Released: December 1972
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 38
Certified Gold: 6/21/73
Focus originated in Holland from a trio formed by Thijs van Leer (who studied classical music at Amsterdam Conservatoire) with Martin Dresden (bass) and Hans Clever (drums). They became a back-up band for the Dutch stage version of the "Hair" musical in 1969, guitar virtuoso Jan Akkerman joining the line-up during the recording of an album issued in the U.K. in 1971 as In and Out of Focus.
After a year of only moderate success, Akkerman quit to link up with drummer Pierre van der Linden, with whom he had played in the renowned Dutch rock bands The Hunters and Brainbox. The pair formed a new outfit, inviting Thijs van Leer to join along with bassist Cyril Havermans. This line-up recorded Moving Waves in 1971 under the name Focus, which set the style for the band's reworkings of classical themes in a rock context, leaning heavily on the improvisational abilities of Akkerman and van Leer.
In September 1971, Havermans departed (working solo he later released his own album, Cyril). With Bert Ruiter as his replacement, the band set about an extensive touring schedule of the U.K. achieving almost instant recognition as a headlining attraction, their success assisted by 1973 U.K. instrumental singles "Sylvia" (from the album Focus 3) and "Hocus Pocus" (from the earlier Moving Waves). Subsequently both albums -- Focus 3, a 1973-released double set -- made the British album lists.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, 1976.
The progressive-rock band Focus became a major draw in Europe playing extended songs with tinges of classical melody from flutist Thijs van Leer and pyrotechnical solos by guitarist Jan Akkerman. In the U.S. Focus is remember for a yodeling novelty single, "Hocus Pocus" (#9, 1973). Focus' 1970 debut album was modestly successful in Europe, and the follow-up, Moving Waves, included "Hocus Pocus," which became an international hit. The band considered it a joke but wound up stuck with it as a signature song.
- The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, 1995.
Included is the long version of the Top Ten hit "Hocus Pocus," plus the 23-minute suite "Eruption." * * * *
- Michael P. Dawson, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
The Mike Vernon-produced Moving Waves embraced vocal items (in English), melodic instrumentals and the startling "Hocus Pocus" (UK Top 20).
- The Billboard Encyclopedia of Rock, 2003.
Focus was one of a handful of Dutch groups including Shocking Blue and Golden Earring who found chart success on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1970s. Featuring Jan Akkerman on guitar and Thijs van Leer on flute, keyboards, and vocals the mostly instrumental group had classical leanings, with flavors of The Nice and Jethro Tull. "Hocus Pocus" was recorded in London with British blues producer Mike Vernon as something of a joke that came about during a studio jam session. On the spur of the moment, not wishing to be outdone by the rest of the band's improvisation, Leer decided to yodel, something he claimed he had never done before. Vernon recalled: "It used to look more painful than it was in reality -- he was bright red by the time he'd finished yodeling the high bit." The edited version of the six-and-a-half minute original recorded in 1971 became a No. 9 hit in the U.S. when a later single, "Sylvia," climbed the British charts early in 1973. The U.S. version of "Hocus Pocus" was a completely different mix.
- Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits and Classic Cuts, 2006.
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