Saturday, 14 October 2017

Jack Traylor And Steelwind ‎ “Child Of Nature"1973 US Psych County Rock

Jack Traylor And Steelwind ‎ “Child Of Nature"1973 US Psych County Rock...recommended...!
full vk

Jack Traylor was a Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane associate who contributed towards Kantner, Slick and Freiberg’s Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun, various members of the collective returning the favour by playing on his 1973 solo album, Child of Nature, credited to Jack Traylor and Steelwind. 

Jack was the main songwriter and vocalist, and sticks to unvarnished acoustic rhythm guitar. The have a female vocalist, Diana Harris, who also happens to play some piano, a lead guitarist who mainly sticks to electric, a third guitar player, Skip Morairty, and a bassist. Plus, longtime Airplane producer Al Schmitt produced their debut, Child of Nature. 

Traylor’s an okay singer/songwriter (the title track is catchy), the young Chaquito gets in some nice work, and has one extended solo which owes a lot more to flashy rock than folk (“Time to be Happy”). Besides Traylor and Chaquico, the other members of Steelwind dropped off the face of the planet. The drummer is Malo member Rick Quintanal, and Freiberg plays faint mellotron on one track. “Caveat Emptor”…

A basic desire of any species is reproduction, and occasionally the urge strikes bands as well. Paul McCartney became the surrogate father of Badfinger and helped kick off the nostalgia influenced power-pop of the 70s, while Jefferson Airplane step-parented Steelwind. It is almost simple one-to-one substitution - Jack Traylor was the main songwriter and vocalist, and sticks to unvarnished acoustic rhythm guitar (Kantner). The have a female vocalist, Diana Harris, who also happens to play some piano (Slick), a lead guitarist who mainly sticks to electric (Kaukonen), a third guitar player, Skip Morairty (Balin), and a bassist (Casady). Plus, longtime Airplane producer Al Schmitt produced their debut, Child of Nature. Sure, it is not quite that simple, and this comparison is far more interesting than Steelwind’s music. I wish I would stop running across these albums from the Airplane’s vanity label, Grunt. Traylor’s an okay singer/songwriter (the title track is catchy) but outside of Chaquico, who later hald the same position in Jefferson Starship, the group’s backing is vanilla folk/soft rock stuff (plenty of lame 70s flute courtesy of Skip Morairty). When they did pick things up a bit, Steelwind sounds like an Airplane knockoff (the politically themed "Smile”, “Gone to Canada”). The young Chaquito gets in some nice work , and has one extended solo which owes a lot more to flashy rock than folk (“Time to be Happy”), but beyond that your pulse will not rise too much. Child of Nauture is instantly forgettable, pleasant 70s music, but its dated political content insures that it will not be played in a bank lobby near you anytime soon. Besides Traylor and Chaquico, the other members of Steelwind dropped off the face of the planet. The drummer is Malo member Rick Quintanal, and Freiberg plays faint mellotron on one track. “Caveat Emptor” indeed. 

*Jack Traylor - Guitar, Vocals 
*Craig Chaquico - Guitar, Mandolin 
*Danny Virdier - Bass, Vocals 
*Skip Moriarty - Guitar, Flute, Vocals 
*Diane Harris - Piano, Vocals 
*David Freiberg - Keyboards 
*Bill Laudner - Vocals 
*Kent Middleton - Harmonica, Percussion 
*Rick Quintanal - Drums

A1 Child Of Nature 
Vocals – Bill Laudner 
A2 Birds And Beasts And Bumblebees 3:32 
A3 I’ve Got You 
Keyboards – David Freiberg 
A4 Smile 4:14 
A5 Time To Be Happy 
Written-By – Gerald D. Moriarty 
B1 Come On, Children 3:50 
B2 Fifteen Years After 4:17 
B3 Gone To Canada 4:31 
B4 Caveat Emptor 
Written-By – Craig Chaquico 

Mother Superior “Mother Superior” 1975 UK Prog Rock

Mother Superior  “Mother Superior” 1975 UK Prog Rock

One of the first all-girl rock groups—and they were “prog rockers” at that—the UK-based Mother Superior, recorded one album in 1975 before going their separate ways. Apparently their album was only released in Scandinavia. 

Seen here on an unknown TV show, the band does an original, almost Yes-like take on the Stephen Stills classic, “Love the One You’re With.” (Here’s a link to their interesting cover of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.”)…

Mother Superior were a rare breed, for not only were they musicians of obvious talent, they were an all female group responsible for recording the definitive crossover album between progressive rock and jazz rock of the mid seventies. This period was a time of transition in the British rock scene; the prog era’s candle had finally flickered out two or three years earlier, even the more successful bands that survived its demise were largely on the downslide as punk drew ever closer During this time, Mother Superior emerged displaying leanings towards the earlier progressive sound but with a jazz rock feel and enchanting vocals blending intricate harmonies ‘and slick interplay making an altogether delightful concoction. 

However, the nature of this music is such that any attempt to try to categorise it is to dilute its richness of style and appeal. Enthusiasts of the progressive era may draw comparisons with Earth and Fire, Sandrose and Fusion Orchestra all of which featured female singers. But how many good all female rock bands were there in the 70s? Fanny spring to mind and; a bit later on, there were the Runaways. After that it’s a struggle. Here we have this rare phenomenon, a magical songwriting and arranging partnership of Lesley Sly (keyboards) and Audrey Swinburne (guitars) often alternating on lead vocals giving the compositions a mixture of tenderness and sensitivity plus exuberance and wit. Furthermore their adeptness at rousing improvisation is epitomised by extensive soloing notably in 'Mood Merchant’ and 'No Time Toulouse Lautrec’. A steady rhythm section of Jackie Badger (fingering a Gibson bass) and Jackie Crew (drums and percussion) also add backing vocals where required. 

Their prowess in renovating old songs and turning them into highly listenable pieces shows up in 'Love The One You’re With’ and an absolutely splendid version of 'Lady Madonna’. In 1975 the band were given the opportunity by IBC Studios to make use of all night downtime recording sessions. Whilst these recordings were taking shape they were gigging regularly, especially in and around London, in expectation of a forthcoming record deal. Test pressings were circulated, but unbelievably, the album never secured a UK release. This setback spurred the band on to look further afield in search of a deal for their finely crafted, exquisite work of art, which really ought to have gained an automatic right to worldwide release and acclaim if foresight and enlightened judgement had prevailed. 

Instead it was in Scandinavia, where greater appreciation of this exceptional group emerged. Mother Superior’s album finally escaped on the tiny SMA label albeit in a ridiculously small quantity making it nigh on impossible to locate these days. That LP. titled 'Lady Madonna’ (Cat No SMA 3014), is presented here, on this painstakingly remastered CD together with the original artwork. Shortly after the low-key album release the line-up abandoned their hopes of hitting the big time. Alas prematurely. At a time when chauvinism was rife in the music industry and where it was widely declared that girls couldn’t play rock and roll it was hardly surprising that their patience wore despondently thin. 

Mother Superior may not have had the luck of the draw but perhaps it was because they were such a unique band, not easily pigeon-holed, that led to them ultimately being overlooked rather than becoming a sensation. In any case, we are honoured to present to you this true lost gem which we hope you will cherish as we do. 

Bassist Jackie Badger went on to join Snips featuring ex Wild Turkey guitarist Mick Dyche. About four decades later their timeless artistry and dazzling finesse can at last live on to bewitch a new audience. ………by Pedro Sassafras…

The 70s. That decade that we long for and named in our conversations. Añorada yes, but ….. we have those who live full memory of EVERYTHING that happened? Or our brain has only stayed with the good, and has erased the negative. Obviously it was, like the previous ones, a terribly sexist decade. The first brave ones who dared to form an entirely feminine rock group were Fanny. Then came Birtha and later, The Runaways. All from the USA.
And with hard rock (more or less), as musical vocabulary. Climbing to a stage and enduring all kinds of insults and obscenities on the part of the gañanes of shift was (ejem), “the less”. It was already planned. Worse was that the public and the media were not aware of the evidence that girls could play rock. Even very good. Okay, well now transfer all that to the country of hooligans par excellence, England. With which Spaniards we have always rivaled (it will come from the times of Jack Sparrow, I imagine), in thugs, drunk and macho. 

Rizo the curl, appears by those lands an all female band, sacrilegio, already of entrance. But it is that in addition, they do not go of hard rednecks like their Yankee colleagues, but they exert in the progressive intellectuality of the moment. Not for that, less sexist, see. Lesley Sly (keyboards, soloist), Audrey Swinburne (lead vocals), Jackie Badger (bass) and Jackie Crew (drums and voices) were Mother Superior. Yes, long before the hard-soul rockers USA of the 90. A group perfectly trained for progressive rock, with an irreproachable technique
In 1975 they have the opportunity to use at night (when there is nobody), the IBC Studios. Little by little they make up what will be their dream album, arriving to circulate test pressings by UK with view to a record contract. Thing that never came. Instead, and incredibly, a small Scandinavian label, SMA, edits it in a micro-quantity that makes it nowadays virtually unreachable. Fortunately the guys at Audio Archives released it in cd in 1996, but it will also be tricky to locate it ever since. “Lady Madonna” was titled, and after listening to you, you would conform to me how unfair the gilded ones could be. 

“No Time Toulouse Lautrec” (5'49) is a dreamy piece that mixes perfectly psychedelia and progressive. And that I have no problem in placing next to the material of Yes of its two first albums. Badger bass emulates Squire without complexes. And the mini moog only is totally wakemaniaco. Although the organistic preponderance approaches here to Lesley Sly with Tony Kaye.
“Just one Look ” (5'55) te convence de que Mother Superior tienen fuerte influencia Yes, equiparándolos a otros combos británicos de parecido sonido, como Druid, sin ir más lejos. Los desarrollos son coherentes y preciosistas. Cuidan el detalle con instinto maternal. Delicadas y elegantes, las señoras. 

Como demostración, “Mood Merchant” (7'03), composición de delicadeza andersoniana. Aunque con la tensión instrumental y los ovarios bien puestos. Coral de voces bien empastadas, acústicas, y una eléctrica que recuerda mucho a John Lees, y el tema en general es muy afín a Barclay James Harvest.
The second face opens “Still the One You’re With” (4'39) by Stephen Stills, reaffirming his West Coast influences, a chorus song almost AOR if this genre existed, as he was crawling. It does not cost much to imagine it in a repertoire of REO Speedwagon. A very clear single. 

“Ticklish Allsorts” (5'17) is an instrument where they leave the level of potential and mastery of the instruments high. Exquisite melodically, and that could be from Fantasy, England or Jonesy. 

“Lady Madonna” (4'38) is a curious cover of The Beatles, (not of Madonna) that has an air to saloon of the west or cabaret that surprises and gives of fluency the listening. Harpsichord and wah wah play with humor on a very “Hoedown” / “Benny The Bouncer” track. Finally “Years upon Tears” (5'59) is a strange song built with the influence of CSN & Y, much West Coast feel, and excellent voices by clipping. Moog’s only brings Uncle Rick back to the mind, followed by all Yes in crossroads with Queen. 

Shortly after this album, Mother Superior stopped trying. Perhaps precipitously, although it is excusable to see the hostile panorama around them, for the simple fact of being women. 

Everything was not wonderful in the 70’s, my dear twenty-something hipster. And, if I may be allowed to joke, the Mother Superiors were COJUES. (If I do not say burst !!!).
The second face opens “Still the One You’re With” (4'39) by Stephen Stills, reaffirming his West Coast influences, a chorus song almost AOR if this genre existed, as he was crawling. It does not cost much to imagine it in a repertoire of REO Speedwagon. A very clear single. 

“Ticklish Allsorts” (5'17) is an instrument where they leave the level of potential and mastery of the instruments high. Exquisite melodically, and that could be from Fantasy, England or Jonesy. 

“Lady Madonna” (4'38) is a curious cover of The Beatles, (not of Madonna) that has an air to saloon of the west or cabaret that surprises and gives of fluency the listening. Harpsichord and wah wah play with humor on a very “Hoedown” / “Benny The Bouncer” track. Finally “Years upon Tears” (5'59) is a strange song built with the influence of CSN & Y, much West Coast feel, and excellent voices by clipping. Moog’s only brings Uncle Rick back to the mind, followed by all Yes in crossroads with Queen. 

Shortly after this album, Mother Superior stopped trying. Perhaps precipitously, although it is excusable to see the hostile panorama around them, for the simple fact of being women. 

Everything was not wonderful in the 70’s, my dear twenty-something hipster. And, if I may be allowed to joke, the Mother Superiors were COJUES. (If I do not say burst !!!)…..J.J. Iglesias……………

The summer of 74 was hot, I was bored, Cosmetix are playing at the Lord Nelson on Holloway Road, I went to say hello. They tell me the bass player was leaving to become a nurse and ask if I would like to join. I said sure and we arrange to meet up the following week at a rehearsal room in Blackheath. 

I arrive with my gear and walk straight into an almighty row between the two singer guitarists, Gaynor and Audrey, who decide they can’t resolve their differences and are going to split up. What? Gaynor leaves, Jackie, me and Audrey stay together. We choose to add a keyboard player and put an ad in Melody Maker. Lesley Sly, a New Zealander, who is here to further here career as a journalist, finds the ad intriguing and gives us a call. A meeting with Jackie and Audrey at Pizza Hut in Croydon is arranged, they get on well, but are dubious as to whether she plays the keyboards or not because of her long finger nails. 

We audition each other at the rehearsal room at Greenwich Swimming Baths, although our tastes are very different we enjoy playing together, so now we are a four piece. Rehearsals begin immediately as there are some Cosmetix gigs to fulfil and we are starting from scratch. We manage to write some instrumentals, do a song I wrote when I was with Janis and Holly 'No Time Toulouse’ and then the choice of covers begins - 'Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’ Steeley Dan, 'Long Train Running’ The Doobie Brothers, Elton John’s 'All the Young Girls Love Alice’, 'Love the One You’re With’ Crosby Stills and Nash, I went along with all of these but almost ignited when Lesley suggests Gilbert O'Sullivan’s 'Get Down’. We all sang and could put together some pretty impressive harmonies. Jackie Crew was very good at this and could reach notes only dogs could hear. 

There is a lot of musical freedom in this band, which probably lead to its downfall, but we worked well as a unit. I love playing with Jackie (drummer) she has great attack and I think we had a strong natural connection. Audrey is a fabulous guitarist, wonderful tone, impressive technique, a powerful feel for melody, and a big voice too. Lesley was red hot on the keyboards and along with Audrey gave us nice wide ranging lead vocal possibilities. 

I particularly enjoy composing with Lesley, music theory was and is largely a mystery to me, Lesley with her keyboard way of thinking could take me in a direction I would never have been heading, I liked that a lot. 
Some discussion about a name had gone on, but nothing came up, so one evening after rehearsal at Audrey’s Nan’s house, we decided to not leave until we had found one. The hours passed, some of us were drunk, still nothing. About to give up and go home I say as a joke 'we should call it Mother Superior’. The others loved it and that’s what we were called. 

Some gigs ate up a huge amount of songs, occasionally we had to do 3 x 45 minute sets and in these cases did get a bit desperate for material, at one point we included the theme to the Pink Panther. We added Stevie Wonder’s 'Living for the City’ and 'Gimme Shelter’ by the Rolling Stones, These were two of my favourites. Crosby Stills and Nash’s 'Love the One You’re With’ always went down well. One time we were playing at Wandsworth Prison, Lesley was half way through the introduction to Santana’s 'Evil Ways’ when we all realised the significance, especially the opening line 'You gotta stop your evil ways…’ The inmates found it hilarious.
Our first gig was an American Airbase in Huntingdon, bourbon, men with guns and we manage to get through it without too many duff moments, result. 

2nd November we play the Marquee, love to be in that tiny dressing room and walk out onto the stage with the green and white striped canopy where I’d seen so many of my favourite bands play. We went down well and they say they’ll have us back. What a thrill. 

26th December, Boxing Day in a transit van with two roadies we leave by ferry for Ostende, heading for Germany to play American Airbases in Ashaffenburg. As we are coming ashore we find that we should have completed carnet forms, that lists all the equipment we are carrying, previously we had told by the promoter we did not need to do this. This turns out to be a scam, that many bands are stung by, we have to pay money to the customs before they’ll let us in, the tour operator gets his cut. Welcome to the music biz. We have to wait all night on the harbour waiting for the office to open, before we can pay and leave. This makes us really late and broke, we have to drive like crazy, no chance to eat and have to go straight to the gig. We are so tired by the end we fall asleep on the stage while the roadies take the gear out. This is pretty much how the tour went. There was a distinct lack of food and sleep and being vegetarian in Germany was laughable, sometimes I shared a meal with Lesley, she’d eat the meat and I’d get most of the vegetables.
On the night off, we hitch into town and start drinking with the locals, lager with spirit chasers that are described as being made from wheat, maybe, it was tricky conversing, none of could really speak each others language. We were all drunk, except for Lesley, who recently reminded me that she was tea total at the time, so we drank hers too and bought her fruit juice. Anyway, drunk or not we all get into a car with the local madman who is meant to be taking us back to our BandB, he doesn’t, instead he drives really fast out of town into the forest. We’re all yelling and shouting at him till he agrees to take us back, when we are somewhere near our destination, we make him stop and we all jump out. What his plans for all four of us were we could only guess. 

Our last night of the tour is New Year’s Eve at the Playboy Club on the Airbase, we were extremely popular, especially around midnight. 

The drive back to London in the back of the transit, sat on the floor amongst the equipment is long and cold. We are wrecked. 

January 22nd 1975 and our first gig after the tour is at the Royal Oak, nearing the end of the second set, I realise that Audrey’s solo is getting slower and slower. I turn round to see her slumped against a piano at the back of the stage. Friends in the audience jump up on stage, remove the guitar she is still gripping and take her to A and E, clearly she is unconscious and we are all really worried. It’s a sad sight to see her attached to drips in her hospital bed. Probably exhaustion from the German tour and luckily she recovers quite quickly. In the meantime we cancel some gigs, then Pete deps for her till she makes it back in February.
We have an agent, but we feel the need for management and after much indecision we decide on a Mr. Campfield rather than Bunny Lewis who is also interested. Campfield has some music biz connections including the DJ Alan Freeman. We sign a deal with him, which includes his right to sign for 'minor’ things on our behalf. How naive we are is almost beyond belief, of course the word minor is the important thing, what it actually meant is that he could sign anything on our behalf including passing us on to whoever he felt like, which is what he does a little later on. 

He is also responsible for this piece of advertising and a publishing deal with Panache. 
On the 2nd April we begin recording an album at IBC studios on Great Portland Street, a place used by many groups, the Rolling Stones, the Who, etc. We are given down time, usually late at night, and I get to hear the famous phrase 'it’ll be all right in the mix’ for the first time. It will be the last time I actually believe it. This is Hugh Jones first job as producer, the engineer is Keith Bessey. Many hours spent, some happy some very frustrating. Fascinating keyboards for Lesley to play with, Steinway, Mellotron, Moog and Oberheim. The album is finished and called 'Lady Madonna’ a management choice and comes out on a Swedish subsidiary of Polydor, no British record company have the slightest interest in us. One night at the Golden Lion, the place is rammed with an audience of men and women, Sony have sent an A and R man down who says to us after two encores, that he can’t see who our market is, women would be jealous of us and men wouldn’t buy our records because their girlfriends wouldn’t like it. Luckily this dreadful outcome is adverted as our album can only be purchased in Scandinavia, where apparently they can deal with such things. 

We gig endlessly, pubs bring in about £20, Unis more, clearly we are not in it for the money, although we must have earned something because in April I was able to buy the black Rickenbacker 4001 stereo bass I had been longing for, I love it’s metallic sound.
Can’t remember what started it, but I have been learning to juggle, nothing extravagant, just the three balls, and it sounds like fun when someone suggests I do some if Audrey breaks a string. Surprisingly at the next gig she does just that. I put my bass down and start juggling, I am utterly dreadful, balls are bouncing all over the stage and the audience is hysterical. I have the feeling we won’t be repeating this. 

Being vegetarian on the road in 1975 is not easy, the best place to eat is on UK motorways where you can be guaranteed egg, chips and beans, in Germany nothing came without meat. As I said Lesley and I sometimes shared meals, she ate the schnitzel and I’d eat most of the potatoes and sauerkraut. The French wouldn’t even entertain the idea of non meat eating. One place we stayed, the owners offered to make dinner for us - they gave me a large bowl of lettuce. In Scandinavia all meals, even bread and cheese came with fish on top. Few people understood the word vegetarian and if they did they couldn’t understand why you would choose do such a thing. I was so flipping hungry, if I did find food it was usually at breakfast where you might come across the component parts of a cheese roll. 

Love at the Lyceum, Arthur Lee wearing a turban, was his delightfully crazy self, I think this gig is recorded and released.
The Golden Lion in Fulham is a regular for us, with a great audience of enthusiastic Aussies, who build pyramids of empty lager cans on the stage. I like them. 

September we are back in IBC recording our first and only single 'Back Track’, this is never released.
In November we play our second Marquee gig, a year after the first one and not headlining, but supporting the Scorpions - oh well at least they kept their promise to have us back. 

A week later we’re on a ferry - touring France, Luxmebourg and Belgium, supporting the Scorpions in Leige (we’ll have to stop meeting like this). More strange places to stay and motorways to drive down.
I have a Hi Watt 100 amp and want to change my 4x12 for a Zoot Horn, which is a serious piece of equipment the size of a small wardrobe with 1x18" speaker. One is for sale in Paddington, I arrange to try it out and Mick our roadie agrees to come with me. We are quite close to the address when I screw up the directions and we turn into the wrong street, that leads to the square behind Paddington Green police station. Mick is turning the van round when he accidentally reverses into a car, which very unfortunately belongs to a detective who is sitting in it. You may know that this particular police station is the one they use to take terrorists, which at this time would be from the IRA. The detective is hysterical and is out on the pavement screaming at us, perhaps he thought he was being targeted, probably lucky he didn’t shoot us. I have to run off to get to the guy with the Zoot Horn because he won’t stay much longer. Mick has to leave his details with the police and then follow me to the squat where I’m trying the cabinet out. I love it, pay for it, we carry it down many stairs and put it in the van. Mick understandably is not happy, but the detective’s reaction gives us a few laughs on the drive home……………Jackie  Badger `s retro blog…….

Mother Superior 
*Lesley Sly - Keyboards, vocals 
*Jackie Badger - Bass, vocals 
*Jackie Crew - Drums, vocals 
*Audrey Swinburne - Guitar, vocals

1 No Tie Toulouse Lautrec 5:49 
2 Just One Look 5:53 
3 Mood Merchant 7:03 
4 Love The One You’re With 4:39 
5 Ticklish Allsorts 5:19 
6 Lady Madonna 4:35 
7 Years Upon Tears 5:57 

Focus 1970-76: “Focus Plays Focus” 1970 + “Focus II” 1971 + “Focus 3” 1972 + “Hamburger Concerto” 1974 + “Mother Focus” 1975 + “Ship Of Memories” 1976 Dutch Prog Symphonic

Focus 1970-76: “Focus Plays Focus” 1970 + “Focus II” 1971 + “Focus 3” 1972 + “Hamburger Concerto” 1974 + “Mother Focus” 1975 + “Ship Of Memories” 1976 Dutch Prog Symphonic 

full all six albums

  ~Focus “Plays Focus” 1970~

One understands that the following albums will be almost entirely instrumental when you listen to the poor sung tracks. They will do much better later and become a mostly instrumental group but whatever vocals they will sing after Moving Waves will be superb. Cyril Havermans is an horrendous singer . In the DVD about Focus, there is some interesting footage about this line-up playing in an Amsterdam museum. 
Most sung tracks are directly eliminated because of the above-mentioned flaw. this leaves some three instrumental which fantastic and among which is their first hit known even by my grandparents!!! House of the King was their first huge hit , but they must have copied that from something else because Holland has had only queens for a long time now. Anonymous is one of those instrumental that they will rework at least three times and their trademark eponymous theme is just as enjoyable. 

I would advise people investigating Focus to not start by their debut or their sophomore because they are much flawed but for those wanting deepen their knowledge of the band, those two albums are much Sean Trane ..........

This is Dutch progressive rock. The keyboards are basic: mostly organ and piano. Some songs are more catchy and accessible with very good lead and backing vocals ("Black Beauty", "Sugar Island"). Other songs are more instrumental, with tons of drums and flute through fast bass and electric guitar rythms. For instance, "House of the King" has a melodic flute that steals the show in front of rythmic patterns (It is similar to the JETHRO TULL of the 70's). The instrumental FOCUS is full of good piano, organ, elaborated drums and electric guitar high notes that are even a bit romantic and rythm greenback .....................

Emerging from a wealth of Dutch bands Focus burst onto the scene in the late sixties and unleashed their debut album in 1970, firstly only in Holland but soon Focus started to make waves and the news spread and a second edition of the debut was released which was minus two of the albums important tracks ("House Of The King" and "Sugar Island"), and then finally the whole world, if they wanted, could hear the entire album just as it was meant to be. The album is tight and cohesive as initially the sound is very influenced by the sixties British scene with psychedelic overtures and most certainly in the vocals. "Focus (vocal)" is a gentle swaying opener with a neat organ beat from Hans Cleuver, also Focus' percussionist, as the band then pursue an adventure through a mix of eclectic instrumentation and styles, most notably Thijs Van Leer's sonic and ultra melodic flute playing. Especially on the semi prog/psycyhe and rapid flurry of the instrumental "House Of The King". Jan Akkerman's guitar playing is as exciting and refreshing as anything his band mate could come up with. At this early stage of Focus development the band were in the moment of taming their sound which they would define by Focus III, but here they were still working under the structure of the short tune. A few tracks do contain vocals, which somehow sound almost semi coherent almost stoned like yet under developed. "Black Beauty" is about one of the most accessible tracks in the Focus canon, along with "Sugar Island", a song with references to Castro's Cuba. Initially this track was lifted from the debut due to American disharmony with the communist country. Stupidly in my opinion. "Why Dream?" is an interesting piece of, again with a psyche element. It seriously rams home the mantra over and over in a hypnotic manner and is one of the better songs which has vocals but "Happy Nightmare (Mescaline)" is not. A tale of bad trips, LSD like, it comes across more annoying (a touch of filler maybe), even a tad instructive than pained and tinted with warning which is what I might have expected. Nevertheless Focus' debut effort is a fine album with a touch of hard rock, a hint of jazz, a splash of baroque all tied up in a very Focus like wit in a very progressive manner. Well worth a listen.... by Philo ..............

It's amazing and fascinating to know how FOCUS were (and still are) popular in Brazil. They are good and really deserved that distinction but I also realize that their first output came in a moment that part of the younger generation was eager to some new sounds, experiences and perspectives - a new focus, indeed. Those kids that became teenagers in late 60s had received musical information coming from BEATLES, MOODY BLUES, PROCOL HARUM, early FLOYD and CRIMSON, and so they were naturally looking for novelties, a niche filled amongst other by FOCUS. 
"In And Out Of Focus" has a fair content of progressiveness, nothing really spectacular but with the exact dosage to amuse many, myself included. Their sound shows several directions and influences: hard and pop-rock, European jazz, psych & space, folk & erudite and even some of then recent acts like JETHRO TULL. All together could produce a tasteless and confusing salad but the result is agreeable since the production got to separate their backgrounds clearly. 

The album begins and finishes with the same track, the band namesake song 'Focus', being the first provided with vocals and the later instrumental only - a catchy and soft tune much more in the romantic pop vein with some real rock passages. Vocals in English could have been weird if that was one's native language however for a non-English speaker it sounded interesting. 

'Black beauty' rocks pleasantly and a certain smell of 60s pop-rock may be felt while 'Sugar Island' blends Latin and psych tunes - either songs are not remarkable but are perfectly hearable. 'Anonymous' is a fine and real progressive track, the varied atmosphere changing associated with nice musicianship makes this one of the best album moments. This song has also some segments which in the future will shape FOCUS signature. 

'House of the king' opens lovably the last part of "In And Out Of Focus". The short song was a hit and became a band's standard. 'Happy nightmare' brings back the vocals, together with catchy folk and jazz tunes - not special but nevertheless hearable. 'Why dream' is simply an average non-skipable track with psych spices. 

FOCUS debut album is the starting point for a lengthy and successful career that should be not overlooked when diving into the band's discography. "In And Out Of Focus" could be a plain good album however the legend of FOCUS recommends it as a meaningful addition for all music collection. Atkingani .........

Despite certain criticism, the debut album of FOCUS is a quite original and artistically coherent music statement. True, critics are mainly complaining about the weak vocal tracks and surely Black Beauty and Sugar Island are not the kind of songs you cannot live without. But the rest is pretty much excellent! 
The opening - vocal - and the closing - instrumental - versions of the self-titled Focus are pretty solid progressive rock statements and present a blueprint for later albums, where this composition would traditionally be re-interpreted. The instrumental Focus contains some wonderful Akkerman's solo parts that suggest a nice, relaxing, almost lounge atmosphere of the kind Peter Green had composed in Albatross. 

Anonymous is another gem presenting a mixture of Medieval/Rennaissance elements with a strong, hard-rocking jazz improvisation, with some wild and vivid use of flute, piano and lead guitar. There is a solo part on bass guitar where M. Dresden shows that his performance skills were not the reason for his departure after this album. The bass sounds like the similar part of the crazy Improvisation suite by their fellow countrymen EKSEPTION done few years later. 

Happy Nightmare and Why Dream are vocal tracks, but both are fine melodic and slightly psychedelic songs, an obvious traces of THE BEATLES and early PINK FLOYD influences. There is a fine chamber jazz section in the former, with Mellotron and strings/violins. The vocals are indeed not very convincing, but I would say there were never meant to be in the forefront - much like its use in later CAMEL or LEB I SOL albums - their role is pure atmospheric. Whether this was an intention of the band while recording this album is a different story and I sense they were rather experimental. On the subsequent albums they were reduced to occasional scat and yodelling and that's what van Leer would become a famous for. 

Finally, here comes House of the King! Acoustic guitar chords and lively percussive rhythm make just enough space for Thijs van Leer's extravaganza flute solo play. It is one of the most memorable and popular flute solos in rock music, a melody that gained a widespread popularity across generations. I remember it was often used as background music for commercials and announcements in the TV/radio broadcast in the former Yugoslavia, while a popular radio show on Radio Sarajevo in the early 1980s used to have this tune in the opening sequence! 

In and Out of Focus is excellent debut of the excellent European continental band that is often overlooked in the wake of later stronger albums. But if you disregard certain weak elements of some of the vocal tracks, you will find this record extremely enjoyable, diverse and if you want - influential (CAMEL fans - this is for you!) Seyo ...................

When I heard song like Why dream I was totally in love! I even wished Focus had done more song like this on later albums! It's an emotional feeling I get, intense satisfaction while listening to the songs on this album. OK, the vocals may not be that good, but the songs are fantastic. And besides, prog doesn't always need very good vocals in my opinion. 
Besides this. It's the first album of focus, and a great start! It already has everything: interesting moods, great melodies and ofcourse the unhumanly good guitarplaying by Jan Akkerman. He might just be the best Dutch guitarplayer in history. 

I also like the way this album was recorded. It sounds very 'real' to me. Like they are actually playing in your room. It sounds a bit old, but that's just the vibe I tend to like on old progrecords. So a perfect production for the time being, though I have to mention this record should be consumed on vinyl. Then only the true meaning of the artist can be understood, because they recorded it for lp, not for cd. 

Important record for the band, great songs, great musicians. Four stars! friso ..............

A recent thread in Prog Archives forum that shows how some younger people fail to recognize the transcendence of the most important band from the Netherlands and their enormous contribution to the Symphonic Prog movement, has encouraged me to review all of their albums, a pleasant task that I will start from the beginning, with their debut "In and Out of Focus". Before the review itself, we must remember that this album was released in 1970, Symphonic Prog was already well known in UK and Italy was following their steps with some special characteristics, but FOCUS really crossed the limits and changed radically the approach. 
While British and Italian bands were too busy with the lush keyboards and strong melodies, FOCUS was able to combine a distinct and unique guitar jamming, some Jazz elements and a strong Classical influence. In this first album they still don't get rid of the Psychedelic influences of the late 60's but they are already creating a new form of lets call it Flemish Symphonic, where Jan Akkerman plays a role that few Symphonic guitarist had. 

The album is opened with the smooth and relaxing "Focus" one of the few vocal tracks in their career, being that Thijs Van Leer later started to use his voice as an extra instrument instead of singing lyrics. 

The soft voice makes the perfect introduction for a long Hammond organ jamming very well covered by Jan's guitar..Dreamy, oneiric, relaxing, this song places the listener in mood for something new. 

"Black Beauty" is a different track that keeps alive the 60's spirit, somehow late Psyche meets early Prog, the vocals in the style of the British invasion combine perfectly with a strong and well elaborate melody. It's important to notice how Jan with his guitar and Thijs with a subtle piano manage to take the lead one after the other, two strong personalities and different styles blending their efforts in favor of the music. 

"Sugar Island" is another typical late 60's track with reminiscences of Carnaby Street scenario but already with a more developed style, when I listen the vocal work, I can't understand why they resigned to sing for ever. A special mention for the fantastic guitar instrumental break of Jan Akkerman and Thijs flute, simply impressive. Some people will say that they try to clone JETHRO TULL'S Folk sound, but as a fact JETHRO was still doing mainly blues until 1971, so it's hard to talk about a copy. 

"Anonymous" is the first song that sounds like the FOCUS we all know and love, the flute is clearly aggressive, the strength of the song relies exclusively in the instruments, long jamming passages, radical changes, while Jan concentrates in his guitar, Thijs jumps from the piano to the flute as a human octopus, while Hans Cleuver and Martijn Dresden complement perfectly, specially Martijn who does a breathtaking bass solo. A great song 

"The House of the King" was he band's first world hit, Thijs does a frantic flute work with Martijn supporting him impeccably with the bass, the track is simply delightful in its simplicity. Strangely, 9 out of each 10 persons I showed the track, used to believe it was played by JETHRO TULL. "Happy Nightmare (Mescaline)" is a different track, somehow influenced by Latin Jazz and vocal bands works like a stress relief. Even though the previous tracks seem relaxing, the saturation of instrumental sections with few vocals create some stress that needs to be dissolved, and the band does this job with "Happy Nightmare". 

Why Dream" is what I define as weird, starts with a Baroque intro enhanced by a sober organ but the vocals bring us back to the 20th Century. The strong melody and melancholic tune combined with Jan's aggressive guitar are spectacular. The Hammond organ is a constant along the track, don't expect radical changes, just let it flow and you will enjoy it as I do. 

The album finishes almost as it stated, with the song "Focus", this time instrumental, as announcing that this is what we will listen from now on, but don't be mistaken, only the name and the central melody are repeated, this time the band exploits their instruments to the maximum, Thijs makes constant Hammond solos, each stronger than the previous, while Jan makes the guitar cry in anguish creating a dramatic atmosphere that contrasts with the pleasant one created in the opening track. Pure Progressive Rock at its best, like only FOCUS can play. 

I'm sure this is not the best FOCUS album, but it's the chance to discover a band that will later be revolutionary and transcendental in the development of Progressive Rock. 

Four stars for a very solid Ivan_Melgar_M .................

This first FOCUS's album is a bit different from their other albums. It seems to me that the main "focus" of this first line-up of the band was to compose and to record more proper songs with lyrics than to "focus" on instrumental music and improvisations like in other albums. So, in this album there are more songs with lyrics than in other albums, sounding like the band was more oriented to sing songs with proper lyrics than to only sing wordless vocals like in other albums. They also used more lead and backing vocals than in other albums. (Their "Focus con Proby" album was also a "songs with lyrics " oriented album, but that album was more a collaboration with lead singer P.J. Proby than a proper FOCUS's album, I think). Thijs van Leer also plays a bit of trumpet in this album, a thing that never happened again with the band. 
The album also has some sixties's Pop Rock influences, also sounding to me like being influenced a bit by the early PINK FLOYD's sound ("Focus", "Black Beauty", "Happy Nightmares (Mescaline)", "Why Dream"), with some Psychedelic influences, and also some influences from the early JETHRO TULL's musical style, particularly with Thijs van Leer's flute playing in some instrumental songs ("Anonymous", "House of the King"). There are also some Jazz music influences. But some traces from their very characteristic musical style are present in some songs ("Anonymous", "House of the King"). All the musicians played very well, and in fact this first line-up of the band was very good. Unfortunately, Jan Akkerman apparently was not very happy with this line-up and he left the band after this first album, forming a new band, and also forcing van Leer to split the first line-up of FOCUS to join Akkerman's band and to also name it FOCUS. That second line-up of the band recorded their very good "Moving Waves" album in 1971, which is one of their best albums, in my opinion. 

This album, as a whole, sounds a bit dated, maybe because the production of the sound of the album still sounds "very Sixties". But their next album, "Moving Waves", has a much better sound and production. Anyway, this album is very good. It was a very good start for a very good band like Guillermo .............

Focus’ debut album is gentler and more low-key and vocal-oriented than their subsequent efforts; fans of Jan Akkerman’s pyrotechnics may be disappointed by his relatively restrained presence, but others may be pleasantly surprised to find a more economic group than they remember. A fair collection of progressive rock tunes without a clear focus, the material is dominated by Thijs Van Leer, often introducing classical sensibilities. But at least as often, it sticks with fairly conventional period folk-rock and blues influences, with occasional jazzy shadings. Akkerman’s “House of the King” is the most accurate Jethro Tull imitation ever recorded. (by Richie Unterberger)...............

Excellent debut. Although I did not hear In and Out of Focus until after my big brother bought Moving Waves, on the back of Hocus Pocus which caught all our imaginations when we heard it on the radio, and Focus 3, which everybody who I ever knew, in the mid to late seventies, had in their record collection. House of the King is clearly a stand out track that, along with several other tracks of that eary period of Focus, was used extensively on television as a theme tune or as background music. Now though is the time to re-evaluate the work of this band. From a British perspective Focus embody two genres of mistrusted and largely despised music from the past thirty years, Progressive Rock and Music from Continental Europe that seems to come to these shore as a ready packaged phenomenon. There are some countries we seem to be able to accept certain kinds of music from but Holland and Prg Rock have only ever had fleeting acceptance in popular imagination. I dug my heels in during the mid seventies against the Soul mania that seemed to grab everyone around me. I resisted taking on Punk and abandoning all the music that I had loved until then. three goups were my badge of honor Led Zep, (whom everyone I knew had abandoned, Soft Macxhine, who I have always felt were cool and interesting and finally Focus who were simply as uncool as you could get. I found myslf drfawn into many different musical cliques whilst never being really part of any, I liked Bob Marley but was clearly not a Rastafarian, ian Dury (the first time I heard sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll in Groucho's Record Shop in Dundee, I was hooked and I started to check out Punk free from the tyranny of the style fascists) but Focus were my private world of uncool. I am pleased to be re-enbacing their music and now that I have much of it on CD (i did get rid of the worn LPs quite some time ago) they are as good as I remember. My other boyhood music which I have yet to confront as it is possibly even less cool than Focus is Status Quo. I found myself contemplating buying On The Level recently. but I was too self conscious. I am after all in my mid forties and I was standing in HMV wearing a denim jacket, although I have not had the long hair for twenty years, I still thought that I looked too much of the stereotype Quo fan and that was too sad for word so i chickened out. But do not be a coward about Focus, In and Out of Focus is excellent prog rocjas are moving waves (which I bly recommend listening to from track two for the first few listening) and Focus 3 should still be in everyone's Cd collections it is truly indispensable ............(Kevin McClure.................

In & Out of Focus is not bad for a debut by one of the biggest prog rock bands to come out of the Netherlands (same country that also gave us bands like Earth & Fire, Ekseption, Trace, Finch, Alquin, Supersister, Kayak, etc.). Of course the sound of this album has not been fully developed, and there are several pop oriented numbers like "Black Beauty". This is also by far their most vocal dominated album. There are a couple of cuts that showed the more progressive direction the band will quickly move to. One is the instrumental opening, "Focus", and the other is "Anonymous" which I think works a lot better than Focus 3's "Anonymous II" because it's shorter allowing the band to focus (no pun intended) better. "House of the King" is a totally wonderful and cathy Jethro Tull-like number that was later featured on the LP version of Focus 3, because the American LP version of In & Out of Focus did not feature that cut (but the European version did). Also the US version of this LP did not feature "Sugar Island" either. The IRS CD reissue features the American cover but all eight of the European tracks. Regardless, this is a nice and listenable album, but much better things were to come to this band with their followup Moving Waves........Tommy Schonenberg,............. 
Line-up / Musicians 
- Thijs van Leer / vocals, organ, flutes (not confirmed: piano, electric piano, Mellotron, harpsichord, vibes, trumpet) 
- Jan Akkerman / electric & acoustic (?) guitars 
- Martin Dresden / bass, vocals (?) 
- Hans Cleuver / drums, vocals(?)

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Focus (instrumental) (9:45) 
2. Why Dream ? (3:57) 
3. Happy Nightmare (Mescaline) (3:56) 
4. Anonymous (7:00) 
5. Black Beauty (3:05) 
6. Sugar Island 
7. Focus (vocal) (2:44)

  ~"Focus II"  (Moving Waves)  1971 ~
'Moving Waves' was the first LP I ever bought, back in early 1973. Having bought it purely on the strength of the excitement of 'Hocus Pocus', I was disappointed that the rest of the album was nothing like it. Focus seemed less a hard-rock thrash-metal band and more the purveyors of a middle-aged, dinner-and-dance style of music. Hardly the stuff that a 14-year-old schoolboy craved. Within a couple of years I had sold it, presumably in order to enhance my Steely Dan collection.I have since re-purchased the album on CD, more out of a sense of completeness than for any other motive. 'Focus III' is undoubtedly the band's best album, with 'Hamburger Concerto' placed a close second and 'Moving Waves' third. 
In retrospect, 'Moving Waves' was a wonderful preparation for the 'Focus III' masterpiece. Two members of the band -- Van Der Linden and Havermans -- were new, and one should not be surprised that they are feeling their way into the utterly unique sound of Focus. That said, prog groups of the period clearly listened to each other's work. There is a striking similarity between the melody of the title song and Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 'Trilogy' -- but which came first? 
'Eruption' is one of those concept pieces which occupied the entire side of an LP. Its merits became clearer with familiarity, but it isn't outstanding, and to my ear, it owes much to ELP's 'Tarkus', which definitely did come first. For their 'Live at the Rainbow' LP, the band reduced the 23-minute piece to a mere 8:29 without much loss of substance. 
Focus are now an under-rated and much overlooked band. Availability of this and their other CDs is sporadic. Snap them up while you can!....Gary Pedoto ........
"Moving Waves," "Focus" "second album starts with some of their most famous songs, the bizarre" Hocus Pocus ", with heavy hardrock reef, which is repeated over and over again, between solo spots for the band members here again outstanding: the virtuosic guitarist Jan Akkerman), and especially Thijs Van Lee's violent, manic Gejodel including the accordion and this incredibly high falsetto voice ... Strange. Cool. 

The next few numbers turn down a few steps after the energetic and memorable opening; quiet, very melodic pieces that sometimes pass just past the narrow-headed pot. Nevertheless, there are always listeners here: at "Le Clochard" stands e.g. Akkermans acoustic guitar gently plucked in the foreground, in "Janis" Van Leers flute, partly in several interlacing tracks. And "Focus II" has some very nice moving and complex instrumental passages. 

The whole second half of the plate is part of the now really multi-faceted "eruption", which consists of many short sections (usually between 30 seconds and 2 minutes), but these are repeated in part and provide a larger context. Thijs Van Leer is mainly involved in the Hammond organ, while Akkerman plays the electric guitar, as does Pierre Van Der Linden, drums and Cyril Havermans, bass. Although the individual parts of the stylistics are treated relatively different, the underlying sound remains the same, so that the number never torn, but rather is flowing and uniform. With "Orfeus", "eruption" begins quietly, classical breathing, while "Answer" moves and torn, somehow ELP-moderately opposes. The hallowed "pupil", with his psychedelic touch, organ and Mellotron strings, provides for "Pink Floyd" -feeling. "The Bridge" is the only longer number (about 5 minutes) with plenty of space for organ and guitar solos, followed by a "short" "Hocus Pocus" quote. "Euridice" then again offers gentle piano and flute, "Dayglow" spreads sacred mood including monk singing, the right contrast to the drum solo "Endless Road" ... .....

"Moving Waves" is a beautiful, mainly instrumental record, with which Jan Akkerman once again inspired with his sovereign game. The quiet numbers sometimes me a bit too anointing, but overall this is probably "Focus" the best album and perhaps the place to familiarize with Gerhards .....

Largely on the strength of the fluke top-40 hit 'Hocus Pocus', 1971's "Moving Waves" proved the group's biggest American seller. It also stood as their most artistically fulfilling release. Exemplified by the 24 minute, side long 'Eruption' the collection offered up a seamless combination of classical, jazz and rock influences. While the entire group was given an opportunity to display technical virtuosity, Akkerman's contributions were particularly noteworthy. Less impressive were the group's stabs at vocal numbers. Exemplified by the title track vocalist van Leer sounded as if he'd overdosed on helium snappets. The group's biggest American hit, the album went gold, hitting # 8. Unfortunately, shortly after the collection's release the group underwent the first of a stream of personnel changes with drummer Cleuver and bassist Dresden leaving. They were quickly replaced by former Akkerman associates Cyril Havermans and Pierre Van der Linden.....Bad Cat............... 
  This is the first of their classic album and includes Hocus Pocus which is their pinnacle (and also their best known hit) . Almost gone are the vocals of havermans and what remains will be handled much more brilliantly by kb/flautist Tijs van Leer. Jan Akkerman was getting better with each album beit from Focus or his own solo ones. Pierre Vanderlinden also comes in the picture. 
So the album starts off at 100 mph with Hocus Pocus and its really fun yoddling. But after that track there is not that much happening on the rest of side 1 except for a reworking of their Focus theme. The title track is back to the horrible vocals of their debut. Le clochard has nothing much going on also.The Eruption suite on the side 2 leaves me bored and I have problems understanding howsome people manage to defend it as there is NOTHING happening over those 20+ mins. 

This album came out again with two covers, one horrendously pink and blue named Focus 2 and a second one with ripples in water and their faces over it , still retainig pink and blue overtones , but named Moving Waves. this album is vastly over-rated IMHO and is at best good but non-essential except for Hocus Sean Trane ................

"Moving Waves" is an easy to like classic prog recording. This is my favorite FOCUS release from their repertoire. "Moving Waves" contains some killer prog moments with classical piano and outrageous guitar riffs. "Hocus Pocus" is their signature piece with the famous yodeling of Thijs Van Leer. I love the gooves these guys get into and the presence of the 'ol Mellotron and classic guitar rock gives "Moving Waves" a high ranking on my all time favorite list..... by loserboy .............

This Netherlandish progressive masterpiece is one of the most hard rock progressive album made during that era: indeed Jan Akkerman's incisive and razor electric guitars are omnipresent: pure hard rock solos a la Led Zeppelin, and barely less timid aggressive riffs. The drums are restless, very complex and fast. The keyboards mostly consist in organ, mellotron, piano and harmonium. The intensely yodeling of Thijs Van Leer on "Hocus Pocus" is LEGENDARY: you are going to want to sing it! "Le clochard" has a beautiful floating mellotron in the background and impressive & relaxing acoustic guitar parts that should impress Steve Hackett himself. The peaceful and rhythmic "Janis" contains mellow flute parts a la Camel. The lead vocals on "Moving Waves" remind me early King Crimson. "Focus 2" is an OUTSTANDING very progressive track: Jan Akkerman "dances" with his melodic electric guitar: it seems that the other instruments follow his partitions, creating very structured and pleasant melodies through rhythm & air changes. 
On side 2, the epic "Eruption" is a REAL progressive masterpiece, sometimes comparable to Jethro Tull's "Thick as a brick": the same organ sounds, tons on drums, very melodic bass, straightforward hard rock electric guitars; there are some intensely floating mellotron & backing vocals parts; there is a part which was composed by the Netherlandish fusion band Solution, coming from the "Divergence" album; there is a poignant & melodic piano part, accompanied with electric guitar and flute; the drum solo is absolutely impressive, having a bit the Neil Peart's style. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! greenback .................

Focus' second release 'Moving Waves' signifies an undoubtful symptom that the band has already conquered their own musical maturity. No question about van Leer's and Akkerman combined (and competitive) genius in terms of writing and performing are more polished and more ambicious as well... but the main factor of this evolution is the entry of drummer extraordinaire Pierre van der Linden, whose mastery in precise and powerful capacity to handle demanding time signatures is only equalled by his ability to influence effectively on the melodic aspect of the tracks with his cleverly administered rolls and other percussive tricks. His work therefore becomes the anchor that sustains the flow of the main writers' efforts and performances. 'Hocus Pocus' is a notable example of energetic rock infected with exhalarating humour: no wonder it went on to become one of Focus' most celebrated and emblematic tunes (I'm sure there's myriads of us prog-heads that every now and then do that catchy yodelling, at least mentally). But it is melancholy and reflectiveness that get hold on most of the rest of the material - the classically oriented trend of 'Le Clocharde', the half-contained sadnesss of 'Janis', and the ethereal mood of the title track consecutively show us the most overtly elegant side of Focus' music. That same sense of elegance goes on in 'Focus II', a classy exercise in jazz fusion, still infused with the general ambience of melancholy displayed in tracks 2-4, yet enriched with a copule of well crafted high-spirited interludes. And then... the intense suite 'Eruption' covers the last 23 minutes of the album, making endless transitions from languid grace (the Orfeus parts) to pompous fire (the Answers parts) to slow blues (Pupilla/Tommy) to red hot excitement (The Bridge) to serene beauty (the Euridice parts) to impending doom (Dayglow)... and let's not forget the stunning drum solo, performed by a van der Linden that feels more like a "force of nature" than an actual person. All in all, 'Eruption' is a superbly conceptually organized piece of music that closes the album with grandeur and class. Ive got nothing else to say - 5 stars!! Cesar Inca ..............

As a progressive rock outfit my first fear was that Focus might tend to over play the situation and border on that prog trend by wallowing in self saturated pomposity. But hailing form the Netherlands I'm sure these Dutch geezers had more than a few tokes of the herbal delights on offer in Amsterdam which helps in relaxing the mood, yet giving the tunes what they need and not simply elevate themselves to full blown planet ego trips. "Hocus Pocus" is the so called center piece of the album and sure enough, it's a rip roaring rock fest of guitars played at a menacing pace and volume but the album is far more deep and interesting than that. I have always had an inept fear of yodelling, and when I first heard there was yodelling on this track I stood back in shock and tried to aviod it as much as I could. But once I purchased Moving Waves I had to overcome that fear and I have to say its not that bad, strange yes, but I could certainly deal with it, aided by Jan Akkerman's awesome guitar throwing shapes and that steaming flute piece near the end make "Hocus Pocus" a spectacular opener and my stereo was so loud I thought the neighbours might freak out a little. It's not every day you get to hear yodelling and a flute solo in a hard driving rock song. They were in for a treat but they would never see it like that. But every once in a while the dust must be shaken form those 100WATT speakers whether they like it or not. 

As the years have passed I seemed to have somewhat mellowed. Time was when I would have expected a band to continue in the relentless vein of "Hocus Pocus" for an album's duration regardless of how could it would even appear to be. But after been assaulted by that opener we are then taken off to a completely different but still fitting plane, in line with the album title, with the sublime and beautifully melodic tone of "Le Clochard", built with some sweet classical influenced guitar playing and aided by some obligatory mellotron which sounds so graceful for the whole 1 minute and 55 seconds. "Janis" moves more waves with an uplifting flute flurry spitting up and down and a meticulously played sympathetic bass, by now I'd completely forgotten about the raging intro, I was completely mesmerized and satisfied by the bands merits with these compositions and I was not even half way through. Until I heard the vocals on "Moving Waves", which gatecrashed my semi-stoned mood, albeit for a very short while before one of the albums highlights "Focus II" which closes side 1. It's a stunning piece and it's where Focus move toward jazz fusion territory, Theijs Van Leer joining Akkerman as another fine composer on this album. Jeff Beck must have taken his cue from this album for his fusion album Blow By Blow, there are more than a few similarities on this track and with some of the work Beck did with Blow By Blow a few years later. 

Flipping over to the B side (do not try this with CDs) I was psyching myself up for what looked a rough half hour or so. "Eruption" is a suite made up of five sections containing no less than 15 parts, or rather short segments. As a concept it's a little loose, starts very well with some shining and smooth guitar keyboard interplay, again it's more fusion that prog with a kind nod to classical music... but really shifts between those different guises. Simply put the four musicians who make up Focus are pretty clever and thoughtful and it beggars belief why they remain relatively unknown. "Eruption" is an ambitious piece of music that loses focus (ahem) here and there but Moving Waves is still a powerful album, certainly a gem of the prog crown and the band blend different styles that are cohesive and never clumsy or boring. Like on "Eruption", Akkerman's guitar bursts in and he delivers a warm energetic solo without ever treading on any of his band members toes as every note seems to be exercised with complete control and thought to the rest of the composition or its particular section, even that mini drum solo was tolerable. I'm not exactly a prog convert yet but give me more albums like this and I might just be swayed..... by Philo ......................

This album was released in my country in 1973 by Polydor, with "Sylvia" and "Love Remembered" from the album "Focus 3" replacing "Le Clochard" and "Janis" (I don`t know if this also happened in other countries). This L.P. sounds good with these 2 songs. But it was until years later that I knew that the original version of the album have "Le Clochard" and "Janis". As I have the CD, I write my review about the original album. "Hocus Pocus" is a very good song, with great guitars by Jan Akkerman and some humour by Thijs van Leer using his yodelling and vocals in a funny way. In the late eighties I watched on T.V. a video clip of a live version of this song, and Akkerman and the rest of the band (I don`t think that the drummer was Pierre van der Linden, but maybe the bassist was Bert Ruiter) were smiling and almost laughing when van Leer was doing his yodelling and the other humorous things he did in this song. This is the "heaviest" song in this album, and maybe their most known song.This album has some of the best uses of a mellotron in Progressive Rock. This is reflected in "Le Clochard" and "Focus II"."Le Clochard" is a song with acoustic guitar and mellotron, but without drums. "Janis" has some flutes by van Leer. "Moving Waves" is a very good song played only with the piano and with some English language lyrics (and good lyrics, too). The piano playing in this song really makes me imagine the "moving waves in the ocean".The song "Focus II" is my favourite. An instrumental piece where the guitar plays the melody, while the rest of the band does a very good arrangement. Van Leer uses the piano, the organ, and also plays very good mellotron arrangements. A song composed, arranged and played with feeling, really. "Eruption" is also very good, a musical piece with several parts and several styles of music put together, it includes influences by jazz, rock and classical music, plus some vocals which sound to me like "Gregorian Chants" (like the group ENIGMA from the 90s). It also has a very good drums solo by van der Linden. For me, this was the best line-up of the band, really sounding like they worked as a team for this album. This album is another great album recorded in 1971.In some websites dedicated to Focus, I found that the original Dutch version was released as "Focus II", with a different cover. Guillermo ..................

I remembered way back as a kid hearing "Hocus Pocus" on the radio, this must be around 1979 or 1980, on the FM dial. Around 1989, I heard this song again and found out it was "Hocus Pocus" and the group was called FOCUS. I thought that was silly to have a song title that rhymes with the group's name. I thought it was a rather ingenious mixing of heavy metal and yodeling. 
When my interest in prog rock was on the rise around the early '90s, I was wondering if it was worth trying FOCUS, and once I got to hear "Moving Waves", I was not disappointed. 

The album was entitled "Focus II" in Holland, but elsewhere, it's known as "Moving Waves". This album is definately an improvement over "In & Out of Focus". The vocal pop-oriented material of that album have been totally dropped. Original members Hans Cleuver and Martijn Dresdin had left the band to be replaced by drummer Pierre van der Linden (ex-BRAINBOX, which Jan Akkerman was a member of, by the way) and bassist Cyriel Haversman. The other two guys, who helped make FOCUS what they were, were guitarist Jan Akkerman and keyboardist/flautist Thijs van Leer. "Hocus Pocus" was actually an unintentional hit for the band, and in fact wasn't a hit in the United States until 1973, that is, not until even after their following album, "Focus 3" was released. The band thought the song as little more than a joke, but were forced to play it after it became a hit. And yes, it's true, this song is not typical for FOCUS, but I still think it's a truly wonderful song. "Le Clochard" is Jan Akkerman's time to shine, a laid-back piece played on classical guitar (with nylon strings) and nice use of Mellotron in the background. "Janis" is a flute-dominated piece from van Leer. The title track is a piano-dominated piece, and the only song with any singing, showing that Thijs van Leer isn't the best vocalist out there. It's still a nice piece with a classical feel. "Focus II" is a jazzy piece with Jan Akkerman's trademark lead guitar. The album's crowning achievement, in my opinion, is the epic "Eruption". It starts off rather mellow, dominated by Hammond organ and lead guitar. They also do a cover of a song from another Dutch band called SOLUTION in this song, in the "Tommy" section of the suite. Halfway through is a really intense and mindblowing rocking piece dominated by guitar and organ. Somewhere the band steals a LED ZEPPELIN riff ("Whole Lotta Love") before they mellow out with nice use of piano. There's also a really dramatic Mellotron passage, and then a nice drum solo from Pierre van der Linden. Previous themes on this suite resurface. Without a doubt, I feel Moving Waves is by far the best album FOCUS ever done, and this is the album you should start if you're not familiar with FOCUS............. by Proghead ................

Many people consider Moving Waves as the "Non Plus Ultra" Focus release, something with what I don't agree because Hamburger Concerto is slightly better and more mature, despite this fact Moving Waves is an excellent album, but also for different reasons than most people consider. 
As many prog' newbies, I bought this vinyl in 1978 mostly because it had Hocus Pocus, a bizarre track that helped to make the band famous, but which honest today is my least favorite song from this good album, not only because after a couple listens you get bored of all that yodeling and shouting but mostly because it breaks the soft and dreamy atmosphere prevalent in the rest of the album. 

Now that years have passed I appreciate more the coherent way that the music gently flows from start to end, the skills of Jan Akerman with acoustic an electric guitar, the medieval or more precisely baroque keyboard and perfect flute by Thijs Van Leer, the powerful support provided by the good bassist Cyril Havermanns and of course the precise drumming by Pierre Van Der Linden, in other words a strong and mature band. 

Before reviewing the songs I would like to mention that the title of the album describes perfectly what Focus achieved, because the music flows gently after Hocus Pocus until the end as the waves in the Ocean, a perfect name to give an idea of the album. 

The album starts with the already mentioned Hocus Pocus, a very simple song based in a couple of chords (if not one) interrupted four times by a short drum solo and a different yodeling or sound by Thijs Van Leer, musically is not solid, even when they prove the versatility and vocal ability of Thijs but IMO is more important the strong bass by Havermmans, funny and entertaining song, but nothing more. 

Le Clochard is a extremely beautiful song that shines even more as a contrast with the frantic Hocus Pocus, Jan Akkerman plays acoustic guitar in Flamenco style, something very common in Holland because the zone of Flanders covers not only Spain as most people believe but also part of Belgium and The Netherlands. Delicate, coherent and beautiful, a perfect relief in this point of the album. 

Janis is also a soft track, but in this case the lead is taken by Thijs and his magic flute, perfectly supported by the rest of the band but especially by Pierre Van Der Linden accurate drums. A dreamy song that I use to listen when I'm in a bad mood, instantly relaxes and makes me see the world with a more positive perspective. 

Moving Waves is a good song performed exclusively by Thijs Van Leer, who starts with a soft piano intro to open the way for something very unusual in Focus, he starts to sing, and does it with a very nice and appropriate voice that makes me wonder why he doesn't do this more often, a beautiful and again soft track. 

One of the best songs in Focus career is Focus II, the best example of their unusual style, the song is opened by Thijs and his keyboards that are soon joined by Jan's guitar, the music goes in crescendo until the drums announce a small explosion where the rest of the band join, but always keeping the dreamy and soft atmosphere, by moments they have a clear jazz influence but with that unique sound that only Focus is capable of creating, this is IMO one of the most progressive tracks I ever heard but in a different way than any other band, simply delightful. 

Side two (in the original vinyl format) consists in a 23 minutes epic divided in 16 nominal but not real parts because there's no break between each one called Eruption. This epic is based in two characters of Greek Mythology Orfeus (Creator of music) and the nymph Euridice, his bride who dies and is followed by Orfeus to the underworld in an attempt to rescue her, but in the last moment everything she returns to the underworld because he looses the faith. 

It's almost an impossible task to analyze this song part by part, because there are so many changes that go from the baroque introduction by Thijs Van Leer's keyboards, jazzy passages and psychedelic sections to progressive and even semi hard rock parts. 

Maybe the most important and unusual characteristic of this long track is that even when the changes are really dramatic, they manage to maintain the soft atmosphere across the heaviest parts. Definitely an underrated epic, almost never mentioned in progressive polls, but which deserves much more recognition, 23.04 minutes of pure progressive rock in the unique style of Focus. 

I won't give 5 stars to the album because as said before I consider Hamburger Concerto slightly better, but Moving Waves is very close, sadly there isn't a 4.5 option, so I have to rate it with 4 solid and well deserved Ivan_Melgar_M .....................

My favourite Focus album. It's not entirely perfect, but the best bits are astonishing and compensate for a few flaws on side one. The album starts with Hocus Pocus, a frenetic blend of keyboards, scything guitar, flute and yodelling backed up by bass and drums. It's an assault on the mind and quite unique and brilliant. Van Leer's vocal range is amazing; he can yodel so high it hurts! The remaining tracks on side one are quieter and less manic; they are all pleasant and reflect the classical leanings of the musicians but Cyril Haverman's vocals on Moving Waves are not really to my taste. Havermans left after this album; he was a fine bassist but his vocals were not up to the job. Janis, with its exquisite flute work, and Focus 2 are the pick. The second side is a number of pieces linked into one; 23 minutes of complete genius except for a slightly boring drum solo (Endless Road). The highlight of all this brilliance is Tommy, a reworking of a piece by Tom Barlage of Solution. Akkerman produces some fabulous guitar solos with melody and lightning fast fretwork and van Leer propels the piece along with dynamic organ work. This one is up there with Close to the Edge and Supper's Ready - in fact it's my favourite of the three. 
This album combines hard rock, classical and prog at times and is well worth buying. Probably strictly worth 4.5* given the imperfections but in this case, I'm rounding it up! Tony Fisher ..................

An album I've heard for a long long time, which I find myself surprised for not reviewing it before as it is an album I played numerous times and Hocus Pocus was a favourite of mine when I was little. This is an album where the band has two styles: the Rocking Focus and Camel-like beautiful passages. 
Hocus Pocus starts the album with a bang. This is a timeless rock&roll piece mixed with a bit of humor. The main riff is played throught the whole song's verses, yet it is so energetic that it never bores you. The bass and drums are virtuosic and perfectly done. The choruses contain descending yodeling (hilarious) accompained by a great sounding hammond organ. There are some instrumental breaks with solos including guitar (rocking), overdubbed flutes (crazy), accordeon+whistling (funny) and goofy vocals+organs (funny). It never bores me, and should be a great tune to show to your friends about what a prog band can do with rock&roll. 

The rest of the album doesn't dissapoint either, unless you want the album to be humorous. It isn't. It actually sounds nothing like Hocus Pocus: 

Le Clochard is a romantic acoustic interlude that helps you get in the mood to the more melodic side of Focus. 

Janis is a laid back romantic song with a gorgeous flute melody. This song's style is similar to Camel's mid 70s sound. That being said, if you like Camel, you'll go nuts over this gem. 

Moving Waves has the singer singing in a style that reminds you of Greg Lake. You could think of this song as what would have been if Greg's ballads had piano instead of acoustic guitars. 

Focus II, like Janis, is a Camel-like song that blows away that band! A beautiful song with amazing melodies played by soaring guitars. The guitars are excellent in this track and the other instruments follow it perfectly, especially the drumming. Even better than Janis, this is a perfect song that will give you goosebumps. Magical! 

Eruption is the reason why I don't give this album 5 stars. It loses "focus" after the great first 8 minutes of the song (It is still great though) and ruins itself once the drum solo begins. Still, there is a lot to enjoy in this track, especially the beginning of it which may be a highlight of the disc. I LOVE that Santana-like guitar playing on minute 6 for example. I won't describe the track's evolution during its 23 minutes, but I'll tell you it's mostly all good, even if it is not very consistent. 

This is probably the best album I've heard from the Netherlands, but I have yet to discover their Hamburgo Concerto Zitro .................

Amusing and agreeable: these two words are enough to define FOCUS' second studio album, "Moving Waves", a work which throughout the years have become legendary. This album also helped to establish the definitive band's signature: a blend of rock pastiche, pastoral tunes and uplifting prog melodies, concocted in a manner that sometimes it borders pop elements and sometimes it goes near erudite pieces - but unequivocally very well balanced. 
The album is relatively short (less than 42') and it may be one of the reasons for its good reception that lasts until today. Band's musicianship was in a high mood, especially the prime movers Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman, two fellows that really play in a league of their own. 

'Hocus Pocus', the opening track was a radio hit still remembered, a kind of FOCUS standard, where all previously mentioned mixture appears meaningfully. Apart from the voiced segments, the song itself is much more a catchy hard- rock than a real progressive tune, but anyway tasteful. 

The bucolic 'Le clochard' shows a different face of FOCUS: sweet, soft, sorrowful. Nice counterweight for the explosive album overture this time with beautiful acoustic guitar and mellotron sounds. The tenderness keeps going through the following track, 'Janis', a paean to the late Miss Joplin, where the flute overwhelms totally the action. 

'Moving waves' has a neat classical cradle; the melody is pleasant but the overall atmosphere is slightly spoiled by the vocals. 'Focus II' brings steadily the band's signature and consequently is the most progressive track in the album, probably their best moment here. 

'Eruption', the final track, with its 23' length which occupied an entire LP side, at the time LPs were available, is an attempt to produce an epic-like song that unfortunately derailed a bit. The intended torrent of prog tunes is maculated by excessive jamming and a certain bias to show band members skills. Anyway, many parts are dense and strong, somewhere poignant, very audible indeed. 

"Moving Waves", the album, won't let the hearer down. There are lots of appreciable moments and memorable parts that indicate this work to be added for a music collection..... by Atkingani .................

Focus released a rather decent debut album in 1970. This one is better constructed and avoid those blunders and folkish songs featured on their first album. OK, "Le CLochard" is probably not their best one : very, very quiet piece. When you listen to "Janis", the fantastic flute and so nice keys automatically reminds you of Camel. This link could already be noticed in "In And Out Of Focus". "Focus" will definitely influence the work of Latimer & Co some three to four years later. "Janis" is a jewel of a symphonic number. Little known, but worth to be discovered. 

Press "next" while reaching the title track (the only weak song here). You'll hurt "Focus II" which is another very pleasant song : more complex, diversified with sublime and emotional guitar. It really brings me lots of relief while needed. A beautiful instrumental. 

Now, B-side. If the word "Eruption" reminds you something but you don't know precisely what; don't look further. It's the first movement of "Tarkus" of course. Several similarities between both numbers I should say : pompous, grandiose, wild, melodic, lenghty, same year of release, imposing, etc. At least this how I feel about it. 

This lenghty piece will transport you from the softer and sweetest guitar sounds to the quiet keys breaks; but at the same time, you will have to face some of the wildest guitar and heavy keys. Fantastic theme and mood changes. The second half of the song is probably too long (jazz improv, some noisy guitar moments, drum solo...) but all in all, I consider this "suite" as a great prog epic. 

This album is almost fully instrumental (and this is not a bad news). I would strongly recommend it if you would like to discover "Focus". It is a very well balanced album and the band is reaching full maturity in a very short period of time (like most of the legendary bands from the early sevenites). 

Four stars. 

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you. There is also an opener. "Hocus Foc.. oups Pocus". This is REALLY an exceptional moment of rock music. It features classical, prog and hard-rock all together. The guitar breaks are truely devastating; like a hurricane (at least). These combinations put all together are fantastic. They work so brilliantly. A fabulous number. 

When you SEE van Leer performing this song at the time of release, the filiation with Ian Anderson is obvious (not talking about the flute of course, because van Leer is almost born with this instrument). Now, which one influenced the other one ? Who cares actually ? Both are ZowieZiggy ....................

One of the most dynamic prog rock bands ever,the Dutch quartet FOCUS was formed in 1970 by keyboardist/flutist/vocalist/composer Thijs Van Leer.A few months later their debut ''In and out of focus'' was released,containing both vocal and instrumental tracks with a variety of styles,including psych,hard rock,light symphonic,classic rock and others.After a couple of line-up changes,FOCUS seemed to find their own sound in ''Moving waves'',their sophomore record published in 1972.The opener ''Hocus pocus'' seems like it had escaped from the previous album,a fast energetic and humurous vocal track...but the rest of the album is the absolute symphonic/jazz killer with superb,totally instrumental work.Their sound is half split between the classical-influenced piano/organ and flute passages of Van Leer and the jazzy guitars of mastermind guitarist Jan Akkermann.Great interplays,fantastic alternating tempos and endless changing themes,emotions blended with jamming...I really can't describe how much I admire this FOCUS' work.By my side,''Moving waves'' comes extremely highly recommended! apps79 ....................

What motive is behind your impulse? The desire to reach upwards 
While the majority of fans, as evidenced by polls and discussions in the Prog Archives forum, will (rightly in my opinion) go for "Hamburger Concerto" as the best Focus album, the view on whether "Moving Waves" (sometimes simply called Focus 2) or "Focus three" was their next best, tends to be more divided. For me, "Moving waves" takes the plaudits, being far more focused than its rambling and indulgent successor. 

While on the face of it, this is simply a follow up to the band's first album In and out of Focus, the truth is rather more complex. After the release of that album, guitarist Jan Akkerman left the band, forming a new group. Thijs Van Leer retained the Focus name, but when the 2 remaining members of Focus moved on, he joined Akkerman's band, bringing the Focus name with him! The bottom line was that in personnel terms, the core of Van Leer and Akkerman remained intact, with the rhythm section being replaced. The change though was significant as it meant that Akkerman was now the band leader moving the focus (if you will!) from keyboards and flute to guitar. 

With "Moving Waves" Focus came close to making a classic album. "Hocus Pocus" is undoubtedly their best known work and the track which introduced many of us to the band when it was released as a single. It is hard to imagine now how original this track was when it was first set loose on an unsuspecting public. The driving guitars, intermittent yodelling and screaming, and sundry sound effects all combine to produce an amazing piece of rock history. The track is not exactly typical of Focus or indeed the album, but every home should have one. 

After this, we have four brief tracks to complete the first side of the album. Le clochard (the beggar) is a guitar link piece while Janis is a beautifully reflective flute driven melody. Although Van Leer is centre stage here, this is an Akkerman composition. The title track is a rare vocal track sung by Thijs who adds his own melody to the words of Inayat Khan. 

Focus II is a melodic, highly accomplished piece featuring lead guitar with atmospheric organ accompaniment. While there are nuances of jazz and perhaps even classical music in the track, it is firmly rooted in rock. In another ironic twist, while guitar is the dominant instrument here, Van Leer receives the writing credit. 

The second side of the album is devoted to the 23 minute Eruption in 5 parts, each of which is further divided into two to four sections. This entirely instrumental suite is far tighter than the following Focus 3 album, with much more in common with the delightful Hamburger concerto. Various themes come and go, some being developed through improvisation. While Akkerman and Van Leer are the principle writers, they bring in the works of Tom Barlage and Eelke Nobel at different points. The section called Tommy for example (which was extracted as a single) has nothing to do with The Who, the name being derived from the name of the composer. Drummer Pierre van der Linden also receives a writing credit for his contribution. In all, the suite works very well, captivating the attention and retaining it throughout. There is no wasted space or stretched out filler in the form of unfocused jazz here (see Focus 3); well apart from the superfluous drum solo! 

In summary, "Moving waves" is Focus best album after "Hamburger Concerto". Recommended................ by Easy Livin ...................

No doubt, Moving Waves is a classic album of prog rock! Van Leer and Akkerman got together again, re-considered the outcome of their challenging but under-developed debut, changed the rhythm section and recorded a masterpiece! 
Hocus Pocus with its wild guitar riff, amazing flute and hysterical Van Leer's yodeling is now a classic of metallic heavy rocking. In contrast, Le Clochard and Janis are gentle acoustic pieces with beautiful melodies and atmosphere reminiscent of the later CAMEL albums. This time vocals are used more sparsely and in a more effective way than on the debut album - now they are reduced to mere instrumental purpose, save for the brief lyrics in the title track, which resembles a nice classical music piece led by piano. 

Focus II brings some rather elaborated and inspired jazz-rock improvisations where Akkerman's guitar is simply unbeatable. The side-long suite Eruption continues with more improvisational jams and several more amazing solo parts by Akkerman (there are certain SANTANA-like jams) , although the entire composition (23 min.) seems a bit stretched out and several moments are quite close to a sleepy lounge music. 

Nevertheless, Moving Waves is absolutely essential album in the progressive rock catalog! Seyo ..................

4.5 stars. This is such a classic Symphonic record that really should be in every prog fans collection. After the less than successful debut, the band changed the rhythm section bringing in Van Der Linden on drums and Havermans on bass. Both of these guys fit in perfectly with Akkerman and Van Leer, which is the biggest compliment I can give them both. Although I don't think this record is without it's faults, it reaches such lofty heights and pastoral beauty that it really does belong among the seventies greats. 
"Hocus Pocus" doesn't really fit in with the rest of the climate of this album, but it's so good that I don't care. This absolutely smolders with Akkerman peeling the paint with his scorching guitar solos. The new drummer asserts himself once and for all on this track, he is incredible.The organ is a nice touch, but it's not his organ play on this song that draws most of the attention to Van Leer, it's his yodelling ! Haha. I have never got tired of this track, and it's placed perfectly as the opening song. "Le Clochard" is all Akkerman who composed it and plays classical guitar throughout. Van Leer adds some beautiful mellotron waves to add to the mood. "Janis" is a song I much prefer over the previous track. It's the incredible, emotional flute playing of Van Leer that is so moving. Yes CAMEL does come to mind. "Moving Waves" features Van Leer on vocals as he sings in a restrained manner as he plays the piano throughout. "Focus II" is another relaxing song that reminds me of CAMEL as Akkerman's guitar soars early. The tempo shifts as mellotron comes in and then more wondrous guitar. A Jazz flavour after 2 minutes as mellotron returns before piano, guitar, bass and drums end it. 

"Eruption" is the side long suite at 23 minutes. It opens with mournful guitar melodies as organ can be heard in the background.This theme is repeated later in the song a few times. It becomes more energetic 2 minutes in before the mournful opening guitar and organ returns 3 minutes in. Some nice crisp drumming 4 1/2 minutes in as he continues to solo before a spacey, mellotron drenched section arrives 5 1/2 minutes in. Akkerman sounds outstanding on guitar 7 minutes in as the mellotron waves float along for what seems like minutes (it's not). Aggressive sounds return including some scorching guitar. The organ 12 1/2 minutes in is great. Piano takes over as the sound changes 14 1/2 minutes in with flute joining in. Beautiful section. Vocal melodies 16 1/2 minutes in followed 2 minutes later by another drum solo. They're back to the opening melody again 21 minutes in. Piano, organ and tasteful guitar create an uplifting final section as flute joins in like it did earlier. 

This release made FOCUS famous around the world, but more importantly this is a progressive Mellotron Storm ...............

Focus is a major Dutch progressive rock band dating from the seventies, but still playing today (they are coming to my hometown next season twice!). The band was the brainchild of keyboardist/flutist/vocalist (in this order) Thijs van Leer. He came from the Dutch cabaret scene and he had written some great tracks for major Dutch artists. I've seen him perform some of these songs and I must say the quality of Focus didn't came out of nowhere! Van Leer also wrote classical music. 

Thijs van Leer had this vision about a rock-band that would combine both classical influences and jazz influences. After recruiting Jan Akkerman, who could play both styles the band was completed with an addition of a drummer and a bass-player and the good debut was recorded. After this album Jan Akkerman insisted on the replacement of the rhythmical section, and though van Leer didn't agree on this, he couldn't let main member Akkerman leave the band. A new drummer was found as Pierre van der Linden (Brainbox, Trace) joined the band, who's still one of Holland's most technical drummers! The talented Cyril Havermanns played bass. This line-up changed made Focus a supergroup. With compositional genius and stage man Van Leer, 'best guitarist in the world 1972' Jan Akkerman and Holland's main drummer Van der Linden. 

The sound of Focus on the second album is more intelligent than on their debut. There are less vocals and more compositions with an variety of styles, mainly jazz, classical, rock and progressive. 

The opening track Hocus Pocus became a hit all over the world and was re-used for the Nike-Football promotion film this year. It regained some deserved attention of the public. The song is however quite strange: It has a jazz-rock main theme with an rock'n roll feel, a lot's of improvisations between them and it has a brigde full of yodelling of Van Leer with a nice Hammond sound. The guitarsolo's are amazing and the fusion of such distinct genres in main theme and bridge make this one of the most awkward hits ever to come out of the progressive movement. 

The instrumental Le Clochard begins with a romantic classical guitartheme and has a classical music sound with nice symphonic sounds. Great composition! Janis is also an classical composition with some jazz-influences and great flutes of Van Leer. Very melodic and sincere track. 

Moving Waves is the piano masterpiece of Van Leer. On this song he plays his extremely advanced piano style with very interesting harmonies and spacey vocals. This is progressive music without any rock element, but the beauty of the track is amazing. 

Focus II is an instrumental jazz-rock track with less classical influences. The band plays emotional and the key-changes are very effective here. Akkerman's guitar is subtle and adventurous, whilst the drums are nice and jazzy. Another great composition. 

Eruption is Focus' Swan-song. This 23 minute epic is one of the best of the progressive genre. The classical influences work extremely well here and the heavy guitars of Akkerman are great. This song shows the quality of this super-group. The opening section with it's great organ sounds and crying guitars is very authentic. The harmonic structures Focus' uses are very inventive and sound like nothing I ever heard before or after. The heavy parts are sometimes almost Crimson-like! The Tommy part of the song is one of my favorite Focus moments. It's symphonic jazz-rock sound with it's amazing guitarsolo's and intense spacious vocals of Van Leer are great! There are a lot of different instrumental passages throughout the rest of the song and there's also space for improvisations and some more guitarsolo's of Akkerman. The piano comeback in the middle-section reminds me a bit of the emotional feel of The Snow Goose, but the Focus composition is more sophisticated then Camel's. Some pastoral moments with ellegant vocals of Van Leer complete the epic and the band returns to some of there opening-melodies to close this epic. 

Conclusion. One of the best contributions of the progressive genre. A well-recorded progressive record of a super-group that also has a compositional genius. The sound is varied because of the many influences and the multi-instrumentalist approach of Van Leer. The epic Eruption is a perfect example of how symphonic rock should be. Five stars for this one! friso .............

Moving Waves was a seminal album that I only knew it four years after the release year. I was at Bali Island with friends. In our leisure time we browse around Denpasar to find good quality music in cassette format and I purchased this album along with other bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, ELP. At first spin of the cassette I was automatically hooked to the opening track Hocus Pocus which to me sounded very differently from any typical Focus album or, in fact, other rock bands. The track describes great energy and varied styles which change from one segment to another. The guitar and drums are really the cornerstone of this track. But, it's not only that, because when there is vocal (chanting, actually) without lyrics whereby the singing style is very distinctive that no one had ever done it before. Decades later I knew this track was used also by CNN in of their news program. 
Through this second album Focus confirmed their music style and textures having relied more on the instrumental work using guitar, keyboard and dynamic drumming. Of course, the classical music influences are here and there and they are quite intense in influences from classical music. Focus II was intended as icon of the album but unfortunately it's not that solid in composition. The key, in addition to Hocus Pocus, is an epic that consumes 23 minutes of duration: Eruption. This epic at the beginning part showcases excellent work of guitar and drumming throughout musical segments this epic offers. Even though the epic lacks catchy melody, the composition is quite solid. 

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..! 

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW............. by Gatot ....................

01. Hocus Pocus If this is not a song here I swear that I do not know what it is. Riff perfect, more perfect vocalizations. Instrumental almost never an issue and was recognized as important in the secular music world, this is the theme that I call amazing and superb, from very different tune. If interleave thousands of topics within a theme. Thijs of the vocals are a case in part, simply brilliant. Parts of the guitar Jan Akkerman are also always very well played, the flutes beautiful, low Havermanns of Cyril and battery of Pierre van der Linden always marking a constant theme but without being intediante. An anthem! 
02. Le Clocharde Main theme of the Jan. guitar, divine melody, only with the monitoring of a synthesizer emulating strings. Soft, beautiful and emotional. 

03. Janis Flutes, several of them. More touching a theme of Dutch. The melodies emulate the soul to interact more and dream a little. In this issue of the low serious Cyril Havermanns has highlighted melodic. 

04. Moving Waves Atonal? Melodicamente wrong? That exists? This is Moving Waves on piano and voice of Thijs Van Leer, we have the most sincere, beautiful and sensational already composed. Challenge you to listen without being rough and without paying full attention, and depending on the case to be sad with her. 

05. Focus II The 'Focus' are compositions that always accompany the band, including a solo album that I have of Thijs Van Leer where he plays flute (unfortunately only have it in Lp). Focus on this issue is a pleasant surprise of melody that is difficult to explain, but very beautiful. The guitars give a show in the entire track. The second issue is even more beautiful, the melody of the guitar reaches the heart, soul and leads to the presence that would be divine if I came to believe him. Sometimes it's just what we need to cure the ills of the body and soul. Nothing more! 

06. Eruption 

a) Orfeus, Answer, Orfeus b) Answer, Pupilla, Tommy, Pupilla c) Answer, The bridge d) Euridice, Dayglow, Endless Road e) Answer, Orfeus, Euridice This theme is montruoso and it is difficult to classify exactly who is Orpheus, what is the answer and etc ... What I can say is that this monstrous issue (more than 23 minutes) is sensational and tires in no time. Orchestrated the opening of guitars, organ of the church, the Hammond. Everything here is very well arranged and tied at no time is paraecendo different compositions that are embedded, but a single piece solid and without holes, a complete 'Wall'. Some Vocalizations for further increasing the tone of talking to the sound. Sensational subject of guitar again. Nice to meet you Jan Akkerman. Part of madness, doidera staff in general, faster, more crazy, some guitar riffs and low together, after the keyboard and guitar. Why did so between the guitar break on top of a base sensational, the Hammond organ in Thijs is always an extra in the sound of the guys. After the soil around the theme. Ai is the time to get heavy keyboard and guitar make the most basic legal I ever saw. Introsadíssima band. And we are only half the issue. Fine interventions and also of low battery. The guitar around the theme of Hocus Pocus momentarily. Then a beautiful part of piano and guitar takes care of the environment. Vocalizations typical monasteries that weather guy, that climate. Tá without climate for thinking? Without crisis! Focus of the guys invited to a tea of mint. (laughter) Battery !!!!!!!!! The theme quiet and beautiful back on top at the end of the song. This is epic, this is perfect! This is Focus. 

What we have here? A classic. The Focus is not so well known, people know but do not hear. Here is the chance to hear a classic...... by ProgShine ................

This was the first FOCUS album I heard. Sadly I haven't heard many others, actually only the The Best Of compilation (which really isn't true to its name!) and Focus 3, which is often regarded as their best work. I'd say Moving Waves is better; it's enjoyable all the way through whereas Focus 3 has some irritating moments in its hour+ length. 
This second album kicks off with their best-known rocker, 'Hocus Pocus', with the fiery guitar riff and Thijs van Leer's yodling and the sequence of bizarre nonsense singing. All crazy but it makes one happy somehow. Luckily the rest of the album is not as rocking but concentrates on the calmer and more beautiful side of this band. Jan Akkerman shines on acoustic guitar and Thijs on flute. The title track is an ethereal piano ballad, very artistic and could easily be put in the art music genre. 

Original second side of the vinyl is one long instrumental epic (some wordless background humming is included). Subtitles reveal some sort of narrative about Orfeus and Euridice. One could see how there are certain motifs for each character that are repeated over the 23 minutes' length, but without knowing the myth the narrative level remains distant to the listener, I'm afraid. That naturally doesn't make it any harder to enjoy the music as pure music. 

I'm giving this full rating because it's very rare for me to enjoy an album sincerely from the first second to the Matti .................

Focus was pretty much a new band with the release of Moving Waves. Not only had the band completely restructured their rhythmic section but with it came a shift in direction. Thijs van Leer's vocals were used much sparsely, but the moments when he did bursts into song it sounded nothing like the voice that he depicted on the band's debut release. Lastly, Moving Waves is also the album where Jan Akkerman made his first prominent appearance as the guitarist that we know him as. 
Hocus Pocus kicks off the album on an unusually rock style that was nowhere to be found on In And Out Of Focus and is a welcoming addition to the band's softer symphonic rock sound. It doesn't take Focus long to return to the more familiar ground and Le Cochard almost makes me forget any preconceived notion of the band's going into a Heavy Prog direction. First side of the album continues a very mellow phase with songs like Janis and the album's title track. Focus II is really not an exception to this rule but at least this one has a few sparks along the way. The guitar playing by Jan Akkerman reminds me actually a lot of Andrew Latimer's style, or maybe it was the other way around! 

Side two consists entirely out of the 23 minute suite titled Eruption and is a loose conceptual piece depicting the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I've honestly never payed much attention to the track's theme and just enjoyed the music as it is. Just like the few other lengthy tracks that Focus would produce in the early '70s, the material does feel a bit thin in comparison to its hefty time margin. At least this composition doesn't rely heavily on an instrumental jams between the band members, which is something that will become more prominent on the next release. 

Overall, I'd say that this is another great album by Focus. It might be considered a step in the right direction after the much more commercially oriented In And Out Of Focus, but I'm not entirely convinced by that. This is nonetheless an excellent album that should be in every serious prog rock music Rune2000 ........................

One of the seminal albums in my induction into the world of progressive rock music, I can never forget the first time hearing with awe the artistry and skills put on display by the radio friendly "Hocus Pocus." Amazing speed from all players, amazing guitar leads, amazing drum play, amazing flute play, and simply shocking display of yodelling. (Yodelling?! Yes! Yodelling!) Guts and innovation. The album that I bought out of this radio experience, was slightly disappointing except for the stunning beauty of the "Tommy" section of "Eruption." I think I was just a bit too new to complex and eclectic music making to appreciate the shorts on Side One. And then, while I wore out the grooves of my Side Two ("Eruption") twice (I still own three copies of "Moving Waves"), the song has not kept it's lustre for me over the years (though a recent listen surprised me with just how familiar and how adrenaline-pumping the song was to me). However, with age all of the songs from Side One have won me over to the point that I truly believe that these musicians were truly geniuses--virtuosi, too!--creating music that blended classical, folk, jazz traditions more cleverly, more deftly and certainly more skillfully than 99% of the bands out there. I mean this was 1971! 
Everytime I hear the gorgeous "Le Clochard" (2:01) (10/10) I mistakenly think I'm listening to a Steve Hackett piece. "Janis" (3:08) (9/10) is equally gorgeous just not as technically impressive (though there are amazing flourishes there). "Moving Waves" (2:43) (8/10) is impressive for its English and classical feel--though I always felt singing with lyrics was an incongruous manouevre for this band. "Focus II" (4:04) is one of those classic beauties with its jazzy, YES-like in and out of focus tempos. It's only flaw for me was that it exposed (for me) a little of the weakness of the drummer (Who I've never been able to embrace with the praise and admiration that so many others do). (10/10) The side-long (over 23-minutes!) "Eruption" is one of the daring masterpieces of the classic era of progressive rock music. It has the ELP feel and classical structures to it but it has the added bonus of the presence and contribution of the great Jan Akkerman--perhaps the greatest guitarist of his generation. 

A few years ago I rated this with only four stars but, no more, this is one of the unsung and seminal masterpieces of the progressive rock movement of the early BrufordFreak ......................

Moving waves, Focus second offer from 1972 is a classic of prog movement from early '70 not only from Holland but in prog generaly speaking. The album is known mainly for Hocus Pocus, one of the well known pieces in history, but the weight of Moving waves is done by Eruption a lenghty 20+ min prog jewel. They had an unique sound and musical approach incorporated rock passages with complicated prog twists, heads of the band the keyboardist and flutist Thjis van Leer and excellent guitarist Jan Akkerman manage to brings some great ideas and in short time Focus was one of the best known prog act from Holland and in Europe in general, in first part of the '70. The flute, the hammond , the guitars , the drums are calculated well performed, with many bright arrangements, quirky and dynamic long instrumental passages, complicated and damn catchy specially in Eruption without doubt one of the best if not the best Focus pieces ever.. To me a 4 star album, while is more then ok to my ears, I was never a big fan of the band but for sure I do appreciate their talent and overall influence in prog world. I think their best work together with Hamburger b_olariu ..............

Originally released as FOCUS II and re-released under the title MOVING WAVES, this was FOCUS' greatest moment in their entire career. The world went absolutely wild over the lead single 'Hocus Pocus' which even hit the top 10 on the Billboard singles chart. An oddity it was in every way especially in the prog world. This song was a riff-driven proto-metal track that actually predicted the use of 80s metal techniques like using the Hungarian minor scale. The mix of this early hard rock with yodeling sessions is still an eclectic oddity even today. Unfortunately this song is an anomaly in the FOCUS canon as well since the rest of the album sounds absolutely nothing like it. 
The next three tracks are average classically inspired tracks that really don't offer much and feel a little hokey since they insinuate grander things to come and kind of fizzle out. The title track is the worst on here with horrible vocals and it kind of reminds me of ELP. I wish they would have skipped this one and added another rocker to usher in the grand finale 'Eruption.' 

'Eruption' seems to be equally loved and disliked. I'm on the love-it side. This 23 minute long piece is a hard rock version of the tale of 'Orpheus' and Jacopo Peri's opera 'Euridice'. There are many meanderings and variations of a basic melody that repeat subtly throughout the entire piece. I can understand why some may think this is boring as it is repetitive at times. For me I find the subtle spiraling of variations to be interesting and really love the odd breaks and also the more rocking parts. The transitions are unpredictable and I find the melody very infectious which sustains my interest. 

Because this album is so strange with two really strong tracks that take up most of the album time and the fact that the rest of the instrumentals are average with only one track that I truly dislike I think this just squeaks by for me as a 4 star album......... by siLLy puPPy .............

This album is a beautiful masterpiece. After their decent debut album, Focus were up for something really special. Although the cover of this album I find quite repelling, music that sits inside is out of this world. I really like the way that Jan Akkerman's singing guitar goes with Thijs Van Leer's lush, skilled organ playing. This is showcased perfectly on "Eruption", which is probably a highlight of the album - a 23-minute multimovement suite, an essential prog track. This album is very varied. At times presenting a pastoral, church-like moods, sometimes blessing the listener with a heavy rock-out like on "Hocus Pocus". Overall, this album is a work of art and should definitely find itself in a collection of every self-respecting prog nut! ALotOfBottle ............... 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Thijs van Leer / vocals, Hammond organ, harmonium, Mellotron, soprano & alto flutes, piano 
- Jan Akkerman / electric & acoustic guitars, bass 
- Cyril Havermans / bass, vocals (6-b) 
- Pierre van der Linden / drums, percussion

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Hocus Pocus (6:42) 
2. Le Clochard (2:01) 
3. Janis (3:09) 
4. Moving Waves (2:42) 
5. Focus II (4:03) 
6. Eruption (23:04) 
-a. Orfeus, Answer, Orfeus 
-b. Answer, Pupilla, Tommy, Pupilla 
-c. Answer, The Bridge 
-d. Euridice, Dayglow, Endless Road 
-e. Answer, Orfeus, Euridice

   ~"Focus 3" 1972~
Another classic from Focus, and a double one this time! The album starts with "Round Goes the Gossip", a jazzy vocal track, with some vocals in Latin. "Love Remembered" is beautiful and atmospheric, while the catchy "Sylvia" became Focus' biggest hit. "Elsbeth of Nottingham" was the first piece where you could here Akkerman`s love for medieval music, and the track is really good. "Anonymous II" is a VERY extended version (nearly 30 minutes!) and energised version of the track from the debut-album. This track has some of the rawest flute-playing ever heard on a record! The whole album is a rougher and more unpolished record than "Moving Waves", and it kicks some real ass! Progressive energy at its best......(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog).........

One of three high water marks for this Dutch group (led by Thijs van Leer (flute) and Jan Akkerman (guitar)) was achieved by their double LP, Focus 3 from 1973. After two years of touring to support an international hit album, Moving Waves, the duo pushed drummer, Pierre van der Linden and bassist Bert Ruiter to search for that new elusive sound which was equal parts improvisation and carefully crafted composition. From the outset, this collection of nine songs runs the full range of the group's talent from classically fused pieces, ("Elspeth of Nottingham"), to extended thirty-minute jams ("Anonymous II"). The peak tracks on the album include the medley of Van Leer's subtle ballad, "Focus III" and Akkerman's "Questions, Answers, Answers Questions". The piece builds from a quiet organ passage with an emotive guitar lead. The tone quickly shifts from subtle to frantic in part two of the medley, where dual electric guitar leads burst into the sound map while the rhythm section does its best to hold it all together. Notwithstanding, the album's sole AM single, Akkerman's romping track "Sylvia," was a minor hit only slightly tainted by Van Leer's daft yodeling. Focus 3 carries the full spectrum of the band's personalities which would unfortunately decline from this point forward. Although the group's next studio album, Hamburger Concerto, contains a more structured approach, this album indicates how far the group could stretch its sound and break through to a supportive US audience.....(Jeff Melton, Gnosis, 2001)...................

Focus 3, released in 1972, was originally a double album set, the American version released on Sire featured a totally different cover with the die-cut cover and the rainbow "Focus 3" logo. Double album sets are supposed to give you more for your money. Double albums tell you the band recorded enough material to cram on to two discs, and the album is supposed to just simply stun and amaze you all the way through in a way that perhaps a single disc of material could not. But unfortunately, in reality, a double album set is usually just an excuse for the band to stroke each other's egos (live albums are often the most guilty verdict), so you get yourself lots of aimless guitar and drum solos, and unfortunately, that's what is found on this album. Their previous effort, Moving Waves, from 1971 is totally amazing and simply one of the greatest prog albums I own (I'm a big prog rock fan so I know all about the excesses of this genre). Focus 3 isn't totally bad, many of the shorter pieces work just fine. There's the minor hit, "Sylvia" which gave the FM radio listener a sample of what Focus was really like as opposed to "Hocus Pocus" (which I happen to like a lot, I realize many don't). "Elspeth of Nottingham" is a great, gentle medieval piece played on lute and recorder. "Love Remembered", a rather moody and atmospheric piece played on flute and classical guitar (and some weird sounding electronic device, perhaps a Theramin), although it works fine, for some reason I never really cared for that one. But the worst problem is "Anonymous II". The cut is so long it takes up all of side three on the LP and had to continue on side four. Problem here is the band basically jams and really goes nowhere. "Eruption" from Moving Waves works because there was a point, it was also a suite, and they had many different themes and ideas to work on. With "Anonymous II" it sounds like the band was just killing time, so that means endless guitar solos and a drum solo that's so long it's about three times longer than In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" is the album's other lengthy cut, but at least it benefits from better ideas, and it often has a nice, almost Pink Floyd-like atmosphere. As for "House of the King", a rather Jethro Tull-like number which I find is the best cut on the LP version of Focus 3, here's the story: The original European LP release of In & Out of Focus already featured that cut. The US LP version on Sire did not. So Focus 3 on LP form also featured the cut so American did not have to miss out (and for real good reason). So when IRS reissued Focus' first three albums on CD, In & Out of Focus (with the US cover) now contained all the European cuts (including "House of the King") so they didn't need to include that on the CD version of Focus 3 (and besides it wouldn't fit on one disc if it did). Whatever the case, I find Moving Waves and Hamburger Concerto better Focus albums, which you should start there first before you come to Focus 3......(Ben Miler, Amazon)...........

Focus have been overlooked by several rock historians who should know better. For instance, the band fails to get its own entry in Donald Clarke's 'Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music.The band has also been very poorly served on CD: there have been no re-masters until recently (only 'Moving Waves' has undergone the treatment, and I haven't yet heard it); some track listings have been re-sequenced; worse still, some tracks have been entirely omitted; across the EMI edition which I own, producer Mike Vernon's sleeve notes are identical on each CD. 
Availability of these Focus CDs is extremely erratic, so when they appear on Amazon's catalogue, you should snap up the good ones as quickly as you can. 
To my ear, 'Focus III' and (sometimes) 'Hamburger Concerto' are the band's really outstanding albums, though 'Moving Waves' also some real highs. 'Focus III' was a double LP, which meant it needed four manual interventions to play in its entirety. It's better suited to CD -- you can play it from start to finish with one loading, and there's the additional benefit that the classic 'Anonymous II' no longer spans two discs. For some bizarre reason which only Mike Vernon will know, 'Elspeth of Nottingham' now appears before 'Anonymous II'. And even more bizarre, the beautiful 'House of the King' (2:23 minutes) has been left off this 68-minute CD. Don't some CDs stretch to 79+ minutes these days? 
I still have the LP, which I played alongside the CD yesterday. The good news is that the CD sounds better, but the album is still crying out for a proper remastering treatment with a new focussed set of sleeve notes -- pardon the pun. Sometimes the drums sound boxy; at other times, they are pumping the air from the speakers so much that I feel my ear drums will burst. Similarly Bert Ruiter's wonderful bass is always there, thick in the background, each note delivered without a percussive attack. The bass solo and subsequent climax on 'Anonymous II' remains one of the outstanding moments of 70s rock. 
Focus as a group was launched onto the British market fully formed early in 1973. They had already recorded at least three decent albums, and had two cracking singles in 'Hocus Pocus' and Focus 3's 'Sylvia' to win over the Brits. Indeed, given the simultaneous onslaught by another band from the Polydor stable, Golden Earring, with their excellent 'Moontan' LP, we felt the Dutch might overrun the country. But whereas Golden Earring could be classified as a straight-ahead Stones-like band with a bit of moog and flute thrown in, Focus were harder to place: part-jazz, part-rock, part-classical. Perhaps they sit closest to some of the other jazz-rock bands of the time, but they had their own highly distinctive niche and sound. 
'Focus III' is undoubtedly the band at their best. Jan Akkerman had been living in England in 1972 and become enamoured of renaissance lute music, as exemplified on the gorgeous 'Elspeth of Nottingham' here. There is not a single duff track here. There is no yodeling. But Van Leer squeezes in some singing ... in Latin. Any prog-rock album that quotes liberally from Virgil's 'Aeneid' gets my vote! 
The MOJO guide calls this a 'luxuriant double set brimming with energy, improvisational brilliance, catchy tunes and exquisite taste'. In the absence of a proper CD remaster -- and there is no sign of one on the horizon -- this is the best CD by one of the 70s' finest rock-jazz bands....(Gavin Wilson, 2001, Amazon)..................

Riding on the success of their hit single "Hocus Pocus" from the revolutionary Moving Waves album, Focus got to work on this, their third LP in four years. While the debut album features a style not too dissimilar to the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Focus' second LP Moving Waves is purely instrumental and wholly serious-minded. Focus III keeps this same sound, but approaches it with a jollier, more accessible tone. As with its predecessor, Focus III features only one tune that would be in with a chance of being a hit single. The enjoyable rhythm of "Sylvia," partnered with Jan Akkerman's victorious guitar solo, some of Van Leer's finest organ-work, Bert Ruiter's tight bass lines, and Pierre Van Der Linden's mellow drumming assured the track classic status. "Sylvia" found worldwide success and gained the band valuable radio and press exposure. The song remains one of the most loved and best remembered songs from Focus' catalog. The consistence in musical quality throughout Focus III is enough to merit any listeners' respect. To be frank, this LP has it all: diverse songs, astounding musicianship, one of the finest singles ever released — Focus III should unquestionably be ranked alongside the likes of Revolver and Dark Side of the Moon and any others of rock's greatest......(Ben Davies, All Music Guide)........

'Focus III' is IMHO Focus' top achievement. Not only do these guys deliver some of their most inspired playing, but also manage to work as a unit with a level of compenetration that hides the ongoing rivality between van Leer and Akkerman (sometimes, a not so healthy one). Akkerman continues to explore new sources of introspective music ('Love Remembered') and mediaeval tradition ('Elspeth of Nottingham'), while keeping his ability to turn his guitar on fire with a polished skill beyond words, in the hardest passages: he really shines in 'Answers Questions' and 'Anonymus II', and his Hammond layers on 'Focus III' create an awesome background for Akkerman's guitar leads. Van Leer is also in a state of "business as usual", displaying his mastery on both on keyboards (mostly Hammond organ) and flute, and also some burlesque vocals. The interplays between van Leer and Akkerman in the opening track are breathtaking, executed with energy and a touch of sheer class. Drummer extraordinaire Van der Linden feels at home here: only one yar had passed since he entered the band, yet his drumming had become an essential feature of Focus' musical essence. When the excellent bassist Bert Ruiter made his entry into the ranks of Holland's masterband Focus, the rhythm section achieved its highest level of strength and sophistication; Ruiter proved to be the perfect complement to van der Linden's top-notch drumming style so far,... and may I add that this is a difficult task, since van der Linden enjoys stretching out his role to the point of becoming fundamental for the band's melodic aspect, with his constant tricky rolling. Ruiter's penchant for jazz and funky definitely allowed Focus to keep their own focus on their jazz leaning: the amazing 27-minute 'Anonymus II' only shows you how enthusiastic and frenzy the foursome were about it (a special mention goes to van der Linden's tribal oriented drum solo). The same thing could be noticed on 'Questions Answers'. The lighter side of the album is present in the latin-jazz/bossanova tinged 'Carnival Fugue' and the catchy 'Sylvia' (a top ten single in the UK, actually), two attractive numbers that serve as relaxing motifs, among a repertoire that tends to sound really aggressive (though not heavy, remember, the jazz factor is predominant here). This is the second of a series of three albums that are a testimony of both Focus' and the prog genre's finest hour. An essential masterpiece! 

P.D.: Well, I don't like the inclusion of 'House of the King' here. It belongs more properly in its original album 'In and Out of Focus'. The tour-de-force 'Anonymus II' would make the perfect closure to 'Focus III'....(Cesar Inca Mendoza Loyola, Progarchives).....................

Focus followed their wonderful Moving Waves with Focus 3, this time being a double album. The band at this point featured guitarist Jan Akkerman, organist/flutist Thijs van Leer, and drummer Pierre van der Linden with new bassist Bert Ruiter (later a member of Earth & Fire). Although this album still has some fine material, it also suffers with the double album trap. While the album features some great material like the minor hit "Sylvia" (which gave radio listeners a taste of the real Focus, for those who might have been turned off by "Hocus Pocus" - which I happen to really like) as well as the largely acoustic "Love Remembered", the medieval-sounding "Elsbeth of Nottingham" and the Tull-like "House of the King" (only on the LP), the problem occurs when they do those lengthy, extended jams. "Anonymous II" is that example. This song is basically one big wankfest, particularly Akkerman's guitar. The song is so long that it had to conclude on the other side of the LP. It doesn't help when the song is interrupted by a six minute long drum solo. But luckily the rest of the album is better, such as "Answers? Questions! Questions! Answers?" which reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd, and "Focus III" which is Focus at their classic best. I also get a kick off "Carnival Suite". If you own the CD and wonder why "House of the King" is missing, here's the reason why: this song originally appeared only on the European version of their debut, In & Out of Focus (1970), but did not appear on the American LP version. So the LP of Focus 3 included that song so everyone, including Americans get to hear this song. Anyway, this album is prime example of double-album syndrome: a lot of this music degenerates in to a wankfest, but it's still worth having if you don't mind endless solos, but of course, start with Moving Waves first.....(Ben Miller, Hippy)........... 
By the third studio album Focus reaching their apex. A double vinyl, this came with a different sleeve (much nicer) mostly black with a cutout of their faces arranged in a square figure. Bert Ruiter is now at bass and the classic line-up is now complete. all of them will show their prowess throughout the four sides of music. 
Side 1 starts with some rearranged classical themes but the highlight is another gigantic hit was Sylvia (although a bit too similar to House Of the King IMHO) but Gossip is also fine. Side 2 starts with yet another reworking of the main eponymous theme before plunging into a suite reminding me of Eruption on the previous album but more eventful. 

Side 3 is their magnum opus although this 20+ min version of Anonymous can seem long to some (6 min drum solo plus 3 min bass solo - this does pick-up as it reaches 100 MPH at the end) the rest is almost faultless. Side 4 concludes the Anonymous theme and has a short but delightfull elspeth of Nottingham where Jan Akkerman shows that he can also play the luthe quite well. Another rendition of their first hit HOTK ends the album. 

Although I find focus always diluted a bit too much the ideas they had, stretching out some solos, reworking their themes, and here they pushed it to the maximum, this is IMHO their second best album after Hamburger Concerto..... by Sean Trane ............
'Focus III' is IMHO Focus' top achievement. Not only do these guys deliver some of their most inspired playing, but also manage to work as a unit with a level of compenetration that hides the ongoing rivality between van Leer and Akkerman (sometimes, a not so healthy one). Akkerman continues to explore new sources of introspective music ('Love Remembered') and mediaeval tradition ('Elspeth of Nottingham'), while keeping his ability to turn his guitar on fire with a polished skill beyond words, in the hardest passages: he really shines in 'Answers Questions' and 'Anonymus II', and his Hammond layers on 'Focus III' create an awesome background for Akkerman's guitar leads. Van Leer is also in a state of "business as usual", displaying his mastery on both on keyboards (mostly Hammond organ) and flute, and also some burlesque vocals. The interplays between van Leer and Akkerman in the opening track are breathtaking, executed with energy and a touch of sheer class. Drummer extraordinaire Van der Linden feels at home here: only one yar had passed since he entered the band, yet his drumming had become an essential feature of Focus' musical essence. When the excellent bassist Bert Ruiter made his entry into the ranks of Holland's masterband Focus, the rhythm section achieved its highest level of strength and sophistication; Ruiter proved to be the perfect complement to van der Linden's top-notch drumming style so far,... and may I add that this is a difficult task, since van der Linden enjoys stretching out his role to the point of becoming fundamental for the band's melodic aspect, with his constant tricky rolling. Ruiter's penchant for jazz and funky definitely allowed Focus to keep their own focus on their jazz leaning: the amazing 27-minute 'Anonymus II' only shows you how enthusiastic and frenzy the foursome were about it (a special mention goes to van der Linden's tribal oriented drum solo). The same thing could be noticed on 'Questions Answers'. The lighter side of the album is present in the latin-jazz/bossanova tinged 'Carnival Fugue' and the catchy 'Sylvia' (a top ten single in the UK, actually), two attractive numbers that serve as relaxing motifs, among a repertoire that tends to sound really aggressive (though not heavy, remember, the jazz factor is predominant here). This is the second of a series of three albums that are a testimony of both Focus' and the prog genre's finest hour. An essential masterpiece! 
P.D.: Well, I don't like the inclusion of 'House of the King' here. It belongs more properly in its original album 'In and Out of Focus'. The tour-de-force 'Anonymus II' would make the perfect closure to 'Focus III'...... by Cesar Inca .................

This album is really classic and legendary. No reason for not owning this album if you really love prog rock. This album combines jazz, rock, fusion and classical music altogether into one piece of music. The first time I fell in love with the album (and with the band!) when my brother, Jokky, played 5th track "Focus III" sometime dated back mid 70s. WOW! it BLEW my mind man ..!! What a stunning organ intro and soft guitar these guys were playing! I could net let my finger not to push the rewind button having completed with this track. Not only that this track is excellent but the follow-up track that is continued seamlessly, "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" is very uplifting and fantastic as well. It has a strong influence of jazz, rock and classic. Oops . it's not the end yet. It has blues component as well!!!! 
My CD version has "Anonymous Two" with a duration of 26 minutes as last track of this album. It's another amazing track with an upbeat music in the vein of jazz with great flute solo. Overall, this album is excellent and highly recommended. Rating 4/5. - Gatot Widayanto, Gatot ...............

To me, I don't think that "Focus 3" lives up to the greatness of their previous album, "Moving Waves". Here the band witnessed a minor lineup change with bassist Cyriel Haversman replaced by Bert Ruiter (who later joined EARTH & FIRE. He would end up dating that group's vocalist Jerney Kaagman). The American Sire Records LP received a different cover from its European counterpart, with a die-cut cover, and some copies having the rainbow "Focus 3" logo with a rainbow effect. Here the band went for a double album. They originally intended the album to be a single album, but there was enough material to make it a double. But my problem is the band went a bit overboard on some of the cuts. But of course there's still some excellent material too. "Round Goes the Gossip" is the album's only cut with vocals. "Love Remembered" is a Jan Akkerman piece dominated by Thijs van Leer's flute, and some strange electronic effect (a Theramin maybe?). This pretty much a laid-back piece. "Sylvia" was the minor hit on this album, not anywhere as over-the-top as "Hocus Pocus", it's dominated by Akkerman's trademark electric guitar lead, and the few who heard this song on the radio got a better idea how FOCUS was like than "Hocus Pocus" (which, while I thought was a great song, the band themselves thought of it as a joke). "Carnival Fugue" starts off rather jazzy and mellow, but then they repeat this cheery rhythm, complete with organ and flute. 
"Focus III" is another demonstration of Akkerman's laid-back use of electric guitar, and the organ parts remind me a bit of PINK FLOYD. I also can't be helped but be reminded of a song EARTH & FIRE recorded for their album, Song of the Marching Children (1971) called "In the Mountains". "Focus III" bears an uncanny resemblance to that song, and I'm sure Akkerman got the idea from EARTH & FIRE (but then the EARTH & FIRE connection with FOCUS, as mentioned came from Bert Ruiter dating Jerney Kaagman, and by the end of the '70s, joining EARTH & FIRE after that band's previous bassist Theo Hurts had left). "Questions? Answers! Answers? Questions!" is another great extended piece with an extended atmospheric passage complete with flute and organ. But here's the piece where I thought the band went overboard: "Anonymous II". They took a piece from "In & Out of Focus" and make it nearly three times longer. This piece often generates in to a big wankfest. There are some nice flute passages from Thijs van Leer, but Bert Ruiter endlessly noodling on his bass for a few minutes before the rest of the band kicks in is going a bit far, in my book. There's also a drum solo about three times longer than IRON BUTTERFLY's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". Most of this piece is simply an excuse to show off Jan Akkerman's guitar playing. "Eruption" from their previous album ("Moving Waves") works much better because at least it was divided in to suites and allowed the band to work on many different themes and maybe keep some of the excess in tow. The next cut is a wonderful Jan Akkerman piece, "Elsbeth of Nottingham". Here's the band's exploration in to medieval music, complete with lute and recorder. The final cut is "House of the King", one of their finest piece. This piece already appeared on "In & Out of Focus", but for some strange reason they decided to tag that very same song on this album. Probably because the US version of "In & Out of Focus" never featured that song. Regardless, the song bears more than a striking resemblance to JETHRO TULL. Although there's lots of great material on this album, there's some excessive baggage the band needed to cut off. Still recommended, after you get "Moving Waves" Proghead .............

Success, however modest, went to their head and they had to do a double LP. Predictably, it was overblown and overextended, but not nearly as bad as many. Indeed, it starts off quite promising, with the quite enjoyable "Round Goes The Gossip". The fact that the vocals are in Latin may strike many as pretentious, but it works for the piece, oddly enough. The dazzlingly melodic guitar-rocker "Sylvia" was their biggest European hit. My favourite tunes are "Carnival Fugue" and "Focus III". The former starts off with solo piano, gradually growing fugal as the other instruments enter one by one in fugue formation, and ending with an energetic piccolo solo. The latter is another soaring, melodic guitar-fronted prog-rocker, a splendid spotlight for Akkerman's talents. 
It starts to go off the boil a bit for the amusingly titled "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" which begins with a strong and deep 9/4 groove, but is mainly a vehicle for meandering solos that don't have much purpose. But for sheer purposelessness, one need only look at the lengthy "Anonymus [sic] II". It does have some interesting musical content, but such is few and far between in a piece that contains at least two minutes of bass solo and over six of (groan) drum solo. I ask you, did this really NEED to be twenty-seven minutes long? 

The answer is Progbear ................

This album, despite being (originally) a two L.P. album, is not as good as "Moving Waves". 
"Round Goes the Gossip": this is a good song, starting this album with a bit of humour, with van Leer repeating "round goes the gossip" several times in the song. Like in the album "Moving Waves", the band starts this album with a song with a bit of humour. 

"Love Remembered": the best song in this album, IMO. It has acoustic guitar, flute and synthesizer, with bass and drums in the background. I originally heard this song (with "Sylvia" too) in the first Mexican version of the "Moving Waves" album released here in 1973 (with "Janis" and "Le Clochard" being deleted in favour of "Sylvia" and "Love Remembered", which were their hits in Europe then). This song has some very good atmospheres and it is, with "Focus II" from the previous album, one of my favourites from this band. I remember than before listening to this song on albums, this song was used in a T.V. commercial in my country (but I can`t remember the product announced in the commercial!). Great song! 

"Sylvia": another very good song, with the melody played by Akkerman in his electric guitar, plus very good organ arrangements and energetic bass guitar and drums. 

"Carnival Fugue": it has several sections, even including a classical piano arrangement, until the "carnival music" is played with a bit of humour, including a flute. 

"Focus III" and "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!":two instrumental musical pieces which are good, played one after the other, with "Questions..." starting with a melody played several times by the bass guitar. I previously listened to both songs in the "Live at the Rainbow" album. I prefer these studio versions. 

"Anonymous Two ": a long instrumental musical piece which in the CD is not divided in two parts. It sounds to me like an extended improvisation which had some parts previously determined before playing it. The best part of this long piece is the drums solo. If other Prog bands did some "excesses" with their music, this is Focus`"excess in Prog music" in this album. The musical piece is too long and not very interesting in comparison to "Eruption" from the "Moving Waves" album. That song has better arrangements than this, and also includes a drums solo. 

"Elspeth of Nottingham ": a very good instrumental musical piece played with acoustic guitar and flutes. It is one of the best from this album, very influenced by medieval music, I think. 

"House of the King" wasn`t included in the CD, because it was more like a "filler" in the 2 L.P. set, being a song taken from their first album. 

In conclusion, this album is good, but IMO, their "Moving Waves" album is Guillermo ................

It would be easy to say that after the success of "Moving Waves" FOCUS caught the ELP disease. In other words they became arrogant and pompous, and so delivered a double album with lots of solos and jamming. Just writing that makes me laugh because though it may be true, it just means we got some amazing prog music out of it. I personally prefer "Moving Waves" but it's the things that a lot people don't like about this double album that makes it a four star record for me. And that would be the amazing solos and the extended jams. I really like the way they just play on and on during the two longer tracks. 
"Round Goes The Gossip" is the only track with vocals and they're in Latin ! Something about this song that I liked from the first time I heard it. Still like it a lot. It opens with some cool drumming before becoming an uptempo and catchy song. The guitar, organ and drums shine throughout. We get a calm with vocals 1 1/2 minutes in that is broken by some more fantastic drumming.The tempo seems to get even faster before 3 1/2 minutes. They're flying. Quite the display of organ and bass work as drums pound away. "Love Remembered" is mellow with acoustic guitar and flute. Drums and a fuller sound arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. "Sylvia" is a fun, uptempo instrumental with guitar, drums and organ dominating the sound. I can see why this became a hit for them on the radio. Vocal melodies 2 minutes in are kind of funny. The guitar and organ late are incredible sounding. "Carnival Fugue" opens with slowly played piano melodies for 1 1/2 minutes when tempo picks up and other instruments join in. It becomes jazzy as tempo picks up even more after 3 minutes. Organ and flute follow. "Focus III" is very laid back to begin with, then the sound gets louder 2 minutes in with some good guitar and organ. It returns to the mellow soundscape from the beginning after 3 minutes. This is such a beautiful, pastoral sound. Again it gets fuller just like before at 5 minutes and it ends on this note. 

"Answers ? Questions ! Questions ? Answers !" is uptempo with lots of organ. You have to love the guitar style here. Nice contrast with the mellower passage that follows.This contrast continues. Nice guitar solo after 3 minutes followed by an organ solo and then a flute solo. Cool. This flute / drum section seems to go and on forever. Nice. The guitar replaces the flute after 8 minutes. This sounds so amazing as it goes on for over 3 minutes. I could listen to this all day. This is my favourite song on here followed by "Anonymus Two". Next up is "Elspeth Of Nottingham" a title that no doubt gives a nod to the medieval flavour of this song.This is my least favourite song on here. "Anonymus Two" is an uptempo track to begin with as organ pulsates and guitar and drums help out. Check out the Ian Anderson-like flute a minute in. It's aggressive and leading the way. Some powerful organ 3 1/2 minutes in goes on a tear. I love this section as they just jam. The song just stops 6 1/2 minutes in. We then get a long bass solo and the song starts to build 9 minutes in. Organ 13 minutes in is outstanding. The guitar joins in and it's even better ! A change 19 minutes in as the jamming stops and a new melody takes over. Then a long drum solo before the song ends with a guitar / drum / organ melody. 

Lets face it, if you don't like the two longer tracks then you don't like well over half of this recording. So I can understand some of the lower ratings even though I belong with those who think this is an excellent double album........... by Mellotron Storm .....................

After a solid debut and a better second release (Moving Waves), FOCUS had really crossed the borders of Netherlands and were gaining a solid fan base all along Europe and even in USA, so they had to do something specialr not to loose this popularity, instead they did something better, they took the risk and went for a double album. 
"In and Out of Focus" presented us a band worried to make sober and solid music, with echoes from the 60's and a delicate style of jamming, then moved towards a more spectacular instrumental sound, using the voice almost only as an extra instrument in "Moving Waves", but in "Focus III" we find a more mature band that reached the balance between pomp and virtuoso attributes, a band with enough courage to go further to the past up to the Medieval era in search for their roots, but using a clear Flemish style or Hard Rock when required, in other words a band with the guts to be different, not just a bunch of guys following the model that came from UK, they took the best of both worlds to create something exquisite and unique. 

The album is opened with "Round Goes the Gossip" a vibrant track that starts with a drum intro that leads to an elaborate and complex multi instrumental passage in which Thijs Van Leer uses his versatile voice to create strange sounds, part in joke part completely serious and complementary of the music. The peculiar way of playing the organ is shocking, les lush but extremely complex, jumping from melodic passages to jazzy cacophonies, just can describe this song with five words....Progressive Rock at it's best. 

"Love Remembered" is the perfect contrast, instead of the usual aggressive style of Thijs flute, he goes for a delicate and melancholic melody, the drums play a crucial job supporting all the weight of the song and Ian Akkerman adds his subtle touch with the guitar, only three minutes long, but it's said that you'd better leave the listener with the taste of honey in the lips rather than saturated, again incredibly beautiful and melancholic song. 

The story of "Sylvia" is quite original, before joining FOCUS, Thij's Van Leer was a chorus singer for a pair of well known Dutch crooners, as he tells in the DVD "Masters from the Vault", tired of making oohs and aaahs, he and Sylvia (another singer of the chorus) asked their bosses to allow them to sing one song each one, they allowed but Sylvia's song was terrible, so Thij's wrote this track for her, but the girl hated it and he just kept it hidden somewhere with all his music. 

When the band was working on "Focus III", they were short of material, so Thijs remembered this track, searched for it, deleted the lyrics and recorded it with the band, surprisingly was one of their biggest hits. 

But what to say about the song? Not specially complex or frantic, mostly a catchy melody with an excellent guitar work and some subtle yodeling, the Hammond touch is a perfect addition, but that's how things work, it became a world hit despite they have better tracks. 

"Carnival Fugue" begins with a dramatic piano intro in which Thijs makes his formal training evident while Jan Akkerman adds soft and barely listenable guitar sounds, but then the classical influence gets evident, both piano and guitar start a tandem work with clear Baroque leanings, until out of nowhere a radical change happens and the band enters into Fusion territory in the vein of "Miles Davis", that leads to a humorous Psyche oriented passage with Bossa Nova hints, this guys keep surprising me, no matter how many years pass. 

Now is the turn for "Focus III" an incredibly beautiful song where Akkerman creates a fantastic atmosphere working with Thijs as one man, dark, somber and mysterious is one of my all time favorites, and despite not being a very long track, seems that never ends because it morphs into "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!", one of the most dramatic epics that FOCUS has released, the pass of decades has not damaged it, by the contrary it has turned into a timeless classic that always makes me tremble. The incredible organ performance enhanced by the magical style of Jan Akkerman playing the electric guitar with the delicacy of a Flamenco guitarist is simply unbelievable, this track flows perfectly from start to end as a 1,000 pieces puzzle where everything fits in its right place. 

Won't even attempt to comment it more because words can not describe the beauty of this epic, or how the psychedelic atmosphere of the first break, thick as the morning mist falls into the audience, almost a magical experience. 

In the CD I got, "Elspeth of Nottingham" comes before the complete version of "Anonymous 2" something very adequate, because this travel in time to the 1300's with lute (I guess because is not mentioned) and piccolo prepares us for another epic that must nbe listened as a whole and not divided. 

The album is closed with "Anonymous Two" which begins with the Hocus Pocus main section but immediately moves towards a frantic flute and drum section a la Jethro Tull, Thij's Van Leer proves us his dexterity rocking as an expert, while Akkerman, Ruiter and Van der Linden give a heavy Rock support, showing us how a band is supposed to work, one guy takes the lead in a semi solo and the rest keep working to enhance the effect. 

But in this track not only Thijs is the star, there's a turn for each musician to shine with controlled solos, because even though they are essentially playing alone, they keep coordination among all the members to maintain the general atmosphere of the song intact. 

In the original version the album is closed with the excellent "The House of the King" already released in their debut album, but IMO it would sound out of place in "Focus III. 

After 70 minutes of great Progressive Rock, the album reaches its end, and always feel tempted to play it again immediately, a sign that it ever bores me. 

Even though by my words everybody can notice I'm a FOCUS fan, won't give 5 stars to this fantastic album, because I believe their next release "Hamburger Concerto" is much more solid and I reserve the maximum rating for that one. 

I'm sure some people won't enjoy this album as much as I do, because FOCUS is not for everybody, especially for people who grew listening British and Italian Symphonic exclusively, maybe because they are too eclectic or simply because it's not easy to get used to the Dutch masters' style, but the quality of the album is beyond any doubt as the fact that no Prog collection is complete without "Focus III". 

Four stars that would be 4.5 if the system allowed Ivan_Melgar_M ................

On their 3rd album 'Focus III' the band hit their height and ranks undoubtedly as the bands most progressive and complete work (IMHO). Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer are at their tops musically and along with Ruiter and Van Der Linden deliver some of progressive rocks best! I snagged the Red Bullet Remastered CD version which offers some differences to the vinyl...different running track order and some slight differences. Highlight for me is the 14 mins epic track "Answers? Questions! Questions ? Answers!" which delivers some incredible instrumental classical rock to the forefront and IMHO is the best thing they ever recorded! Beautiful album for sure and one of those albums you have to hunt down........... by loserboy .................

The record evokes some discussion. 

Focus' third is somehow an odd album. It has some of their finest progressive songs, but it also has endless jams as if you are listening to a fusion jamgroup. Luckely both sides of Fucus are seperated; side one and two show the symphonic Focus, while side two and three mainly show Focus jamming out. I've heard some-one say that he though even the true Focus fans wouldn't listen this in one spin and I think he's right. I own the vinyl version and I listen mainly to the first record, record two is like a nice additional present for me. Ofcourse this well though concept was destroyed by the cd, though it could have been printed on two seperate cd's. 

Focus' sound consists of three elements: classical influences, hard rock and jazz- rock/fusion. Sympathetic frontman/keyboardist/composer/flute player Thuis van Leer originated from the Dutch theater and classical music scene as composer and flute player. His wide range of influences are the main reason for the succes of Focus, the others are the known guitar acrobatics of the famous Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman and the great technically perfect drummer Pierre van der Linden. Accompanied with Bert Ruijter on bass one could call this a supergroup: a combination of best musicians in their field. 

On side one and two the compositions are as mentioned before as one would expect on a Focus record. Symphonic, jazzy, rockin', varied and devoted. On Round goes the Gossip a lot of inventive up-tempo chord progressions can be heard with some pyschedelic vocals by Thijs van Leer. In the middle section a great fusion part is adapted to complete the song. This is one of my favourite Focus songs! Another standout is the title track, a highly classical compostion played by a symphonic prog band. On a live concert Van Leer mentioned the track passes through the whole fifths circel, which is a nice technical achievement. 

Conclusion. If listening to the record as a seperated disc, this is a highly rewarding album. It might not be as perfect as Moving Waves, but it shurely resembles Hamburger Concerto. The additional jam's are very enjoyable, guitarist may want to listen to the reportoire of bizarre guitar techniques Jan Akkerman applies. Recommended to everyone into symphonic prog, classical music and fusion. Four stars!........ by friso ................

Focused on Jams? Jams! 
Focus, the only band from my native-country that I really like, but that's just because I don't know much about the music of The Netherlands. Their third offering entitled simply as '3', released in 1973, is surely my favorite album of theirs being the perfect blend of 70s rock at its peak with prog sensibilities. 

While most Symphonic Prog bands from the 70s that didn't belong to the U.K. were considered rather derivative, the Italian scene plus Focus, and a couple of other notable groups, demonstrated to be inspired by the U.K. bands but to have their own unique approach. There's said to be similarities with ELP, but Thijs van Leer wasn't a heavy Moog user and his Hammond-Organ playing was more subtle and jazzy, somewhat like Peter Bardens from Camel. Focus does show some Genesis and Tull approaches sporadically, mainly due to the flute and organ, but if you take a look to the big picture, this Dutch band was really playing their own kind of Prog Rock influenced by Classical, Blues Rock and Jazz Rock, the latter being the main difference between the classic U.K. Prog Rock bands. If there's one band that I would relate with Focus is Camel, but that's only because the jazz element on both, though in times, in the softer songs both bands sound alike in a good way. 

The band mainly plays in a very rocking way through this album, notable proof is the 26 minute mind-blowing jam called 'Anonymous II', where Jan Akkerman, a splendid guitarist, delivers heavy riffs in an original way unlike anything by Blackmore, Page or Iommi, while Thijs screams out a blasting flute solo and later on a powerful, inspired organ solo. There's even space for a groovy bass solo, something that Squire or Rutherford wouldn't do. The jam later evolves into the hard rock-powder of Hocus Pocus with a drum section and a fantastic guitar solo. 

'Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!' is a similar affair, just a bit jazzier. The rest of the album though, is more related to the classic Focus style with lovely or energetic short tunes, mostly prog-related stuff with touches of either classical ('Carnival Fugue'), jazz or blues, highlights being Jan's guitar or Thijs' flute, both deliver emotional melodies and solos. 

So why is '3' my favorite Focus record? Well, I simply love both of the long jams and the rest of the album is as good as the gentle tunes from Moving Waves. Though less Progressive since there's no ''Prog epic'', '3' is by far the album I get more enjoyment from this band. This is not Focus's strongest album in composition terms though, that'd be Moving Waves or Hamburger Concerto. 

4 stars: excellent prog rock record with focus on two long jams which may not be every Prog fans cup-of-tea, but for me those are the best part of this album. Highly recommended if you are someone who likes a varied Prog Rock record with emphasis on the rock part. If you're looking for the ''Symphonic'' Focus, check both Hamburger Concerto and Moving Waves The Quiet One ...........

Right before the tour supporting the ''Moving waves'' album, bassist Cyril Havermans left Focus to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Bert Ruiter, whom Jan Akkerman knew from the recording of his 72' album ''Profile''.Focus had already blew the music world, as the Melody Maker characterized them as the "Brightest hope for the year", Akkermann as the "Best guitarist in the world" and even Pierre Van Der Linden as the "Greatest drummer in Europe".''Focus III'', the third studio album of the band was originally intended to be released as a single LP, but the band had already recorded so much material, that decided to release it as a double-LP in the process.This was originally released in November 1972 on Imperial in Holland and a number of other labels for the rest of the world. 
Things get serious already from the start and the short instrumentals of side A establish Focus as a premiere Symphonic/Jazz-Rock act.Excellent combination of intense Jazz Rock with Classical-indluenced keyboard passages in four great tracks full of lovely melodies but also technical abilities with some superb guitar workouts by Akkermann, a fascinating rhythm section and Van Leer's dreamy flutes and deep organ waves.The second side opens with the self-titled track, where Focus try to revive the beautiful atmosphere of ''Focus II'' from ''Moving waves''.Light, instrumental Symphonic Rock with a growing tempo based on careful and melodic guitar solos and atmospheric Hammong organ.With the 14-min. long ''Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!'' Focus enter their more jazzy and improvised side.Powerful Jazz-Rock with shifting moods, funky tempos, a fair amount of virtuosity and solos, ending up offering quite solid performances by a group of talented guys.This was also the first attempt of Bert Ruiter on contributing to a Focus' composition. 

The second LP is almost exclusively driven by the long 27-min. improvisation ''Anonymus II'', which start the first side and ends covering 7 minutes of the second one.For a studio jamming this is actually a nice track.Endless dynamic grooves blended with numerous technical solos with jazzy guitars and sharp Hammond organ all the way, interrupted only by a JETHRO TULL-esque flute interlude and a drum solo by Van Den Linden towards the end.It actually sound pretty tight as a whole to become monotonous on the way and the impressive execution catches the listener's attention until the end, maybe this is a bit overstreched.The pair of closing tunes saw Focus in a mix of Classical Music and Medieval Folk with ethereal flutes and delicate acoustic guitars with ''House of the King'' having again some sort of JETHRO TULL-esque vibe. 

This is a great album indeed.The long jamming tracks prevent it from being absolutely seesntial and a single LP with the best moments would make this stand next to some Prog classics.Still this is a very solid release of instrumental Symphonic/Jazz- Rock with a few really fantastic pieces.Strongly recommended...3.5 apps79 ..............

"Focus 3" is the third album for these wonderful symphonic instrumentalists, and it is quite an ambient relaxing journey apart from the odd outburst in the first half. The double vinyl album was the first time I heard it at a friend's house, and I was not all that impressed initially. It tended to drag on with some tracks going on too long for their own good, but this grew on me and I consider it a masterful album these days. It really is a headphone album, not something to throw on and have going in the background. Highlights include the pipe whistle exploration of Carnival Fugue, and I love the opener with Thijs crazy vocal intonations, Round Goes the Gossip, one of the best Focus tracks. The epic at the end is an incredibly complex composition and one of the best from Focus. 
The musicians here are the best Focus lineup I believe, the amazing Jan Akkerman on solo & acoustic guitars, Bert Ruiter on bass, the incredible percussion of Pierre van der Linden, and of course the visionary extraordinaire Thijs van Leer on vocals, organ, piano, alto flute, piccolo, and harpsichord. 

Some tracks are very subdued and merely prepare us for the epic to come. Focus III is peaceful and relaxing definitely; the band were capable of some stunning beauty in their compositions. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! (a title that reminds me of Giraffes? Giraffes!) is a 14 minute journey, composed by Akkerman and Ruiter, with a ton of happy Hammond, a rollicking tempo and some great Akkerman guitar passages. It kind of has a Santana flavour, and then it settles into lovely ambience with flute and a dreamy tempo. Then Akkerman cuts loose on some vivacious guitar work. Again after this flows along gently and Akkerman has one more guitar outlet. This is definitely the highlight track of the album thus far. 

Side 3 features Anonymous Two (Part 1) and it is continued on Side 4. This long epic gives Thijs a chance to go mad on flute and he is absolutely incredible, on these faster tracks. He would have to be one of the best flute players along with Mr Anderson. You can even hear his vocals as he blows similar to the style of Jethro Tull. Next there is a barrage of Hammond blasting as good as you are likely to hear. It even has a bit of the Hocus Pocus melody hidden in there. Then it settles into a very serene passage with an extended bass solo by Ruiter. It goes for a while with an improvised feel, then the guitars return and that shimmering Hammond. Akkerman unleashes fury on his axe jamming along boldly along the fast paced signature. It ends with a huge drum solo from virtuoso Pierre, and then it ends with a quirky melody. Another definitive highlight and Focus at their absolute best. 

Finally we have Elspeth Of Nottingham that is Elizabethan Medieval flavoured, something they return to often, and it ends with House Of The King. It kind of fits neatly onto one CD but the vinyl release is my preference as it is well packaged and a product of the 70s. 

It is one of the best albums from Focus with some of their brightest moments with the epic track and the Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!; so dynamic. The band were experimenting with many styles and here on this album they are at their most symphonic and experimental before the jazz influences came in. I think 4 stars are deserved as this is definitely one of the best I have heard and is the most consistent album out of all the Focus albums I have AtomicCrimsonRush ................

Most people are introduced to Focus through the Hocus Pocus single, which thanks to its yodelling makes people think of them as, if not an outright novelty group, at least a somewhat comedic lot. The more serious side of Focus, however, gets perhaps its best workout on Focus 3, a double album of instrumental prog with jazzy inflections. Album closer House of the King, borrowed from the debut album to avoid side 4 becoming weirdly short, nicely illustrates how far the band have come from their early days; the piece sounds like an unabashed attempt to riff on the style of early Jethro Tull, whilst the rest of the double album showcases a much more original Warthur 
Line-up / Musicians 
- Thijs van Leer / vocals, Hammond organ, piano, alto flute, piccolo, harpsichord
- Jan Akkerman / electric & acoustic guitars, lute 
- Bert Ruiter / bass 
- Pierre van der Linden / drums 

- Martind Dresden / bass (10) 
- Hans Cleuver / drums (10) 
- Mike Vernon / backing vocals (1-uncredited), producer

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Round Goes The Gossip (5:12) 
2. Love Remembered (2:50) 
3. Sylvia (3:31) 
4. Carnival Fugue (6:09) 
5. Focus III (6:05) 
6. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! (14:03) 
7. Anonymous Two (Part 1) (19:28) 
8. Anonymous Two (Conclusion) (7:30) 
9. Elspeth Of Nottingham (3:15) 
10. House Of The King (2:23) * 

  ~"Ship Of Memories" 1976~

Scraping-the-bottom-of-the-drawers for this release, but there is some fine stuff so much so that the real albums pale out in comparison. This is certainly much stronger than its predecessor Mother Bogus (that was an easy one but I had to say it) but I wish the art work did not refer to it (this warship thing). Since there is material that dates back to the first album , this vimyl always lacked direction. 
Although some fine tracks , again Focus shows us how thin on ideas they were by repeating the Focus themes and (respectively at version 3) and the short (single) version of Hocus Pocus. red Sky at Night being the best track on here but there are some fine Akkerman moments on side 2. 

I would almost say that this album is for completist but I like Focus enough to award this album that third star. Sean Trane ...................
After the disaster of the previous album Mother Focus, Akkerman, van Leer and company released this collection of outtakes and unreleased tracks. This is much better record that brings back some of the old FOCUS magic. It is particularly worthy to listen to the nice and playful flute-marked opener P's March and the dark and noisy rendition of fuzz and Mellotron filled Can't Believe My Eyes. There is also quite a few amazing jazz jamming moments in Out of Vesuvius and Crackers and interesting, rather dirty version of Hocus Pocus. The rest is not very much up to the standards of FOCUS and it is plain to see why these had been left over. Ship of Memories is not essential record, but it has a healthy dose of nice music that can mend (at least temporarily) the broken hearts of the fans who had already dismissed the band as passe after the previous Seyo ....................

One thing I really like about this album is the name of the album. In digital days, this album might be named as Previously Unreleased album or each individual track will be inserted as bonus tracks of remastered series of Focus. Rather the band opted to use "Ship of Memories" which contains previously unreleased songs from their previous albums. This is an instrumental album released by by Sire Records, with materials spanning from 1970, 1973, and 1975. The first four tracks were originally should appear on a follow-up album to Focus III in 1973, but there were disagreements among members of the band about the quality of the material, and finally it was not released as an album. That's why you will find that the musicianship and performance of the band are quite good for all four songs here. 
You can find that with the opening track P's March, there is a sense of style similar to the band's debut album In and Out of Focus. There are lots of combined electric guitar work, distinctive style of Akermann and dynamic drumming slated with keyboard / organ work throughout the album. It's typical Focus sounds of the early seventies. But if you meticulously observe each individual track you will find why they were not included in the album. It's not bad at all but it's not measuring up with those of Focus III or "Moving Waves" or "Hamburger Concerto". 

Overall, this is a good album especially for those who enjoy instrumental work from Gatot ................................

On this album, somehow hidden to most fans of the band, Focus found some new ways to express it's more then capable musicianship. With Thijs van Leer on organs, keyboards and flute and no less then Jan Akkerman on the electric guitar some sensation can be suspected. On bass we have the professional Bert Ruiter and during the album we get to listen to three different drummers, among who Pierre van der Linden of the original Focus line-up. 

Somehow the word spread that 'Ship of Memories' is an album full of leftovers from other records, but I must say the material sounds as if recorded in the same period. The style and sound is consistent. Having that said, the album does have a different approach then most other Focus records. There are very few vocals by Van Leer and there's more fusion to be found. The compositions are shorter and the sound is very full and well developed. There are little influences from classical music and the sound is rooted in heavy jazz rock. Somehow most compositions have distinctive atmospheres and it's apparent that on some tracks Jan Akkerman plays particularly psychedelic, fierce and confronting. I myself can't imagine any of these compositions being 'leftovers', because most of them are simply brilliant. Perhaps they weren't suitable for other albums because of the distinctive atmospheres that are less accessible then the symphonic styled tracks of Focus. 

'P's March' is an opening track with two face; the folksy parts with flute (that perhaps sound a bit too optimistic) and the darker parts with brilliant guitar screams by Akkerman. Non of his solo's are melodic, but they somehow cut through metal. 'Can't believe my Eyes' is a heavy, dark psychedelic fusion track ? one of my favorites! The style is very distinctive; a bit troubling and exciting. The chords progressions are very original and the solo's of Akkerman psychedelic and confronting. The way he interprets these chords schemes without thinking to much about harmony, but instead focusing on the dark atmosphere is really a prove of artistic brilliance. It sure took me a while to understand this track though. 'Focus V' is another instrumental with a slower pace and a more clean style. The melodies sound intimate, yet again distinctive. 'Out of Vesuvius' is a great vehicle for very professional fusion jamming with lot's of great solo's of both Akkerman and Van Leer. Just listen to the thickness of the sound! 

On side two 'Glider' is a great compositions with a funky fusion main theme and a symphonic/progressive refrain with some nice psychedelic screams by Van Leer. Great track. 'Red Sky at Night' is a composition that has some drama to it, which is very attractive for listeners of progressive rock. The emotional solo's of Akkerman really touch something whilst the impressive chords and especially moog bass by Van Leer make this a unique track. The flute parts are really welcome and it's good to see how the song be send into folky directions. Very catchy this one. 'Spoke the Lord Creator' is an optimistic track with some traces of classical music. This is perhaps the only track that really would have worked well on the debut or Moving Waves. Jan Akkerman's 'Crackers' (a track he would also record on self-titled album and play live frequently) is not a very attractive track because it's a pure fusion track with that let's dance vibe. 'Ship of Memories' turns out to be a short atmospheric impression by Pierre van der Linden. The opening has some nice drums and the hormonium piece that soon follows sound nostalgic, but not too professional. 

Conclusion. This is my favorite Focus album, albeit a bit non-Focus-like. The distinctive atmospheres, the great use of fusion styles (which I find hard to find elsewhere!), the artistic bravery of Jan Akkerman (some of his best solo's), professional performance and great recording make this album a real winner. I can image fans of Focus being disappointed after first spin, but most of them will grow into it. For fans of the progressive fusion style this is the most attractive Focus album. Furthermore I would recommend repeated listening before making judging on this album. Somehow, after years of little replay this record started to fascinate me. I'm going to reward this one with the big 4,5 stars rating. Overlooked and underrated in my humble friso ..................

3 2/3 stars, really - Focus' "Ship of Memories"is a collection of old takes and leftovers that this Dutch band released as a means to deal with the ultimate crisis of its classic line-up (Jan Akkerman's departure) while keeping up with the recording contract. The "Mother Focus" album had been an almost total disaster in artistic terms, showing a band that used to be grandiose until recently ("Hamburger Concerto" had been an amazing follow-up to the "Focus III" and live albums) going down as a muzak ensemble. This Focus had evidently fallen far out of focus. This album was not designed to show sings of improvement or further decay, but it actually happened to be a very good late testament for the Akkerman and Van der Linden days. In fact, most of the material comes from the time between the live album's release and the "hamburger Concerto" sessions. While in America prog, Kansas was elaborating one of its finest compositions ever with the linkage and rearrangement of various leftovers ('Magnum Opus'), Focus revealed that it could deliver pretty good ideas that didn't have much to envy those tracks that ultimately had made it for the first 5 studio efforts. One must really reconsider the traditional meaning of the word leftover in this kind of situations, even though the sound production quality is irregular throughout the album. 'P'S march' kicks off the album alternating an adapted joyful classical piece and a slow jazz-rock portion, combining light spirit and melancholy in a typically Focus kind of way. 'Can't Believe My Eyes' is a jazz-rock jam that exposes some of the most dynamic playing by Akkerman: despite not being too fast, it is energetic and it rocks big time. On the other side of things, 'Focus V' states a very reflective mood, based on eerie mellotron/organ layers and ethereal guitar phrases: the latter's controlled dynamics fits well the flute solo that appears somewhere in the middle. A lovely piece, indeed, it is a crime that it should be kept in the dark until this album was released. 'Out of Vesuvius' goes to a similar territory to that of track 2, if a bit funkier: some cadences may remind us of the 4th section from the 'Hamburger Concerto' suite. The album's second half starts with 'Glider', which basically is the original demo of what eventually became 'Mother Focus'. Unlike the insipid final result, 'Glider' happens to be a ballsy, effective exercise on rock-meets-funky, with a pleasant use of jazzy disco elements. There is also a funny entry of a rhythm machine, which joined with the extra percussion seems to flirt with the disco thing. But this is no 'Invisible Touch' or 'No Reply at All', this is a great piece of humorous, catchy rock: the added flavors provided by Akkerman's solos and Van Leer's multiple keyboard inputs are properly fuelled by the rhythm duo. 'Red Sky at Night' is a majestic exhibition of progressive romanticism: shifting things from the classy frivolity of 'Glider', this piece states a portrait of reflectiveness through its well-construed melodic development. The flute solo is pure Van Leer magic. 'Spoke the Lord Creator' is closer to the Focus that recorded the debut album, a bit naïve yet catchy and proficiently performed. 'Crackers' displays a sort of strength that was sorely missing in "Mother Focus", while its framework remains similar to most of the tracks that were included in it. The namesake closer is a brief, experimental piece performed by a van der Linden doubling on drum kit (a ceremonious roll) and harmonium (soft chord progressions): the idea of a ship setting out to sea is well portrayed here. Surprisingly good, this album outdoes the preceding and follow-up efforts that Focus came out with in the wake of its career. Unlike the current resurrection era, way back then, the leadership of Van Leer alone wasn't Cesar Inca ...............

Ship of Memories, a collection of rarities from Focus' catalog, is somewhat more diverse than most of the band's other releases. Starting off with "P's March," a track rooted in the style of Focus' debut album In and Out of Focus, Ship of Memories gradually works its way through the band's many phases to the Mother Focus styled "Crackers." The album ends on a superb song, the U.S. version of "Hocus Pocus." For Europeans, this addition to Ship of Memories ("Hocus Pocus" U.S. was never on the LP version, but was later added to the CD release) comes as an absolute delight. Not only is the song a verified rarity on the continent, but it is also vastly different from the U.K. recording. Akkermans' guitar work, Van Leer's yodeling, and Pierre Van Der Linden's drumming are all given a new lease of life by the inclusion of this track. Despite the songwriting quality not being of the highest caliber, sparks of genius pop up at various places. Collectors will be well-gratified by Ship of Memories, while casual listeners will find enough enjoyable material to merit its Ben Davies..................

Yeah, I know this is merely a collection of out-takes from various sessions by one of my favorite "progressive rock" bands. But some of the band's (especially Jan's) best playing is here, and most of these tunes just BURN. "P's March" is a typically melodic upbeat Thijs Van Leer opener with powerful playing by all. "Can't Believe My Eyes" is a passionate in-your-face powerhouse jam over swirling spooky synth chords (love it!). "Focus V" is yet another gorgeous entry in the series of "Focus"-titled tracks penned by Thijs, very smooth and cool with Jan on some Wes-style intervallic playing. "Out of Vesuvius" is another of the powerful jams which Focus did so well. "Glider" is a much more vibrant and clear version of "Mother Focus". "Red Sky At Night" is a slow-groove, the likes of which was heard on the '80s Thijs/Jan reunion "Focus" album. "Spoke The Lord Creator" is a sorta country-tinged rocker that sounds like it is from Focus' early period. "Crackers" is an early version of the disco-ish tune that Jan played on his self-titled solo album a few years later - here it is credited to Thijs but on Jan's album it is credited to Jan (??) - anyway, not the highlight of the disc by any stretch, but short enough to tolerate without reaching for the fast-forward button. "Ship Of Memories" is an interesting short synth-drum tune by drummer Pierre van der Linden. Finally, you get the short uptempo USA-released single version of "Hocus Pocus" which really burns and it great to have on CD. Great stuff, this CD - a nice mix of the Focus styles with no 30-minute-long "opus" tracks, yet with all the passion and virtuosity that the band was known for. The Red Bullet release of this CD sounds great. Out of all my Focus and Akkerman albums, this one is played the most..............Byjgower....................

1973 was a difficult time for Focus. Near the end of 1972, they released Focus 3, which spawned a minor hit with "Sylvia". In 1973, they released a live album (Live at the Rainbow), but there were tensions mounting with the band. Jan Akkerman was not in the best of moods (often refusing to speak to the other band members), Pierre van der Linden wasn't in the best of moods either. They were to record a followup to Focus 3, but was scrapped at the time. Pierre van der Linden left, only to team up with ex-Ekseption keyboardist Rick van der Linden (no relation) and ex-Cuby and the Blizzards bassist Jaap van Eik to form a band called Ace, which was quickly changed to Trace, because a British band was already calling themselves Ace (that was the band that featured a pre-Squeeze and pre-Mike & the Mechanics Paul Carrack, who had a hit with "How Long"). Focus then recruited a new drummer, Colin Allen from the Scottish band Stone the Crows and recorded the actual followup to Focus 3, Hamburger Concerto, regarded by many as the last great Focus album. 

Ship of Memories consisted mainly of that scrapped followup to Focus 3 with Pierre van der Linden, and to be honest, the material isn't all that bad. "P's March" is a nice number dominated by the flute of Thijs van Leer. "Out of Vesuvius" was supposed to be a section of an epic that was to be the sequel to "Eruption" from Moving Waves, who knows what this piece would have sounded like if the album was finished and reached the shelves back in '73? Anyway, a nice jazzy piece with an untypical (for Focus) bluesy feel. "Glider" was later re-recorded for Mother Focus. This piece uses an early drum machine. It's also nice to hear van Leer's tradmark yodeling on this cut. "Spoke the Lord Creator" dates back to the In & Out of Focus lineup, recorded in January 1970, and it's obviously easy to tell, as it does sound like a missing cut from that album. "Crackers", not from the 1973 sessions, but later (probably 1975 or 1976) with yet another drummer (an American named David Kemper), has a much more disco-like feel than what you usually expect from Focus. Were they getting bad ideas from Earth & Fire (another Dutch band), who after recording some great prog rock albums (Song of the Marching Children, Atlantis) started going the disco route by this point? Don't know, but what is known was Focus bassist Bert Ruiter (who appears on most of the cuts on Ship of Memories, aside from "Spoke the Lord Creator") was dating Earth & Fire vocalist Jerney Kaagman. The album then closes with the title track, which was Pierre van der Linden's time to shine, it's all just him, on drums and harmonium. 

Yes, Ship of Memories might not have the consistency of say, Moving Waves, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given these were leftover cuts from various eras. Still, not a bad collection of songs......ByBENJAMIN MILER..............

Much of this CD dates back to an aborted session at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in 1973, although liner notes for this reissue are non-existent, with the addition of several outakes from other sessions. It is understandable then that it lacks the cohesion of Art-Rock masterpieces such as HAMBURGER CONCERTO or MOVING WAVES, however several of the compositions rank with the group's finest. While the rhythm sections vary throughout the album the center of the action is allways the guitar of Jan Akkerman, and the keyboards, flute and yodeling vocals of Thijs Van Jeer. They are the primary composers of all the pieces with the exception of the title cut. The opener P'S MARCH is a superb peice as is RED SKY AT NIGHT, and the fifth installment of the composition FOCUS. Most of the other compositions have the feel of period Jazz Fusion jams with frequent fade outs. The album as a whole features some of Akkerman's most muscular soloing, however I miss the features for his accoustic and lute playing such as FocusIII'S ELSPETH OF NOTTINGHAM or DELITAE MUSICAE from HAMBURGER CONCERTO, and the cd suffers from a certain lack diversity because of this. The cd is completed with the US single version of their biggest hit HOCUS POCUS, it is taken at a much faster tempo than the MOVING WAVES lp version, and is an interesting if less satisfying companion to the original. While not an essential item no fan of Focus will be dissapointed by this collection............By Christopher Lindstrom...............

Who says then that Prog could not be megakomobill? In a new recording, the famous iodel piece "Hocus Pocus" from Focus 2010 underlined the Nike advertising spot for the then World Cup. Could there be a more powerful goal of musical creation than to promote the sale of sports shoes? There you are. And in addition, the Jodelei has now become the trademark of Focus, which is why "Hocus Pocus" is also on this CD as an inevitable bonustrack. 

In the first place "Ship of Memories" contains recordings of scattered origin, especially from the studio sessions, which took place for 1973/74 for the successor album of "Focus 3". However, the material was not used or partially re-recorded later on, because dissatisfaction had spread in the band and especially Jan Akkerman seemed to be completely demotivated. As producer Mike Vernon rightly emphasized in the original liner notes of 1976, the total of 9 songs are not so terrible - on the contrary, at least for Focusfans the album is not to be despised, especially since the sound is very good , 

The condition of the recordings explains their disparate character. "P'S March", with its cheerful flute melody and its lively rhythm, reminds of a rural dance rather than a march, was originally conceived as a single and is accordingly fully produced. Other pieces have the character of improvisations ("Out of Vesuvius"). "Can't believe my eyes" waits between even with a few noise-like guitar dissonances. Of course, of course, "Glider", which also has a strange combination of drum machine and electric sitar, is available in a later version of the song "Mother Focus". The title track comes from Drummer Pierre van der Linden, who is experimenting with tuned sounds on harmonium and drums. Well, in this case of the total 5 minutes of the total duration for good reasons, only 1:47 left left. The oldest piece on the CD is the "Spoke the Lord Creator" recorded in 1970, which is based on the Brahms variations on a Haydn theme. In the 1974 Concerto in Hamburg, this became the "starter". Also "Out of Vesuvius" reappears in the Hamburger Concerto ("Medium II"). 

"Ship of Memories" is not an essential album, but it is quite audible and has even momentum, there were definitely less successful Focus plates later. A rating is difficult, since it is more about music for completeists. Focus beginners are better advised with other albums, but if they hear Ship of Memories by chance first, it does not harm the reputation of the J. Günther................ 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Thijs Van Leer / vocals, organ, piano, electric piano, Mellotron, clavinet, flute 
- Jan Akkerman / guitar, lute 
- Bert Ruiter / bass (1-5,8), vocals 
- Martin Dresden / bass (7) 
- Pierre van der Linden / drums (1-5,9) 
- David Kemper / drums (6,8) 
- Hans Cleuver / drums (7)

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. P'S March (4:48) 
2. Can't Believe My Eyes (5:23) 
3. Focus V (3:02) 
4. Out Of Vesuvius (5:50) 
5. Glider (4:39) 
6. Red Sky At Night (5:51) 
7. Spoke The Lord Creator (2:33) 
8. Crackers (2:44) 
9. Ship Of Memories (1:47) 

   ~"Hamburger Concerto" 1974 ~
Van der Linden was replaced by ex-Stone the Crows drummer Colin Allen before the Focus recorded the Hamburger Concerto album. It was felt by the producers and some in the group that Allen's more mainstream rock drumming style would make Focus more accessible to a wider audience. An attempt to repeat the chart-topping performance of the "Hocus Pocus" sound in the single Harem Scarem was not successful. .............................
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 tszirmay ...... 

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 Philo .............. 

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!...... by belz .............. 

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 Carl floyd fan .... 

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 Sean Trane ........... 

The Burger Kings 
By far Focus' best and more 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!....... by Easy Livin ....... 

While Focus 3 did have some great stuff, I also thought the album got bogged down by excessive guitar and drum solos ("Anonymous II" was the guilty verdict). The band then recorded Live at the Rainbow in 1973, which was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London during the peak of their success. They were to record a followup to Focus 3, but the band was starting to have one of their bad times, Jan Akkerman not wanting to talk to anyone and Pierre van der Linden having enough of it and leaving. 

Some of the material for this never-released album ended up on the outtakes album Ship of Memories. Pierre simply teamed up with ex-Exseption keyboardist Rick van der Linden (no relation) and ex-Cuby & the Blizzards bassis Jaap van Eik to form a band called Ace, but since a British band was already calling themselves Ace (the group with a pre-Squeeze/pre-Mike & the Mechanics Paul Carrack, who had that hit with "How Long"), this Dutch supergroup had to call themselves Trace. Focus simply added a new drummer named Colin Allen, who a member of the Scottish group Stone the Crows. He was no match for Pierre van der Linden, so he simply resorted to more conventional rock drumming. 

So the new album with this new drummer, Hamburger Concerto ends up being regarded by many as their last truly great album, many go as far as regarding it as one of their best, and that I can agree. It was the rock critics who were less kind to this album. "Delitae Musicae" is a short, medieval piece played on lute by Jan Akkerman. This piece, no doubt, showed Akkerman's love for early and medieval music. "Harem Scarem" is the first cut with full band interaction. You'll notice right away this piece isn't as intense and in your face as "Hocus Pocus". And because Colin Allen isn't Pierre van der Linden, the band focused on a more sophisticated sound, which works just fine. 

You'll still hear that classic Focus sound, with the yodeling, and Akkerman's trademark guitar playing, and organ playing from Thijs van Leer. Thijs also gives us some "yeah, yeah, yeah" voices in this song too. "La Cathedral de Strasbourg" shows a more the more medieval influences of the band, with Akkerman giving some medieval style playing on his electric guitar, but there's also full band interaction, as well. "Birth" has a more Jethro Tull-like feel, especially from Thijs van Leer's flute playing. Then comes the side-length title track. Starts off classical-like, but then there's no mistaking this is simply a great prog rock piece, there are some mellower passages that get me thinking a bit of Pink Floyd. Synthesizers make their first mark on a Focus album, Thijs van Leer started to include an ARP Odyssey with his usual gear of Hammond organ and piano. 

This album doesn't feature any drum solo at all, unlike their previous albums, but then Colin Allen had no need for them. This is truly a great album to have, and I highly recommend it! 
by Ben Miler............. 

It marks an evolution towards a more symphonic prog with less influence of the jazz-prog whose previous albums were impressed (Focus III in 1972 and Live at The Rainbow in 1973). So music inspired by baroque and classical music. The album is almost entirely instrumental apart from a song and a few vibratos and yodel short. The tracks are written half by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman whose keyboards and electric guitar dominate the instrumentation throughout the album. Synthesizer and mellotron are noted in the symphonic parts. Particular emphasis is placed on harmonious melodies.
Delitae Musicae 

The first title is a short intro to the album: acoustic ballade with harpsichord, lute (one of the ancestors of the guitar) and flute. Beautiful melody in Renaissance style. The title echoes the Delitiae Musicae (mellow music) of the madrigals of Claudio Monteverdi (late 16th to early 17th century): magnificent chants accompanied by lute, harpsichord and viola. But in the title of FOCUS there are no songs and the melodic pattern, close enough, is much faster. It is nevertheless a very nice intro very sweet. 

Harem Scarem: instrumental song with a very rocky intro to the frantic rhythm (piano, energetic battery and clapping of hands) interspersed with a few "yé-yé" - only syllables sung - whose comic effect is not assured. Then at 1mn34, a short break more quiet with organ, electric guitar, accordion. The continuation is only an alternation between energetic part taking again the intro and part less spider, more jazzy. To note, in 4mn, a good long solo of electric guitar on piano background. Final with the theme of the beginning going crescendo and vocalises very acute reminding the tube Hocus Pocus, after the yodels, (at 2mn04). But the comparison stops there because, it must be admitted, if Harem Scarem, wanted to be a "takeover" of Hocus Pocus, then it is a half fiasco and it is, for me, the least successful title of the album at the level of the musical composition, very repetitive, as at the melodic level. The humor is not at the rendezvous either ... 

The Cathedral of Strasbourg 

This title in tribute to the magnificent cathedral of Strasbourg - refinement of Gothic architecture - is a musical jewel in symphonic form. It is built in four parts: an instrumental opening (up to 2mn10) with piano - a central instrument - and an organ of Sainte-Marie la Vierge (in Strasbourg?), A central part sung and then whistled (up to 3mn 05) a very jazzy crescendo rising - with electric guitar (superb solo), piano simulating bells and percussions - which ends diminuendo (→ 4mn 15) and a short choir in final choir (of 30 seconds) which fades in fade out. Magnificent. The melodic motifs, reflecting a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere, full of romanticism, are beautiful. 


This long title of 7mn45 is a very progressive instrumental piece (variations of rhythms and melodies, accelerations and decelerations, successive solos, slow and fast movements, ...) 

Short baroque intro to harpsichord of 45 seconds, followed by a rather jazz-folk part with powerful drums, organ and flute. From 2mn10, each instrument plays its score on the same melodic background: beautiful solos - from flute to 2mn 50, from electric guitar to 3mn35, organ. To raise a pretty folk musical motif with flute, with 1mn42 and repeated with 4mn 30, which has nothing to envy the prowess of Ian Anderson of the famous JETHRO TULL. From 4mn50, return to a much slower rhythm with a new flute solo, very jazz-folk (from 5mn35 to 6mn 35) followed by another final solo electric guitar. Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman share the star of this title with the well-arranged parts.
The title is inspired by Variations on a Theme by Haydn by Johannes Brahms. Hamburger Concerto is a play on the Brandenburg Concertos by Bach (the six Brandenburg concertos), obviously with the greatest respect of the great composer. 

This is the centerpiece of the album, in terms of its length - more than 20 minutes, the entire face 2 of vinyl - and its symphonic quality, made up of six "movements" whose titles are rather comical: Starter, Rare, Medium, Well Done, ... This is a symphonic rock 'symphonic' concerto quite successful, classically inspired, as the first title of the album, whose composition is particularly well-worked. The six parts are not separated by a silence or a pause, everything stands. It may be necessary to listen to several tastes to appreciate all the flavors. Each musician brings his know-how and expresses his talent through solos.............

Focus return to the recording studio is a magnificent reflex of a solidly mature band; justifying all the accolades of Holland’s top Rock band, their albums and singles stays in the charts and Akkerman having even dethroned ‘God’ on best guitar player pools, the group gave birth to their most sophisticated blend of symphonic-Rock, and the Baroque and Renaissance elements that they cherished and which distinguished them: used on most intros, and thus satisfyingly justifying the album’s title, they are however employed with sufficient parsimony to never let the music fall on indigestible pomp or pretentiousness; 

On the other hand there seems to exist an excessive care in keeping the themes by the two writer’s creations alternating as if it was a fixed rule or as if the egos were starting to clash, and that this magnum opus had also to inevitably be the prelude to their separation; although the only evident saturation is the guitar’s, it’s possible that the lack of spontaneity such a carefully worked music demands and the stressing pressure of having to achieve high levels of excellence, may have played a role on the band’s implosion. 

Speculations and non-musical considerations aside, new drummer Colin Allen, although not half as supple as the departed Pierre Van Der Linden , gelled perfectly with bass man Bert Ruiter, namely on straight-forward Rocking segments, and there’s a new found dynamic that enables the rhythm section to greatly contribute in making this an album with hardly a single moment of indecision or dull wondering around: and its work is there to be enjoyed soon after passing the seductive flirt with Baroque atmospheres of “Delitae Musicae”, with its lute-like acoustic guitar and flute in Amazing Blondel vein, from the opening bars of the hammered piano driven “Harem Scarem”, a Rocking number with Soul inflections, heavy drumming, explorative bass, flute ornamentations, greasy organ and chicken-pickin’ guitar licks, and up to the final ,joyous and Tull-esque “Early Birth”(Bonus track on 2001 reissue Hamburger Concerto), which are also the only tracks without intros or other explicit Classic references. 

“La Cathédrale” moves between piano and organ themes and vocal harmonies with liturgical motifs , the luxury of singing in French(briefly) and Van Leer’s exquisite whistling, soon replaced by its guitar fretboard counterpart with quasi-synthesized colors, in a song of rare beauty and soothing qualities, whereas the harpsichord opened “Birth” promptly morphs into a quasi-Funky groove, driven by un unusually heavy and mean bass and organ riff, which is the support for a song’s head with passages that again recall Tull; in a more straight-ahead Rocking ambience and through changes of speed and intensity, flute and guitar share solo space, with a remarkably soulful Akkerman justifying his promotion up on the pools. 

As for the 20 minutes plus title track, it may seem like an overblown and pretentious idea, but it’s in fact a fantastic work of passion, a great and focused ‘symphony’, you’ll want to savour to the end while keeping on wondering what comes next; from its organ soaked Renaissance inflected intro, with moog and flute ornaments, to the George Harrison -like arpeggios of “Rare” and the brief yodeling on “Medium I”, replaced by Van Leer’s operatic vocalizations, before a flaming organ and a sparkling flute successively take the lead; “Medium II” is Akkerman’s space to develop his fretboard wizardry, delving both in blistering Rocking excursions, agile, clean Jazzy phrasings and dreamy volume swells , fittingly ignited by drums and bass joint excellence, before Van Leer recognizes it’s “Well Done” in a liturgically infected, quasi-Gregorian chant and switches to grandiose symphonic proportions, cymbals crashing, organ deluging, choir clamoring, and guitar screaming, until a Wakeman-like moog lead ending recalls the Harrisson-esque guitar arpeggio pattern, a huge sustained choir harmony and a Eastern guitar lick which dilute into the final Leslie drenched organ chord. 

It sort of leaves you breathless, and although the above mentioned “Early Birth” (if you own the CD reissue, of course) will bring you back to gleeful reality, a firm determination to go back to the Concerto a.s.a.p. will very probably start making you feel impatient…by......comusduke ............

So in my eyes with Hamburger Concerto Focus finally released the classic album they had been threatening to do with their previous two releases. It's interesting reading others' reviews on this album as almost everyone seems to have a different opinion on what exactly this album represents and where its strengths and weaknesses lay. Personally I just love the symphonic and choral elements which they've really emphasised on this release, laying down such deep and thick organ textures such as on the lengthy title track. I'm just such a sucker for this stuff, it certainly beats the fluid but directionless jamming on the lengthy tracks of Focus 3. 'Hamburger Concerto' is one of my favourite side long tracks period. Over its length it never outstays its welcome always offering something interesting. There are various reprisals of the brilliant main theme featuring that dense organ. About the best part of the suite is the where the laser synths transition back to the main theme via a moog solo towards the end (I think it's the 'Well Done' to 'One for the Road' transition) and again you've got the dense organ and choral vocals adding to the atmosphere. The slower instrumental sections in the middle of the track are a bit weaker but still work for me due to the atmosphere. The only part that is a slight turn off is the unnecessary yodelling section but I can just about forgive it. 

People rightly rave about the title suite, but the unsung hero of the album is 'Birth'. I've always loved the tom rolls leading into the dirty organ, before the main theme is carried by the flute before transitioning to all sorts of really nice choral sections variously featuring organs and flute and some great guitar solos, sort of like a shorter version of the title track. 

Some versions of the album also have 'Early Birth' added to the end which is a short and sharp reprise of 'Birth' with a dark and dirty bass and organ beginning and a number of variants on the instrumental sections of the original 'Birth', finishing the album off on a high. I'm guessing by its name that this version could have been an earlier version of the track rather than a reprise? Anyway, its works brilliantly as a reprise on the album so I'm not complaining. 

Ignoring the short and sweet mediaeval introduction 'Delitae Musicae', 'Harem Scarem' effectively starts the album with yet another light-hearted romp much like 'Hocus Pocus' and 'Round Goes the Gossip'. 'Harem Scarem' is in many ways the true follow up to 'Hocus Pocus' with the yodelling exchanged for some comical "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahs". Amongst all the light-heartedness though is a seriously well thought out track with all sorts of cool instrumental sections as well as the jokey main theme crammed into its six minute length. 

'La Cathédrale de Strasbourg' is a pleasant enough classical piano piece with some incongruous jokey vocals (it's like the band wanted to keep reminding you not to take them too seriously). This is a little boring compared to everything else though and in my opinion is the weakest track. But it certainly does not detract from what is otherwise a very strong and engaging prog ................

Focus' fourth studio album Hamburger Concerto begins with "Delitiae Musicae", one more of their instrumentals that can be stamped 'medieval.' "Harem Scarem" follows, sounding like basic Focus material stripped off of both "Hocus Pocus" and "Round Goes the Gossip" type of clothes. "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" is very different and very good. "Birth" is decent as well, but it has not enough excitement to carry through the nearly eight minutes. But even that one is a short cut compared to the following title track which covers the whole side B on vinyl. Luckily, "Hamburger Concerto" is quite good music all the way through. I mean, 20 minutes are too much, but if you really need to listen to a 20-minute song, this one is one of the best examples of such. 

Overall, Hamburger Concerto doesn't contain any bad track that I need to skip because of the quality of the music. Besides, it contains one very good song. This means that the whole must be considered quite good. The essential Focus album? ..................

Probably one of the most flawless Focus albums. The elements of Rock, Jazz and Classical are all mixed to perfect proportions all the way through. No long improvisational solos here. 

It actually makes for a slightly different, and maybe just a bit less interesting of a band. There is no experimenting here. It's like they've finally got their formula down to a science. And every piece works perfectly all the way through. 

Yet it doesn't rock quite as hard as their earlier efforts. And, in spite of a variation of a "Tubular Bells" theme towards the end, the side long epic fails to capture the grandeur of what Oldfield, ELP or just about anyone else was doing at the time. Therefore you might say the Focus sound was a little behind the times at this point. Too much Hammond, not enough synths. 

Still a top notch album that any instrumental Art Rock fan will most likely enjoy, just one I don't feel any especially great urge to go back and revisit as often as some ................

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 .....................

Most progressive rock fanatics will already be familiar with FOCUS, the Dutch Masters of art rock. This album is my favorite, next to the incomparable "Moving Waves." This album offers a nice alternative to Moving Waves and Focus III. The overall 'sound' is a bit heavier, perhaps a better overall audio experience than Focus III and contains a wide diversity like Moving Waves. 

Delite Musicae opens the album as Jan Akkerman once again displays his command of classical playing -- a nice little touch as a primer for the very listenable (and almost commercial sounding) Harem Scarem. The latter is a quick and fleeting piece that, as many Focus songs do, suddenly changes into a short, beautiful melodic bridge with Akkerman's volume swell/Thijs Van Leer's flute, only to go back into the straight ahead rock piece again. 

"Birth" opens with simple 4/4 drums (in my mind, a bit too simple of an intro), then develops into a very interesting piece with a beautiful Akkerman solo bridge that today sounds as fresh as it did when I first heard it. 

Perhaps my favorite song on the album, "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" is the most melodious Focus compositions I've heard since "Focus II" and "Janis." It's full pipe organ intro, then quiet melody are quite beautiful and enchanting. (In some little way, I can imagine J.S. Bach or Mozart hearing this melody and smiling). In the bridge, a time change occurs while Thijs sings a lyrical melody, then the song goes into an interesting swing (which is treated as 6/8 but almost has a 4/4 feel). Into the swing comes Thijs, whistling very good improvisation that (perhaps?) may have inspired Billy Joel's "The Stranger" however much more complex. This song is a must hear and one of their best. 

Finally, "Hamburger Concerto" is a six-movement art rock delight with flashes of classical, jazz/rock and Akkerman's guitar/Leslie combination creating a wash of sound that is landmark throughout the album. This piece has everything, Thijs doing scat vocalizing, Jan's ever-building Leslie/solo work, flute and B-3 organ solo. Ultimately, the suite resolves in a beautiful synthesized reprise of the early going and ends with the polytonalic dissonance. 

I recommend this album and Moving Waves, as the two best Focus albums for a progressive rock collector, new or .... 
  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 ............ 
  Focus had well proven their ability to write rocking instrumentals by the time of this release. Their catalog, although consisting of four albums, rarely had a dull moment between them. Hamburger Concerto is equally consistent, much of it being prime Focus material. The Akkerman-written "Birth" and "Early Birth" are examples of Focus fully flexing their muscles, featuring superb guitar work and amazing all-round musicianship, as well as sporting some superb riffs. The usual lengthy instrumentals are present also, as well as some manic vocals from the manic but genius Thijs Van Leer. Although Hamburger Concerto is not as unerring as Moving Waves or Focus III, anyone who enjoyed the previous releases would undoubtedly find great satisfaction from this Ben Davies.................. 
  Focus is a Dutch-born band formed in 1969. In 1974 they had already recorded four albums (the fourth in question is Hamburger Concerto), the second being the 1971 Moving Waves, which launched them internationally, especially with their hit Hocus Pocus . Being their second album very important since it was the one that really launched them, it would not be until 1974 that they reached their quota of maximum quality with Hamburger Concerto. His fourth album I consider the best of his discography and a masterpiece from beginning to end. 
Considering the competition he had in that year: The Lamb Lies Down in Broodway of Genesis; Starless and the Bible Black by King Crimson, etc. the Dutch band proved that they were no less. But it is that Hamburger Concerto could compete perfectly with works of the likes of Brian Salad Surgery of E, L & P and those mentioned above. Hamburger Concert had quality for it. 
In order to create such a work, Focus had four great classical musicians including Thijs Van Leer and jazz guitarist Jan Akkerman. They were the soul of the formation that combined like no one classical music, jazz and rock giving rise to a sonorous preciosismo that few (I come to the memory Camel and Ash Wishbone) obtained. 
Going back to the great work of Focus, I will tell you that all the compositions are impressive, which makes it impossible to highlight one over another. It is not an album that predominates one piece over another. We have to listen to everything, from beginning to end. There is nothing disposable.....Alfredo Tapia-Carreto............... 
Focus ... another piece of the progressive rock story ... let's briefly see their story. 
They are formed in 1969, thanks to the union of two great musicians; one is Thijs Van Leer, extravagant organist / flutist, as well as singer and Jan Akkerman, one of the best guitarists of those years. The Focus launches their first album in 1970, entitled "In and Out Focus", with training including bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Hans Cleuver. However, the album does not recover the hoped-for success and Jan Akkerman goes on, joining bassist Cyril Havemans and drummer Pierre Van Linden for a new project. But fate is lurking ... it has already decided everything. The first Focus core breaks, Cleuver and Dresden leave and Thijs Van Leer meets with old friend Jan, bringing the name Focus. The album that follows is the breakthrough that makes the band and its sound known to the world, made by the Akkerman's riffs, combined with the classical style of Van Leer who uses the organ and the flute in a very innovative way. Thijs's chant, sometimes falsetto, sometimes in an unusual Hard Jodel, further characterize the Band, along with the recurring, but never annoying, battery solo. "Moving Wawes" - this is the title of the album - also has the value of holding one of the most popular pieces of the band ... Hocus Pocus, which still plays scratchy and irreverent today. The Band's vicissitudes do not end there. In 1973 Havemans was replaced by Bert Ruiter, and the new training gave birth to "Focus 3". Another epochal disc, containing songs such as Sylvia and the Long Answer, Question -Question, Answer. The engagement definitely launches the band, gaining a good record of sales and criticism. It follows the beautiful "LIVE at the Rainbow" that perfectly defines the size of the band. In 1974 Focus changed drummer, enlisting Colin Allen, from Stone the Crows, and publishing the album we are dealing with below. "Hamburger Concerto" is a great record, and many consider it their best. A perfect blend of Rock Music and Classical Music ... traditional and innovative at the same time. Delitae Musicae is a short medieval piece played on the lute of Jan Akkerman, showing all his love for ancient music. Harem Scarem brings out a more sophisticated sound ... the Band from its best with Akkerman's guitar and Van Leer's organ leaving the mark. The Strasbourg Cathedrale still refers to the medieval sound dear to Akkerman, well supported by the rest of the group. Birth is a typical piece of Leer, with the flute gigantic, sometimes remembering the Jetrho Tull. The title track occupies the entire B side of the vinyl. Hamburger Concerto is a great piece ... pure Prog with echoes of the Pink Floyd combined with the lightness typical of the band. The Focus will continue to play and record albums, some really beautiful. "Hamburger Concerto" is probably their peak and should be considered the same as the great Prog Prog Prog. Of that period............... 
  That the UK is where the biggest and most important names in progressive rock have nothing to argue about, just as countering that claim is forcing the bar trying to swim against a strong tide. But practically the whole world has bands that have left some or even just a pearl of the genre. In the Netherlands, although not the only one, the main name is certainly Focus. Led by the great multi-instrumentalist Thijs van Leer (organ, piano, harpsichord, flute, mellotron, accordion, harmonica, synthesizers, vibraphone and all vocals) and having as main company the excellent guitarist Jan Akkerman (who also plays Alaúde) , the band has in his discography great records, but nothing compared to "Concert Hamburger". 

Focus was always a band that preached a sense of humor in their songs, not only by the sound mixes emitted by Thijs van Leer, but in the choice of their themes. For example, a curiosity is the name of the album, "Hambuguer Concerto", which is nothing more than a humourous reference to the play, "Brandenburg Concerto" of German musician of the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach. But while they deliver their sound in a cheerful and relaxed way, the final finish is extremely exquisite and of unique beauty. 

The album begins with the small, "Delicate Musicae," a sound that really sounds so delicate and soft, baroque influence is just a simple introduction to the rest of the album.
"Harem Scarem" continues the album in a more energetic way. With serious and firm beats, it has a very high astral piano riff. Difficult not to like this track, both for the energy it passes and for its instrumental quality. No doubt fans of Dixie Dregs will probably feel right at home here. The solos of guitar and flute in the middle section of the track are quite melodic and also deserve attention. 

"La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" begins with a beautiful and inspired classic piano, accompanied by a smooth guitar perfectly in sync. The song eventually gives way to a sound that is a little jazzy with vocals sounding spatially and some of the best whistles in songs I've ever heard. There is not much more to say about this song without being redundant, it sure is absolutely beautiful. No further. 

Baroque influence is found at the very beginning of "Birth" through the harpsichord which is used in its introduction. Soon it has the entrance of the battery with a organ of fund that next has like accompaniment the flute. It contains heavy pieces of flutes, soft psychedelic melodies and strong organ work. Undoubtedly the band plays its role in an extremely inspired way, with textures of classical music mainly by the harpsichord. Never forgetting the virtuous movements of Akkerman's guitar, with the right to heavy solos. 

"Hamburger Concerto", homonymous music to the album, is a real class. The central track of the work is simply marvelous in its more than twenty minutes of pure progressive rock, incredible mixtures of styles and genres ranging from the pure baroque to the Dutch version of Flamenco. The symphonic sound is prominent, Leer and Akkerman are in their best forms here. At any moment of the band's career we can enjoy such genius as in this case. In about six and a half minutes, Leer has some idiosyncratic performances and high campfire falsetto ramblings. His basically inimitable style became famous in "Hocus Pocus". Your hammond soil that comes next is a real treat. Everything is being cadenced as a masterpiece and we hardly notice the time passing. Akkerman's guitar solos are also shivering. The track, being instrumental in addition to the vocal "jokes" of Leer, also has in its part more of the end choirs that help increase the epic grandeur of "Hamburger Concerto". 

The album ends with another short, but rather inspired song (a pity that is often overlooked by the impact of the previous track's epic). "Early Birth" has great organs and a guitar work of extreme beauty. 

That's it, one of the biggest progressive gems to be produced out of its main (but not unique) crib and that deserves to be undoubtedly appreciated by the lover of good music in general.... Tiago Meneses.....................Esquina Progressiva................... 

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

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Delitae Musicae (1:13) 
2. Harem Scarem (5:52) 
3. La Cathedrale 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 

        ~"Mother Focus" 1975~

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. :-) Gooner ................

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. ........ by Tom Ozric ........

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 greenback ........................

One of the growing trends of progressive rock in the 70s seemed to affect various bands of the genre, where a successful triumvirate of albums was released across the decade. Rush had 2112, A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres. Pink Floyd had Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You were Here and Animals. Focus had Moving Waves, Focus III and Hamburger Concerto. However, whereas the first two of these bands went on to create albums which had a more commercial success, Focus seemed to fall into a musical identity crisis. And 1975's Mother Focus proves this more than anything else, probably as a result of just how outstanding its predecessor was. 

If there was one adjective which could be used to describe Focus' fifth effort, it would be "steady". Steady, not in the sense that Focus were trying to tone all the excitement and intensity of previous albums down, but in the sense that they were already trying to creep away from the progressive rock tag. And who could blame them? Maybe all the madness and bizarre musicianship of yore had finally caught up with the band's innovation, and so Mother Focus is unfortunately tame as a result. The musicianship for the most part is gentle and pleasant, for want of a better word. Everything here seems to be very laidback, very calm, almost as if Focus attempted to make their own version of the lackluster elevator music people hear on a daily basis. This isn't a terrible thing, of course. Songs like the vibrant, slightly funky "Bennie Helder" and the spacey "All Together...Oh That!" both prove much more enchanting and entertaining than, say, the opening title track or its somewhat monotonous "I Need a Bathroom", and few would argue that the upbeat vibes of "Hard Vanilla" are anything but invigorating. 

Yet as consistent and adventurous as these aforementioned tunes may be, nothing ever quite emerges outside of its comfort zone, and the same can be said for each member of the band, particularly their musical input more than anything else. Whilst the lack of vocals would make one think that the instrumentation here is top-notch, it simply isn't. Save for the aforementioned songs, nothing ever really explodes out of the stereo. Mother Focus runs at thirty-seven minutes across a twelve-song playlist, and no song ever exceeds the near four-minute mark. Quite a jump, one would think, from the majestic title track of Hamburger Concerto then, but if anything, this just goes to show that Focus really did have both a musical and structural change of direction than, perhaps, their peers. The only song here which utilizes vocals-The slow-moving, slightly lackluster "I Need a Bathroom"-doesn't even begin to explore its musical surroundings. Maybe it's how the vocal delivery drags, or how uninspired the lyrical content is, but this song is one of quite a few to prove that Focus, even in 1975, were beginning to lose their touch. The same problems affect "Tropical Bird" and "Focus IV", where the former seems to be influenced by easy listening elevator music and the latter doesn't live up to the self-titled anthems of previous albums. 

Mother Focus represents a change of pace and direction more than anything else, but in quite an average way, especially by Focus' standards. Whilst each of the twelve songs here are more or less pleasant, gentle pieces of music to nod one's head to, as a collaborative effort, it simply produces an inconsistent, slightly unmemorable affair. The instrumentation here, in its own right, is ideal, but the main problem is that Focus, as a band, didn't seem all that inspired. That said, it's certainly an album for the collectors and long-time fans....... by Robert Davis .................

I remember receiving this album as an XMas gift in 1975. It didn't sweep me off my feet the way Hamburger Concerto had the previous year but I found it interesting nonetheless. About 3 weeks later my mother passed away and during the whole morbid scene this was one of the albums that helped me keep my head together. Light melodies,very hummable and pleasant were just what the doctor ordered at that time. I could even forgive the obvious early Disco (ugh) of "My Sweetheart" because Akkerman manages to throw in some nice guitar licks to save the tune from being complete schlock.....ByProgFrog57................

Focus became (justifiably) world famous as a Progressive Rock band with their gold albums "Moving Waves" (1971) and "Focus 3" (1972) and top ten hit singles "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia." 1973 was the zenith year of their career. By 1975 when they recorded this album (the title is a vulgar pun) they had successfully alienated most of their Prog fans. How? For starters, this isn't ROCK music (except for one track, "I Need a Bathroom"). It is a light pop album with occasional classical and jazz shadings. Furthermore, there are no improvisational solos of any note (a promising flute improv at the end of "Bennie Helder" is quickly faded out before it can really get going). 

Keyboardist/flautist/vocalist Thijs van Leer admitted that the group had been too influenced by American groups like the Carpenters, drifting away from their fusion of European classical music with jazz and rock. Many of the mid-'70s synths utilised on the "Mother Focus" album have a cheesy sound, not a classy and tasteful sound like the earlier hit albums had. For example, the majestic strings sound of the mellotron is replaced with some very inferior synth "strings" on this album, lessening the quality of even a lyrical ballad like Paul Stoppelman's "No Hang Ups" (which is still probably the best cut on the album). 

The vast majority of this recording does sound like muzak. I'm certain that many of these songs could be revisited and rearranged by the current Focus lineup into much more satisfying results.....ByEspecially For You.................

I have to chime in after the reviewer who said this album is underrated. Not by me. A friend recommended I get this import album at nearby Music Millenium in Portland OR once I had my first real stereo system in 1975: my first and most treasured Focus album. Even the Proby team-up later, though mostly unlistenable, has some really fine tunes. Mostly, I became a big fan of Jan Akkerman. Later, when I lived in Amsterdam in the early 1990s, I saw Akkerman play for free in the Vondel Park for a large crowd, and then he blew me away playing one night at my favorite dance club. I literally gave him the shirt off my back, a new silkscreened original by an artist friend. It was sweaty, but never worn otherwise, and he tossed it sort of skeptically into his guitar case, grateful I guess that I was a dedicated fan. I don't equate him with the viruosity of, say, Joe Satriani, but he gives a special, soulful feeling to his licks. As a group, Focus has a unique upbeat sound that seems could only come from Holland....ByTH...................

"Mother Focus" is the fifth studio album by the Dutch band Focus. It was released in 1975 on Atco Records in the United States, and Polydor Records in the UK. Some tracks on the album mark a departure from the progressive rock style that dominated the group's prior work, and herald a funk music style with light pop at the centre................... 
Mother Focus is the fifth studio album by the band Focus. It was released in 1975 on Atco Records. Some tracks on the album mark a departure from the progressive rock style that dominated the group's prior work, and herald a funk music style with light jazz and pop at the centre.[3] Bassist Bert Ruiter provided most of the themes, as van Leer had just recorded a solo album, O My Love, of his own music, and Jan Akkerman withheld compositions for his forthcoming solo album Eli. ......................

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)

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) 


Focus are a Dutch progressive rock band formed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1969 by Thijs van Leer. The band have undergone numerous formations in its history. Since 2011 it has comprised van Leer on vocals, keyboards, and flute, Pierre van der Linden on drums, Bobby Jacobs on bass, and Menno Gootjes on guitar. 

Formed of members of the pit band for the Dutch production of the rock musical Hair, Focus gained popularity following the success of Focus II (1971) which contained the hit single "Hocus Pocus". Their success continued with Focus 3 (1972) and Hamburger Concerto (1974). Following their break up in 1978, Focus reunited in 1985, 1990, and 1999 before reforming in 2002. They continue to tour and release albums. 

In 2010, "Hocus Pocus" was used as the theme for Nike's 2010 World Cup commercial Write The Future which renewed interest in the band
1969–72: Formation, debut album, and Focus II 
At the release of their first album Focus Plays Focus (re-released with a different track sequence as In and Out of Focus[1]) (1970), Focus comprised keyboardist and flutist Thijs van Leer, guitarist Jan Akkerman,[2][3] bassist Martijn Dresden, and drummer Hans Cleuver. The album was little noticed outside the Netherlands, where a small but avid fan base developed. In the United Kingdom the single "House of the King" initially garnered attention as a Jethro Tull sound-alike. Akkerman left the group to form another band with Pierre van der Linden, a drummer he had previously performed with in Johnny and the Cellar Rockers, The Hunters, and Brainbox. Van Leer made the difficult decision of leaving behind his bandmates Cleuver and Dresden to join Akkerman's new group which, after enlisting bassist Cyril Havermans, retained the name of Focus. 

In 1971, the group released Focus II (aka Moving Waves), which brought the band international acclaim and a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the radio edit of "Hocus Pocus". This rock classic consists of Akkerman's guitar chord sequence used as a recurring theme, with quirky and energetic interludes that include alto flute riffs, accordion, guitar, and drum solos - along with van Leer's whistling, nonsensical vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling. 

In September 1971, shortly before the band went on tour to support the album, Havermans quit, desiring to create and perform music which utilized his tenor voice, and was replaced by Bert Ruiter. He released his first solo album, Cyril, in 1973, on which he was backed by all three of his former band mates from Focus. 

1972–75: Focus 3 and Hamburger Concerto 
At the time when Focus 3, a double album was released in 1972, the group became a virtual 'overnight' international success with both this recording and its predecessor Moving Waves reaching significant chart positions. The success of these recordings was principally due to the exposure of the group's work on radio and TV broadcasts and the significant airplay and consequential success of the Van Leer-penned "Sylvia" which became a major hit in many markets and spent eleven weeks in the UK Singles Chart where it peaked at No. 4.[4] 'Tommy', an edited version of the tune from Moving Waves, charted only in France. 

On Focus 3 van Leer and Akkerman were still producing much of their most seminal work. Some of the extended improvisations recorded (i.e., 'Anonymus 2') were intended to reflect their live sound, whereas the shorter songs displayed a remarkable stylistic range with multitracked overdubs of additional instruments to make the overall sound fuller and richer than what a quartet could achieve live. The single House of the King was added to close the album. 

In late 1973, Focus released the album At the Rainbow, a high quality live recording, that showcases the group's ability to perform in exemplary style as a live ensemble with the notable interplay of Jan Akkerman and Thijs van Leer, particularly on such items as the extended 'Hocus Pocus'. 

The release of At the Rainbow was decided upon due to dissatisfaction with the new material recorded at Chipping Norton under the supervision of producer Mike Vernon. These recording sessions were approached at a time when the group were the subject of significant demands to tour, with mounting pressures to assert their position and for continuation of their commercial success. According to Vernon, the bandmates were emotionally stressed and physically drained. Van Leer composed a few new songs, and Akkerman only one, as he spent most of the fortnight resting in bed. The recordings appearing within the compilation Ship of Memories of 1976,the title track, 'Ship of Memories', from these sessions is a composition and solo performance of Pierre van der Linden. 

Thijs van Leer contracted appendicitis following the (momentarily) aborted Chipping Norton recording sessions, and he and Jan Akkerman both decided that Pierre van der Linden's jazzy, big band style of drumming would be a hindrance to greater mainstream commercial success. Initially attempting a tighter, simpler drum sound at their behest, van der Linden opted to leave the band at the end of October, 1973 and was quickly enlisted to play in the Progressive rock group Trace with keyboardist Rick van der Linden (his second cousin) and bassist Jaap van Eyck. 

Focus attempted to replace van der Linden with Mitch Mitchell and Aynsley Dunbar, both of whom were unavailable, before settling upon ex-Stone the Crows drummer Colin Allen who had previously worked with producer Mike Vernon. With this line-up Focus recorded the Hamburger Concerto album in January and March, 1974. A single version of the album track 'Harem Scarem' failed to chart in the UK.

Prior to and after the debut of Hamburger Concerto were the release of compilations of the group's work as a consequence of changes of catalogue ownership or label series release. (Releases such as the 'Masters of Rock' series of EMI in the Netherlands and the 'Rock Flashback' series of Polydor in the UK. The Focus 'Masters of Rock' assembly was re-titled 'House of the King' at the discontinuation of the series and remained within the catalogue of EMI for many years; Dutch Masters was a compilation from the first three studio albums released in the US on the Sire label, along with the B-side of the US "Hocus Pocus" single.) 

1975–78: Mother Focus and split 
During the recording of the album Mother Focus (1975), Colin Allen left the group, and Pierre van der Linden temporarily returned. However David Kemper, favoured by Thijs van Leer, was the drummer in the studio sessions and the tour. 

The release of Mother Focus (1975) was to mostly negative reviews, as the group had consciously departed from a Progressive rock sound, endeavouring to create commercial pop music with occasional classical and jazz harmonies and, on some tracks, light disco-funk rhythms. Most of these compositions were by bassist Bert Ruiter, as Thijs van Leer had recorded a solo album O My Love of his own songs, and Jan Akkerman withheld his compositions for his forthcoming solo albums Eli (1976) and Jan Akkerman (1977). 

The final outing of this line-up was, by contrast to Mother Focus, one of the group's most impressive recordings of this period, as the single 'Crackers'/'O Avondrood(Red Sky at Night)' of 1976. The instrumental 'Crackers’ was re-recorded on Jan Akkerman's subsequent solo offering ' Jan Akkerman' of 1977 and ‘O Avondrood’ originally appeared on a Dutch compilation, with contributions of contemporary Dutch lyricists, entitled ‘ Zing je moerstaal’. 

These two items 'Crackers'/'Red Sky at Night' appear, in instrumental form, on the 1976 compilation Ship of Memories. One side of this album features recordings from 1975-1976, and the other side is of the unfinished Focus tracks from the 1973 tracks at Chipping Norton studios. Ship of Memories was released largely due to the effort of Mike Vernon, the group's producer during the period 1972 - 1974, and without the active involvement of the band. 

Jan Akkerman was fired from the group by Thijs van Leer after he refused to rehearse a new jazz fusion song ironically entitled 'For Jan.' This was in early 1976 on the eve of a sell-out UK tour. His last-minute replacement was Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. Recordings from the UK tour exist as Focus - 'Live at the BBC, dated 21 March 1976. The song "For Jan" was subsequently retitled "Maximum" and was recorded for a new album the following year. 

In 1977, the newly reformed Focus worked with U.S. singer P. J. Proby. Within weeks, photographs of the singer and Thijs van Leer adorned the pages of the music press. The result of this collaboration was the album Focus con Proby, which featured drummer Steve Smith (later of Journey), guitarists Philip Catherine and Eef Albers and P. J. Proby on vocals. The album, which was not released in the UK, received dismal reviews and a lack of interest from the record buying public, and after a short tour the band terminated with a final concert in Terneuzen in 1978. 

1985−99: Reunions 
In 1985, Van Leer and Akkerman reunited for a joint project (because of contractual obligation) which resulted in the commercially unsuccessful album Focus. 

In 1990, the "classic" lineup of Akkerman, Van Leer, Ruiter, and Van der Linden performed old and new compositions on the Dutch TV shows Veronika and Goud van Oud. An unsuccessful attempt was made to formally restart the band at this time. 

Van Leer and Akkerman shared the stage and performed Focus compositions at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1993. Six years later, Van Leer attempted to reform Focus with original drummer Hans Cleuver, bassist Bert Ruiter, and new guitarist Menno Gootjes. They performed several live dates in the Netherlands, but internal wrangling (between Thijs and Bert) over material intended for a CD release effectively split up the group.
2002–present: Reformation, 2010 World Cup advert, and touring 
In 2002, Thijs van Leer re-formed Focus with himself, stepson Bobby Jacobs on bass, guitarist Jan Dumée, and drummer Ruben van Roon (all are former members of the band CONXI). Van Roon was soon replaced by Bert Smaak. The result was the well-received Focus 8 album and world tour. 

In 2004, Pierre van der Linden replaced Bert Smaak on drums. Due to "musical differences", Dumée was dismissed from the band in 2006. In July 2006, Niels van der Steenhoven joined the group and the Focus 9 / New Skin album was released on the Red Bullet label, which currently owns the entire back catalogue of Focus.In May 2010, Nike included "Hocus Pocus" as the main theme tune in their extended FIFA World Cup commercial. The advert was first aired on US Network TV during the UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan on 22 May and then throughout the World Cup. A re-release of "Hocus Pocus", due to the Nike commercial, led to the song entering the UK Singles Chart at No. 57. 

As of 2011, Menno Gootjes has rejoined the band, replacing Niels van der Steenhoven. Also in 2011, American rapper J. Cole sampled "Hocus Pocus" in his song "Blow Up", which is featured in the game MLB 11: The Show. 

The band released their tenth studio album, Focus X, with cover art by Roger Dean in October, 2012 to very positive music reviews.
In 2014 'Hocus Pocus' appeared in the Soundtrack to the RoboCop (2014 film) remake. On 14 April, the band released their eleventh studio album Golden Oldies, a collection of newly re-recorded versions of some of their most popular songs including "Sylvia", "House of the King", and "Hocus Pocus", along with two newer songs of the early 2000s.
Akkerman's "House of the King" was originally a Dutch single release, before being included on the UK album In and Out of Focus,[1] which featured tracks from 'Focus Play Focus" in a different playing sequence plus "House of the King" (the track is not on the band's Dutch debut[6]). The same version, not a re-recording, was included on the 1973 double vinyl release of Focus 3 (but was omitted from the CD version of that album), and later became the title themes of the BBC children's television shows "Encounter France: and "Merry-go-Round", both 1979,[7] then Don't Ask Me, a science-based British TV show of the 1970s that made household names of Magnus Pyke and David Bellamy. It is also the title theme of Steve Coogan's BBC 2 sitcom, Saxondale...............

Band members 
Current members 

Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals (1969–1978, 1985, 1990, 1999, 2002–present) 
Pierre van der Linden – drums (1970–1974, 1975, 1990, 2004–present) 
Menno Gootjes – guitar (1999, 2011–present) 
Bobby Jacobs – bass (2002–present) 
Former members 

Jan Akkerman – guitar (1969–1976, 1985, 1990) 
Hans Cleuver – drums (1969–1970, 1999) 
Martin Dresden – bass (1969–1970) 
Cyril Havermans – bass (1970–1971) 
Bert Ruiter – bass (1971–1978, 1990, 1999) 
Colin Allen – drums (1974–1975) 
David Kemper – drums (1975–1977) 
Philip Catherine – guitar (1976–1978) 
Eef Albers – guitar (1977-1978) 
P.J. Proby – vocals (1977-1978) 
Steve Smith – drums (1977-1978) 
Tato Gómez – bass (1985) 
Mario Argandoña – drums (1985) 
Jan Dumée – guitar (2002–2006) 
Ruben van Roon – drums (2002) 
Bert Smaak – drums (2002–2004) 
Niels van der Steenhoven – guitar, vocals (2006–2011)


1969-1970 1970-1971 1971-1974 1974-1975 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Martin Dresden – bass 
Hans Cleuver – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Cyril Havermans – bass, vocals 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Colin Allen – drums 
1975 1975-1976 1976-1977 1977-1978 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
David Kemper – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Philip Catherine – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
David Kemper – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
P.J. Proby – vocals 
Philip Catherine – guitar 
Eef Albers – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Steve Smith – drums 
1978-1985 1985 1985-1990 1990 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Tato Gómez – bass 
Mario Argandoña – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Akkerman – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
1990-1999 1999 1999-2002 2002 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Menno Gootjes – guitar 
Bert Ruiter – bass 
Hans Cleuver – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Dumée – guitar, vocals 
Bobby Jacobs – bass 
Ruben van Roon – drums 
2002-2004 2004-2006 2006-2011 2011–present 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Dumée – guitar, vocals 
Bobby Jacobs – bass 
Bert Smaak – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Jan Dumée – guitar, vocals 
Bobby Jacobs – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Niels van der Steenhoven – guitar, vocals 
Bobby Jacobs – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 
Thijs van Leer – keyboards, flute, vocals 
Menno Gootjes – guitar 
Bobby Jacobs – bass 
Pierre van der Linden – drums 


Studio albums 

Focus Plays Focus / In And Out Of Focus (1970) 
Focus II / Moving Waves (1971) 
Focus 3 (1972) 
Hamburger Concerto (1974) 
Mother Focus (1975) 
Focus con Proby (1978) 
Focus: Jan Akkerman & Thijs van Leer (1985) 
Focus 8 (2002) 
Focus 9 / New Skin (2006) 
Focus X (2012) 
Golden Oldies (2014) 
Focus 8.5 / Beyond the Horizon (2016)

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“A Revolutionary New Triumph in Tape” 1958

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