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Focus Mother Focus album cover
2.75 | 246 ratings | 23 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mother Focus (3:04)
2. I Need a Bathroom (3:05)
3. Bennie Helder (3:32)
4. Soft Vanilla (3:03)
5. Hard Vanilla (2:35)
6. Tropic Bird (2:43)
7. Focus IV (3:58)
8. Someone's Crying... What! (3:19)
9. All Together... Oh That! (3:42)
10. No Hang Ups (2:56)
11. My Sweetheart (3:36)
12. Father Bach (1:33)

Total Time 37:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Thijs van Leer / keyboards, flutes, vocals (1)
- Jan Akkerman / guitars
- Bert Ruiter / basses, vocals (2)
- David Kemper / drums
- Colin Allen / drums (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Rob Peters

LP Polydor ‎- 2344 053 (1975, Netherlands)
LP ATCO Records ‎- SD 36-117 (1975, US)

CD Red Bullet ‎- RB 66.192 (2001, Benelux) Remastered ?

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy FOCUS Mother Focus Music

FOCUS Mother Focus ratings distribution

(246 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

FOCUS Mother Focus reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars Very poor follw-up to their Hamburger Concerto. This is more sung than the previous three altogether. It sometimes baffles me to see how a band can alter from excellence (Hamb Conc) to mediocrity (this one). None of the tracks here are any better than very very very average mostly because they ran out of ideas.

This album spells out the end for this band but it will be a long horrible one: A strong bottom-of-drawer album (much better than their normal studio albums to come) , then some weird association with singer PJ Proby , and an association with Belgian guitar master Phillipe Catherine, replacing Akkerman for that album.

This one is to be avoided at all costs.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is really alive and rythmic. Not really progressive, the songs are rather short, mostly lasting 2-3 minutes. The keyboards are often floating ("Soft Vanilla", "Someone's Crying", "No Hands Up", "Father Bach"), the kind of floating backgrounds TRIUMVIRAT and Gary Wright used to employ.

The guitarist makes some simple guitar solos, and they are rather sentimental. The Clapton-esque "I need a Bathroom" is a bit surprising and maybe disappointing. "Bennie Helder" is probably the best one: very rythmic, alive, melodic, loaded and a bit progressive. "All together" sounds maybe a bit country!!! But it is not bad!! "Focus IV" is a good mix of piano and romantic guitar high notes.

I'm sure many FOCUS fans would find this record as bland as shopping center music, but IMO, it is not bad at all, rather well made and non monotonous.

Review by Tom Ozric
3 stars This album came to me at the right time, and I can only say that it is a very enjoyable listening experience, but don't expect anything like 'Answers Questions, Questions Answers' or 'Eruption' (both earlier classics). The album is built around many shorter tracks, and I'd wish that some of them were longer, as certain tracks are suggestive of lengthy jams but fade out before they get going. I don't get the 'disco' vibe that some reviewers have felt with this album, but some of the numbers are quite funky - 'Hard Vanilla' is a good example, also 'I Need A Bathroom'. Other songs have an 'armchair prog' feel to them - 'Soft Vanilla', 'Tropic Bird' - maybe bordering on 'muzak', but they are actually beautiful tracks. The track 'Focus IV' is almost the quality of previous material but way too short to compete, and most other tracks are worthy of hearing anyway, even if a little uninspired. Van Leer uses a lot of keyboards, and less of his flute on this album, and the sounds generated often paints the music with the sound of '78 or '79, thus making the album sound ahead of its time. Of course, this is just an opinion, everybody's taste differs - some will like, others will hate, fortunately, I like. Good, but not strictly essential.
Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars Soft Focus. The title is a play on words, think of a swear word actor Samuel L. Jackson uses a lot. This is lite jazz stuff, but as mellow music goes, it is great listen. Elevator music should be this good. As far as classic prog artists going into commercialistic music in the '70's, this may have been a first coming out in 1975, Yeah, the album is lopsidely mellow, but what the funk? I've been listening to it for years and its nice music to relax to. Tropic Bird reminds me a lot of my honeymoon in Hawaii, even though, I'd been listening to it for more than a while before.
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars After the release of a masterpiece ("Hamburger Concerto"), a follow-up album is not always an easy task to put together. And this is instantly confirmed as soon as you start to listen to "Mother Focus". The title track sets the pace with a groovy and jazzy mood also available in "Soft Vanilla". Both numbers are rather weak (especially the latter one, with its "elevator" type of music).

What to write about "I Need A Bathroom" for instance ? A completely useless funky track. Since, their sense of humour is quite high, the listener will have to suffer some "Hard Vanilla" after the soft one. Same awful stuff as well. To remain into the jazz - piano - bar mood, just have a listen to "Tropic Bird".

So far, the band frequently released a song called "Focus" (as such, II, III). They were always one of the best number of the album. So, "Focus IV" just follows the tradition. It is one of the very few true "Focus" song. Nice flute and guitar. Of course, it is a bit mellow but after all those awful songs, it gives you a bit of relief (almsot four minutes, actually). In this context, I guess that the spacey and aerial "Someone's Crying...What!" also belongs to the good songs (?) available on this work.

But the second part (well I guess it is) "All Together...Oh That!" is a country type of song which is rather unpleasant as well. So, the massacre goes on. "No Hang Ups" is also a traditional "Focus" song. Very similar to "Focus II" and its Camel-ish sound. Very pleasant and my fave from this album. Extremely melodic and emotional. What a pity that it ends so abruptedly. It could have last some more minutes...

Some disco beat with "My Sweetheart". Stop please ! Hopefully the end of this joke is almost over with a very short tribute to "Bach" I guess. Not too bad.

The ones who complained that "Focus" produced too long and improvised jams on "Focus III" (and I belong to those ones) can not do the same here. The longest song clocks at 3'58. Fortunately, it will be the best one.

If you want to dicover this band, by no means you should start with this effort. Actually you'd better never listen to it. I wouldn't be too harsh though, and because this album do hold two great songs ("Focus IV" and ""No Hang Ups") I will rate it with two stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Look out for the steam iron, Marylin!

Following up their finest hour "Hamburger concerto" was always going to be a major challenge for Focus. To their credit, the band decided not to attempt to make "HC2", but completely changed their approach; thus we have an album of no fewer than 12 disparate short tracks. Things were less than rosy in the Focus camp by this time, "Mother focus" being the last by the band to feature both of their main protagonists (Akkerman and Van leer) together. A further album would appear ("Ship of memories"), but this was a collection of unreleased material similar to Led Zeppelin's "Coda".

Interestingly, a significant number of the compositions here are by bassist Bert Ruiter; were Akkerman and Van Leer holding back material, aware of the impending band implosion, or had they simply run our of ideas?

Things begin in a fairly conventional Focus way with the title track, Akkerman's acoustic guitar soon giving way to a burst on lead. Van Leer adds some yodels and other vocalising and provides backing in the form of the now ubiquitous polyphonic synthesiser. Things take an immediate dip though with Bert Ruiter's "I need a bathroom", his repeated singing of the title causing significant empathy on the part of the listener.

Van Leer's "Bennie Helder" is a "Sylvia" like pop number with a pleasant melody, the lead guitar of Akkerman coming in briefly towards the end of the track. Ruitar then takes over the writing for the remaining three tracks on side one. "Soft vanilla" is straightforward piece of lounge jazz. It is immediately followed by "Hard vanilla", a funky rendition of the same melody. "Tropic bird" reverts to the smooth "Soft vanilla" style, Ruiter's bass being the lead instrument.

The second side opens with Van Leer's "Focus IV", the longest track on the album at a shade under 4 minutes. The "Focus" title for the track brings with it certain expectations, and it is certainly the closest we get to a proper lead guitar solo by Akkerman. The track is a bit too light but it is arguably the best of the bunch on the album, with fine flute, guitar and keyboards. It is however necessary to overlook some superfluous bursts of funky synth towards the end.

Jan Akkerman's main writing contribution is a pair of consecutive laid back numbers. While they are pleasantly soothing, do not approach them expecting the dynamics of his contributions to previous albums. The second, "All together.. oh that" has a distinctly country flavour emphasised through the twanging guitar. Band comrade Paul Stoppelman writes "No hang ups", a track which seems to gel the band together better than any other here. Akkerman's guitar has its familiar ring, and Van Leer supports him with some fine organ work. Unfortunately it fades several minutes too early. "My sweetheart" is another enjoyable but disposable light pop number. The album concludes with "Father Bach" (the title continues the punning of the title piece), an arrangement of a classical theme by Van Leer.

In all, not a bad album by any means, but there again do not approach "Mother focus" expecting to hear a lot of similarities with previous albums by the band. This is very much a Focus lite album.

The sleeve is a bizarre image of a fighting ship firing a cross shaped laser at a steam iron which is about to land on a naked Marylyn Monroe like figure!

Review by Gooner
4 stars Geesh. _Mother Focus_ is a great album. Very underrated. It's nothing like Hocus Pocus or the lengthy Eruption from _Moving Waves_, but it's a softer Focus showing their musical versatility. This one needs defending for sure. If a comparison can be made, think of the direction Soft Machine took with later albums like _six_, _seven_ and _bundles_. Think of the tracks like _Soft Weed Factor_ and _chloe & the pirates_. This is the sort of direction Focus approached on MOTHER FOCUS. This is definitely an album for a sunny summer day or breezy spring day. If you're a laid back individual, this would appeal to you. It reminds me of the same mood Sopwith Camel came up with when they recorded their masterpiece _The Miraculous Hump Returns To The Moon_. Highlights include Bennie Helder (3:32) 4. Soft Vanilla (3:03) 5. Hard Vanilla...and the interesting _I Need A bathroom_ which is not far removed from Neil Young's _t-bone_ from the album _Re-Ac-Tor_. Same idea. :-)
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Mother Focus is underrated album, but deservedly so. It is sad to hear how poor product was recorded by almost the same group of musicians who delighted the prog world just a year before, with the masterpiece Hamburger Concerto.

Here the music is totally collapsed into an easy-listening, lounge music, a jazz-funk crossover, that is a nice background for rediculous TV commercials or housewives' documentary series. But not for prog rock audience. Simply put, this album is boring to death. Imagine the watered-down STEELY DAN mixed with the worst CAMEL of the 80s and add some SPYROGYRA spices. Even similarly dull instrumental music of SKY at the turn of the 1980s sounds interesting when compared to Mother Focus. Too cheesy and slimy syrup music to pay attention to. Avoid.


P.A. RATING: 1/5

Review by Guillermo
2 stars Another review for an album from 1975.

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

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

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

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

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars At the time I did not have this album and for a long period I also did not know why the great guitarist Jan Akkerman left the band. Now listening to other Focus I can understand: after the glorious Hamburger Concerto, this was a major blow. Lots of prog bands were stuck in a rut one time or another during their career, but clearly Focus was one of the first. It seems that This Van Leer�´s jazz/rock leanings and Bert Ruiter�´s love for funk music gained the upper hand here over their previous symphonic sound. I understand that the guitarist was losing ground after the departure of Pierre Van Der Linden (who also wanted to remain in the classic symphonic sounds of old) and now it showed. In any case, Mother Focus is proof that the band (or part of it) wanted to try other things. The results were dismal, however: longe jazz, funk and soul tracks, a little jazz/rock fusion too, but everything way below anything they had created before. Only two tracks here justify their former glories: Focus IV and No Hang Ups, both still inspired (but not much) and bearing all Focus trademark sound: beautiful guitar solos, nice organ background, excellent flute interventions.

But there are truly awful tracks too, like I Need A Bathroom (fitting title!) and the pseudo funk My Sweetheart. Overall the feeling remains of a great group who just menage to release a mediocre album to fulfill their contractual obligations, for the LP lacks any real direction, inspiration or energy. A real let down after the fine Hamburger Concerto. And the end of an era for this classic band. Now I truly understand and have to agree that it was better for Akkerman to leave the band then to stay aboard, if that meant another album like this one.

Rating: two good songs to justify a 2 star rating. For collectors, completionists and hardcore fans, only.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 493

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

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

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

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

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

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars When I bought this album in the 70s, I was as disappointed as many other Focus fans. I loved the excitement and daring of Moving Waves and Hamburger Concerto, and was not prepared for the smooth jazz of Mother Focus. Now, over four decades later, I find this album to be outstanding early morning ... (read more)

Report this review (#2576619) | Posted by Greta007 | Monday, July 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Soft Vanilla for sure, but I love this album in the same way I love Rubber Riff by Soft Machine and Blitz by Thirsty Moon. It's transitional fluff probably in part to keep with the times and in part because this monster four piece ran out of useful ideas. Akkerman is restrained, the music is ... (read more)

Report this review (#1245442) | Posted by Suedevanshoe | Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Actually, not a bad little mid'70s fusion-ey album here. Just a lousy Focus album. The good news, 4 of the 12 tracks (the title tune, Bennie Helder, Focus IV and especially No Hang Ups) rank among the band's really good tracks. The bad news, the remaining 8 tracks are perhaps the worst tunes ( ... (read more)

Report this review (#194666) | Posted by Steven in Atlanta | Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "Mother Focus" is elusive; what happened since Hamburger Concerto that would change the band's style from brilliant prog rock to average and utterly dull funk? It can't be the line-up as it's not too different from the last album - the band's two key members are still here. I guess Focus were tryi ... (read more)

Report this review (#128030) | Posted by Salviaal | Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Is this one an underrated album? I don't know, but I just give four stars. Easily the weakest points of the LP are the sung track, "I need a bathroom", and the empty and repetitive Soft Vanilla, Hard Vanilla and All togheter..., but the rest... aren't bad! The wonderful Someone's cryin'..., put ... (read more)

Report this review (#108212) | Posted by sircosick | Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars In the words of The Critic, "It stinks!". I don't consider Hamburger Concerto to be Focus's best album like most (that honour goes to Focus III, in my opinion), but the fact remains that this album is a terrifying step down from the one previous. Sure, there are a few nice flourishes like on the ... (read more)

Report this review (#80925) | Posted by dagrush | Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I can remember being perplexed and disappointed when hearing this. Returning to it I find I cannot warm any more these days to it - in fact it sounds positively embarrasing at times. My first impression was the thinness and predictability of the soundscapes: horrible string machine creeps in o ... (read more)

Report this review (#54479) | Posted by Moribund | Thursday, November 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is an album of fill-in tracks, pleasant enough, but lacking a centre of gravity, a total contrast to Hamburger Concerto. There is some good material, but it isn't developed. This is particularly true of delightfull "Bennie Helder" which features the most stupid fade out ending of all Focu ... (read more)

Report this review (#52692) | Posted by | Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars All I wish to say is that this is not Disco, the album is a tight collection of beautifuilly recorded songs in the style of the Jazz Crusaders, members of which Thjis van Leer had worked with on his solo projects of the period, notably the incredibly beautiful and rare album "O My Love". Get i ... (read more)

Report this review (#52600) | Posted by | Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is not bad and certainly not disco. If you want a band TOTALLY out of their realm AND doing disco, then listen to Queen do disco on Hot Space. Here, Focus just does more structured, 3-4 minute, jazzier, poppier songs. Earlier albums had a time range of: Moving Waves- 2min to 23 minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#22946) | Posted by | Sunday, May 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I had seen some poor reviews of this album long before I heard it. I had some slight reservations initially, but quite soon I realised that the album was not only classic Focus, but added a disco style poignancy to the melodies. The superb harmonic progressions in Bennie Helder alone would be ... (read more)

Report this review (#22945) | Posted by | Wednesday, October 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Disco Focus would have probably been a more suitable title for this last Focus album before Akkerman and Van Leer decided they hated each other`s guts.ABBA could have been easily called in to lay down vocal tracks on this funky one. Although traces of the classical themes which made their earlier wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#22943) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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