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Focus Masters From The Vault album cover
4.06 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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DVD/Video, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Retrospective 1971 - 2002
a) The House of the King
b) Sylvia
c) Hocus Pocus
d) Eruption
e) Focus I
f) Focus II
g) Focus III
h) Interviews and short footages
2. Medley 1973
3. Hamburger Concerto (Rare/Medium/Well Done)

Total Time: 82 Minutes

Bonus: Masters from the Vaults: 16:00 Minutes

Line-up / Musicians

- Thijs Van Leer / vocals, flute, keyboards
- Jan Akkerman / guitars
- Pierre Van Der Linden / drums
- Cyril Havermans / bass
- Bert Ruiter / bass
- Philippe Catherine / guitars
- Collin Allen / drums

Releases information

DVD Classic Rock Legends 1027 (2002)

Thanks to ivan_2068 for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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FOCUS Masters From The Vault ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

FOCUS Masters From The Vault reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It was about time!!!!!! were my first words when I saw this official DVD by Focus on the window of a store, decades of collecting short footages with poor image and sound quality or good versions without the classic lineup including Jan Akkerman were over.

Without making a single question I bought this DVD, and will never regret, the image is excellent because it has been remastered and the 5.1 sound is very good, but that means nothing if you're a Focus fan and have the chance to see Thijs Van Leer and Jan Akkerman playing together, simply unbelievable for those of us who were to young in their early days and never had the chance to see them on stage.

The DVD is divided in three sections:

I.- Retrospective 1971 - 2002: Thijs Van Leer with his great charisma tells step by step the story of Focus, even before the band was formed and he was singing for a couple of crooners from the Netherlands and wrote Sylvia for a friend who hated this song.

He also tells how Jan Akkerman joined him and he had to fire two close friends at Akkerman's request to replace them with Cyril Havermans and Pierre Van Der Linden, also tells us how they recorded "The House of the King" without authorization of their manager and this track became their first world hit.

Between the interesting narration we can watch complete versions of classics like the previously mentioned, Sylvia, Eruption and others but also enjoy the combined skills of Van Leer and Akkerman.

Thijs also tells us how Akkerman left and was replaced by the great Philippe Catherine plus several anecdotes only interrupted by complete songs, even some rare ones (Focus with lyrics), before they decided not to use voice except as an additional instrument.

There's no need to describe the songs because Focus was one of those bands that sounded almost exactly on stage and in the studio, we all know and love this masterpieces, so why make this review longer?

But I'm not telling everything, because there are some very pleasant surprises, like rare jam sessions or flute solo interpretations by Thijs Van Leer.

Simply outstanding, each time I play this section, I can't turn off the DVD until it has completely ended.

II.- Medley 1973: A rare medley of some classic Focus songs that ends with a frantic version of Hocus Pocus, I can't understand how they managed to keep this gem hidden for so many decades.

III.- Hamburger Concerto (Rare/Medium/Well Done): Probably "la piece de resistance", their most famous and elaborate epic played by the original lineup but with Collin Allen on drums instead of Pierre Van Der Linden.

Again unbelievable, the show is not spectacular, no lights, no effects only a nylon curtain, but who cares about the show when the quality of the music is so magnificent.

There's a fourth section called Masters from the Vaults that is nothing more than short clips about classic artists who's concerts are being released by the label, also interesting to know if you want to increase your DVD collection.

I have no doubts about the rating, because it's absolutely essential for any Progressive Rock fan, 5 solid stars.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent video collection from FOCUS, "Masters From the Vault" contains three sections:

- Retrospective captures a brief history of the band as told by Thijs van Leer. The beginning is excellent showing the early period when they rehearsed at the big castle. Particularly funny are the scenes from the kitchen where a bunch of their artists friends were hanging around while a girl served giant slices of Dutch cheese (probably Edam?). However, the later period is not presented at all, so there is a huge gap between 1974 and their reunion tour in 2002. We don't really get a picture what was happening with FOCUS after Akkerman left in late seventies.

- Medley from 1973 is very good performance "live" in studio, with Akkerman and van Leer shining while delivering amazing solo parts.

- Hamburger Concerto is an excerpt from a concert where we see the band at their peak. At this moment, long jam sessions contain more elements from jazz rock.

Overall, this is very good and highly recommended video collection, although the Retrospective part is somewhat unfinished.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The old grey whistler jests

Released in 2002, this independent production clearly has the blessing of the band, as Thijs Van Leer is principal narrator. The film takes us from the earliest days of the band up to just after the departure of Jan Akkerman. The first complete piece is a rendition of "Focus 3", performed in the empty room of a castle, thus looking similar to John Lennon's "Imagine". The sound appears to have been taken either from the album, or from a separate studio recording. The setting reappears throughout the film.

Similarly, "House of the king" combines historical footage with a studio overdub of the music. The first live performance we get is what appears to be a television studio rendition of "La cathedrale de Strasbourg" from the "Hamburger concerto" album. The recording appears to date from around the time of the album's release.

Among the more interesting parts of Van Leer's narration is a brief section where he describes the band as being an instrumental one "through poverty", his vocalising being considered to be simply another instrument.

There are of course clips of the band playing "Hocus pocus" and "Sylvia". Van Leer's overview of the latter is interesting as it was originally written by him (surprisingly not by Akkerman, whose guitar work is the core of the track) as a song with lyrics. The departure of Akkerman from the band, and his replacement by Philippe Catherine is covered by some Old Grey Whistle Test footage of the band performing "Angel wings" with the latter playing lead guitar (while doing a reasonable impersonation of Greg Lake!).

The 1973 "Focus medley" is effectively a jam drawing in various themes from the band's then current albums. For me, it simply serves as an unwelcome reminder of how poor they were live. The "Hamburger concerto" performance is taken from a "Focus in concert", the superb full rendition perhaps serving to ask the question, where is the rest of the gig? I may well be wrong, but the soundtrack here seems to have benefited from significant overdubs. This includes the audience applause at the end who sound more like 5000 than the 200 or so actually present.

In all, this is a good collection of archive footage which will please fans of the band. The notion that it a complete anthology is misleading though, since the story is abruptly curtailed after the arrival of Phil Catherine. The claim on the cover that it includes the "band in action today on their US tour" refers to a 40 second clip behind the closing titles.

Some of the footage here overlaps with the subsequently released "The ultimate anthology" DVD. Both releases have their strengths, Van Leer's narration here being compensated for on "The Ultimate Anthology" by some more recent footage.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars This is an almost "Self-made--documentary" on which Thijs van Leer narrates some parts of the history of the band, but without details in personnel changes until 2002. I think that they had in their minds since their early days to make a documentary of the band, because many of the scenes in the retrospective part are like "home-made", with cameras showing the band playing some songs in a house without an audience, and also showing some humour in the personal introductions of each member of the "Moving Waves" album line-up. So, finally van Leer and company decided to release this "self-made-retrospective" from their vaults, and the mateial has good quality. Also, the retrospective shows a clip of the band playing with Philip Catherine (guitar) in the last line-up of the band in the seventies.

For the other parts, there are clips of the band playing live on TV programmes, in 1973, which show good performances of the band. The last Chapter on this DVD shows the performance, in front of an audience, of their "Hamburger Concerto".

I have to say that I expected more from this DVD, but it is still good, and maybe there are other concert performances which could be or have been released on DVD.

All the members of the band were very good in the seventies, but particularly drummer Pierre van der Linden is very good, playing with very good technique. I can`t say anything about the 2002 line-up of the band, because their performance is very brief.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This DVD is very instructive and will please any Focus fan. Thijs is of course the master of ceremony and tells us about the early days (while they were a trio), the inclusion of Jan on the guitar and finally the arrival of Pierre van der Linden on drums (who was suggested by Jan). So, actually Thijs was confronted with a dilemma. Either to go on with Jan and a new team or stick to his trio. He opted for the first solution. So, we can say that Jan was highly responsible for the great Focus line-up.

There won't be too many long explanations in this DVD. The "focus" being the music. A more complete overview would have been appreciated (covering their come back and some more recent footage for instance). Anyway, since their early days were musically more interesting, I guess not too harm has been done. Only informative part is a bit "short" in terms of added value. The "Sylvia" story though is quite funny.

It was written some years before while van Leer was a backing vocalist. He wrote it for ...Sylvia (another vocalist of that same band) but she did not like it all, so it was put on a shelve and only brought back to life in 1973. And incidently became a big hit.

The medley is also very good. Most of the musical parts are played in some sort of "studio" environment. No audience. But it is not less interesting therefore. There will be some other "live" recording available later on.

Focus were invited to play in some beautiful house in the neighbourhood Mary Colson (or Carlson). She invited a lot of artists (musicians, actors...) and eventually Thijs had a "liaison" with her. Some footage (a nice flute solo) is shot on these premises. Contrast is severe whith the next track featured : some sort of jam in a small room (a kitchen ?). But the band really seems to enjoy. These moments are of course not really historical but it is nice to see the band completely relaxed and improvising.

The interview switches to the Philip Catherine era. This is really out of the blue. No transition at all. This is of course also a great guitar player, but better known in the jazz circuit. Images taken from the TV programme : "Grey Whistle Test" (both sound and images are very good).

The highlight here of course is the fantastic rendition of the "Hamburger Concerto". One of their greatest number. A bit downsized versus the original album version but so good.

Footage is credited to the BBC Archive Services and the Belgian Television (and I am very proud of this, not only for this DVD. It is funny enough to notice that Belgium being a rock desert, so many footage of great bands are available thanks to the RTB : Floyd, Genesis, ELP, Van Der Graaf, Focus etc.). At least we are good in providing some legendary moments to the fans out there. Some sort of consolation...

Four stars for this good document.

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