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Symphonic Prog • Netherlands

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Focus biography
Founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1969 - Disbanded in 1978 - Reunited 1985, 1990, 1999 - Reformed in 2002

Of all the groups in the 1970s that combined elements of rock and classical music, FOCUS is, without a doubt, the most notable Dutch group widely known outside the Netherlands. This band has created excitement all over the world during the past few years with their unique sound and musical approach. The two main musicians in the band were flutist/keyboardist/singer Thjis Van LEER and guitarist JAN AKKERMAN. They played a stylishly inventive rock with flutes, keyboards & dazzling guitar, defining the Dutch prog sound. An inspiration to FINCH, TRACE & numerous others. In 1978, the group finally split up, without making too much noise.

Best albums are "Moving Waves" (1972), "3" (1973), "Live at the Rainbow" (1973), and "Hamburger Concerto" (1974). "Waves" and "3" represent the best of the band's earlier intensely progressive period with plenty of sidelong tracks and healthly extended solos. Most will agree that "Live at the Rainbow" and "Hamburger Concerto" (last good album) were their best, moving into a period of more pure classical and jazz influence.

"Focus 8" marks the return of Thjis Van LEER in the true nature of music: tuneful, memorable and a little bit rocky when they want to be. This album contains everything you might want from a FOCUS album ... plenty of flute and keyboards from Thijs, tasty guitar playing from Jan DUM╔E and even some yodeling vocals. Perhaps in summary, the band could have veered a little from the safety of the FOCUS blueprint but "Focus 9" may yet further develop their own voice. No doubt about it, we'll have to count on FOCUS in the new millennium to all of the true Progressive Rock lovers.

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FOCUS Videos (YouTube and more)

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Buy FOCUS Music

Hocus Pocus: Best ofHocus Pocus: Best of
Red Bullet 2001
$6.97 (used)
Hocus Pocus BoxHocus Pocus Box
Box set
Red Bullet 2017
$38.12 (used)
Hamburger ConcertoHamburger Concerto
$8.00 (used)
Moving WavesMoving Waves
$8.35 (used)
Live In Rotterdam And Texel 1971Live In Rotterdam And Texel 1971
On The Air
Focus 3Focus 3
Red Bullet 2001
$6.19 (used)
 In Concert 1973 In Concert 1973
On The Air
Focus Family AlbumFocus Family Album
Cherry Red 2017
$11.29 (used)
Live In EnglandLive In England
Cherry Red 2016
$12.31 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
FOCUS Hamburger Concerto LP Record 1974 IMPORT USD $19.50 Buy It Now
Focus (Rmx) [Vinyl], Buddens, Joe, Good USD $13.62 Buy It Now
STEVEN HALPERN - Shifting Focus - CD - 1989 USD $1.99 [0 bids]
Focus USD $6.99 Buy It Now
FOCUS Ship Of Memories 1976 SIRE Prog Rock LP VG++ USD $16.00 Buy It Now
FOCUS - "Moving Waves" - 1971 Original Vintage Vinyl LP - Sire SAS-7401 EX/VG+ USD $8.99 Buy It Now
Blue Cheer Summertime Blues / Out Of Focus 7'' Vinyl Record USD $4.99 Buy It Now
FOCUS Mother Focus ORIGINAL 1975 UK 1st ISSUE CASSETTE TAPE Paper Labels USD $5.88 Buy It Now
FOCUS Hamburger Concerto ORIGINAL 1975 UK CASSETTE TAPE Paper Labels USD $5.88 Buy It Now
Focus - Live At The Rainbow LP Mint- SAS-7408 Sire Stereo 1973 USA Vinyl Record USD $12.60 Buy It Now
Focus - Moving Waves LP VG+ SAS-7401 Sire 1971 USA Vinyl Record USD $8.40 Buy It Now
Focus on Hollywood Miami Vice Flashdance Dallas Dynasty Top Gun ET FREE US SHIPP USD $9.98 Buy It Now
Throbbing Gristle - Assume Power Focus CD - Punk Alternative Rock Industrial USD $10.00 Buy It Now
JAN AKKERMAN Focus In Time JAPAN CD MICY-1042 OBI USD $134.71 Buy It Now
Out Of Focus Not Too Late vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $39.26 Buy It Now
FOCUS Vinyl Lp HAMBURGER CONCERTO 1974 Atco USD $5.95 [0 bids]
FOCUS Vinyl Lp LIVE AT THE RAINBOW 1973 Sire Beauty! USD $5.95 [0 bids]
Focus on the Background USD $3.48 Buy It Now
ROB BARTLETT Slightly Out Of Focus CD Good Used Condition FREEPOST IN AUSTRALIA USD $6.66 Buy It Now
Focus-Dutch Masters-1975 Sire PROMO STICKER- M-/M- UNPLAYED-COMP USD $10.99 Buy It Now
Ted Heath ?- Focus On Ted Heath (Double Album) USD $6.54 Buy It Now 16m 7s
Focus - At The Rainbow [POLYDOR PAPER LABEL] - cassette USD $6.54 Buy It Now 39m 59s
Focus 8 - Focus (CD Used Like New) USD $12.12 Buy It Now 1h 22m
Focus - Best of Focus 2 [New CD] Holland - Import USD $12.04 Buy It Now 2h 2m
Focus - Best of Focus 2 [New CD] Holland - Import USD $13.94 Buy It Now 2h 25m
One Focus-One Focus CD NEW USD $13.74 Buy It Now 2h 28m
One Focus-Whosoever Will CD NEW USD $13.74 Buy It Now 2h 28m
Focus House Of The King vinyl LP album record Dutch 1A028-25130 EMIGOLD 1978 USD $32.69 Buy It Now 2h 52m
Focus vinyl LP album record Hamburger Concerto UK 2442124 POLYDOR 1974 USD $52.34 Buy It Now 2h 59m
Moving Waves - 2nd Focus vinyl LP album record UK 2931002 POLYDOR/BLUE HORIZON USD $18.28 Buy It Now 3h 12m
Jennifer L. Willke-D - Awareness in Focus By Kids for Kids: Modern Guided [New C USD $18.11 Buy It Now 3h 18m
Focus Mother Focus vinyl LP album record UK ACBR266 POLYDOR 1975 USD $32.69 Buy It Now 3h 24m
Jennifer L. Willke-D - Awareness in Focus By Kids for Kids: Modern Guided [New C USD $19.09 Buy It Now 3h 26m
Jan Akkerman vinyl LP album record Focus Dutch 824524-1 VERTIGO 1985 USD $39.24 Buy It Now 3h 44m
In And Out Of Focus Focus UK vinyl LP album record 2344003 POLYDOR 1971 USD $24.83 Buy It Now 3h 44m
GENE AUTRY - Focus On .... - Ex Con Double LP Record USD $13.09 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Focus-Moving Waves (1Lp) (UK IMPORT) VINYL NEW USD $24.02 Buy It Now 4h 29m
Focus-Focus 3 (UK IMPORT) Vinyl / 12" Album NEW USD $28.85 Buy It Now 4h 29m
Focus On Alan Price Alan Price Vinyl Record USD $14.35 Buy It Now 4h 31m
LANY, Maxim/NICK BRIL/VARIOUS - The Jane Volume 2/Depth Of Focus - Vinyl (2xLP) USD $32.01 Buy It Now 4h 44m
Four Classic Albums [Focus / The Soft Swing / West Coast Jazz / C. 5022810305828 USD $3.92 [0 bids]
4h 51m
FOCUS Hocus Pocus 7" VINYL Netherlands Imperial 1971 B/W Janis (5C00624415) Pic USD $26.52 Buy It Now 4h 59m
Hezekiah Walker Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, Focus on Glory Cassette VG+ #CT25 USD $5.68 Buy It Now 5h 10m
Focus On The Family: Renewing The Heart For Such A Time As This (Live) Kim Hill USD $40.95 Buy It Now 5h 35m
Mantovani 'Focus On' - Double 12" LP Record USD $5.90 [0 bids]
6h 4m
Focus- Vintage Uk 1973 Tour Programme USD $34.06 Buy It Now 6h 6m
FOCUS HAMBURGER CONCERTO.:vinyl LP: COLIN ALLEN from John Mayall Bluesbreakers USD $7.41 [0 bids]
6h 16m
Focus - 'Moving Waves' 1971 UK Blue Horizon LP. Ex! USD $26.19 Buy It Now 7h 11m
FOCUS MUSIC LIBRARY_rhythmic beds and underscores_used CD_ships frm AUSTRALIA_L3 USD $8.89 Buy It Now 7h 58m
SAINT PE - FIXED FOCUS - NEW CD ALBUM USD $17.02 Buy It Now 7h 58m
FOCUS Focus 1974 UK Vinyl LP EXCELLENT CONDITION same self titled best of B USD $12.56 Buy It Now 8h 36m
Focus On Werner Muller - 2x Vinyl Record LP Albums - FOS 17 - 1973 USD $17.02 Buy It Now 8h 58m
SAINT PE - FIXED FOCUS - NEW VINYL LP USD $23.57 Buy It Now 8h 58m
Moving Waves by Focus (CD, Nov-1990, I.R.S. Records (U.S.)) USD $14.99 [0 bids]
9h 17m
Blue Cheer | Psychadelic Rock 45 | Out of Focus / Summertime Blues | Phili USD $20.00 Buy It Now 9h 22m
1973 Focus - Hocus Pocus / Hocus Pocus II 7" 45 USD $4.23 Buy It Now 9h 32m
FOCUS (JAN AKKERMAN/THIJS VAN LEER) dutch masters LP EX/EX- SASD-7505 usa 1975 USD $18.99 Buy It Now 9h 47m
FOCUS Greatest Hits 1984 FAME DUTCH PRESS CLASSIC PROG ROCK USD $18.00 Buy It Now 9h 50m
Stay Focus by Sizzla near mint/near mint VP LP Reggae USD $9.95 Buy It Now 10h 10m
Focus (2) - Focus (Vinyl) USD $19.64 Buy It Now 10h 18m
Focus - Sylvia 7" - 2001-422 - VG USD $5.88 Buy It Now 10h 30m
FOCUS - In & Out Of ~ VINYL LP USD $9.38 Buy It Now 10h 37m
Super Happy Family Wish Record [Audio CD] Joy Focus USD $103.99 Buy It Now 10h 58m
The Real Earl Hines Recorded Live In Concert, Focus Records FM 335, 1965, JAZZ USD $10.00 Buy It Now 11h 13m
Miucha E Tom Jobim - Focus: O ESSENCIAL DE MIUCH... - Miucha E Tom Jobim CD U1VG USD $9.31 Buy It Now 11h 20m
Kari Kimmel - Out of Focus [New CD] USD $17.72 Buy It Now 11h 24m
Various - Focus On Phase 4 Stereo (Vinyl) USD $17.67 Buy It Now 11h 30m
FOCUS - Hamburger Concerto ~ GATEFOLD VINYL LP USD $11.53 Buy It Now 11h 43m
FOCUS - Live At The Rainbow ~ VINYL LP US PRESS USD $10.81 Buy It Now 11h 43m
Focus-Sylvia C/W Hocus Pocus 7" Picture Sleeve Vinyl Single Reissued In 1985 EMI USD $7.55 [0 bids]
11h 47m
FOCUS - SYLVIA 7" VINYL USD $5.23 Buy It Now 11h 59m
Uriah Heep - Demons And Wizards CD 90's US press deep purple budgie queen focus USD $9.98 Buy It Now 12h 22m
Music For The Mozart Effect, Volume 4, Focus & Clarity USD $12.00 Buy It Now 12h 32m
Focus: Mother Focus LP USD $8.00 Buy It Now 12h 56m
Massimiliano Pagliara - Focus For Infinity [CD] USD $14.90 Buy It Now 12h 58m
13h 45m
PERFECT ZEBRAS Running with Zebras 7" PS Focus 1982 exc USD $1.30 [0 bids]
13h 46m
RICK LAIRD Soft Focus Joe Henderson Tom Grant Ron Steen Muse LP USD $19.97 Buy It Now 13h 47m
Out of Focus Wake Up German prog psych cd USD $16.99 Buy It Now 13h 49m
FOCUS - The Focus Family Album (2CD 2017) USD $3.92 [1 bids]
13h 49m
FOCUS - Making waves (feat Hocus Pocus) - Blue Horizon 1st Press Vinyl LP USD $6.54 [0 bids]
14h 23m
Focus ?- Het Beste Van Focus (Neerlands Beste) LP 1A058-1262331 USD $13.09 [0 bids]
14h 54m
14h 58m
12" album record vinyl FOS-R516 Focus on Jacques Loussier USD $10.47 [0 bids]
15h 7m
Sizzla-Stay Focus (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $10.87 Buy It Now 15h 11m
FOCUS - Sylvia - 1972 UK 7" vinyl Juke Box single USD $11.78 Buy It Now 15h 20m
FOCUS - FOCUS / BEST OF - LP RECORD USD $7.85 [0 bids]
15h 26m
Focus, Focus 3, Polydor 2659 016 double lp prog rock USD $8.52 [0 bids]
15h 46m
Massimiliano Pagliara-Focus For Infinity (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $13.59 Buy It Now 15h 48m
Focus - Live at The Rainbow plus free UK postage USD $19.13 Buy It Now 16h 4m

More places to buy FOCUS music online Buy FOCUS & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

FOCUS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

FOCUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.48 | 274 ratings
Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In And Out Of Focus]
4.09 | 641 ratings
Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves]
3.78 | 448 ratings
4.25 | 950 ratings
Hamburger Concerto
2.69 | 189 ratings
Mother Focus
3.14 | 150 ratings
Ship Of Memories
2.49 | 91 ratings
Focus Con Proby
3.48 | 69 ratings
Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer: Focus
3.67 | 132 ratings
Focus 8
3.21 | 94 ratings
Focus 9 / New Skin
3.46 | 117 ratings
3.46 | 48 ratings
Golden Oldies
3.66 | 35 ratings
Focus and Friends: Focus 8.5 / Beyond The Horizon

FOCUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.45 | 122 ratings
Live At The Rainbow
3.32 | 24 ratings
Live at the BBC
3.94 | 18 ratings
Live in America
3.07 | 6 ratings
Live Legends - The Greatest Hits of Focus
2.71 | 15 ratings
Focus The Greatest Hits
4.63 | 8 ratings
Live In Europe
4.13 | 5 ratings
In Concert 1973
4.83 | 10 ratings
Live In England

FOCUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.04 | 23 ratings
Masters From The Vault
3.91 | 28 ratings
Live In America
3.98 | 16 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
4.14 | 7 ratings
Live in England

FOCUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Masters of Rock 1971 - 1973
4.34 | 4 ratings
The Story of Focus
4.15 | 4 ratings
Focus - Special Polydor
4.94 | 12 ratings
Dutch Masters 1969 - 1973
4.00 | 2 ratings
Focus on Focus 1970 - 1978
4.33 | 3 ratings
House of the King
2.57 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits of Focus
3.52 | 61 ratings
Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Focus Family Album

FOCUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
House of the King
3.28 | 10 ratings
Hocus Pocus / Janis
2.75 | 7 ratings
2.10 | 2 ratings
Tommy / Focus II
2.14 | 2 ratings
Hocus Pocus 2
3.13 | 6 ratings
Harem Scarem
3.14 | 5 ratings
House Of The King / O Avondrood

FOCUS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hocus Pocus 2 by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
2.14 | 2 ratings

Hocus Pocus 2
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars The Punk version

Hocus Pocus 2 is a different version of Hocus Pocus. This version was never included on any album, but was released as a single in some territories with House of the King on the B-side. In America, Hocus Pocus 2 was released as the B-side to Hocus Pocus (the single edit of the "normal" version).

The "sequel" starts out quite differently with just drums and bass, before the familiar guitar riff enters. It is played faster than the original version, and comes off a bit rawer; Punkish almost.

A bit of a curiosity, this rare version may be interesting for hard core fans and collectors. But the novelty wears off quickly, and it certainly does not stand up to comparisons with the original Hocus Pocus.

 Tommy / Focus II by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
2.10 | 2 ratings

Tommy / Focus II
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Introduced by Pupilla

Tommy (Introduced by Pupilla) is an excerpt from Eruption, which occupies the second side of the Moving Waves album. It is not an obvious choice for a single, but it was so released coupled with Focus II from the same album. The latter is an excellent number, but the former does not really benefit from being taken out of its context and presented in this form. For a big Focus fan like me, it is interesting to hear the edited version. But once the curiosity has been settled, there is not much enduring value in this snippet from Eruption, making it for fans and collectors only.

The single version of Tommy later appeared on the compilation Hocus Pocus: Best of Focus.

 Hocus Pocus / Janis by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.28 | 10 ratings

Hocus Pocus / Janis
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Sometimes less is more

An edited version of Hocus Pocus was released as a single to support the band's second album, Moving Waves (originally called Focus II). While the album version is almost seven minutes long, the single version is just over three minutes in length. Normally, I despise single edits, as they tend to butcher a great song, and in almost all cases it goes horribly wrong. Hocus Pocus is a rare exception, and I think that nothing of value is lost in this shorter version of the song. To the contrary, I actually think that the longer album version is overlong and repeats itself too many times, making this edited single version preferable over the album version.

The B-side here is Janis, a lovely instrumental taken from the Moving Waves album. The two sides of this single showcase two different sides of Focus very well, making it a very good advertisement for the band and for the Moving Waves album in particular.

A worthy single

 House of the King by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.00 | 2 ratings

House of the King
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A classic!

Penned by Jan Akkerman and clocking in at under three minutes, the instrumental House of the King was released as a single in 1970 and became a surprise hit for the band. The melody is driven by Thijs van Leer's wonderful flute.

The tune was not originally inlcuded on any album, but was later added on to some editions of the band's debut album, and again a few years later to Focus 3. The track has also been included on many compilations.

The B-side on this single was Black Beauty, taken from the debut album Focus Plays Focus (later renamed In and Out of Focus). But different versions of the single have other B-sides, and House of the King has itself appeared as the B-side on other singles by the band.

There can be no doubt that progressive Rock is an album genre, but there are some cases where a tune stands equally well (or even better) on its own as in the context of other songs, and House of the King is one of those cases.

 Ship Of Memories by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.14 | 150 ratings

Ship Of Memories
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Like Led Zeppelin Coda, this is not a "real" studio album, but a collection of unreleased tracks from this famous dutch band. After the disaster that was their latest LP (Mother Focus) and the departure of guitarist Jan Akkerman, it was clear the band needed to have something to fulfill contractual obligations until they could get someone to replace him and come up with newer material. So Ship Of memories was the obvious solution: tracks rejected for their previous records put together in one place. Of course the quality of the songs vary wildly and the album has absolutely no coherency or even flow. To be fair, there are a couple of very good songs: the opener PS March is one of them, and Focus V is another: both have fine melodies, tasteful arrangements and great trademark guitar solos by Akkerman. But those are the exception to the rule. Most of the tracks are only average, butthere are also some hideous stuff like the funky Crackers and the jazz rock/disco Glider. The title track is not even a song: it┤s just some musical noises put together in less than 2 minutes, a real turd.

Although this is not a total loss, saved partially because of Akkerman┤s beautiful guitar licks even on the worst tracks, and this is somewhat better than Mother Focus, Ship Of Memories is typically the case of release to satisfy only the hardcore fans and collectors. Focus doubtless lost their focus (pun intended) around 1975 and was one of the first great prog acts to lost its way during the mid to late 70┤s. Unfortunately they would not be alone, but that┤s another story. I can recommend this album to the ones that have and love their earlier works up and including Hamburger concerto and want to have it all, even a bunch of previous rejected material.

 Mother Focus by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.69 | 189 ratings

Mother Focus
Focus Symphonic Prog

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.

 Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus by FOCUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
3.52 | 61 ratings

Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Lupton

3 stars Unlike some prog fans, I actually like compilations if they are done well. Unfortunately, Hocus Pocus Best of Focus is a bit of a wasted opportunity. For starters it includes too many tracks from their first rather average debut album. "House of the King" is admittedly a great Tull-like instrumental and no compilation would be complete without it. But the inclusion of "Anonymous" which is essentially a jam based on the introduction section of "House of the King" wastes valuable playing time especially when so many more essential tracks have been left off the album.The track "Focus" is actually a pleasant track but at nearly ten minutes again takes up too much time in my opinion. The Moving Waves album is well represented with the full version of "Hocus Pocus","Janis", "Focus2"and "Tommy". Particularly annoying though is the fact that the double Focus3 album is only represented by "Sylvia" and "Focus3".I wish the compilation had included the quirky opening track from that album "Round Goes the Gossip" and maybe even "Elspeth of Nottingham" which showcased the more folky side of the group. The Hamburger Concerto, one of the group's strongest albums is only represented by the exciting opening track "Harem Scarem".This is again annoying especially when the somewhat weaker follow album Mother Focus is over represented with three tracks as is their final album, Ship of Memories.And do we really need another version of "Hocus Pocus"? I am still giving this album a solid three stars because there is a lot of enjoyable music on display here but really it could have been a five star one stop shop if a bit more thought had gone into the track selections.The Polydor Special compilation which is only a modest single vinyl album is a far better representation of the group- maybe that album should be re-released on CD.
 Focus Con Proby by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.49 | 91 ratings

Focus Con Proby
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars When I first saw the cover of this album back in the seventies I had the feeling that Focus would fall in the same trap as several other acts fo that era: a commercial take of an ex great prog band. I did not listen to it at the time. I had enough disillusion with a number of bands at the period (Triumvirat and Camel just to name two) to add another one. Focus with a british one hit wonder singer? Without Jan Akkermann? That could not be good! So it was over 30 years before I had the patience and curiosity to try it.

Looking back, I found that Focus Con Proby was not nearly as bad as I thought. But I guess I┤d be disappointed anyway: it sounds way too different from the Focus I knew and loved. Their sound changed from symphonic prog to a much more jazz rock/fusion direction, thanks largely to Akkermann┤s replacement, the belgium guitarist Philp Catherine. Although some songs are really good, the instrumentals (always Focus strong point) are also the average jazz-rock you would expect from almost everyone in the area (Soft Machine with Allan Holdsworth, Jean Luc Ponty and so on). Only Sneezing Bull is somewhat different, probably because of Van Leer┤s flute playing.

As for P.J. Proby himself, he has a nice voice and does a good job overall, depending on the quality of the songs he sang: the opener Wingless is very good, while Eddy is a boring, throwaway pop tune. Tokyo Rose is a strange mix: sounds like classic Focus tune with added lyrics. Interesting experiment, I guess, but it did not work. Brother is nice and I remember Focus playing it in my hometown during their brazilian tour in 2002. How long is a mediocre tune. And so it goes.

Conclusion: not a total disaster, but too different and inconsistent to be considered a valid statement from this great band. As anyone else at the time Focus tried to do something to get them out of the rut they┤re in but was not successful. If you┤re into jazz rock/fusion maybe you┤ll enjoy the instrumentals. But the uneven quality of the vocal tracks spoil the overall feeling of the album. This one is definitely for collectors and fans only. And not one for the newbies.

 3 by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 448 ratings

Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 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 sound.
 3 by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 448 ratings

Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Back in 1993 I started buying Focus albums. Moving Waves was the first Focus album I ever heard, I won't forget hearing "Hocus Pocus" in 1989 as a teenager (right smack in the era of New Kids on the Block) and being blown away by this song (to be honest, I remembered hearing this song as a small kid, so it wasn't new to me, just that in 1989 it really caught my attention). I often wondered why I never heard any other Focus songs on the radio. When I finally heard Moving Waves, that album blew me away, not just "Hocus Pocus", but the side-length "Eruption". OK, so I now understand, it's mostly instrumental, which radio stations tended to stay away, and the best cut, other than "Hocus Pocus" was too long and maybe not the most radio friendly. I then bought Focus 3, the US pressing on Sire with the die-cut cover (but without the rainbow "Focus 3" effect, it's just simply a rainbow "Focus 3" logo) and I didn't quite liked it as much. This album really proved to me why you never heard any other Focus songs on the radio, but through the years, I can see why I was a bit hard on the album. Perhaps a bit excessive at times, but then it dawned on me, Cream likely did similar things live, but they'd do it in a blues-based manner, which Focus would never do. "Round Goes the Gossip" is the only song with singing, in fact the little bit of Latin is the only singing (other than the phrase "Round Goes the Gossip" being repeated over and over). "Love Remembered", Jan Akkerman's piece is a pretty sappy piece, with acoustic guitar and Thijs van Leer's flute, with something like a Theremin or an Ondes Martenot. "Sylvia" was a minor hit in the States, but apparently a major one in Europe, I have absolutely no recollections of this song on the radio, so obviously it didn't have an impact on FM radio the way of "Hocus Pocus" here in the States. Regardless this song is much more typical Focus than "Hocus Pocus", so while you might want to play "Hocus Pocus" to jog people's memories, "Sylvia" is a song to direct the uninitiated (that is if their reaction was "I remembered Hocus Pocus"). "Carnival Fugue" (I now also own a French pressing on the Az label that amusingly titled it "Carnival Fudge" on the label, but still titled "Carnival Fugue on the cover). starts off with classical piano and jazzy guitar, before going into a rhythm that reminds me of the Beatles' "Do You Wanna Know a Secret". "Focus III" also demonstrates all the best quality of Focus, I really love Jan Akkerman's lead guitar playing and the organ playing. I remembered hearing Petula Clark's "Don't Sleep in the Subway", and I noticed that Focus borrowed from this song! "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" gets more lengthy, with lots of guitar and organ jams, plus a slow organ-dominated piece. But it was the next song that really stuck a craw with me, and that's "Anonymous II". At times I can easily dismiss it as nothing but a wankfest, demonstrated the '70s at its most excess, other times I considered it a great and ingenious jam where each member gets their chance to solo. I really like the Bert Ruiter bass solo that starts off slowly before eventually the rest of the band starts back in and then the whole band jams. It's the Pierre van der Linden drum solo that can seem a bit excessive, but then I'm sure he's getting ideas from Ginger Baker's Cream drum solo on "Toad". Then it dawned on me: I am certain Cream did similar stuff live. Of course, with them the music would be much more blues-based, Ginger Baker would do a drum solo like on "Toad", playing drums like he rides a bicycle (Baker's drumming was influenced by his biking), and I seriously doubt Jack Bruce would dive into a bass solo (he probably knew better), the closest I can think of is Blind Faith's "Do What You Like" (which was basically Cream minus Jack Bruce, and instead Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, formerly of Family). Of course, "Anonymous II" was a sequel to the original off In & Out of Focus (Focus Plays Focus), drawn out nearly three times longer. "Elsbeth of Nottingham" is clearly Jan Akkerman's piece, totally medieval influenced, with lute and recorders. Although "House of the King" has been featured on some pressings of In & Out of Focus (and only released as a single in Holland), it makes a reappearance here on album because some countries didn't have that song on In & Out of Focus. When I first bought Focus 3, I often wondered why "House of the King" seemed so out of place on the album. It's an earlier recording, with Hans Cleuver and Martijn Dresden instead of Bert Ruiter and Pierre van der Linden. Regardless, this is truly a classic, in the Jethro Tull vein, and one of the finest songs of Focus, too bad that didn't get picked up for American FM radio airplay.

So I'm still a bit torn over this album, it's agreed perhaps a bit of baggage could have easily been removed, but make no doubt the amount of great brilliant material included.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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