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Focus Hamburger Concerto album cover
4.25 | 1144 ratings | 79 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Delitae Musicae (1:13)
2. Harem Scarem (5:52)
3. La Cathédrale de Strasbourg (4:59)
4. Birth (7:46)
5. Hamburger Concerto (20:19) :
- i. Starter
- ii. Rare
- iii. Medium I
- iv. Medium II
- v. Well Done
- vi. One for the Road

Total Time 40:09

Bonus track on CD releases:
6. Early Birth (2:54)

Line-up / Musicians

- Thijs van Leer / vocals, organ, piano & electric piano, flute & alto-flute, ARP synthesiser, harpsichord, recorder, Mellotron, vibes, accordion, organ (St. Mary the Virgin - Barnes), handclaps & whistling
- Jan Akkerman / guitars, lute, timpani, handclaps
- Bert Ruiter / bass, autoharp, triangles, Chinese finger cymbals, swiss bells
- Colin Allen / drums, congas, tambourine, castanets, cabasa, woodblock, Chinese gong, timpani, flexatone, cuíca

Releases information

Artwork: Wade Wood Associates with Ian Murray (art direction)

LP Polydor ‎- 2442124 (1974, UK)
LP Atco - SD 36100 (1974, Canada)

CD EMI - CDM 7 48860 (1988, Europe) With 1 bonus track
CD Red Bullet - RB 66.191 (2001, Netherlands) With 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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FOCUS Hamburger Concerto ratings distribution

(1144 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FOCUS Hamburger Concerto reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars The peak from our fave Dutchmen.

Harem scarem is almost in the same mould than Hocus Pocus with hilarious vocals and energetic guitars. La Cathedrale De Strasbourg is simply gorgeous with subtle singing and delighful bells and percussions. Birth by comparison pales a bit but is still a fine classical rework tune and a highlight on almost any other Focus album.

But the Concerto in itself is the real gem taking up a full side of vinyl, each movement being named after a manner of cooking the hamburger. For once I cannot blame Focus to stretch out an idea too long. This 20 min+ track is absolutely stunning and is riveting you to your sofa until the track is over. This is the album to prove that even almost instrumental prog can full of humour without proper lyrics.

Easily their better album , I can assure you that you will not regret this.

Review by Carl floyd fan
4 stars Harem Scarem and Birth are beautiful songs and Hamburger Concerto is a prog beast. Still, I didn't like it as much as Anonymus Two and I think this album pales in comparrison to Focus Three. Still, this is a great Focus album and it shouldn't be avoided.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The Burger Kings

By far Focus' best, most complete and accomplished album.

Although "Hamburger Concerto" itself only occupies the second side of the LP, the whole album flows beautifully from start to finish. There's nothing like "Hocus Pocus" here, or the rambling jazz laden indulgences of other albums ("Focus 3" comes to mind). Instead what we have is a classically constructed piece of pure smooth prog rock. Guitar and keyboards share the lead most of the time, with Van Leer's flute and vocals (sounds not lyrics) kept relatively brief.

There really isn't any point in going into individual track details, it's very much an album to hear from start to finish. The closing section of "Hamburger concerto" ("One for the road") however is stunning, Akerman's guitar work being reminiscent of their beautiful single "Sylvia".

A beautifully constructed and performed album, which surpasses by a country mile anything else by the band. The CD version has one extra track, an early version of "Birth".

The sleeve notes talk about the album being premastered (not remastered) whatever that means!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This Dutch Quartet revolutionized the rock world in the early 70's in large part due to the unparalleled talents of Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer. The first gentleman is a guitarist extraordinaire, both on acoustic or electric , as well as a world class master of the medieval luth. Thijs on the other hand, is an accomplished ivory tickler (harpsichord, piano and mostly Hammond organ) as well as a master flutist. Previous albums, Moving Waves and 3 were steeped in the extensive "Jazz-Jam'' style, long riveting tracks loaded with blistering fretwork and towering interplay with flute and organ. Why this album remains a treasure 30 years later?

Hamburger Concerto is the crowning achievement of Focus' career, as subsequent albums clearly lack the sizzle and fire of this masterpiece. From the opening renaissance intro "Delitiae Musicae" , the listener is in for one hell of a ride, a musical journey of epic proportions, with a mature sound and an obvious search for perfection. "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" is warmly enchanting. The side long Hamburger suite is a divine slab of first rate prog-rock. Check out the sheer thunder and passion of Akkerman's guitar on "Birth" , arguably one of the finest 10 solos ever recorded.

If you do not own this jewel, I suggest to return to your country album collection and stay there! Your punishment is deserved and you have been warned.

5 toasted buns

Review by Philo
4 stars Baroque and Roll is only one of the many eclectic ways to describe the wonderful sound of Focus on the Hamburger Concerto album. The baroque influence shines through here more than on any other album previous but the music is consistently as strong as the previous two studio albums at least. No yodelling here as on "Hocus Pocus" which kicked off Moving Waves but the opener proper (after "Delite Musicae" served as a fine gentle prelude) on this album while not being the forceful driving rock anthem that "Hocus Pocus" was still bears an identity to the hard rock traits of Focus and especially the guitar playing of Jan Akkerman and in fact both songs come from the same common ground musically and even the names of both have a trait in common too but it would be wrong to state that Focus were trying to achieve the same effect as both tunes are quite different, "Hocus Pocus" is a unique track that could never be copied without it sounding too blatant. I even heard some whistling in there somewhere... If Focus are a progressive rock, which they have been cited as, then they are like no other. In my opinion the typical prog rock outfit takes themselves too seriously but Focus add humour to their depth of textures and allow some fun to creep into the songs while never losing face. The rocking "Harem Scarem" has some odd noises thrown in for good measure alongside some fluid and clean musicianship as is par for this entire album which is joyful and a fine exploration of varying styles like the afore mentioned baroque with the lute making sweeping moves. But it is the guitar playing which is the biggest draw for me when listening to Focus and in that department they never fail to excite. Hamburger Concerto is an electrifying album with a sense of theatre involved in the execution and arrangement, especially on the 20 minute plus title suite. It is unlike anything else in my book and certainly works better than previous lengthy workouts. I still cannot split their first three albums, they all have their own merits but they might just have progressed a little more with the Hamburger Concerto. A band this consistent merging good songwriting talent with carefully executed musicianship must be heard. Focus is an apt name for a band who play this sharp.
Review by NetsNJFan
5 stars Dutch Progressive rockers, Focus produced their masterpiece in 1974 with the brilliant classical-rock album, "Hamburger Concerto". The band largely abandons the long and boring jazz driven jams they had indulged themselves with on previous albums, and made a surprisingly focused and elegant album, which has dated very little in 30 years, compared with others from its period. This is due mainly to the diverse and gorgeous instrumentation of master guitarist Jan Akkerman and Flutist (no we aren't called Flautists) and Keyboardist Thijs Van Leer. On this album, one can hear all the classic rock instruments, as well as beautiful Harps, Harpsichords, Bells, and Castanets, etc.

The album begins with "Delitae Musicae", a short and Renaissance flavored intro, which instantly sets the classical mood of the album. This segues into the rocker, "Harem Scarem", which was the album's obvious 'single'. It is a rock piece which features insane 'Yea Yea Yeas' from vocalist Van Leer, and frantic and impressive guitar and piano. This six minute piece manages to change mood relatively quickly and often though, shifting from the jazzy open, to the beautiful acoustic midsection with Van Leer's ever-present Flute. (Of All things one even hears an accordion on this very good track!) The frenzied energy of "Harem Scarem" changes instantly into the beautiful piece, "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg", a song complete with stately church organ and bells, and very calm vocals. This song evokes the grandeur and majesty of the Cathedral in Strasbourg quite well, and is a relaxing album highlight, which even features Van Leer whistling (no, not yodeling) at the end. "Birth" is my all-time favorite Focus track. This seven minute song is pure beauty. It features shifting solos between the talented Akkerman and Van Leer on Piano, Organ, and Flute. Unlike many prog- rock instrumentals, this one isn't about technical pyrotechnics; it is extremely tasteful and manages to highlight the extreme skills of each member while maintaining musical credibility. (The flute on this track truly is amazing, as is Akkerman's monstrous Guitar solo at the end.) That just about wraps up Side One. Side Two features the two minute suite, the "Hamburger Concerto". This song remains one of Focus' most accomplished pieces in terms of construction. This song continues the classical mood set in "Delitae Musicae." While their previous extended works were largely jazz and blues jams, here we find a classically inspired and structured suite, which has a sense of purpose. It never becomes overbearing, and gives each member of the band room to show his talents. (The piece is actually based on a Haydn piece which they then extend and make their own, un-credited). The album closes with a reprise of "Birth", called "Early Birth" a fitting end, one can never get enough of Akkerman's tasteful yet electrifying guitar. Overall, this truly is a masterpiece, an album that flows beautifully, and maintains a relaxing mood while not becoming dull at all. Focus's best by far. Sadly, their work would take a nosedive after this ad Akkerman and Van Leer's relations would sour. - 5 Stars.

Review by Progbear
5 stars Focus' finest hour by a pretty wide margin. The aimless jazz-wannabee noodling that made up the bulk of FOCUS III is only a memory here. This is Focus Concentrate-nothing inessential, only the good stuff.

The band's interest in "early music" continues unabated, with Akkerman's lute piece "Delitiæ Musicæ" opening the album, and also featuring the faux-liturgical pipe-organ tune "La Cathédeale de Strasbourg". "Birth" is the band at their soaring best, continuing in the line of the numbered "Focus" pieces stylistically. And "Harem Scarem" is a wacky little rocker, the progeny of "Hocus Pocus" most likely.

But it's the title suite that's surely the highlight of the album, perhaps even the highlight of the band's entire career. With sub-sections whimsically named for the various cooking times of meat, the blend of classical and "ancient" sounds with rock textures and Akkerman's frequently jazzy guitar reached its apex here. The sound is wondrous, and you really get the feel of going on a musical journey.

And best of all, no drum-solo bringing the piece to a grinding halt at any point! It's not too much to ask, really.

Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars It appears that I am in a small minority who think that this is not the best Focus album. Very good, certainly, but I'd prefer to listen to Moving Waves anyday though I'd concede that this is an improvement on Focus 3. The band had undergone a gradual change of rhythm section since Moving Waves, Burt Ruiter having first come in for Cyril Havermans and ex Stone the Crows Drummer Colin Allen then having taken over from Pierre van der Linden. But these two, good though they are, are only support for the astonishing talents of master keyboard player/flautist This van Leer and guitarist extraordinaire Jan Akkerman. Van Leer contributes what vocals there are, mostly yodels and sounds which fit the music well. The band has a strong classical influence throughout, as on the lute driven Delitae Musicae, but they can rock in thoroughly modern style when they want, as on Birth and the epic second side where great solos abound. The only track that stops this album getting 5 stars is La Cathedrale de Strasbourg, which I find rather dull despite van Leer's astonishing range of vocalisations. Harem Scarem is good and bears some resemblence to Hocus Pocus but falls a bit short of that track's brilliance. However, an essential album for any serious collection. (By the way, my vinyl LP (bought shortly after release) does not have Early Birth on it. This was found on a compilation album (Focus) released by Polydor in 1975. It is not good enough to be on Hamburger Concerto since it was a trial version of the track)
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Focus has always been a band with sense of humor, not only for the strange sounds and yodeling emitted by Thijs Van Leer but also for the jokes they made of sacred cows.

For example Hamburger Concerto is a play of words with Brandenburg Concerto by Johan Sebastian Bach (Not easy to find a bigger or more sacred cow anywhere), they work with the obvious Baroque influence in a delightful way just to make a Concert to.."the hamburger", something that only few and brave genius as Thijs Van Leer would ever dare to do.

But that's not the only reference as we'll see later. The problem is that many people still see Focus as a comedy band or just buffoons, because sometimes their weird sense of humor so intelligent and subtle (Not in the name of the album because it's obvious) that most people don't get it, but nothing more far from reality, this humor enhances a rare and unique exquisite sound, very well crafted and linking several influences with such a skill and beauty that seems hard to believe.

Lets start with Delitae Musicae, a rare inflection that resembles Latin or Medieval Italian (Not sure which one though or if it means delicate music or delicate whisper whisper-), in a reference to Claudio Monteverdi's: Madrigals, Book 1 delitae musicae, a name that describes perfectly this short introduction to Focus world in any of both senses because it's delicate music and at the same time a delicate whisper.

Delitae Musicae, is reminiscent of the late Mediaeval/early Renaissance using harps and some instruments from the 1500's or 1600's (Lute and harpsichord if I'm not wrong even when the first one is not credited) delicate and wonderful, as a travel in time.

Harem Scarem is a name that has tortured me for decades, can't find a right translation or what they meant, of course the extreme shouts and yodeling by Thijs give an idea of fear (Scare or maybe scream), a very Rock oriented track, frantic and breathtaking from start to end.

La Cathédral De Strasbourg as Thijs said in the DVD Masters from the Vault, is dedicated to the magnificent Gothic construction and the vivid image left in him for life, the track starts soft, dark, in other words Gothic and majestic at the same time, if you haven't seen a picture of the building or better been there, you can't really understand how perfect is the musical description, but then after a soft (and unusual) lyrics and whistle section the song turns towards a more jazzy sound, incredibly beautiful track, one of my favorites.

Birth is a unique song, the brilliant harpsichord introduction by Thijs is simply delightful, but a surprising drumming by Collin Allen (Who replaced Pierre Van Der Linden) changes the atmosphere of the song returning us to the classical Focus sound even when a bit stronger and more Hard Rock oriented than ever before, another outstanding piece of art that reminds me at some points of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull.

It's now time for the feast, the central piece of the work, the self titled epic Hamburger Concerto, I almost fell to the floor in laughter when I read the name of the parts of this epic (Starter, Rare, Medium I, Medium II, Well Done and One for the Road) simply hilarious to blend Johan Sebastian Bach with Burgers King or Mc' Donald's.

But the music is no joke, simply wonderful 20:19 minutes of pure Progressive Rock, incredible mixtures of styles and genres that go from pure Baroque to the Dutch version of Flamenco (The Flanders region or nation went from Spain to France The Netherlands and part of Belgium, what explains the electric Flamenco style of Jan Akkerman and the use of such instruments as castanets or even hand clapping) with incredible Religious Choral sections and explosions of pure power, so well developed that I won't even dare to attempt to describe, because words are too cheap for the beauty and complexity of this epic, even Mr. Van Leer's usual vocal jokes contribute in this case to make the atmosphere perfect and to enhance the beauty of the music.

Just believe me, those who haven't heard this song will never imagine what Focus means and I can only describe this song in one word: PERFECT.

Early Birth is another strange song, sadly people often impressed by the previous epic tend to repeat it over and over and forget this small gem at the end of the CD and almost never played, and I say gem because if one track describes how Focus used to sound before this album is Early Birth, leaves me hoping it would last at least 5 minutes and with the honey in the lips.

Listening to it carefully seems that it has been cut due to the limitations of the vinyl format because it's abrupt as if some engineer would have shouted We're running out of time and someone just lowered the volume in a forced way (As we used to do in our homes when a cassette tape was running out of space), the only flaw in the album, but so insignificant that I don't care.

Rating, 5 stars not a single doubt, if there were 6 or 7 stars possible I would keep going higher.

If you don't own this album, you don't know Focus, and that is a shame and a pity for any proghead, run to the store and get a copy.

Review by belz
5 stars 4.6/5.0

The album Hamburger Concerto is great from start to finish, but it can take some time to fully enjoy its sonority and melodies. At first I tried to listen to the huge "Hamburger Concerto" track by parts just to try to get a glance from it, but that was not enough to get a good idea. You really have to put the song and listen from beginning to the end. And, oh my god, only for the last 3 minutes of this track I could die while listening... The end of Hamburger Concerto is simply the best musical climax ever achieved in music yet (from my experience). It has the power of the best Camel climax but is more powerful! If the whole album was as powerful as the end of that song, I would give 5/5 on this album without hesitating. However, as good as it is, 4. 6/5.0 is a better overall score.

Higly recommanded if you like to sit there and listen to music that will take you far away... and blow you away at the same time!

Review by Eclipse
4 stars FOCUS is a very creative band that puts humour on their compositions but are extremely careful to not overuse it, making it a pleasant experience together with their amazing instrumentation. They work seriously on their arrangements, and in this disc they managed to create a barroque scenary mixed with some rocking moments. At first this may scream "inconsistent", but it actually worked perfectly, and the album's flow is never interrupted.

"Delitia Musicale" and "Cathedrale" bring to your mind an epic feel, you have dreams of travelling to those ancient romantic times, but soon a rocker "Harem Scarem" (a good example of how not to overuse a formula - i'm talking about the funny vocals, which are wisely used here) and a happy "Birth" wake you up and realise that the real dream is to come...the title suite. Overlong? Maybe, but they do progress the song with very beautiful melodies and it features the record's funniest moment, the second vocal craziness. An embryo version of "Birth" concludes the experience and it takes the best parts of the longer version of it.

Some people say this is FOCUS' finest work. I can't say that because i never listened to any other disc by them, but i am sure that Hamburger Concerto is a very creative work which the band would find trouble to top. Anyway, it is not a masterpiece but it is absolutely essential since it shows an unique side of prog music.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This almost completely instrumental album (with the sole exception of a couple of tracks containing some singing by the inimitable Thijs Van Leer) is widely held to be Dutch band Focus's finest hour, as well as one of the masterpieces of the Symphonic subgenre. The musicianship on show is indeed dazzling, with Focus boasting one of the most accomplished guitarists in rock (although far too often forgotten by all but true connoisseurs), the brilliant Jan Akkerman . Moreover (and that's good news in a genre too often characterised as unnecessarily dour and self-important), Focus are also possessed of a remarkable sense of humour, as demonstrated by the album title itself - an ironic take on Bach's "Brandenburger Concerto", one of the monuments of classical music. Van Leer's celebrated yodeling adds entertainment value to a record which is otherwise a textbook example of how to write real symphonic prog.

The album's six tracks run the gamut from the short, lute-based medieval fantasy that is "Delitae Musicae", to the lively, rollicking "Harem Scarem", powered by a strong rythm section playing a memorable riff, to the wistful, atmospheric "La Cathédrale de Strasbourg", a showcase for Thijs Van Leer's skills as a pianist (he also sings some vocals in French, adding to the melancholy feel of the piece). The intricate "Birth", starting out slowly with a lovely harpsichord intro, then picking up speed and allowing Van Leer to shine as a flutist as well as a keyboardist, introduces the album's centrepiece and title-track, the 20-minute-plus suite "Hamburger Concerto" with its funnily-named six movements.

In this monumental track, Focus prove (if it ever was needed) that they are in no way inferior to the better-known British prog giants of the era. The interplay between the band's two stars, Akkerman and Van Leer, is nothing short of spectacular. The influences of European classical and medieval music, jazz and folk blend seamlessly to create a composition which stands proud with the best epics of the same period - though, if one wanted to nitpick, it could be said it suffers from the absence of a coherent vocal line, unlike, for instance, ELP's "Tarkus" (there is some singing, apparently in Dutch, but it sounds a bit like an afterthought). Akkerman's guitar shows the influence of flamenco, one of the fundamental styles for guitarists; while Van Leer goes to town with some superb organ and synth playing, reminding listeners that there is life beyond Emerson and Wakeman. "Early Birth" closes the album, reprising the theme of "Birth" in a softer, more restrained way.

An undisputed landmark of Symphonic Prog, "Hamburger Concerto" is that rare album which blends amazing musicianship, inventiveness, melody and humour in a coherent whole. It may take more than one listen to fully appreciate it, but the experience will ultimately be more than rewarding. A well-deserved 4.5 stars.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars A real symphonic masterpiece.

Forever shrouded by the giants of the genre, Hamburger Concerto by Focus is the symphonic prog piece of beauty we often seek (no, it's not anything by Yes or Genesis). It was the Dutch, not the English, who capitalized on the sweet fruits of symphonic prog. Hamburger Concerto is a lively and unforgettable experience.

It should be of note that this is one of the few "jovial" albums I truly love and enjoy. It's full of spirit, full of life, and hits at the musical center of the brain like few albums do. It's important to note that none of the encompassing tracks to the main "epic" are filler. They are all unique and very moving tracks themselves in their own way. Harem Scarem is of particular note due its jubilant nature. There's influences here across the spectrum of prog as well, some imitations of the "big giants" if you will, but never sacrificing their own identity.

I generally am not a fan of much of the work of early prog giants, finding it too commercial to a degree and often too great a range in quality from one section to the next. Hamburger Concerto is one of the few albums that I enjoy from start to finish, and while nothing is particularly shocking or mesmerizing, the artistic grace it stands with is some of the best in the history of all of prog, and a supreme achievement of these underrated Dutchmen. Let's bring on the burgers; this is an amazing piece of music.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yet another masterpiece in the Focus catalogue, "hamburger Concerto" finds the band exploring their own symphonic trend a bit deeper while maintaining a strong flavor of jazzy vibe in their music. Pierre van der Linden's departure from the drummer's seat was indeed a serious factor that the band had to lead with, but fortunately, Colin Allen not only provided a solid foundation for the rockier orientation that the band was pursuing by then, but he also included some touches of Van der Linden dynamics into his own playing. Completeing the rhythm duo, Ruiter did a great job at completing the refurbished foundation upon which the musical ideas could be developed in a powerful manner. Yes, at this moment, Focus was reinforcing their progressive essence and preparing to rock a bit further than they had done so far: you can tell by the rough sound production for the lead guitar and Hammond organ inputs that Focus was willing to sound tighter. Another very noticeable aspect is the use of heavily overdubbed keyboards: along with the almost ever present Hammond, Van Leer put a lot of effort at integrating the mellotron and the ARP synthesizer in many of the most gradiose passages of the album, in this way creating a genuine orchestral atmosphere for the overall sound. Having said that, the album kicks off with a gentle, brief piece on lute and recorder, adapted from the Early Renaissance. After that, 'Harem Scarem' brings a strong reminder of the old combination of rocking energy and light humor that a couple of years ago had worked so well in 'Hocus Pocus'. It works here very well, too: rock'n'roll mixed with bucolic shades of flute and accordion, and also some weird percussive adornments on tympani. 'La Cathedrale de Strasbourg' brings a different mood, an etheral exercise on sweet melancholy originated from a few piano chords that build the subtle main motif. The gentle lead guitar washes fill some of the remaining empty spaces while the rhythm section provides an adequately subdued jazzy vibe to the track. 'Birth' has to be one of the definitive finest compositions by Akkerman in the history of Focus. Full of beautiful motifs linked fluidly by tight arrangements, it kicks off with an amazing harpsichord intro, and then it is developed on the basis of the alternating interaction between flute and lead guitar. Akkerman's last solo is simply magnificent. So far, so good for the album's first half. But the second half is really nothing to be dismissed, since it is occupied by the namesake 20 minute suite, a monster piece in which borrowed Baroque themes and archetypical rock riffs marry in a well-ordained amalgam of splendor and strength. Particular peaks of this suite are:the successive yodelling-organ-flute by Van Leer in 'Medium I'; the subtle tension between the guitar solo and the rhythm duo in 'Medium II'; the ellaboration of the symphonic climax all the way through 'Well Done' until the high-spirited coda 'One for the Road'. A great ending for a magnificent progressive gem: Focus showed with "Hamburger Concerto" that they were still on the top of their creative energy.
Review by Zitro
4 stars 3.6 Stars

It's difficult to resist trying an album called "Hamburger Concerto" with its title track taking twenty minutes and divided into sections humorously called "starter" "well-done". Have you ever heard a song about food, let alone a progressive rock epic? I didn't and I wanted to try something new, and expected something hilarious since I knew Focus by their funny and quirky single with yodeling and whistle solos. Unfortunately, I couldn't find humor here (it really sounds more serious than I expected), but that doesn't change the fact that the music is great and very melodic.

Hamburger Concerto is not your typical symphonic rock music, and it has a very classical and romantic feel and is generally instrumental. This is evident in "La Cathedral de Strasbourg", which sounds like it comes from another century if it wasn't for the jazz guitar playing near the end. Check the whistling halfway through the track: very interesting and not out of place. The harpsichord of "Birth" still brings back the old classical sound but when you expect more of that style, the song turns into a delicious rock tune full of tasty Hammond organs (yes, I can use those adjectives, Come on, the cover is a hamburger!). I love the usage of the flute in this track; it is even more effective than on the short, delicate "Delicate Musicae" which opens the album. Overall, Birth has to be the best Focus song I've heard so far. It's full of melody, emotion, and is flawlessly executed. At the end of the album, a second part of the magnificent "Birth" is played and is a great way to finish the album.

Hamburger Concerto is the centerpiece of the album. I was expected to laugh a lot, but this song doesn't really sound like cooking a burger. It's a very well done (no pun intended) classical soft-rock song that sounds surprisingly honest and unpretentious. The music is generally mid-tempo and pleasant to listen to, with wonderful melodies and arrangements that would make our classical music heroes proud. There is absolutely no showing off nor pointless soloing here, and I'm glad there isn't because it would break the atmosphere of this tune. The song ends with an extended majestic section with a nice and simple synthesizer solo. The only thing that makes this song not stand on the level of the epic masterpieces like Tarkus, Close to the Edge, and Supper's Ready is the fact that it's twenty minutes of mid-tempo music. Sure, it's great music all the way through, but lack of dynamics for such a long time hurts the song eventually. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of mid-tempo classical music, you are likely to fall in love with this piece.

Wait! This sounds like a 4-star review, so why did you give 3.6 stars?! Clear, "Harem Scarem" is embarrassing. The guys tried to be funny and reproduce their famous "Hocus Pocus". They failed, the forced vocalizations sound idiotic and the rock & roll music is very dumb, overlong, and repetitive.

This great album is highly recommended to fans of classical music and the softer side of progressive rock Just skip Harem Crapem and have a chance to hear Focus at their best. However, if you like your music to have guitar players playing 40 note/second solos, 10-minute long keyboard solos, and find classical music a bore, this album may not be for you.

1_Delicate Musicae (B)

2_Harem Scarem (D-)

3_La Cathedral de Strasbourg (B-)

4_Birth (A)

5_Hamburger Concerto (A/B)

6_Early Birth (B+)

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars If I except, "Focus III", I quite liked all the "Focus" albums so far. And the story will go on with this one.

As its title warns, "Delite Musicae" is a delicate instrumental. Light music for this moderately appreciate track. The contrast with "Herem Scarem" is abrupt, to say the least. This one rocks like hell and its struture reminds me of "Hocus" except that there is no yodeling here.

One of the highlight of this album is "La Cathédrale De Strasbourg". Fully symphonic, this song works crescendo. Almost classical during the intro, it features very nice vocal harmonies and subtle piano play. Superb whistling as well (although I am not a devote fan of this exercise). The whole track is really a prog gem : pure beauty.

The start of "Birth" reminds me "Rain & Tears" (Aphrodite's Child). This instrumental track is well in the "Focus" tradition. Catchy guitar and flute are the mix. And it works perfectly well. Another beautiful Focus moment.

The epic and title song "Hamburger Concerto" is a brilliant symphony. Or a rock-opera. Whatever you like. Some classical themes brought back to live and "Focus-iced" in a fantastic manner. Lots of keyboards but maybe not enough guitar during this excellent prog masterpiece. Some vocals in Dutch around minute fifteen are fortunately very short. This is the only weaker part; but after this "Focus" delivers a great finale full of synthesizers. Extremely solid.

And please, don't forget the good "Early Bird". It closes this magnificent album with brilliance at times.

As far as the rating is concerned, it is not really difficult. There are very few albums on this site which are so much praised as this one. Exclusively four or five star ratings (except one) if you take only the ones with comments ! Mine will be at the highest end.

This is how "Focus" sound when they decide to stick to the symphonic prog genre. Gone with the jazzy influences and those useless improvisations.

A "chef-d'oeuvre. Bravo !

Review by Flucktrot
5 stars This baby is really one of those rare no-brainer ratings. Hamburger Concerto is a unique masterpiece.

I have been a Focus fan for a while, though of course the only common ground I had with most of my friends was Hocus Pocus (and even recognition of that great tune was spotty). When I first saw the title, I thought that Focus was going to present some pompous, overblown, rediculous piece of prog. Fortunately, what I got was one of my top 25 albums of all time. Here are the highlights (though the entire album is a highlight in my book):

Harem Scarem. One of those goofy Focus songs that may or may not work. In this case, it does. It reminds me of a 70s dance-off, but it moves around enough and has sufficient musicianship to move past being simply worth of some foot-tapping.

La Cathedrale de Strasbourg. This tune really makes me want to visit the city of Strausbourg. The tasteful instrumentation is prominent: haunting piano, striking church organ, a lazy whistle, beautiful vocal harmonies, and of course excellent guitar.

Birth. Just another example of a new surprise waiting behind every corner on this album. Harpsichord leads into a very funky (and catchy!) groove, and we're all set for the great melodies and instrumentals that await. The guitar, flute and drums are especially well-done here.

Hamburger Concerto. One of these epics that won't kick you in the butt, but the Concerto will always deliver when you need to sit down and appreciate some great music. Here's the VERY brief synopsis: a tasteful classical intro builds into a very nice melodic refrain, then slows down for a groovy section featuring a killer guitar solo, followed by a brief church-choir-esque section, perfectly setting up the EPIC grand finale. This is simply the best that Focus has to offer, and the diversity is impressive and staggering.

The final word is that everything on this album is well-done and enjoyable. The varied instrumentation never overshadows the music that it is embedded in, and here Focus never attempt to be too "proggy" (the main reason why this gets five stars and PFM's Per Un Amico only gets four). Get yourself a Hamburger Concerto and enjoy (even for vegetarians!).

Review by Fight Club
5 stars Here is, in my opinion, the strongest album by this dutch progressive rock band. This is quite some complicated music here, however, it's pretty goofy at times too. It consists of mostly lengthy tracks void of any singing (except for the yodeling at times) and they makes use of a lot of instruments not typically found in rock music. There is a lute and a flute on the opening track which gives off a very medieval sound.

The music is quite varied offering a wide range of styles and moods. Every member contributes greatly to the final sound offering a blend of organ, piano, mellotron, flute, accordion and of course electric guitar, bass, and drums. "Birth" even makes use of a harpsichord (and it's a great song too). Of course the bulk of the album is consumed by the epic instrumental title track. The band pulls out every trick in the book on this album, which makes for a very interesting listen.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hamburger Concerto is the peak of FOCUS' career and one of the best examples of what progressive rock really is, in its most narrow meaning.

From the acoustic, Rennaissance-tinged Delitae Musicae, through the reprise of the main melody theme of Early Birth, this album presents a sincere and creative musical performance that is rarely matched during the era. It is perfectly cohesive effort with musical passages flowing easily from one part to another. It is not easy to make a 45 minutes of largely instrumental music without forcing a listener to skip certain parts or to go away for a cup of coffee while waiting for interesting moments to come. And that is what frequently happenned to many (prog) rock artists who lost compass and ideas about where to go.

FOCUS recorded a wonderful album that mixes classical symphonic, jazz and rock elements in such a way that many overrated bands like ELP or even YES in some parts of their career had difficulty to accomplish. There is a lot of symphonic- like movements and changes of tempo and mood. Loads of keyboards (organ, piano, mellotron, harpsichord, synths), flute, lead guitars and more than a competent new rhythm section are played and produced in a magnificent way.

The only minor critique from my side would go to Harem Scarem, because it was obviously made to sound like a continuation of extremely popular Hocus Pocus from Moving Waves album, this time with powerful piano riff. Add to this unoriginality an extremely unnecessary yea, yea, yea... vocals and you get the weakest moment of the album. Even as such, it is by no means a bad song - it is just unappropriate. Still, it cannot spoil the overall quality of this prog masterpiece!


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars While this is most peoples favourite FOCUS record, I think "Moving Waves" and "III" are much better. You have to love the humour they bring into their music though, I mean check out the title of this album.

"Delitae Musicae" is a short intro track of acoustic guitar and piano. "Harem Scarem" features a catchy rhythm and is uptempo. I really like the guitar 2 minutes in followed by flute. That same theme is back at 3 1/2 minutes only this time with an extended guitar solo. Back to the uptempo melody after 5 minutes. "La Cathedral De Strasbourg" opens with dark sounding piano, and when the organ comes in it reminds me of GENESIS. Vocals after 2 minutes. Some whistling and a very pleasant melody that reminds me of CAMEL.

"Birth" opens with harpsichord before drums take over a minute in. Organ follows as we get a full sound before 2 minutes. Flute a minute later as it calms down.The guitar 5 minutes in is tastefully played but it comes back before 7 minutes more aggressively. "Hamburger Concerto" is a 20 minute ride. I like the contrast early of the rock sound with the Banks-like keys. Excellent. A calm 5 1/2 minutes in as an odd vocal melody arrives. The song sort of meanders along for a while. I'm not a fan of the vocals before 16 minutes, they remind me of church. A change to a fuller sound 17 minutes in as earlier themes are repeated. "Early Birth" is a catchy little track with some great guitar after a minute, and later to end it.

Good album but I much prefer "Moving Waves" and "Focus III".

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Probably the last great album done by dutch prog legend Focus. By this time the music has changed quite a lot, and the rifts between founder members and songwriters This Van Leer and Jan Akkerman didn´t help matters. Still they could produce fine music together. English drummer Colin Allen steps in and has a very different style from Pierre Van Der Linden, more funky and down to earth. He worked well with bassist Bert Ruiter. The use of diverse percussion was also a novelty and added some colours to the overall sound.

The side long opus hamburger Concerto is usually cited as the highlight, but I think this is a very balanced CD and I liked all the tracks. It´s interesting to see the band experimenting with some more ´heavier´sounds like in Harem Scarem (it works very well after the short opener, which was played only with lute and recorder), but the best track to me is Birth: beautiful harpsichord opening, then comes bass and drums, and finally some of Akkerman´s best guitar solos ever, while the flute interventions are also amazing. I remeber going over and over to this song since I first heard it and I think it´s a pity that it is not so well known. To me is another classic like Hocus Pocus or Sylvia. My CD version has a bonus track called Early Birth, that is obviously an embrionic version of Birth. Nice addition for the hardcore fan or collector, but it is not as good as the other tunes.

In the same league as the more famous Moving Waves and Focus 3, it is one of the most interesting and unique instrumental prog albums of the 70´s. Highly recommended.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Many people have posted their opinions about this album with excellent rating. I do agree in most of them and I just want to add that this album was different in style with any other legendary albums from other bands like Genesis, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf or ELP. In fact, this album made the kinds of 70s progressive rock music comprehensive. Yes, you might claim that Focus used flute as Jethro Tull did with "Thick as A Brick" or "A Passion Play" or "Aqualung". But, these two bands and any album from these two bands were totally in different vein. Focus is pretty much a combination of classical music, jazz and rock. "Hamburger Concerto" blends all of the influences nicely.

When this album was released I was not really "into" this kind of music offering as I was inclined to observe Genesis, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. The reason was probably simple: Focus did not offer vocal and to me (by that time) rock music without vocal was not quite attractive. But as I spun much of those bands with vocals there was time when I wanted to enjoy music in itself without lyrical verse. So I did try Return To Forever, Focus, etc. One thing that caught me was Focus 3 as it had eerie and evocative flute work combined by brilliant, ambient keyboard work. But later I found "Hamburger Concerto" (the track) was inspiring. The song contains great movement from one segment to another. It then became my regular play along with Focus 3. As time went by I found other tracks like "Birth" was interesting also. AT the end, when there was CD era, I upgraded my collection from cassette to CD. I then find joy in enjoying the whole stream of this "Hamburger Concerto" (hey, I like the name!) album. I found that "Delitae Musicae" (1:13) was an excellent acoustic work followed nicely by "Harem Scarem" (5:52) and "La Cathédral De Strasbourg" (4:59).

Overall, this is a tight composition album and it's an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. If you want to have a comprehemsive understanding on the roots of 70s prog music, this album is a MUST have. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by crimson87
5 stars In my opinion this is not the best record Focus had to offer. I put on that position the much maligned Focus III. Still , Hamburger Concerto is one of the best symphonic albums out there and certanly the best example of how a rock band could reproduce classical music. I was quite surprised of how much instruments they have used on this record specially by Thijs Van Leer. At that time former drummer Pierre Van der Linden was replaced by Collin Allen. Personally I like Van der Linden jazzier approach more and I think Colin's drums sound too loud on the mix.

This record opens with a little classical tune in the vein of former Focus compositions ( Elspeth of Nothingham comes to mind) named Delittle Musicae. Certanly a good prelude of what's to come on this record. Harem Scarem is a uptempo prog rock tune much in the vein of Hocus Pocus. Although I find some really incredible Akkerman solos and I like Thij's performance here ( weird voices and accordion included) , I find Hocus Pocus to be slightly better. Next comes one of the highlights of the record , the one and only " Cathedrale de Strasbourg" This guys managed to reproduce quite a melancholic feel here and Thij's french vocals seem to place me right in front of the cathedral on a rainy day. Sorry about that but this song always pops us this picture on my mind. Suddenly after one of the best WHISTLING! Solos I have heard the song changes into a jazzy section closing with a church-like singing by Thijs. Truly beautiful. The next one is a classical rework called "Birth" based on Thij's flute playing skills and Akkerman's chops.

Of course , the title track is the core of the record: An epic 20 minute composition that can hold up well against some of the classics. Thij's use of hapsicord gives this epic some kind of medieval or even academic music feeling. I think I am emphasizing much of his work in my review , but I can't help myself since I think this guy is one of the best musicians within progressive music. Jan Akkerman's guitarwork is nothing short of spectacular as well. Back on track , the only flaw I can find on this composition is that due to a particular Akkerman riff ( you 'll notice which one) this song always feels like it's ending. But otherwise " Hamburguer Concerto" is a majestic tune that serves as a vehicle to show how diverse and accomplished musicians those dutchmen were. Finally to close this record a rework of the " Birth" theme only this time much shorter and flute-based. I think this little tune fulfills the objective of losing this album with grandeur , specially because of Jan's guitar solo at the very end.

If you are looking for virtuoso multi- instrumentalists playing music that resembles a symphonic orchestra , then you can't miss " Hamburger Concerto". A true SYMPHONIC ROCK album if there was any.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have never cared for Focus to be honest. Overall, I find their work bland and uninteresting. This highly acclaimed album is no exception, but it is decent and for the most part enjoyable.

"Delicate Musicae" A delicate baroque-sounding introduction begins the album.

"Harem Scarem" Closer to the boogie-rock of Uriah Heep, as even the screeching vocals are present in the background, this work tends to be irritating. Things soften up in places, courtesy of accordion and other instrumentation. The guitar playing is good, if a bit brittle sounding. Bert Ruiter's fluid bass exercises make the piece.

"La Cathédral de Strasbourg" This is not a rock track, at least not at first, but piano and organ with passages that range from gentle to haunting. Quiet drums and simple chords pave the way for some vocals and really muffled guitar. It's a fairly sedated piece that doesn't do much for me. The last part is substandard-sounding jazz music.

"Birth" The baroque feel returns as a harpsichord introduces the song. It takes on a more primitive feel with low organ and pounding toms. As instrumentals go, this keeps my interest. The flute work may be easily overshadowed by greats like Ian Anderson, but it is still very good and a pleasing touch overall. The guitar sounds fuller, and the playing is exceptional. While the chord progressions are nothing terribly creative, the overall arrangement is respectable.

"Hamburger Concerto" Strong organ work (although perhaps second rate to other giants of the time like Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman) begins the epic piece. The first five minutes alternate a simple heavier riff with various orchestral pieces. The vocalizations and the yodeling, whatever their purpose or intent, all but ruin the music for me Following this, there is a very fluid passage with some great organ again. The electric guitar sound is inventive for this sort of piece, and works well in the more delicate passages. The guitar solo is lengthy and I tend to lose interest after several measures.

"Early Birth" The album concludes with a dull piece that has some slight disco sensibilities in the beginning. It mainly consists of woodwind work over the same exact chord progression featured in "Birth." For the most part, this is pointless and adds nothing.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars I'm not very knowledgeable about this band. You might say I'm somewhat out of focus. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.) But a lot of folks whose opinions I respect think rather highly of them and I figured it was long past time for me to get more familiar with their music. To be brutally honest, other than harboring fond memories of the mind-bending, yodelistic stylings of their radio staple "Hocus Pocus" that sat prettily in FM's heavy rotation in the mid 70s and a dubious wild night I had in Denver that involved one of the sides of their album "Moving Waves" playing on eternal repeat on a lithe and willing sirens' turntable (a sobering tale of youthful debauchery that I elect to forgo telling for now), I'm but a neophyte guppy when it comes to these Dutch masters. Therefore when I spotted "Hamburger Concerto" taking up space in some used record bins recently I remembered that this platter is considered by many of their fans to be their best and decided to start my focused education at the top.

Just to throw you off balance a tad they open with 1:12 of an air entitled "Delitiae Musicae," an arrangement of a traditional song from days gone by (a fancy way of saying it's a tune so old that no one has a clue as to which caveman came up with it and, thusly, no royalties need be paid). Using classic acoustic instrumentation, it's nicely done but not at all representative of what's to follow. "Harem Scarem" is more like what I expected in that it's an upbeat rocker from front to back in which the piano and Hammond organ of Thijs Van Leer and the guitar of Jan Akkerman combine to create a light-hearted ditty that's fun to listen to. (I'm wondering why it didn't receive a lot more airplay since it seems to be borne of the same cloth that made "Hocus Pocus" such a monster hit but perhaps it was due to a lack of grease-the-program-director's-palm-with-payola-and/or-nose-candy being supplied by the PR pukes at the label.) It's a happy-go-lucky boogie-woogie song that flies in the same stratosphere as Traffic's smile-inducing "Glad" does but it distinguishes itself with a more involved and complex structure. The funky breakdown just past the halfway point gives bassist Bert Ruiter a chance to stand in the spotlight and he doesn't shy away from making the most of his opportunity.

The album's apex comes in the form of "La Cathedrale De Strasbourg." The number begins with a flurry of dramatic piano stylings ala Chopin that lead to a delicate melody performed in a duet with Jan's guitar. In the 2nd part of the piece the group adopts a slow, bluesy groove whilst Thijs breaks into a brilliant whistling foray that would make a Texas mockingbird jealous. It's a cool surprise and Akkerman's jazzy guitar solo that follows is impressive. Overall it's a well-composed, moody instrumental that takes the listener through several different musical textures and emotions with ease. I can't say the same for the labored "Birth," however. It starts out with promising harpsichord trills but when drummer Colin Allen rambles in with his floor toms a 'rolling the unremarkable main theme emerges and the track enters the dreaded realm of the mediocre. There's a nifty flute ride (and later on a spirited recorder spasm) that pleases the Tull fan in me but Jan's sloppy guitar phrases leave me cold. I realize that this tune might have been the bee's knees in '74 but the decades haven't been kind to this cut and now it's as dated as a paisley Nehru jacket.

The LP's six-movement namesake and claim to fame is, obviously, the side- long "Hamburger Concerto." While unfortunate moments of inconsistency and hum-drum plague this opus there are enough spots of genuine euphoria erupting to rescue it from the dregs. "Starter" possesses the kind of grandiose and stately attitude that I like to hear and Bert's intricate bass lines distinguish themselves in particular. It's big and proggy as all get out. Perfect. Don't change a thing. "Rare" is a continuation of that processional aura but it does belie a tuft of gray hair poking out from under the tiara (Careful with that ARP, Eugene!) in that the synthesizer is as thin and buzzy as a gnat's aria. Yet a large- scale intervention from the mighty Mellotron saves the day. "Medium I" (get the bun pun yet?) features some clever vocal hijinks from Van Leer that keep things from getting too heavy-handed/serious (always a good thing, their sense of humor being one of their more endearing traits) and when he mounts the Hammond organ and drives it like a dirt bike for a spell he demonstrates that Wakeman and Emerson ain't got nothin' on him. Thijs also ends this segment with some swirling, tasty flute roll-ups that will tickle your eardrums.

On "Medium II" it's the guitar's turn to shine from center stage but it seems there's a short in the floodlights. Jan's jazzy noodling at first is intriguing but when he dials up the volume/distortion his tone becomes brittle and it sounds like he's searching desperately for places to take his solo. To add insult to injury he's not helped in the least by the tired descending chord progression that's droning underneath him. It's intolerably unimaginative and entirely too been-there-a-zillion-times patronizing. I understand that it's intended to be a simple platform for Akkerman to shock and awe atop of on the fretboard but he fails to do so and it becomes no better than a flabby Lynyrd Skynyrd-like jam that can't end too soon. What I'm saying is that if a guitarist is going to fill up 5 minutes of vinyl he'd better tear the roof off the sucker or it's just filler. Enough already! He finally plugs his cord into the Leslie speaker cabinet and switches to a friendlier riff to pull this bus out of the ditch. "Well Done" takes us into a stained-glass sanctuary for a large dose of Catholic mass-ish chantings before a heavy rock motif ensues and things get back to being both entertaining and challenging. "One For the Road" is the finale and it doesn't back away from being delightfully over-the-top. Glad to hear it. They construct a fittingly colossal wall of sound accentuated by a fatter ARP synthesizer setting and the mountainous climax is stupendous and gratifying. You know, the kind of stuff that drove punk rockers to stick safety pins through their cheeks.

While Focus may not occupy the penthouse suites in the prog rock condominiums that house the likes of Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis they do reside comfortably in the same high-rise and there's a lot to be said for that. They were extremely talented, to be sure, but they weren't necessarily innovative and that's the essential characteristic that separates them from the giants. "Hamburger Concerto" is a pleasant listening experience that affords a clear look into precisely what was going on in the mid 70s in commercial prog rock and it deserves my highest 3-star rating. Enjoy it for what it is but don't expect too much.

Review by friso
4 stars Focus' 'Hamburger Concerto' is the most artistic album of the band. More serene, focused on a classy and adult interpretation of the bands influences; classical music, folk, fusion and (hard)rock. The band sounds more tightly arranged and recorded, which does result in a slightly less wild sound - though still blessed with quite a lot of enthusiasm. Perhaps the difference between this album and Focus' earlier efforts is actually a bit like the difference between Camel's 'Mirage' and 'Moodmadness'. 'La Cathedrale De Strasbourg' with its distinct dreamy atmosphere is arguably the most beautiful piece the band ever recorded. The title song is an epic symphonic prog track with many beautiful sections and one of Akkerman's best guitar solo's. A classic of the genre. However great this album is, I must admit it never really 'clicked' with me as much as some other Focus records have; most notably 'Moving Waves' and 'Ship of Memories'. I guess I'm more drawn toward the wild enthusiasm of the years before than to this very mature and soulful 'Hamburger Concerto'.
Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Naming your album HAMBURGER CONCERTO most likely means you don't take your music too seriously. Stranger enough, the music here sounds like it was created by four dedicated, serious musos with tastes for jazz and classical musics. Get ready for a dizzying array of bluesy guitar things, Hammond drives and classical sensibilities.

I've heard only MOVING WAVES before this, and while there isn't a standout track like ''Hocus Pocus'', HAMBURGER CONCERTO is much better on the consistency end of things. It's like biting into a perfect burger that's juicy and tasty with eat bite (apologies to all the vegetarians on this site). Focus really find their stride here and deliver series after series of top notch instrumental performances, save for one problem.

It all starts with a brief introduction followed by the uptempo, high-octane ''Harem Scarem'' that tries to repeat the success of ''Hocus Pocus''. While it's more musically engaging, they managed to rip off Miles Davis's ''It's About That Time'' (from IN A SILENT WAY) somewhere in the middle. They manage to make up for this error on the sometimes jazzy, sometimes Medieval ''La Cathedral...'' and the partially heavy, bass chord driven ''Birth''.

MOVING WAVES has an epic in ''Eruption'' that at best, is very inconsistent in delivery as too many ideas are shoved into the piece and way too many soft and dry spots are there. ''Hamburger Concerto'' seems to fix these problems making a great epic throughout the twenty minute duration. Best of all for my tastes, they only play around with a few themes and extend them properly. Thijs van Leer even offers a few goofy vocals for kicks.

Not really the best album from the symphonic prog parts, but definitely one of the most enjoyable.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is another great album that Focus released during their classic period where they clearly were on top of their game. I've always though that this was a live album, mainly due to its title, but that doesn't mean that I now like it any less. Hamburger Concerto ranks among the band's top albums, although I wouldn't exactly place it on the top of my list. The main appeal here is the record's consistency where every new track adds something new to the overall style without tramping the same ground twice.

The biggest highlight moment for me is the intro to Harem Scarem that always gets my pulse going. It's true that the song was clearly designed to be a new stab at the success that was generated by Hocus Pocus. Unfortunately the lightning wouldn't strike twice for Focus but at least this track is just as exciting and even more so! The rest of the music on Hamburger Concerto progress in a similar fashion as on Moving Waves. Some might look at the two album's track listings and see very clear similarities between the two, although the biggest difference is that, by this time, Focus was a much more experienced band.

Birth is the second biggest highlight for me here. The groovy progression of the track is excellent and I often compare it's placement on the album with that of Focus II on the band's second album, making it an unofficial addition to the series. Still, it's the album's title tracks that makes or breaks the overall opinion of this album for me. Even though it might seem like a new stab at a lengthy composition like Eruption, which is not helped by the fact that both tracks have short yodeling moments that remind me strongly of Hocus Pocus. Hamburger Concerto is actually much more structured composition-wise. There are clear themes highlighted all throughout the track and the instrumental arrangements are top notch. Still, this performance has never been one of my favorites. It's a great achievement for Focus but cannot really match any of the other epics from that same era.

Hamburger Concerto was unfortunately enough the last great album by Focus and closes this chapter of the Dutch Symphonic Prog with a bang. I highly recommend this album to any serious fans of the '70s Symphonic Prog movement, even though it's not a huge favorite of mine.

***** star songs: Harem Scarem (5:52) Birth (7:46)

**** star songs: Delitae Musicae (1:13) La Cathédral De Strasbourg (4:59) Hamburger Concerto (20:19) Early Birth (2:54)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I can't believe I have not yet written a review for one of my favorite albums from my college days. While I would most often play Side 2-- the one containing the concerto--"La Cathédrale de Strasbourg" remains one of my favorite all-time prog songs. (Partly because I lived in Strasbourg, France, 1978-79, but more for the beautifully refined and respectful ministrations of vocal, flute, and guitar entwined therein.) While "Harem Scarem" (9/10; a kind of "Hocus Pocus" reprise) and "Birth" (9/10) are good, solid songs, FOCUS, for me, excelled when they brought the old, 'ancient and medieval' sounds or the quirky odd sounds into their music rather than performed straightforward rock. Still, this is the best all-around record of a, IMHO, notoriously underachieving band (think of the potential they had with the likes of Ruiter, van Der LInden, van Leer, and Akkerman on board!). Though really 4.5 stars, it is one of those masterful milestones of progressive rock that one cannot but hold up high for others to try.
Review by Neu!mann
5 stars Never mind the knee-slapping novelty hit "Hocus Pocus"; the true range of the Dutch band Focus can be heard on their 1974 album "Hamburger Concerto". Of all their studio recordings it's easily the strongest and best sounding, from the delicate 73-second medieval prologue "Delitae Musicae" to the shuddering climax of the 20-plus minute title track, filling all of Side Two on the original LP.

But the energetic album opener probably should have been named something else besides "Harem Scarem". The title is too obviously a self-conscious echo of "Hocus Pocus", and the music, though undeniably solid, clearly wants to recapture some of the crazy magic of that earlier song, right down to the wacky virtuoso vocals of Thijs Van Leer. But what a voice he had: able to stretch in a single crescendo from growling low bass to a high soprano even Jon Anderson couldn't dream of reaching.

"La Cathedral de Strasbourg" and "Birth" are both more or less quintessential classical rock period pieces, firmly rooted in the Symphonic Prog soil of the mid-1970s. The former is a lush ballad in 3/4 time, with more falsetto Van Leer vocalizing and lots of debonair European whistling; the latter is a more straightforward instrumental rocker showcasing the chops of Jan Akkerman, one of the premier guitarists of his time (a shorter, alternate version of the song is included as a bonus to the CD).

But it's the side-long title suite that stands as arguably the band's proudest moment. The title is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of J.S. Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos", but the music itself is lifted wholesale (and without acknowledgement) from Johannes Brahms, specifically Op. 56a, "Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn". Bach, Brahms, and Haydn: that's a lot of highbrow baggage to be carrying around, but it's a great piece of music, very smartly arranged and orchestrated. It may in fact be one of the best examples of classical rock ever attempted, continuing in dramatic leaps from the grandiose "Starter" movement to the mock operatic Rare (yes: more yodeling!) to the stately "Medium" and "Well Done" sections, featuring one of Jan Akkerman's more spellbinding guitar solos.

This type of orchestral rock would be horribly out of fashion within two years of its release. But today it sounds better than ever, working almost like a Prog Rock primer for neophyte music students. Look no further than the extensive instrument list for proof, rivaling the best of Gentle Giant for variety and eclecticism: harpsichords and ARP synthesizers; accordions and Mellotrons; flutes and finger cymbals; so forth and so on...

And all of it employed with more power and energy (not to mention good old-fashioned Prog Rock pretension) than anything else in the Focus discography, including the fluke of "Hocus Pocus". In other words, it may not exactly be cholesterol-free, but the meat of this burger is at least more organic than expected. High praise indeed from a born-again vegan like me.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Focus is one of the symphonic progressive rock bands who have always been consistent in writing enjoyable records riddled with energy and fantastic musicianship, while remaining unique among their peers. Hamburger Concerto is one of their best albums, and they let their unique and fast paced supreme musicianship flags fly in the open for all to see.

After the beautiful medieval courtroom styled ditty intro, "Delitae Musicae", the music of Focus comes in fast and furious. "Harem Scarem" is an extremely solid rocker based on steady bass thumps and a simple recognizable piano riff. This track is full of energy and is hard to dislike. Fans of Dixie Dregs would probably enjoy the music going on here. The guitar and flute solos in the middle section of the track are very melodic and add a slightly airy feel to this otherwise hard song.

"La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" starts off on beautiful classical-inspired piano playing, accompanied by soft and powerful guitar perfectly in syncopation. The song eventually gives way to a sound that is somewhat jazzy with spacey sounding vocals and some of the best whistling you'll ever hear. There isn't much more to say about this song without being redundant; it's absolutely beautiful.

A baroque inspired harpsichord solo kicks off "Birth" before pounding drums enter the picture, soon followed by a dark and heavy bass motif. Organ dominates the monstrous, bass full soundscape for a while before a flute dominated motif takes over. It all eventually gets soft and beautiful for the center portion with a terrifically melodic flute solo. There is a lot of blues influenced guitar work on this song as well, and that combined with the amounts flute make this album an obvious crossover appeal for Jethro Tull fans.

The centerpiece, the epic "Hamburger Concerto" itself, is majestic. It's full of fantastically gripping rock riffs, which is one strength that this band has always had. The energy is perfect in that it will allow you to venture through the length of this track without feeling bored at all. Thijs van Leer has a knack for making anything sound interesting with his bizarre but strangely compelling yodel-scatting.

As stated earlier, this album has great crossover appeal for Jethro Tull fans. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for some of the more rock-based symphonic prog with strong secondary influence in jazz-rock.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Although many Focus fans swear by it, I can't say I find much to celebrate about Hamburger Concerto. Despite bringing in plenty of symphonic trimmings, several of the songs on this album are repetitive and unimaginative hard rock pieces at their core, and the title track adds nothing new to the already overpopulated prog subgenre of rock adaptations of classical music. The verve and energy present on Moving Waves is absent, and what's left behind is rather tired out and derivative, following the prog playbook whilst neither coming up with new tricks or breathing new vitality into old ones. Hardly the band's finest hour.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Focus are an acquired taste but I have always been fascinated with their peculiar brand of music, especially the odd angular riffs and keyboard work of Thijs van Leer, who plays organ, piano, harpsichord, electric piano, flute, alto-flute, arp synthesiser, recorder mellotron, vibes, accordion, and the organ of St. Mary the Virgin. He is joined by Bert Ruiter on bass guitar, auto harp, triangles, chinese finger cymbals, handclaps, swiss bells, and Colin Allen is on drums, conga drum, tambourine, castanets, cabasa, woodblock, chinese gong, timpani, handclaps, flexatone, cuica, not to forget also Jan Akkerman on all guitars, lute, timpani, handclaps. They are a force to be reckoned with at their best and their best is definitely on this album.

This album begins with Akkerman cleaning his lute on 'Delitae Musicae' which signifies the classical music influences. The album features one of their most beloved tracks, 'Harem Scarem' with its frenetic rhythm and comical vocal notations. The guitars are incredible along with the jaunty keyboard lines and it is only surpassed in popularity by 'Hocus Pocus'. The piano driven 'La Cathedrale De Strasbourg' is quite beautiful featuring cathedral church organ and some nice tinkling piano and clean guitar lines. There are vocals on this that work well with the music and some high pitch whistles. 'Birth' is a lengthy track with Renaissance overtones at first, very medieval sounding, and then a rhythmic drum pounds to make way for a pulsing bassline, and finally Leer's Hammond organ. This is a great piece of music and my favourite on side one. Akkerman has the spotlight on him as he powers out an emotional lead solo and notably the flute soling is divine.

The album boasts the customary 70s accessory; the side long multi-movement suite that swallowed up half of the prog vinyls of that era. 'Hamburger Concerto' is a 20 minute instrumental in 6 parts; i) Starter, ii) Rare, iii) Medium, iv) Medium II, v) Well Done, vi) One For The Road. The symphonic sound is prominent, and Leer and Akkerman are at their best here. Of course on subsequent albums they will go their separate ways after disagreements in the ranks. Still we can enjoy their genius on this album and it must be hailed as one of the best things Focus have done. At about 6 and a half minutes in, Leer has some moments of vocal burbling which are okay be me, and even some of his idiosyncratic yodelling and high pitched falsetto ramblings. It is part of the inimitable Focus sound made famous on 'Hocus Pocus' so hard to argue with it here. His Hammond solo to follow is delightful. The sound at 17 minutes is wall to wall grandeur and a very powerful finale. What an intricate musical masterpiece. The album throws in one more short thing for good measure, 'Early Birth', with nice guitar but I am already overloaded by the suite previously. All I can say is this is one fine album and perhaps the best Focus though I have only heard about 4. In any case, this is quintessential Focus paradise.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Forth album - Hamburger concerto from 1974 is considered by many the absolut peak of their career, here the duo Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer works in a perfect unison. Well, to me Hamburger concerto is in same league with Moving waves, has same musical patters, same attitude and almost same sound. Harem scarem is like Hocus pocus part 2, a very humoristic piece, well performed with catchy arrangements, again the most solid part of the release is in the end of the album with the title track, a 20 min prog bomb. A very worthy album that consolidates the master status they had in those times, both Moving waves and this one are considered among the best prog albums of the first part of the seventies. 4 stars for Hamburger concerto for sure.
Review by Guillermo
5 stars I recently listened to this album for the first time. I thought that after their "Focus 3" album, with all the excess in that album with a lot of improvisations to fill a two LP set there were not better things to expect from this band. I was wrong. I was curious to listen to this album for years and I finally did it. It is one of best albums that I have listened from them (apart from "Moving Waves" from 1971), but I think that Pierre van der Linden`style in the drums was better for this band, being him a better technically drummer than Colin Allen whose drumming I found more simple in comparison. Van der Linden is a more Jazz-Rock and Progressive Rock oriented drummer, in my opinion. But Allen is a good percussionist too, also providing a variety of percussion instruments than van der Linden didn`t use with the band. This album has a lot of melodies and very good arrangements, most of them very influenced by classical music (in fact, the "Hamburger Concerto" is based in "Variations from a Theme from Haydn by Brahms") , some medieval and folk music and even some religious music. Thijs Van Leer used a lot of keyboard instruments with a lot of very good arrangements, and his humour is also present in some of his vocals, particularly in the "Hamburger Concerto" title song, which also in itself is an humorous title, like a joke in reference to J.S. Bach`s "Brandenburger Concertos". Jan Akkerman also sounds very inspired playing his guitars. So, this album is very Progressive Rock in style, one of the best from this style, wth the band still at their peak and with a lot of creativity powers and enthusiasm. A very recomendable album.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars To my ears ''Sylvia'' is among the top 3 tracks ever recorded by Focus and this was also the belief of the audience back in the 70's, as the single climbed on No. 4 of the UK charts, while ''Focus 3'' reached No. 6 in the album charts.What followed was a triumphant first tour in USA and several gigs in the UK, among them a pair of lives at London's Rainbow Theatre in 1973, taped on the live release ''Focus at the Rainbow'' and released again on Imperial and Polydor.According to Thijs van Leer the intense live activity of the band affected the composing quality and the musicians were somewhat empty of ideas around the time.This led to Pierre van der Linden departure, while he was replaced by Colin Allen.The next work of Focus sees the light in 1974, based on ''Variations on a Theme by Haydn'' by Johannes Brahms.The album was recorded at the Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes between January and March 74'.

The symphonic-oriented short intro ''Delitiae Musicae'' will give its place to ''Harem Scarem'', which supposedly played the role of the chart single of the album.Its delicate, symphonic-oriented sound and the furious interplays though were not something close to the likings of the public and, despite its good quality and the intense progressive nature, it failed to attract the audience.''La Cathedrale de Strasbourg'' is a romantic, Classical-influenced piece of delicate Symphonic Rock with wordless voices, jazzy guitar interludes by Akkerman and beautiful piano work by van Leer, resulting an extremely balanced composition of elegant instrumental music.With ''Birth'' Focus revisit some of the aspects of their early days, as this one contains heavy flute-driven parts, light psychedelic tunes and strong organ work.But Focus had musically moved on in this fourth studio album and these premature inspirations are cleverly dressed up with Classical-drenched harsichord textures and virtuosic guitar moves by Akkerman, including some very powerful solos.

The 20-min. title track of the album is yet another great idea, added in the list of epic tracks by Focus.This one contains the distinctive humor of the band, as it is divided in six movements, developing the cooking of a hamburger.''Hamburger Concerto'' comes a mix of organ-driven Symphonic Rock with smooth psychedelic overtones and jazzy-influenced Progressive Rock with light jams on guitars and organ, while in several occasions van Leer's flute really shines through.It lacks some cohesion in the way, but this belongs definitely among the nice epics of the mid-70's, offering diverse atmospheres, ranging from sweet themes with a smooth playing by the band to heavier, technical interplays and solos with a pompous climate, while the chant-like vocals and the sharp and surprising synthesizer solo towards the end are quite intelligent additions.Maybe not masterful, but this is well-executed and very rich instrumental music.

At this point it gets quite clear that Focus is rather impossible to reach the marvelous level of composing as presented on ''Moving waves''.Tensions within the group led eventually to a great album with series of tight interplays, orchestral majesty and calm melodies, which struggle a bit to connect with each other.Even so, this one should belong to the discography of a Prog fan for its sincere, professional and bombastic perfromances.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by patrickq
3 stars I don't envy whomever has to decide how to classify artists into subgenres on this site! Focus is symphonic prog - - OK, works for me. Hamburger Concerto opens with "Delitæ Musicæ," a prog-folk number written by guitarist Jan Akkerman, which is followed by "Harem Scarem," a symphonic piece by keyboardist Thijs van Leer with a distinct jazzy (though not necessarily fusiony) interlude. After van Leer's "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg," which seems largely symphonic, side one ends with Akkerman's "Birth," whose clear folk, jazz, and classic-rock elements are at least as prominent as its symphonic elements. Based on this LP side, one might guess this was a symphonic prog artist, but guesses of prog-related or possibly "eclectic prog" might also be reasonable.

Anyway, side two is given to Hamburger Concerto's title track, written jointly by Akkerman and van Leer. On the digital download I have, this is followed by "Early Birth," a variation of "Birth" which, as noted by prior reviewers, acts as a reprise of that song, and is a nice way to end the album, even if the original LP ended with "One for the Road," the final section of "Hamburger Concerto." Surprisingly, although it's divided into six sections with distinct writing credits, the 20-minute "Concerto" does not come across as a medley of distinct songs; its sections flow together nicely. At the same time, its variety of themes and styles compliments the first side and its stylistic contrasts.

This album appeared a year or so after Focus hit the US top ten with the single "Hocus Pocus." Maybe I'm the only one who views "Hocus Pocus" as a novelty song, but at least technically, yodeling in a pop song was a novelty in in 1973 - - and I'm pretty sure it still is. While "Hocus Pocus" has the potential for being annoying, I enjoy it. Hamburger Concerto is not a "Hocus Pocus" soundalike, but there's no doubt that it's a product of the same band. And by the time van Leer is using his voice as an instrument for the fourth or fifth time on side two, it does approach obnoxiousness.

Nonetheless, Hamburger Concerto is a good listen. Other than my minor complaints about the (wordless) vocals, I'd say this album maintains a consistent level of quality in performance and composition. Maybe the most prominent exception is the album's high point, "Harem Scarem." I agree with those who say that "Harem Scarem" is the song on this album which is most like "Hocus Pocus;" although parts of "Concerto" sound more like parts of "Hocus Pocus," "Harem Scarem" more resembles "Hocus Pocus" from the standpoint of composition.

A good, though nonessential, product from Focus.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 461

Focus is a Dutch progressive rock band formed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1969, by Thijs van Leer. The band has undergone numerous formations in their history. Formed of members of the pit band for the Dutch production of the rock musical "Hair", Focus released their debut studio album "In And Out Of Focus", in 1970. But, their debut gained little attention outside the Netherlands. They only started to gain popularity following the success of "Focus II", released in 1971. The success continued with "Focus 3", released in 1972 and "Hamburger Concerto", released in 1974.

So, "Hamburger Concerto" is the fourth studio album of Focus and was released in 1974. As happened before, for the third time, the band suffered another change into their line up. Pierre van der Linden, the drummer of the group was replaced by the ex-Stone The Crows drummer Collin Allen, even before Focus recorded "Hamburger Concerto".

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

"Hamburger Concerto" has six tracks. The first track "Delitiae Musicae" written by Jan Akkerman is a short but at the same time magnificent piece which instantly sets what will be the classic mood on the album. This is a beautiful classic piece of music influenced by the Renaissance and Medieval music that introduces us perfectly well in the mood of this fantastic album. The second track "Harem Scarem" written by Thijs van Leer represents a musical proposal completely different. It's a very rock oriented song, with some jazz influences, very frantic from the start to the end. This is a song where we can perfectly see, on the vocals and "lyrics", some the usual "insanity" of Thijs van Leer. It's another magnificent piece of music with impressive guitar and piano works. The third track "La Cathedral De Strasbourg" written by Thijs van Leer represents another change in the musical direction on the album. It's an extremely beautiful piece of music with very calm voices and with church organ and bells. This is a perfect song, an incredible and beautiful track, one of their best and one of my favourites too. It's a song that evokes perfectly well the grandeur and majesty of the Gothic Cathedral of Strasbourg. The fourth track "Birth" written by Jan Akkerman represents another surprising, perfect and magnificent musical moment on the album. It's a song with a nice harpsichord introduction by Thijs van Leer that changes and oscillates the musical atmosphere of the song between the classical and rock. It features also solos between Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman, where they show their skills, perfectly well. This is truly a unique and brilliant song and it's also absolutely delightful. The fifth track is the title track "Hamburger Concerto". It's divided into six parts. All the six parts were written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman, alternately. This great piece of music represents the epic moment on the album and is a suite with about 20 minutes long. This theme always was and remains one of Focus' most accomplished pieces of music, in terms of musical construction, and it has an incredible mixtures of styles and genres and represents also one of the best progressive musical moments, ever made by anyone. This piece of music is, in my humble opinion, the best and the perfect way to describe and show the music of Focus, and how their music can be so beautiful and perfect, in some moments. Believe me, you only can understand what I'm saying if you hear it. The sixth track "Early Birth" written by Jan Akkerman is, as the name says, a reprise of "Birth". It's, in reality, a magnificent and perfect way to close the album. Unfortunately, since is a song that comes after the title track, there is a tendency not to be noticed, what is totally unfair. This is also a great song, in the same vein of "Birth", where once more we can hear a great guitar work by Jan Akkerman, a great flute solo and also a good bass playing.

Conclusion: I completely agree with Easy Livin when he says that "Hamburger Concerto" is by far the best and more accomplished album of Focus. It's true that "Moving Waves" and "Focus 3" are two great albums. We we even can say, in a certain way, the same about "In And Out Of Focus". However, "Hamburger Concerto" is another thing. "Hamburger Concerto" is their most progressive album and it's also the only perfect album made by Focus. It's also their only album that deserves to be considered a masterpiece. "Hamburger Concerto" is also one of the best albums produced in the 70's. I even dare to say that "Hamburger Concerto" is one of the best and most perfect progressive rock albums ever made. "Hamburger Concerto" represents the band in the peak of their form and explains why Focus is considered the best Dutch progressive rock band, why is considered one of the best and most influential progressive rock bands, and finally, why it's so respected, even today, in the progressive rock world. Unfortunately, "Hamburger Concerto" represents also the last great album made by them, in the 70's, and the beginning of the divorce between Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman, what would take place in the next year, after the release of their fifth studio album "Mother Focus".

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars After their successful Focus II and Focus III, the Dutch band led by the cerebral duo Thijs van Leer / Jan Akkerman so fond of academic classical music, takes the work "Variations on a Theme by Haydn" by the 19th century German composer Johannes Brahms, as an inspirational reference point for their fourth album, "Hamburger Concerto".

A work lavished with atmospheres of diverse dimensions through an instrumentation that flows soberly, from the medieval character that Akkerman's lute accompanied by van Leer's gentle flute conveys in the brief and crystalline "Delitae Musicae" (an adaptation of the 16th century Dutch composer Joachim van den Hove), the folk reminiscences of the spirited "Harem Scarem" and van Leer's unmistakably Tyrolean vocal registers bordering on the burlesque, the heavenly airs emanating from organs and synthesizers in the ecclesiastical "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg", to the renaissance-rock intensity of "Birth" which, after the incandescent harpsichord intro and the wandering flute, delivers Akkerman's excellent guitar solo.

But the ultimate gem comes with the suite "Hamburger Concerto", a huge and superlative piece divided in six parts that condenses the classical, jazz and progressive influences that Focus uses to build it. The epic keyboard opening is joined by a forceful guitar riff, similar to the one later developed by Rush in "In the End" from their "Fly by Night", the sober bass of Bert Ruiter and the correct percussion of Colin Allen, to gradually create hypnotic and solid sound carpets that allow both the virtuoso showcasing of van Leer with his artillery of pianos, organs and mellotrons (iii. Medium I), as well as Akkerman's electric guitar, at times elegant, at times harsh, coupled with van Leer's sung verses borrowed from the Dutch carol "O Kerstnacht, schoner dan de dagen" (iv. Medium II). The final section finds the suite at its instrumental peak, with the opening guitar riff reappearing, complemented by a luminous synthesiser to conclude the piece majestically. Undoubtedly one of the Dutchman's finest compositions.

"Hamburger Concerto" brings the band's most splendid and renowned period to a brilliant close. Unfortunately, the constant disagreements between van Leer and Akkerman regarding the paths to follow and the musicians who should accompany them on the journey, would end up affecting Focus' musical proposal for the second part of the 70's.


4/4,5 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars Really don't understand why this album is so highly regarded. To my ears it has, for the most part, songs that don't go anywhere, with uninspired solos and mediocre drumming (sounds like a poor man's Nick Mason is banging a set of cardboxes). It's not all that bad though. In the last song, after som ... (read more)

Report this review (#2930462) | Posted by JyriK | Sunday, June 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have always loved Focus. They were always a little different, more continental. This is their most flawless album. Every single track is superb, while being as varied as you come to expect from the band. I find this is one of those albums that you want to play all the way through. There's no ... (read more)

Report this review (#2870536) | Posted by Greta007 | Saturday, December 24, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 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 w ... (read more)

Report this review (#2669702) | Posted by WJA-K | Friday, January 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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 "Hamb ... (read more)

Report this review (#2633376) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Friday, November 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The peak album by Focus delivers a delicate mixture of classically influence progressive rock with updated sound, especially for keyboards (moog, ARP synthesizer). Playing is very tasty, advanced and refined. Singing is fine and joddling is well repeated on the long title track but in a more dr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2451058) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, September 25, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As new flesh in the progressive rock world I can say this album made me curious to progressive rock. The riffs aren't catchy, the music isn't predictable, but it does stay in your head. I was raised with the sound of Focus. You can hear they are masters of music and that they master their inst ... (read more)

Report this review (#1024890) | Posted by Juxienn | Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hamburger Concerto is the second essential Focus album, and probably their greatest. There is a bit of a change of sound from Moving Waves, with the jazz fading slightly in favor for full on classical influence. Yet the Focus sound and crazy instrumental proficiency is still as present as ever ... (read more)

Report this review (#939499) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Their second best album "Delitae Musicae" (2.25 Out of 5.00) This baroque-introduction do not say much to me. From my point of view is not representative of what is to come. "Harem Scarem" (3.50 Out of 5.00) A very enjoyable symphonic rock song, this song is almost at the same vein as "Hopus ... (read more)

Report this review (#808726) | Posted by raul_siberian | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well done! With their fourth studio album, the Dutch progressive rock band Focus created their second masterpiece (the first was Moving Waves). With this album they returned from a more jazzy approach on Focus 3 to a more classic-oriented format. The album starts with Delitiae Musicae, a sh ... (read more)

Report this review (#526378) | Posted by someone_else | Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If someone asked me to say an album that would best represent the symphonic rock I would say:"Hamburger Concerto". I never heard an album with many influences from classical music, especially Baroque period, as this.Certainly is one of the best things I ever heard in my life! "Delitae Musicae ... (read more)

Report this review (#411512) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is often considered to be the Dutch rock group's finest album. The strong classical influences in the music mainly came from organist/flautist Thijs van Leer and most listeners are sure to agree that it's absolutely brilliant. The intro "Delicate Musicae" is a soft, short and sweet renai ... (read more)

Report this review (#389722) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album has a certain consistency and magical quality lacking in their other releases. While other albums contain many great *moments* (e.g. the "Tommy" section of "Eruption," "Love Remembered," "Sylvia," "Janis," etc.), they were often weakened by other moments of long jams that do absolutely ... (read more)

Report this review (#336710) | Posted by jude111 | Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In my opinion is this the best album of Focus. The opening track "Delitae Musicae" is a kind of celtic medieval song, wich I very like. Songs such as "Le Cathédrale de Strasbourg" and the title track "Hamburger Concerto" are symphonic songs with great organ sounds and strong guitar solos of ... (read more)

Report this review (#229589) | Posted by Callergrim | Sunday, August 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album has stood the test of time better than many other prog rock works and must be regarded in the upper echelon of the genre. I agree with most of the positive things other writers have said about this work, so I won't add my own extolations. I have a 1974 RADMUS US vinyl pressing and a ... (read more)

Report this review (#210343) | Posted by peterwilliams56 | Sunday, April 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I figured if I'll start writing reviews, I might as well start making some changes around here. Ever since the first time I listened to Hamburger Concerto I've been trying to figure out where lies the genius that my friends here in PA all seem to find. The album actually starts out quite promis ... (read more)

Report this review (#200537) | Posted by Anderson III | Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It's nice seeing so many glowing reviews of this excellent LP here at PA, though I'm not quite as over-the-moon as others are. My beef is the sidelong title track which features a small handful of musical ideas - superb as they are - but each are repeated so many times it comes across as the b ... (read more)

Report this review (#196082) | Posted by Steven in Atlanta | Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars All you need is a little symph-prog patience, and Hamburger Concerto is sure to impress. This album is one of the most mature, well-developed, and cohesive products that I've heard in all of progressive rock, on top of being very well produced and containing large amounts of the sort of virtuosit ... (read more)

Report this review (#195039) | Posted by MoreBarlow | Friday, December 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This Dutch band is most famous for their Hocus Pocus hit single (which includes some hilarious yodeling). ...Which is a pity and a great injustice to this band. That track is actually untypical for this band. What I remember Focus for is this album, Hamburger Concerto. This is not a live al ... (read more)

Report this review (#187493) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, October 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is the downward spiral Focus, recorded when internal arguments where overtaking any creative jism. Where before, they'd blast out tracks like Hocus Pocus-- here, we get Harum Scarum, a lame attempt to reach the charts, again. They gave us Question? Answers! Answers? Questions! on 'Focus II ... (read more)

Report this review (#179541) | Posted by criticman2000 | Wednesday, August 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I'm sorry, but this is a very overrated album. Focus' best? Oh my god no. I'll take Moving pictures or Focus III or Live At The Rainbow any day before this album. I find Hamburger Concerto is just to predictable, unswinging and conventional rock for my tastes. How is Harem Scarem to be considere ... (read more)

Report this review (#177047) | Posted by Tylosand Ektorp | Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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