Focus - Focus were one of Holland's best and best known bands. They were formed in 1969 by former Amsterdam Consevatory student and keyboard player/flautist/vocalist, Thijs Van Leer. Joining him were bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Hans Cleuver, and, prior to enlisting the services of ex-Brainbox guitarist Jan Akkerman, the three musicians had previously backed Cyril Havermans, Robin Lent and other Dutch singers. Their first recording assignment was as accompaniment on a Dutch version of "Hair", but, heartened by audience response, the band decided to release a bona fide debut album, "In and out of Focus", in 1971. This album contained the single "House of the King", which sold well in continental Europe. Their follow-up album, "Moving Waves", produced by Mike Vernon and released the same year, was probably their best album. It contained another hit, "Hocus Pocus", which became a UK Top 20 hit. At this stage, the band's line-up and been reshuffled, with only Van Leer and Akkerman remaining from the original quartet ( Cleuver had been replaced by Pierre van der Linden and Dresden by Cyril Havermans ). Havermans, in turn, was replaced by Bert Ruiter and Colin Allen from Stone the Crows took over the drumstool for "Hamburger Concerto". Akkerman left Focus after 1975's "Mother Focus" album to embark on a successful solo career, in the process becoming known as one of the world's best and most respected guitarists. He did collaborate with Van Leer in the reformed Focus in 1985, although only one album was the result of this short-lived reunion. Van Leer continued in the band after Akkerman left, with guitarists Philip Catherine and Eef Albers and vocalist PJ Proby also sharing the stage with him, but Focus ceased to exist after 1978's "Focus con Proby" album. According to the March 2000 edition of Classic Rock magazine, Focus will be performing at the Canterbury Music Festival on July 31st this year, together with Caravan, Gong, Man, Colosseum and Arthur Brown. They unfortunately don't mention who's in Focus nowadays, but can you imagine what that's going to be like to see these great bands in concert on the same bill?!
  
 

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Biography by Jason Ankeny
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. 

 

Jan Akkerman
Philip Catherine
Steve Smith
Eef Albers
Thijs Van Leer
Colin Allen
Hans Eric Cleuver
Martin Dresden
Phil Dunne
Cyril Havermanns
David Kemper
Bert Ruiter
Pierre van der Linden

Jethro Tull
The Moody Blues
King Crimson
Genesis
Camel
Procol Harum
Gentle Giant
Aardvark

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Focus - 1970 - In and Out of Focus - 3/5

Focus - 1971 - Moving Waves - 4/5

Focus - 1972 - Focus III - 4.5/5

Focus - 1973 - Live at the Rainbow - 3/5

Focus - 1974 - Hamburger Concerto - 4/5

Focus - 1975 - Mother Focus - 2.5/5

Focus - 1978 - Focus Con Proby - 3/5

Focus - 2002 - Focus 8 - 3.5/5

Focus - 2003 - Live in America - 3.5/5

Focus - 2004 - Live at the BBC - 2/5

Focus - 2004 - Live In South America - 4/5

Focus - 2004 - Live Legends - 4/5

Focus - 2006 - Focus 9, New Skin - 4/5

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