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MOTHER FOCUS

Focus

Symphonic Prog


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Focus Mother Focus album cover
2.60 | 183 ratings | 23 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

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

Total Time: 37:13

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Artwork: Rob Peters

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

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

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Hocus Pocus BoxHocus Pocus Box
Box set · Import
Red Bullet 2017
Audio CD$41.21
$45.63 (used)
Moving WavesMoving Waves
Import · Remastered
RED BULLET 2001
Audio CD$12.35
$12.29 (used)
Focus Family AlbumFocus Family Album
Import
Cherry Red 2017
Audio CD$11.47
$11.46 (used)
Hocus Pocus: Best ofHocus Pocus: Best of
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$12.17
$6.66 (used)
Focus 3Focus 3
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$12.37
$6.99 (used)
Hamburger ConcertoHamburger Concerto
Import
MSI:RED BULLET 2001
Audio CD$11.86
$8.00 (used)
Mother FocusMother Focus
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$11.17
$7.59 (used)
In & Out of FocusIn & Out of Focus
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$11.79
$7.00 (used)
hocus pocus / hocus pocus ii 45 rpm singlehocus pocus / hocus pocus ii 45 rpm single
SIRE
Vinyl$4.85 (used)
Live at the RainbowLive at the Rainbow
Import · Remastered
Red Bullet 2001
Audio CD$11.14
$8.02 (used)

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FOCUS Mother Focus ratings distribution


2.60
(183 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(17%)
17%
Good, but non-essential (49%)
49%
Collectors/fans only (22%)
22%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

FOCUS Mother Focus reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

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

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

This one is to be avoided at all costs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PERSONAL RATING: 1,5/5

P.A. RATING: 1/5

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
1 stars Soft vanilla

It is very hard to believe that this is by the same band who recorded the first four albums. After they peaked with the excellent Hamburger Concerto, they clearly ran out of steam and inspiration before the recording of Mother Focus. The style is very, very different too. Gone are the side-long suits and much of the Classical and folky elements. Gone is also the energy, the passion and the edge. Here they gave us 12 short tunes focusing (pardon the pun) on lounge Jazz and light Funk! This music would work fine if played quietly in a hotel lobby while you're sitting and sipping a drink, or perhaps as film music, but it is not music for listening. It is all very soft and lightweight and there is hardly anything progressive about it.

The music is mostly instrumental, but when the vocals do enter on the embarrassing I Need A Bathroom one wishes that they would have kept it instrumental!

This dull album is only for serious Focus collectors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest members reviews

2 stars This is one of the first albums in my collection; I bought it as a tape back in 76 or 77, before the CDs were released. At that time I hadn't listened much of the band, just about what was being broadcasted in radios, Hocus Pocus, and Silvia. I first thought someone had made a mistake and swapped l ... (read more)

Report this review (#1677164) | Posted by poito | Sunday, January 8, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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