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FOCUS

Symphonic Prog • Netherlands


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Focus picture
Focus biography
Founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1969 - disbanded in 1978 - reunited 1985, 1990, 1999 - reformed in 2002

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 Thijs 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 Thijs 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 DUME 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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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 | 336 ratings
Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In and Out of Focus]
1970
4.10 | 762 ratings
Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
1971
3.80 | 543 ratings
3
1973
4.25 | 1091 ratings
Hamburger Concerto
1974
2.75 | 232 ratings
Mother Focus
1975
3.17 | 190 ratings
Ship Of Memories
1976
2.59 | 131 ratings
Focus Con Proby
1978
3.40 | 95 ratings
Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer: Focus
1985
3.65 | 159 ratings
Focus 8
2002
3.24 | 116 ratings
Focus 9 / New Skin
2006
3.44 | 147 ratings
X
2012
3.49 | 59 ratings
Golden Oldies
2014
3.55 | 56 ratings
Focus And Friends: Focus 8.5 / Beyond The Horizon
2016
3.52 | 64 ratings
11
2018

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

3.48 | 141 ratings
Live At The Rainbow
1973
3.34 | 27 ratings
Live at the BBC
1996
3.83 | 18 ratings
Live in America
2003
3.00 | 6 ratings
Live Legends - The Greatest Hits of Focus
2004
2.69 | 15 ratings
Focus The Greatest Hits
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live in Southamerica
2004
4.55 | 11 ratings
Live In Europe
2009
4.04 | 8 ratings
In Concert 1973
2016
4.78 | 13 ratings
Live in England
2016

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

4.07 | 27 ratings
Masters From The Vault
2002
3.94 | 31 ratings
Live In America
2003
3.98 | 16 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
4.14 | 7 ratings
Live in England
2009

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

4.20 | 5 ratings
Masters of Rock 1971 - 1973
1974
4.32 | 6 ratings
The Story of Focus
1974
4.21 | 5 ratings
Focus - Special Polydor
1975
4.94 | 13 ratings
Dutch Masters 1969-1973
1975
4.33 | 3 ratings
Focus on Focus 1970 - 1978
1979
4.17 | 6 ratings
House of the King
1983
2.73 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits of Focus
1984
3.49 | 70 ratings
Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Masters from the Vaults
2003
3.08 | 7 ratings
The Focus Family Album
2017
4.05 | 2 ratings
50 Years - Anthology 1970-1976
2020
3.09 | 3 ratings
Focus 50
2021

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

2.96 | 5 ratings
House of the King
1970
3.31 | 12 ratings
Hocus Pocus / Janis
1971
2.89 | 10 ratings
Sylvia
1972
3.08 | 5 ratings
Tommy / Focus II
1972
3.04 | 4 ratings
Hocus Pocus 2
1972
3.14 | 9 ratings
Harem Scarem
1974
2.49 | 7 ratings
House Of The King / O Avondrood
1976

FOCUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus by FOCUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
3.49 | 70 ratings

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Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 533

Focus is a Dutch progressive rock band from the 70's, which is considered by many, the best of all Dutch prog bands. They're also considered the founders of the Dutch progressive rock. Focus was founded in 1969 by Thijs van Leer. The first line up of the band comprised Thijs van Leer (vocals, keyboards and flute), Jan Akkerman (guitars), Martin Dresden (bass) and Hans Cleuver (drums). However, and all over the time, the group suffered several changes on their line up.

Despite their huge importance on the Dutch progressive rock, Focus can also be considered as one of the best and most influential bands in progressive rock, one of best that arose outside of the British Islands, in the 70's. Their music is surprising and original. It's characterized by extensive and exclusive instrumental compositions and improvisations containing several references to classical music and jazz elements. It's also characterized by almost absence of vocals.

"Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus" is a compilation of Focus that was released in 1994. It has sixteen tracks belonging to all their six first studio albums. The tracks chosen are: "Focus" and "House Of The King" are from the debut "Focus Plays Focus", aka "In And Out Of Focus". "Hocus Pocus", "Janis", "Focus II" and "Tommy" are from the second "Focus II", aka "Moving Waves". "Anonymous", "Sylvia" and "Focus III" are from the third "Focus 3". "Harem Scarem" is from the fourth "Hamburguer Concerto". "Mother Focus", "Focus IV" and "Bennie Helder" are from the fifth "Mother Focus". "Glider" and "Red Sky At Night" are from the sixth "Ship Of Memories". The compilation has also the US single version of the track "Hocus Pocus" that also appeared on "Ship Of Memories" as a bonus track on the CD version.

"Hocus Pocus" is a legendary track from the band with an intensity perfectly astonishing and, at the same time, we may also say that it has some beautiful insanity on it. "Anonymous" is essentially a good improvised track, but that seems to me most enjoyable and interesting played live than performed in the studio. "House Of The King" despite be a short track, is an exciting and refreshing moment that shows the compositional abilities and the harmony between the flute of Thijs van Leer and the acoustic guitar of Jan Akkerman. "Focus (Instrumental)" is a classic gem of the band. It's an astonishing track with about 10 minutes of improvisation that moves constantly between guitar, keyboards and flute. "Janis" is a simple and soft track where the melody and harmonies are perfect and catchy, making of it, somehow, a memorable track. "Focus II" is an interesting and melodic piece that proceed the Focus' series, with good song writing and great performance by all band's members. "Tommy" belongs to the multi-part epic "Eruption". "Eruption" is one of their best pieces but the compilation only includes one of their fifteen parts. "Sylvia" is a very melodic song conducted by the electric guitar of Jan Akkerman. It has great musical performance by all other band's members, in the supporting role. "Focus III" continues the Focus' series. Like the other Focus' themes, it's a great piece of music, gentle, very symphonic and very emotional with great individual performance. "Harem Scarem" is a rock oriented song, with some jazz influences, very frantic from the start to its end. It's a magnificent piece of music with impressive guitar and piano works. "Mother Focus" is a song with a groovy and jazzy mood very pleasant to hear and represents one of the highest musical moments on their fifth album with the same name. "Focus IV" is a song with a groovy and jazzy mood very pleasant to hear and represents one of the highest musical moments on their fifth album. "Bennie Helder" represents one of the best moments on "Mother Focus". It's a song well constructed, with nice musical performances, and with a touch of a medieval feel, which keeps intact the main characteristics of Focus. "Glider" is basically the original demo of what eventually became to be the title track of their fifth studio album "Mother Focus". This is an excellent track with great guitar performance with a mix fusion between funky, rock, jazz and disco. It isn't as good as "Mother Focus", but still is pleasant to hear. "Red Sky At Night" is a powerful and majestic piece that represents one of the best moments on "Ship Of Memories". It's probably the most attractive and appellative track on that album for all true prog heads.

Conclusion: Although I'm not a big fan of progressive bands' compilations, I think "Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus" is a perfect way to introduce Focus to the newbies. This is a 13-CD box set gathering all their essential albums, right up to 2012's so-so "Focus X", which means that it has songs from their best studio albums, and because of that and also because the type of their music, I think this is a good starting point for the beginners. Besides, this is also a nice complement for any incomplete progressive musical collection. It'd be a diehard devoted fan who'd claim that the group have improved all over the time, but there's no disputing the huge originality, sumptuousness and musicianship of their 70's heydays. The Dutch instrumentalists soon realised the vocals weren't their strong point (if we exclude the odd vocal style of Thijs), hitting in a confident and consummate style that matched the epic and the downright groovy. Their golden age produced soundscapes of light, shade and colour that can be seen perfectly well on this compilation album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 50 Years - Anthology 1970-1976 by FOCUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2020
4.05 | 2 ratings

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50 Years - Anthology 1970-1976
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This lavish box set, a six centimetres thick box of a handy CD size, contains everything that the classic Dutch band FOCUS recorded up till 1976. On the CD's we have six studio albums plus Live at the Rainbow (1973), coherently each album represented in a cardboard sleeve featuring original artwork, with bonus tracks of course, and two discs of live material. I'm not sure if the live stuff is previously unreleased or not, but for myself they remain rather uninteresting anyway. The disc featuring a BBC 1973 recording has a typical set of the band's perennials mostly from the albums Moving Waves and Focus 3, while CD No. 9 titled "Focus Live 1971 - 1975" undoubtedly offers more rare stuff. The magnum opus 'Eruption' (23 minutes on Moving Waves) recorded live in Rotterdam 1971 exceeds to 46 minutes, and in between 'Birth', 'House of the King' and 'Hocus Pocus' there are two group improvisations.

The booklet of 80 pages is pleasantly edited and documents the band's early history and the albums with a critical approach. Before dealing with the two DVD's, a few words for the albums and the bonus tracks. The debut Focus Plays Focus, a.k.a. In and Out of Focus (1970) I heard now entirely for the first time, and it was an interesting acquaintance indeed, not least because of the vocal tracks with a slight late 60's psychedelic flavour, since the subsequent albums are strongly oriented on instrumental symphonic prog. also the line-up changed after the debut; the original rhythm section of Martijn Dresden and Hans Cleuver joined Thijs van Leer on the vocal duties. The Jethro Tull-ish instrumental 'House of the King' was included on the renamed version of the album released two months later. The other bonus track is one of the earliest public performances of 'Eruption', and this 37-min version has notable differences to the album version.

Focus II a.k.a. Moving Waves (1971), Focus 3 (1972; originally a 2LP) and Hamburger Concerto (1974) form together the essence of the classic and most beloved Focus output. As for the bonus tracks, well, they're just single versions or alternate mixes of the album tracks, therefor not very noteworthy for a non-completist listener like me. The notorious fifth album Motherfuc... sorry, Mother Focus (1975) was also new to my ears, and even though the band's style had conciderably changed with obvious influences from American pop and fusion music -- leaving most of the classical and Old Music elements behind --, it's not as bad as many progheads claim it to be. Ship of Memories (1976) was assembled by producer Mike Vernon from leftover tracks of the classic era, but it "was actually pretty coherent and colourful", to cite the liner notes. This particular disc has the biggest number of bonuses, both single/ rough mix versions of the same songs and some non-album pieces, some of the material dating from pre-Focus days of 1969 when the group backed vocalist Ramses Shaffy. The curiosity value is naturally bigger than the musical value.

The two DVD's contain plenty of the classic Focus on stage, especially if measured by quantity alone. But for the musical contents per se, there's so much repetition of the same pieces that it simply gets rather tiring to view them all. How many times you wish to hear the hit 'Hocus Pocus', for example, despite the hilarious variation in Thijs van Leer's over-the-top vocal from show to show? Also it must be said that visually none of these gigs have much to write home about, and the brief Dutch TV promo spots are of minor interest only. And finally, a 50-minute "Classic Albums" programme on Moving Waves. My disappointment was big when I found out it's in Dutch with no English subtitles. Of course some English is spoken too, by e.g. Mike Vernon, but for a non-Dutch viewer it's terribly frustrating to watch, hardly understanding a word of what's being said.

Despite that lack of English subtitles and the heavy repetition of the same compositions on the bonuses as well as on the live department (both on CD's and DVD's), this finely done box set deserves a recommendation at least if you don't already have most of the albums on your record collections.

 Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In and Out of Focus] by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.47 | 336 ratings

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Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In and Out of Focus]
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by WJA-K

2 stars I love Focus. Jan Akkerman is extra-ordinary and I also like Thijs van Leer a lot. The two of them surround themselves with great musicians. This is also true for the debut.

But this debut is flawed. It has beautiful pieces like Anonymus and Focus. But it also has less-memorable ones. But what is really holding me back from giving this a recommendation for prog fans is the singing. There's a reason why Focus turned into a largely instrumental band.

I decided to give this one 2.5 stars, rounding it to 2 stars. Focus fans should absolutely check this one out. Other prog fans, not so much.

 Ship Of Memories by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.17 | 190 ratings

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Ship Of Memories
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 512

"Ship Of Memories" is the sixth studio album of the Dutch progressive rock band Focus and was released in 1976. However, this is really a very different studio album because it isn't a studio album with new material composed by the band, after the release of their previous fifth studio album "Mother Focus". It's an album that features largely unfinished Focus' tracks from that aborted 1973-1974 studio sessions, in order to produce a follow up album to "Focus 3".

Because of that, the line up on this album is a bit wider than it was usual. So, the line up that performed on all the tracks of "Ship Of Memories" is Thijs van Leer (vocals, keyboards and flute), Jan Akkerman (guitar), Martijn Dresden (bass guitar), Bert Ruiter (bass guitar), Hans Cleuver (drums), Pierre van der Linden (drums) and David Kemper (drums).

"Ship Of Memories" has ten tracks. The first track "P'S March" written by Thijs van Leer is a very nice and interesting track with a clear medieval influence which became a truly trademark in the band's music. It's a song with a very nice guitar work performed by Jan Akkerman. What is more interesting about this track is that it's divided into two different tempos. One is a folksy happy tempo with a flute work and the other is a darker tempo with a brilliant guitar work. That is very interesting, really. The second track "Can't Believe My Eyes" written by Jan Akkerman is a very heavy and repetitive track with a very nice guitar work performed by Jan Akkerman. It's a jazz/rock song with one of the most heavy and dynamic performances by Jan Akkerman that rocks all over the time. This is a very heavy and dark psychedelic track, one of my favourites on this album. The third track "Focus V" written by Thijs van Leer is another instrumental track which recovery the Focus' serie. As is usual with all Focus' themes, this is a very pleasant and harmonic song with beautiful guitar and flute. It's a short fusion song, very atmospheric and in the same vein of the other Focus' themes of the serie. The fourth track "Out Of Vesuvius" written by Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman, Pierre van der Linden and Bert Ruiter is a fusion of a mix of funky, jazz and rock music. It's a very well played song by all band's members, with great improvisation that seems composed to be more performed live than on studio. By a pure technically point of view, it's perfectly played, but it seems to me that there is something missing to it, to be able to be considered a great song. The fifth track "Glider" written by Jan Akkerman is basically the original demo of what eventually became to be the title track of their fifth studio album "Mother Focus". This is an excellent track with great guitar performance by Jan Akkerman and with a fusion mix between funky, rock, jazz and disco. It isn't as good as "Mother Focus" is, but it's a very nice, pleasant and humorous piece of music to listening to. The sixth track "Red Sky At Night" written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is a powerful and majestic piece of progressive rock music and represents one of the best musical moments on the album. It's probably the most attractive and appellative song on the album for all prog heads. The musical performance of Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is so emotional and touching that makes of this song a real unique track. The seventh track "Spoke The Lord Creator" written by Thijs van Leer is closer to the Focus' material which was recorded on their debut studio album "In And Out Of Focus". It's a nice and catchy country type song, but that is at the same time nave and with some traces of classical music. The eighth track "Crackers" written Jan Akkerman is, without any doubt, a funky/disco uninspired song, which sincerely represents, in my opinion, one of the weakest points on the album. This is a song that seems to me a fish out of water. The ninth track is the title track "Ship Of Memories". It was written by Pierre van der Linden. I think this is the only theme composed by him for the band until that moment. It's very short theme, only with drums and an organ on the back, with no melody. Sincerely, I don't know if we can call it a song. The tenth and last track "Hocus Pocus" written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is the US single version of the original song released on their second studio album "Moving Waves". It's a short version of the original song expressly composed for the US market. Of course this is a great song of Focus, one of the best known of them and a trademark of the group. However, I clearly prefer the original long version of the song.

Conclusion: "Ship Of Memories" is a very special album of Focus in all their entire discography. In reality, "Ship Of Memories" is more a compilation of previous unreleased songs than a true original studio album of the band. This was more a project of Mike Vernon, who was the group's producer at the time, than a band's project, really. The band hadn't a real active involvement on this release and Akkerman showed a complete lack of interest about it. In general, "Ship Of Memories" has a better collection of songs than "Mother Focus" has. However, it has also its weak points and the main of all is that "Ship Of Memories" isn't a true cohesive studio album but a collection of previously unreleased songs. We all know that a collection of songs, although as good as they can be, doesn't make a real studio album. So, I'm going to rate "Ship Of Memories" with the same 3 stars of "Mother Focus", because it's interesting but is a non-essential album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Focus 50 by FOCUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2021
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Focus 50
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Every band has been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, and Focus were unable to get out on tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary, so instead this triple CD/Blu-Ray/book set was made available last year. The first two CDs and Blu-Ray are a live recording from a concert in Rio from 2017 while it also includes a studio album. This comprises the current ine-up of Thijs van Leer (keyboard, flute and vocals), Pierre van der Linden (drums), Menno Gootjes (guitar) and Udo Pannekeet (bass) re-recording all the "Focus" tracks, "Focus 1" ? "Focus 12", which took place during lockdown. I have not seen the Blu-Ray, I only have the audio, but am guessing it will be of excellent camera quality, so why is the audio so poor? If I had been given this with no background information I would have presumed it was an audience recording, albeit one of good quality, as opposed to something official. The mix is just off, and if this is a deliberate attempt to have the sound exactly as it would have been heard by someone in the crowd then it may have worked but what was the rationale? We can hear people talking in the crowd as if they are right next to the microphone, and overall quality is just not good enough.

This is a real shame, as they kick off "Focus I" from the debut album all the way back in 1970, as well as giving us storming performances of the classics "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia". There are very few instrumental bands who have stayed the course as long as the Dutchmen, and as long as Thijs van Leer wants to keep it going I am sure there will be a Focus. To hear the crowd reaction to "Sylvia" is a delight, while the extended version of "Hocus Pocus" (more than 20 minutes) is superb. It is just a shame it is let down somewhat by the sound.

I have no idea why the band decided to re-record all the "Focus" songs ? I note they call it 'Completely Focussed' so it may be possible that this will be released separately at some point. While pleasant, it is certainly not essential as I always prefer to go to the originals. Overall this is a good set, but if the sound were better for the live then it would have been great, but for fans of the band this will no doubt be essential.

 Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves] by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 762 ratings

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Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by WJA-K

4 stars This album is one of the highlights of Focus. Eruption and Hocus Pocus are the obvious candidates of mustlistens. But the rest of the album is great too.

Hocus Pocus - This track is famous for the vocal gymnastics from Van Leer. But let's not forget the awesome guitar from Akkerman, the bass and the drums. 9/10

Le Clochard - Great acoustic guitar by Akkerman with a nice mellotron on the background. 8/10

Janis - A great soft track with a beautiful flute playing by Van Leer. The rhythm section is awesome too. 8.5/10

Moving Waves - As a Dutchman, I can appreciate the lyrics of this piece. I understand how they tried what they tried. But to be honest, it doesn't work. It's a good thing they decided to be mainly instrumental. Because the piano parts of this track are great. 7.5/10

Focus II - A gorgeous piece of music, mainly due to Akkerman's beautiful guitar work. Although the drumming as marvellous too. 8.5/10

Eruption - This track isn't beloved by every prog fan. Many like the first 8 minutes but have issues with the final part. I love it completely. I love the creative jazzy flow of the track. It appears to go all directions, but in fact, it is quite grounded. It is not an absolute masterpiece. But it is an enjoyable listen, all the time. 9/10

I love this type of prog. Experimental, joyful. I rate it 4 stars.

 3 by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.80 | 543 ratings

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3
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by WJA-K

4 stars This album deserves absolute praise. Brilliant musicianship (especially from Jan and Thijs), epic pieces of music (especially Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! and Anonymous II).

I love the free-flowing nature of the album, the experimentation. And I love the mix of short pieces and long tracks.

The album reminds me of the jazzy period of King Crimson, also around 70/71. This also applies to Jan's guitar. Who influenced who?

Round goes the gossip - I don't think this is the perfect opener, despite the instrumental craftmanship 6/10

Love remembered - I love this one much better. Great flute work 8/10

Sylvia - classic Focus track and a great tune 9/10

Carnival Fuge - I like this track, again especially when Jan plays 7/10

Focus III - great track, awesome rendition of this work 8/10

Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! - Absolute masterpiece. The best track on the album. This could be a KC track on Islands. Jazzy, great dynamics, great guitar. The best part is 8 minutes in, when Jan Akkerman hits it 10/10

Elspeth of Nottingham - Not my favourite tune, but a nice break between the two epics 6/10

Anonymous II - Focus shows what they have in store, which is a lot. Great extended jamming session 9/10

I give this album a 4-star rating, similar to Hamburger Concerto.

 Hamburger Concerto by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 1091 ratings

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Hamburger Concerto
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by WJA-K

4 stars Being Dutch, I knew about Focus and specifically Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkermans. I knew Hocus Pocus. I also knew they were famous in the 70s.

But while I enjoyed discovering the works of acts like Yes, Pink Floyd and King Crimson I ignored Focus altogether. I couldn't imagine their output would be approaching these greats.

Then I saw the top 100 of this site and HAD to listen to Hamburger Concerto. I am happy I did.

This is a great album. What a great musicianship. I am in awe of Akkerman's skills on guitar. It's no wonder he became the worlds best guitarist in 73. A heavily contended category those days.

Delitae Musicae opens the album and is a nice piece to set the tone 7/10

Harem Scarem is a variation to Hocus Focus. One that works great. I love the energy of the song 8/10

La Cathedrale De Strasbourg is beautiful. 8/10

Birth is a highlight. This instrumental has so many great guitar escapes from Akkermnas. It is a joy to listen to. 10/10

Hamburger Concerto is a beautiful 20-minute piece that feels like it's much shorter. 10/10

Early Birth is a variation to Birth and almost as great 9/10

This record deserves a 4-star rating.

 Mother Focus by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.75 | 232 ratings

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Mother Focus
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 493

"Mother Focus" is the fifth studio album of the Dutch progressive rock band Focus and was released in 1975. Again and as happened before, Focus suffered another change into their line up. Their previous drummer Colin Allen left the band. He had only participated on their previous fourth studio album "Hamburger Concerto" and he only participated on one track of this album, "I Need A Bathroom". He was replaced by David Kemper, who participated on the rest of the album.

"Mother Focus" is the last album of Focus to feature the two main protagonists in the band, which are also the last two founding members of the group, Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman. Jan Akkerman left the band in 1976, frustrated with the lack of musical direction in Focus and the constraints to have to work with the band's more commercial ambitious.

So, the line up on the album is Thijs van Leer (vocals, keyboards and flute), Jan Akkerman (guitar), Bert Ruiter (bass guitar), Collin Allen (drums) and David Kemper (drums).

"Mother Focus" has twelve tracks. The first track is the title track "Mother Focus". It was written by Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman and Bert Ruiter. The title track is a very good and interesting song, and I disagree with many of you, because I really think that it has many of the main characteristics of the band's songs. It's a song with a groovy and jazz moody very pleasant to hear and represents one of the highest musical moments on the album. The second track "I Need A Bathroom" written by Bert Ruiter, represents, without any doubt, the weakest and worst musical moment on the album. It's a funky track without any progressive musical lines, very repetitive and without great originality. This is a song with nothing to do with Focus' music. The third track "Bennie Helder" written by Thijs van Leer represents, for me, the best musical moment on the album. This is another great song of the band where the main musical characteristics of the group are present. It's a song very well constructed, with nice musical performances, and with a touch of the medieval music. The fourth track "Soft Vanilla" written by Bert Ruiter isn't as poor as "I Need A Bathroom", but represents another weak point on the album. It's a straightforward soft piece of jazz very repetitive and also without great creativity and imagination. This is another song without any kind of links with the traditional music of Focus. The fifth track "Hard Vanilla" written by Bert Ruiter represents the continuity of the previous song, but this time with the funky rhythm of "I Need A Bathroom". It's another weak point on the album and, once more, we can't see any connection with the creativity and the originality of the Focus' music. The sixth track "Tropical Bird" written by Bert Ruiter is the last song composed by Bert Ruiter for the album and is, in my opinion, better and more pleasant to hear than the other three. It's a nice, mellow and relaxing song that we can hear in any bar when we have a drink and we eat something with friends. The seventh track "Focus IV" written by Thijs van Leer isn't too bad as some of you say, and despite be less good as the other tracks on the Focus' series, doesn't embarrass them. Anyway, I even dare to say that it has almost the same quality of the previous tracks of that serie. Still, it's too short to be a great track and it's less inspired too. The eighth track "Someone's Cry?What?" written Jan Akkerman is a very pleasant song with nice guitar moments. It's a calm and relaxing song with some interesting musical moments that reminds us, sometimes, the other side of Focus, their most melodic side. The ninth track "All Together?Oh, That" written by Jan Akkerman is a kind of the second part of the previous song. However, it's a very different song. This time it's more focused on the country music. It's also a nice and pleasant song to hear, but, as with the previous song, it's far way from be one of the best Jan Akkerman's contributions to the group. The tenth track "No Hang Ups" written by Paul Stoppelman is another nice and pleasant song with good guitar and keyboard works, performed by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman. It's probably one the songs where the duo better played together on the album. The eleventh track "My Sweetheart" written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is an enjoyable song to hear, but it's also one of the weakest songs composed by this duo of composers in Focus. It's a light pop musical number, without great imagination and with nothing special to remember, really. The twelfth track "Father Bach" written by Thijs van Leer, as the name says, it's an arrangement of a classical Bach's piece arranged by Thijs van Leer. It's a very short and beautiful track and, as we expected, it ends the album in a perfect and pleasant way.

Conclusion: I own a vinyl copy of this album since it was released. "Mother Focus" was my only studio album from the band for many years. It was with "Live At The Rainbow" the two only albums of Focus that I purchased during those years. So, I don't know if was by that reason, but I always liked it. It's true that it's a true deception compared with their four previous studio albums, especially compared with "Hamburger Concerto". It's ltrue it has really some several weak tracks, especially the tracks composed by Bert Ruiter, but it's also true that it has some very good musical moments too, especially "Bennie Helder" and "Mother Focus". So, mainly due to that, I think it deserves to be rated with 3 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Hamburger Concerto by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 1091 ratings

BUY
Hamburger Concerto
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Uruk_hai

5 stars Review #135

Even when I adore "Moving Waves" and I believe it is a very underrated album, I can't deny that "Hamburger Concerto" deserves the title of the best album ever made by the Dutch group; the first side of the LP includes four short songs while the B-side is the tremendous suite "Hamburger Concerto".

"Delitae Musicae" is a beautiful Renaissance overture, it lasts less than a minute so it works only as that: an overture. "Harem Scarem" is a very Hard Rock stylized piece, its intense drums were the presentation letter of Colin Allen who was a very decent replacement to Pierre Van Der Linden. "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" is a very calm melody led mostly by Thijs Van Leer's piano at the beginning, then the instrumentation turns into a jazzy section in which the piano got in the background but still gives a very elegant touch.

"Birth" is my favorite track on the album: the flute is exquisite while the powerful song doesn't rest and keeps going with the incredible Jan Akkerman's solos. "Hamburger Concerto" is the amazing 20-minute track that closes the album, unlike "Eruption" this song is much more homogenous (since the one from "Moving Waves" includes much more independent segments) and, unlike "Anonymous 2", here we can hear a much more rehearsed and original material than lots of improvised filler sections.

Focus reached the peak of its greatness, this was a majestic work for the most important Prog Rock band from the Netherlands.

SONG RATING: Delitae Musicae, 4 Harem Scarem, 5 La Cathedrale de Strasbourg, 5 Birth, 5 Hamburger Concerto, 5

AVERAGE: 4.8

PERCENTAGE: 96

ALBUM RATING: 5 stars

I ranked this album #47 on my TOP 100 favorite Progressive Rock albums of all time.

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

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