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Focus Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus album cover
3.49 | 73 ratings | 24 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hocus Pocus (6:42)
2. Anonymus (6:36)
3. House of the King (2:52)
4. Focus [instrumental] (9:49)
5. Janis (3:10)
6. Focus II (4:05)
7. Tommy (Eruption) (3:27)
8. Sylvia (3:33)
9. Focus III (6:09)
10. Harem Scarem (5:53)
11. Mother Focus (3:07)
12. Focus IV (4:01)
13. Bennie Helder (3:33)
14. Glider (4:40)
15. Red Sky at Night (5:49)
16. Hocus Pocus [US single version] (3:24)

Total Time 76:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Jan Akkerman / guitars, lute
- Thijs Van Leer / keyboard, flute, vocals
- Colin Allen / drums
- Hans Eric Cleuver / drums
- Martin Dresden / bass
- Cyril Havermanns / bass
- David Kemper / bass
- Bert Ruiter / bass
- Pierre VanDer Linden / drums

Releases information

1994 CD Capitol 28162 / 2001 CD Red Bullet 66194

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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Buy FOCUS Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus Music

FOCUS Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus ratings distribution

(73 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

FOCUS Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Menswear
3 stars It is out of question to give 5 stars to this, but this is a really good reason to own some Focus. Netherlands' best group is on Red Bullet Label for a cool ride starting with Hocus Pocus. This song has amazing dangerous driving full speed potential. A strong Black Sabbath riff, very complex solos by Akkerman and marketing killing yodeling by Van Leer. Van Leer by the way the source of all the cool flute on Ayreon's albums. Because, man that guy flutes like hell! With Akkerman on guitars and Pierre Van Der Linden (Trace) on drums, this band holded the nomination for Europe's crazyest bunch of talent knew that time. A thing I always liked about Focus is the large place for improv' in certain songs.

Apart from the enormous musical potential they could deliver, this cd gives you the best of the best years. From track 1 to 13, there is no filler. Always a pure enjoyment with NO lyrics please, except for weird noises by Van Leer.

Money well invested here. You get all the crazy classics at a decent price. Go for it and enjoy a different style of progressive rock with some pretty far-out hairy Dutchmen.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to buy or recommend compilations (Best of ... or "The Essential .."), because I believe albums must be listened the way they were recorded by the author, not in the order that a producer or a label wants, but sometimes the original albums are too uneven and full of fillers. In the case of Focus each album has at least one or two fabulous tracks, but are also full of long and sometimes boring instrumental tracks, which are accepted only by the die-hard fan.

"Hocus Pocus, The Best of Focus" is a very good compilation and a perfect introduction for the new listener that needs to get used to their peculiar style with great songs mixed with some shorter instrumentals.

The title track is absolutely weird, the frantic yodeling of Thijs Van Leer is absolutely out of this world, some people take this song as a joke, but I believe it's an attempt to do something unique and never tried before, their attempt was successful, I never heard anything like this, it's a good song, catchy (because of the repetitive guitar chord by Jan Akkerman) and something I'm almost sure nobody will try again. Words are not enough to describe this track.

"Hocus Pocus" is followed by "Anonymous" an aggressive and fast song with great flute, killer piano, strong bass and spectacular drums, this track has everything, can't understand why it's not considered a classic by everybody.

The best song IMO is the amazing "House of the King", with a spectacular flute that makes the casual listener believe he's in front of Jethro Tull, but mostly because of the perfect bass played by Cyril Havermans. If the flute makes the song unforgettable, the bass carries all the weight of the song, a masterpiece.

This compilation also contains the band's first hit "Silvia", an instrumental with the classic flamenco sound that was Focus trade mark melancholic but strong enough and not boring at all.

Taken from their best album "Hamburger Concerto", "Harem Scarem" is absolutely breathtaking, fast and full of power with few and soft semi yodels by Van Leer, is a classic of the band. More medieval and soft, "Bennie Helder" is another unknown classic of the band, excellent changes and a very good piano makes of this track an underrated one.

The album ends with the US single version of "Hocus Pocus", more rhythmic with great bass but still frantic and aggressive.

Probably the hardest song to accept by the newbie is "Focus (Instrumental)" a 9:32 minutes song that consists mostly in a flute-guitar and drums solo, but in defense of the band I must say it's a very good one, strong and jazzy it's easier to swallow by almost everybody.

"Janis" is also another instrumental but it's special beauty makes of it a must have.

The other tracks are good enough to keep the interest of the listener without abusing of the endless guitar and keyboards typical of this peculiar but correct band.

So against what I usually do, I strongly recommend this album not only to the new listener but also to the prog' fan that is not willing to listen endless instrumentals but wants to have the Focus classics.

Review by richardh
4 stars Excellent compilation album.If your one of those who think ...yeah love Hocus Pocus,Sylvia and House Of The King but I don't want to buy a load of albums to get all those tracks then this is for you.A good place to start (or end) compilation CD that may persuade you to go and buy their other albums (or not).
Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A friend bought the first four studio albums as they were released in the 1970s and we enjoyed listening to them but, although I really liked individual tracks such as 'Hocus Pocus', 'House Of The King', 'Sylvia', 'Tommy' etc., I did not like the entire albums enough to buy them for myself. However, a couple of years ago I had a hankering to hear again the classic FOCUS hits, searched for a good compilation and found this single-CD release which more than satisfies my desire for the best of FOCUS. Almost 77 minutes of excellent music is packed onto one CD with 16 tracks, the last of which is the US Single Version of the first track 'Hocus Pocus'. Now, normally I find Single Edits to be a waste of time as bonus tracks - the original versions are usually better - but I have to say that the US Single Version of 'Hocus Pocus' also rocks: it's like the original on Speed with added bass.

If you are coming to FOCUS for the first time, expect instrumental rock music of the highest order, with excellent guitar, keyboards and flute. Guitarist Jan Akkerman and flautist/keyboard player Thijs Van Leer are rightly legends of the rock world, and you'll understand why when you hear FOCUS' music. Although Thijs Van Leer is famous for his yodelled vocalisations on the track 'Hocus Pocus', you'll find that vocalisations are few and far between on these tracks. Don't expect very progressive symphonic music in the vein of YES, say, but a rather more mainstream rock sound, albeit with a noticeable Continental European feel to it and the occasional medieval undertone too. Some of the tracks are very laid-back and others really rock. The music is so good that, frankly, I cannot conceive of any rock lover not liking it. If you like the music of CAMEL, then you'll like FOCUS.

If you want a good taster of FOCUS but don't feel the need to follow the band's evolution - and its ups and downs - by buying the individual albums then I can heartily recommend this CD. There is only excellent music on this release and, unless you want to investigate the band in depth, it is a good collection of the best that this band produced. It's as much as I personally need. Now, as to the rating of the album, that's easy: a good compilation of music of this quality could only merit at least 4 stars (Excellent addition to any Prog Rock collection). If you want a good 'best of', you need go no further. Highly recommended.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars A great place to start.

While lacking some of the band's more attractive symphonic pieces (the longer compositions), this is a great way to begin one's discovery of the Dutch band Focus. The band has its own unique flavor of symphonic prog, typically driven by Akkerman's angular lines.

Most of the work here is instrumental material from their 70's catalog and the popular live material. While lacking some of the longer epics, their is still a great deal of material and most definitely worth having. I would recommend this as perhaps a more rocking alternative to Camel, and some obvious Tull qualities with the presence of the flute on certain tracks, especially House of the King.

The band's talent is showcased here, and if you are a prog fan who loves captivating instrumental melodies and musicianship, you can't go wrong with this compilation. It's also a great way to get to know the band without buying all the albums.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars IMO it is the best "Focus" compilation available on a CD format. In the year of release (1994) "Focus" has disbanded for a long time already and their last combined or dual (Akkerman & van Leer) efforts were rather poor. So, it was probably a good time for their record company to put this one on the market.

You'll get most of their great "Focus" themes. Even their best one is featured in its full lenght : the fabulous "Focus, Instrumental".

Their three best known numbers are here as well and you'll even get the short US single version of "Hocus". So far it was available on their greatest compilation released in 1975 on a double vinyl format (and unfortunately never released on CD) : "The Story Of Focus" (1975).

Unlike this great compil effort, this one is not holding any of their epic. Only "Tommy" will remind us of the very good "Eruption" available on one of their best album "Moving Waves". Since several poor albums were released between these two great compilations (lots of others were also issued but these two are really the most interesting ones), we will have to suffer some poor tracks as well : "Bennie Helder"& "Glider". Not good anough to be featured on a "Best Of" effort IMO. The wonderful "La Cathédrale De Strasbourg" would have been a better choice, for sure.

But hey ! two wrong choices out of sixteen is not a bad trade. I really recommend this CD to anyone of you who would like to have an overview of the shorter work of this important band. Four stars.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This compilation was my first encounter with FOCUS. I saw a video of "Hocus Pocus" on TV (I don't know who smuggled it on a state TV), and like with magic, I obtained this compilation less than a week later.

The compilation starts GREAT. I was astonished with the self titled song, oh heavens, what is that?!? Furious rock, accordion, yodeling. I never experienced such a thing. The second track, "Anonymus" is great too, it just fitted my taste perfectly at the time. Third track "House Of The King" is gorgeous and incredibly catchy.

And after that, everything went downwards. This compilation is long, all the track are instrumental and, frankly, they're mostly boring.

There are hints here and there ("Sylvia"), but basically what is good here is beginning and the end of compilation (the end contains live version of "Hocus Pocus" which is even more furious).

I tried to convince myself the rest of it is good, that I just need more time to get into it. With such a brilliant song as the opening one this band must be great and it waits for me to be discovered! Well, no. I was fooling myself for a while, I listened this thing in it's entirety dozens and dozens of time and it remained mostly boring and...opposite of band's name.

As I said, this was my first contact with FOCUS - and so far it's the last, too. After this, I wasn't inclined to check the band any deeper. If this is a compilation, and compilations usually contain BEST OF material, and it's boring, just how the rest of the band's material must sound like?

The years passed, and those opening three track are no that appealing to me anymore. They seem a bit...useless. And the rest of the track remain boring. So, I'm not going to get any FOCUS any time soon.

Of course, this is maybe just a bad compilation, but however it deserves a low rating.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cherry picking

"Best of" collections are always subjective in their content, and this is no exception. While Focus enjoyed some early success in the singles market, they are very much an album band. The track selection here is however largely geared towards their more accessible output. For me, the starting point for any "Best of Focus" compilation would be the inclusion of the "Hamburger Concerto" album in full. That of course would be impractical, and it is represented here by "Harem Scarem" only.

"Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia" are of course included, the former being the full length album version. While these tracks are well know because of their enormous success, their excellence should not be understated. "Sylvia" in particular is one of most melodic guitar instrumentals ever recorded, sounding as fresh today as it did over 30 years ago.

The album has been largely compiled chronologically, which tends to mean that I lose interest as it progresses. For me Focus lost their focus on later albums, and rather trod water. That said, the inclusion of a number of tracks from Moving waves is an undoubted plus.

For this unfamiliar with the work of this legendary Dutch band, this is a decent introduction.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a very good compilation for those who want to know the band for the first time. In fact, it was my first CD of Focus before I purchased other albums. All my collection of their albums was previously in cassette format. I started recollecting the albums in CD format in 90s. This compilation truly refreshed my memory back in the 70as when I started liking the band. It was my brother who played "House of The King" repeatedly and made me familiar with the music and the band. It's good that this track which might confuse you with Jethro Tull is featured here in this compilation. You can find a great combination of acoustic guitar rhythm section combined with evocative flute work.

"Hocus Pocus" (6:42) is a great track that I believe newbie will like it very much. I's a unique music composition combining dynamic drumming, stunning guitar work and strange singing style that I believe it's hard to emulate by anyone. "Anonymus" (6:36) is my favorite. It combines dynamic sounds of guitar, drum, keyboard and powerful bass lines and solo. I always repeat this track whenever I play this compilation. Another track that really kills me is "Focus III". Oh man . I love the way Akkermann played the guitar in ambient sound at the beginning of the track augmented with long sustain organ work. The remaining guitar solo is really killing. It's hard to believe if you do not like this track. "Janis" is also a great track. Basically, all tracks featured here are really excellent in composition and they represent the music of Focus. The only thing that bothers me is the last track "Hocus Pocus" (US single version) that is really bad and should not be featured here. If you know the full version, I believe you would hate this version.

Overall, it's a highly recommended compilation of Focus for those who want to know the band. Keep on proggin' ..!

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

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To be honest, I needed many listenings of that compilation just to have the final opinion about it. The reason is not that Focus music is too complex or heavy acceptable.

I always look critically on every symphonic rock band. No, it doesn't mean that I hate sympho-prog, no way! But there are so many posers and pretenders between sympho- prog musicians, that my more than 30 yrs experience in music telling me : "Just be careful with them!"

You want to know why? It's easy! If you're playing eclectic prog,heavy prog, fusion or jazz- rock, you demonstrate your technique and musical ideas openly. One can love your music or not, but at least everyone hear what you wanted to say ( and how you done it). But in sympho-prog you can use some classic themes, or even better - just heavy keys passages, plus overproduction in recording studio - and you are new genius!!! And with modern synth/ recording technologies it's become much more easy.

It's a pity, but many young neo-prog bands are doing it regularly!!!

Ok, now let return back to Focus. The difference there is that their sound is very acoustic!! Pure melodies, competent guitar, very correct keyboards(piano!), (o,God - you can hear all other instruments playing!!!), flute, jazzy drums. Different kind of sympho-prog!

Some songs sound as early Jethro Tull, because of rich flute and acoustics. Another are coming near to jazz-rock. But all sound is very acoustic ( I'm speaking not about instruments used, but about SOUND itself). Jan Akkerman is wellknown as very competent guitar player, so you will hear one of the best guitar line there. But no axe-man posing! Akkerman uses guitar as music instrument,not as Kalashnikov!

The compilation is representative as well, and I think it's one of the best entrance to Focus music for beginners. To be honest, even experinced listeners would have this one instead of big amount of Focus original albums quite often. Because of very balanced mid tempo sound and mainly instrumental nature, full list or Focus original albums is interesting mainly for Focus fans and collectors.

As I told above, total sound is very acoustic, well balanced, mid tempo, with light jazzy feeling, more cool then warm. In other words, typical "dutch sound" ( I spend two years living there, believe me, that sound is a mirror of dutch character). Because of reasons as above album could be a bit boring or monotonious for some listeners, but generaly very pleasant and competent work.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars OK, let's state some facts first. I don't like Best of's (or Very Best of / Greatest Hits / Essential / Golden and these terrible abominations of music culture), yet I'm reviewing this album (my second BO if I'm correct, feel free to correct me). And I'm also aware of simple fact that they're album band. Some are bad, some are better and some perfect (actually, I see 3 5-stars, 5 4-stars and 2 worse stars), but in this case, it's not fair to condemn this one.

Because same as with Queen's BO, this is collection of really great songs, actually, there are almost the best songs by them. I don't know their albums so well (even I know them basically), but for me, these songs are separateable. Maybe I'm not so into this, but after all, who knows these things after all. For me, this, as a compilation is perfect. It won't appear in top list, it shouldn't make others feel bad, so what's the problem ?

4(+), because from what I see, giving 5 star is something like idiotic nonsense that no sane progger would do. It's almost prohibited, under the punishment of being hated by everyone, huh ? Nevermind, I feel that compilation is not true form, or in other words, how should it be. But as a represent of their best work it's very well. I would give 5-star, but you know, this is just best of.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the album that convinced me to give the band's debut album a try!

I don't recall the exact details of how I got this compilation album but my guess is that the album was located in a bargain bin before my hand reached out and grabbed it. Even if I rarely listen to compilation albums, this is one of those rare occasions where a collection like this would actually work. The reason for this has to do with this record's complete disregard for the band's lengthier compositions. Although many might consider this a crime against Focus, I don't happen to mind it all that much. You see, I've never considered any Focus epics to be as consistent as their other shorter performances, even though Hamburger Concerto does come close.

What we get here is close to the collection that I would expect to hear from a Focus compilation. The only major track that I miss is Round Goes The Gossip, from Focus 3, and even though Birth is another absent favorite of mine I just don't see that track outside of the complete Hamburger Concerto album experience. The biggest highlight for me here is the complete collection of the first four band-titled tracks, plus the fact that the release is compiled in a chronological order. Another great discovery for me were the three tracks from the debut album which I originally thoughtlessly assumed to be one of the band's weaker releases. How wrong I was about this assumption and even if that album is not conveyed properly here, it was clearly enough to get my attention!

I'm not suggesting that this compilation album is the best introduction to Focus, but if you've been previously burned by any of their studio albums then feel free to give it ago! Maybe you're just like me and will actually happen to prefer the band's shorter material over the 20+ minute epics.

***** star songs: Hocus Pocus (6:43) Anonymus (6:36) House Of The King (2:53) Focus II (4:05) Sylvia (3:34) Focus III (6:09) Harem Scarem (5:54)

**** star songs: Focus (Instrumental) (9:50) Janis (3:11) Tommy (Eruption) (3:27) Mother Focus (3:07) Focus IV (4:02) Bennie Helder (3:33) Glider (4:41) Red Sky At Night (5:49) Hocus Pocus (US Single Version) (3:25)

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars FOCUS doesn't. They ply several horizontal axes over the course of their 1970s career, and simplistically name these to allow listeners to track their limited progress. For instance, we find a series of tracks "Focus 1", "Focus 2"..."Focus N", and another aptly named "Anonymus". Then there are the numerous pieces named after individuals like "Sylvia", "Janis", and "Bennie Helder". The music is loosely symphonic but also often fusion oriented, with plenty of crossover. The generally common thread is that, the longer the tunes get, the more scattered they become, and familiarity does not improve the picture.

Sure there is an undeniable classic here, that being "Hocus Pocus", combining yodels, manic screams, entertaining solos of all types, and an endearingly dated feel. "Focus II", "Janis", "Tommy" and "Sylvia" all typify their symphonic side in small and pleasurable doses, with even some mellotron here and there. As a sequel to "Hocus Pocus", "Harem Scarem" (get it?) is bogus, while several of the longer cuts like "Focus" and "Anonymus", manically attempt to cash in on Van Leer's flute virtuosity and Akkerman's licks as evenly as possible. Little concept of group synergy seems at work, and as the disk winds down, the quality also dips from its hardly lofty levels.

Playing skills and occasional flashes of brilliance notwithstanding, this is a group whose time passed long ago, earlier than a lot of their less commercially successful contemporaries. The problem with this compilation is that FOCUS was also several groups at once, and it's unlikely that you will be a fan of more than one and a half of those. Moreover, they petered out pretty quickly, so there's no need to try to get a sense of a longer time line as contained herein. If you must, better start with "Moving Waves" and assess future purchases accordingly. My guess is that you will quickly lose what this poorly named group never had.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Ok, like most progheads I really don´t like compilations. They simply don´t do justice to a much album oriented style of music. Most best of collections are just a way for a recording company to cash in using the band´s former (or current) success. Having said that I must also say that some are a good introduction of the group to a newbie or a way to have some of their most popular stuff in a single CD. And this is the case here. Although I have always liked Focus I was never the kind of fan to buy all of their classics. So when I had a chance of getting this CD for a reasonable price at an imported records store I bought it.

The Best Of Focus has all their hits and a fair collection of studio albums tracks that are the ones I like the most. Of course is not complete: to me the exclusion of Birth was the main reason why I got myself a copy of Hambrugo Concerto soon afterwards. But for a single CD and in 77 minutes of music you get quite a lot of good moments in just one album. Besides, everything here comes form their classic 70´s releases (kudos to them!). So if you´re new to this legendary dutch band and don´t wanna spend a lot of maney getting all their records just to know their sound and style (or if you´re like me who just wanted their most famous stuff in one disc), this compilation is recommended.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars It may not represent the genuine best of the band, but this 1994 sampler still provides an excellent introduction to the Dutch masters of Focus, even though it shortchanges their 1975 career peak album "Hamburger Concerto". You can of course expect to miss a lot of good music when condensing six entire LPs (actually seven: "Focus 3" was a double disc) into one 77-minute CD. But the highlights of the band's brief but stellar heyday (spanning only half a decade, more or less) are included, from the more familiar singles to the longer, looser jam sessions.

The collection is named (hardly a surprise) after the band's trademark blockbuster hit "Hocus Pocus", included twice here as a prologue and epilogue to the otherwise chronological order of tracks. Not to worry: the shorter U.S. single version closing the disc is a completely different recording, marred only by the unresolved fade out (always a pet peeve) at the start of what could have been another searing Jan Akkerman guitar solo.

Despite the steady pace of their recorded output in the 1970s, nothing else the band produced ever equaled the energy and invigorating madness of that one song, with its killer guitar riffs and wild, operatic yodeling. Not even the copycat single "Harem Scarem", from "Hamburger Concerto", could match it, as you can hear for yourself: the song is included in this collection, the sole representative of arguably the band's best album.

Elsewhere the Focus sound was characterized by the more polite, austere classicism of the ongoing self-titled instrumentals ("Focus", "Focus II", etc) featured in nearly all their studio albums of the era, with occasional jazzy elements thrown in, especially on their earlier material.

The first few selections here, including the JETHRO TULL soundalike single "House of the King", are somewhat crude when compared to the band's better crafted later work. I love the forthright evaluation of the 1970 debut album "In and Out of Focus" by producer Mike Vernon, who worked with the group in their best years and oversaw the digital transfer of this compilation: "I'm still not impressed," he writes in the CD booklet notes, "but it does mark a starting point I suppose." Nice salesmanship, dude.

There are also perhaps too many selections from the sub-par efforts of "Mother Focus" and "Ship of Memories", both released at a time when the band was struggling for inspiration. Note how the pleasantly upbeat title track from the former album resurfaced as a meandering jam over a rhythm box on the latter album (itself a collection of outtakes), proof perhaps that Focus was close to running on fumes by 1975.

In retrospect I wish Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer had let their hair down more often like they did in "Hocus Pocus": strictly a novelty item to be sure, but far livelier (and today less dated) than the admirable but sometimes over-earnest classical rock heard elsewhere in their discography. Never mind: even the weaker tunes are worthwhile, and altogether it's a fair and comprehensive summary of maybe the biggest act in continental Europe at the time.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 533

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

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

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

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

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

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars This compilation is a really good base to get to know the Dutch Focus, a really good band and author of an excellent Rock with symphonic and progressive elements. I have to say that Focus are a classic Dutch band of the period: very Rock and very technically prepared more unbalanced in the song ... (read more)

Report this review (#2414713) | Posted by OLD PROG | Monday, June 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Unlike some prog fans, I actually like compilations if they are done well. Unfortunately, Hocus Pocus Best of Focus is a bit of a wasted opportunity. For starters it includes too many tracks from their first rather average debut album. "House of the King" is admittedly, a great Tull-like instrum ... (read more)

Report this review (#1739629) | Posted by Lupton | Friday, June 30, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the most recognizable pieces of music from the definitive era of progressive rock was an unusual composition entitled Hocus Pocus by Dutch neo-classical rockers, Focus. With it`s hysterical yodeling, razzle dazzle guitar soloing and furious drum fills two versions of this prog showpiece of ... (read more)

Report this review (#132162) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The best of Focus? A nice compilation, in fact the best you can find, but definetly is not "the best" of Focus. There is only one track from "Hamburger Concerto", their best album, but six tracks from "Mother Focus" and "Ship of Memories", something very difficult to justify; as the absence ... (read more)

Report this review (#120185) | Posted by Gabriel.V | Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hey! I don't use to give over three stars to a compilation, but I became a die-hard Focus fan starting with it! This is a perfect place to start, and the reason is very simple: this is a compilation made about twenty years after the first lot of albums (Moving Waves era), and it captures the ... (read more)

Report this review (#115991) | Posted by sircosick | Wednesday, March 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.4 My only album by Focus, and seeing as it is a compilation, it is bound to have a few or their worse songs. Songs such as ‘Focus (Instrumental) and ‘Tommy’; bland tracks with a piercing, out of place whine. However, it does contain some classic tracks, such as ‘Hous ... (read more)

Report this review (#79099) | Posted by ProgHappy | Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Nostalgia raines supreme with this outstanding compilation of Focus' great works. I have the Dutchmasters album on vinyl with no turn table to play it on. Thank goodness that this Best of Focus cd has been released. Without a doubt, some of the best rock/jazz/new age (before it's time) music t ... (read more)

Report this review (#76385) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A nice compilation.... but nothing more than that. It contains the greatest hits of this group and some more unknown songs, but no real new things. It's a fairly good start if you don't know anything about this group, but if you already know their music and maybe have some of their albums and wan ... (read more)

Report this review (#22967) | Posted by daghrastubfari | Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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