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Focus

Best remembered for their bizarre chart smash "Hocus Pocus," Dutch progressive rock band Focus was formed in Amsterdam in 1969 by vocalist/keyboardist/flutist Thijs van Leer, bassist Martin Dresden, and drummer Hans Cleuver. With the subsequent addition of guitarist Jan Akkerman, the group issued its debut LP, In and Out of Focus, in 1970, earning a European cult following thanks to the single "House of the King." Dresden and Cleuver were replaced by bassist Cyril Havermanns and drummer Pierre Van der Linden for the English-language follow-up, Moving Waves; the record generated the hit "Hocus Pocus," a hallucinatory epic distinguished by Akkerman's guitar pyrotechnics and van Leer's demented yodeling. Easily one of the flat-out strangest songs ever to crack the American pop charts, the single peaked at number nine in the spring of 1973, by which time Focus had already exchanged Havermanns for bassist Bert Ruiter and issued their third album, Focus III, which yielded the minor hit "Sylvia." In the wake of 1974's Hamburger Concert, the band streamlined the classical aspirations of earlier efforts to pursue a more pop-oriented approach on records like Ship of Memories and Mother Focus; though roster changes regularly plagued Focus throughout the period, none was more pivotal than the 1976 exit of Akkerman, who was replaced by guitarist Philip Catherine for 1978's Focus con Proby, cut with British pop singer P.J. Proby. Focus then disbanded, with the original lineup reuniting in 1990 for a Dutch television special. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

WAY under-apprec i a t e d group. Great instrumental stuff...
i wanted the opening of this for my wedding procession but couldn't convince the organist to do it
SEND IN HAMBURGER CONCERTO
I LOOVE THIS SONG!!!!!!!! !
Pandora...re l e a s e . SHIP OF MEMORIES...p l e a s e
Akkerman should be in top 10 of all time.
I just wish they would play it more often on the radio waves
Coolest song EVER to make the American top 40
There is one album " that I know" is missing - SHIP OF MEMORIES-
Really great band. I wasn't familiar with much of their material outside of Hocus Pocus, which I have always loved, until I heard more on Pandora.
The only song from that time period that sucked more than Hocus Pocus was Radar Love
Jan Akermann top 25 guitarists list imho
deb284
definitely zappa-esque
Hocus Pocus is just great. No other word can explain it.
there was hardly a band out there then or now who could equal these guys skills
I loved their music when I was a kid and added them to my Zappa/Galact i c station. FZ's Peaches en Regalia played. Hocus Pocus came on and I had a sudden craving for Twizzlers.
the yodeling makes it what it is!
Just had Hocus Pocus pop up...I liked it until the yodeling started. Sorry.
Ahh, high school daze!!!
plavigna10
I'm digging that 'Sylvia' cut...
Jan Akkerman is a guitar god!
magayumbi
Ahead
magayumbi
These musicians were, are >
...underrate d . . . u n a p p r e c i a t e d , but so worthy of occupying space next to the greats!!!... a n d they are still going with members young enough to be Van Leer's kids!!!...so cool to see and hear!!!...
Focus is a wonderful band. Tremendously underappreci a t e d in the music industry and by the public. Tis ashame that Hocus Pocus came to define the band in the public eye. The remainder of the album from which that song came is amazing. Eruption is among my favorite songs ever.
badzmaru67
strangely this group description in no way matches with the ambient lounge/house music that i just listened to-- tres strange!
Another one of my progressive rock favorites.
All you "Answers" and "Questions". . . . a l l solved here with FOCUS, MFers!
dbrown900
AHHH!! Hamburger Concerto, it just flows....... . . . . . . . . . S o soothing! Love it!
gfulltilt
I recall well hearing "Hocus Pocus" on the radio as a kid and getting very frustrated when they only played the single version as they often did with many songs I liked. While I lived in Holland, I actually heard part of a song that is on Moving Waves but it didn't really connect until I found the CD some years later when I lived in South Carolina. I heard "Sylvia" played on the XM Deep Tracks channel and was taken again since I only was familiar with what I heard on Moving Waves. Just fantastic
bluegin56
first introduced to this rockin band, back in the mid seventies riding in the back of my friends van. After a long hard day at Disneyland, and falling asleep, I awakened in the darkness to this group blasting away on the speakers. I have loved them ever since.......
Always loved this band! Takes me back to Saturday nights, driving around late at night, listening to my 8-track player.
IT WAS THE PHILHARMONIC HALL, I HAVE THE BOOTLEG CD RECORDED OFF OF WNEW-FM SOMETIME IN SPRING OF 73
If you allow tourself to float through the music you will be able to appreciate the free flowing spirit that Focus provides. Their Mother Focus album had the theme song My Sweetheart for New York's WPLJ.
Dean, not only is it twice as fast, but its twice as long. You can get it on the Best of Focus
danny.hesse
I happened to bring Hocus Pocus up on on YouTube just a while ago. I then brought up Eruption, which was a recent live performance which stunned me. Then I came here!
I had Moving Waves as a child and liked it, but now that I'm older, I am REALLY enjoying this band!
I was fortunate, growing up in New York City in the 70's EVERY band came through, and I remember well an all night taping of Don Kirshners " Rock Concert " I attended that the audience was held up from leaving, after the 'last act' at almost 5 a.m., to hear " one more very special performance" and FOCUS came on and performed Hocus Pocus the very morning they were supposed to " Premier " in Amerca -that night -at Philharmonic Hall ( I think it was philharmonic , c o u l d have been the Academy of Music
wow, I never knew how incredibly talented and weird these dudes were. I dig.
I couldn't say it better than Tim Robinson.
I like it so much!!!!!!!
riquitroll
"Hamburger Concerto" was one of my favorite albums for urban driving back in the late '70s, most of its songs having a rhythmic resonance for a given speed, helping me to smooth the stirring of my VW Bus's shifter. "Within the realm of normal rock" hardly seems apt, at least within the American music scene; Jethro Tull was the common guess among my rocker friends when I played any Focus. I never found their sound anything like strange, but it certainly sounded foreign. And I LIKE foreign.
one of the best jam bands - the 70's produced! I had every lp when I was a teen in the 70's and even into the 2000's I amuse people with thier unique style of artistic rock - this is what one would have called underground music in the 70's - I gathered most of my material listening to collage radio stations not the crap stations that play the same songs over and over - this is classic rock - f - van hager - gun's and roses... .
Sylvia; one of the greatest guitar instumentals ever. I see on here that it was released on Focus III in 1973, but as of 1975 it was still in rotation on radio in the U.K.
Regarding Jason Ankeny's comments about 'Hocus Pocus', I think his use of the words "hallucinato r y " and "the flat-out strangest songs ever to crack the American pop charts" to describe the song are way overblown. Over course, strange is in the ear of the beholder, but I find this song well within the realm of normal rock. I mean, just pulling from other hits from that year, would he think 'Hocus Pocus' is stranger than, say, 'Uncle Albert'?
In response to Dean's question. There is a CD called Ship Of Memories which is a sort of rarities collection. It can be found on there as well as on Best Of Focus, Hocus Pocus.
Excelent band . I had a 45 of Hocus Pocus when I was a kid,and the B side had a song called Hocus Pocus 2 or something to that nature ,It was about twice as fast as the original. Any Idea where that recording can be had???

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