based manner, which Focus would never do. "Round Goes the Gossip" is the only song with singing, in fact the little bit of Latin is the only singing (other than the phrase "Round Goes the Gossip" being repeated over and over). "Love Remembered", Jan Akkerman's piece is a pretty sappy piece, with acoustic guitar and Thijs van Leer's flute, with something like a Theremin or an Ondes Martenot. "Sylvia" was a minor hit in the States, but apparently a major one in Europe, I have absolutely no recollections of this song on the radio, so obviously it didn't have an impact on FM radio the way of "Hocus Pocus" here in the States. Regardless this song is much more typical Focus than "Hocus Pocus", so while you might want to play "Hocus Pocus" to jog people's memories, "Sylvia" is a song to direct the uninitiated (that is if their reaction was "I remembered Hocus Pocus"). "Carnival Fugue" (I now also own a French pressing on the Az label that amusingly titled it "Carnival Fudge" on the label, but still titled "Carnival Fugue on the cover). starts off with classical piano and jazzy guitar, before going into a rhythm that reminds me of the Beatles' "Do You Wanna Know a Secret". "Focus III" also demonstrates all the best quality of Focus, I really love Jan Akkerman's lead guitar playing and the organ playing. I remembered hearing Petula Clark's "Don't Sleep in the Subway", and I noticed that Focus borrowed from this song! "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" gets more lengthy, with lots of guitar and organ jams, plus a slow organ-dominated piece. But it was the next song that really stuck a craw with me, and that's "Anonymous II". At times I can easily dismiss it as nothing but a wankfest, demonstrated the '70s at its most excess, other times I considered it a great and ingenious jam where each member gets their chance to solo. I really like the Bert Ruiter bass solo that starts off slowly before eventually the rest of the band starts back in and then the whole band jams. It's the Pierre van der Linden drum solo that can seem a bit excessive, but then I'm sure he's getting ideas from Ginger Baker's Cream drum solo on "Toad". Then it dawned on me: I am certain Cream did similar stuff live. Of course, with them the music would be much more blues-based, Ginger Baker would do a drum solo like on "Toad", playing drums like he rides a bicycle (Baker's drumming was influenced by his biking), and I seriously doubt Jack Bruce would dive into a bass solo (he probably knew better), the closest I can think of is Blind Faith's "Do What You Like" (which was basically Cream minus Jack Bruce, and instead Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, formerly of Family). Of course, "Anonymous II" was a sequel to the original off In & Out of Focus (Focus Plays Focus), drawn out nearly three times longer. "Elsbeth of Nottingham" is clearly Jan Akkerman's piece, totally medieval influenced, with lute and recorders. Although "House of the King" has been featured on some pressings of In & Out of Focus (and only released as a single in Holland), it makes a reappearance here on album because some countries didn't have that song on In & Out of Focus. When I first bought Focus 3, I often wondered why "House of the King" seemed so out of place on the album. It's an earlier recording, with Hans Cleuver and Martijn Dresden instead of Bert Ruiter and Pierre van der Linden. Regardless, this is truly a classic, in the Jethro Tull vein, and one of the finest songs of Focus, too bad that didn't get picked up for American FM radio airplay.

So I'm still a bit torn over this album, it's agreed perhaps a bit of baggage could have easily been removed, but make no doubt the amount of great brilliant material included.

 In Concert 1973 by FOCUS album cover Live, 2016
4.09 | 3 ratings

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
3.43 | 114 ratings

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 | 597 ratings

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 | 169 ratings

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 | 77 ratings

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
3.48 | 249 ratings

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

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
3.49 | 44 ratings

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 | 104 ratings

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.

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

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