EURO ROCK

March 19, 2009 – 2:46 pm

Prog rock opened the door to non-English-speaking bands. Focus from the Netherlands paved the way for European rockers. Once again it was all about the music.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

FOCUS
The Sky Will Fall Over London Tonight [Progressive Rock Remaster Project 027, 1CD]

Live at the BBC Studio, London, December 12, 1972. Very good soundboard.

After listening to groups such as Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, the Dutch group Focus might seem lightweight to some serious prog rock (or art rock) fans.

As the wikipedia says, “Progressive rock bands pushed ‘rock’s technical and compositional boundaries’ by going beyond the standard rock or popular verse-chorus-based song structures. Additionally, the arrangements often incorporated elements drawn from classical, jazz, and world music.”

While Focus easily confined themselves to those broad outlines, there is also a certain lyricism which makes their music very palatable. Perhaps it is this lyricism that allowed non-prog rock fans to get into the group when they played the United Kingdom in 1972.

Take the group’s hit, Hocus Pocus, for instance. According to the wikipedia, “This rock classic consists of [Jan] Akkerman’s guitar chord sequence used as a recurring theme, with quirky and energetic interludes that include alto flute riffs, accordion, guitar, and drum solos, whistling, nonsensical (Dutch) vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling. The Moving Waves album established Thijs van Leer and Akkerman as composers who could appeal to progressive-rock album listeners (a large audience in the early 1970s) and radio single buyers.”

As Bob Harris, the host of the Old Grey Whistle Test at the time, recalled in the liner notes: “The performance was an absolute sensation. People had never seen anything quite like them before… Their performance generated incredible reaction and suddenly everything seemed to be happening very fast. We were inundated with calls, letters and enquiries about this amazing band. Hocus Pocus broke into the U.K. singles chart, then Sylvia the following week, climbing into the top 5. Moving Waves and Focus 3 stormed into the top 10 of the album chart.”

Thanks to Gummo79 for sharing these tracks on the internet. Gummo79 noted: “This has been floating around for a while thanks to the efforts of the folks at the Progressive Rock Remaster Project, and is otherwise known as PRRP 027… This is an excellent snapshot of Focus and is of near-perfect quality.”

However, according to PRRP’s liner notes, “The show presented on this CD may have occurred somewhere in November 1972, on December 12, 1972 (as stipulated on the artwork), or around January 17, 1973. Sadly, the exact date is unknown. To our knowledge, there’s no Focus gig guide complete enough to ensure any kind of certainty. Therefore, the December 12th date should be considered with reserve [sic].”

These tracks are no longer available for sharing.01 - Bob Harris Introduction
02 - Anonymus Two
03 - Band Introductions
04 - Focus I
05 - Focus III
06 - Answers Questions! Questions Answers!
07 - Focus II
08 - Bob Harris Once More
09 - Hocus Pocus

Lineup:
Thijs van Leer - vocals, keyboard, flute
Jan Akkerman - guitar
Pierre van der Linden - drums
Bert Ruiter - bass

Click on the link to order Focus albums.

  1. 11 Responses to “EURO ROCK”

  2. Classic, “Hocus Focus” was the song we used to get jacked-up to in College before going out on a Saturday night.

    Thanks for posting.

    By PSU on Mar 19, 2009

  3. This show was repeated on BBC6 Music’s “Live At Midnight” (now it’s “Live At Two”) a couple of years ago - the announcer stated both before and after the performance, that the year was 1973 - unfortunately no day or month was specified.
    I still have the announcement, just played it back to check.

    By Tony on Mar 20, 2009

  4. Just Awesome! A great band, sadly underrated, and most folks only know of Hocus Pocus.

    Akkerman was/is still a six string GOD (ALL CAPS)

    By Kevin on Mar 20, 2009

  5. ‘There is also a certain lyricism which makes their music very palatable”
    That hits it for me….. whilst not comparing them to Weather Report there is that kinda musical lyricism which is more strongly felt in WR and it’s this rapport which in my mind takes them away from the Yes and Genesis feel….Seem to wince a bit now at the yodelling though hahaha! Great post…this blog never fails to interest or stimulate…thanks so much

    By Kookie on Mar 20, 2009

  6. A great recording of Holland’s finest Jazz-fusion crossover band from the 70’s. The guys are obviously having fun (although Akkerman makes a right pig’s ear of the opening thrash to Hocus Pocus … I’ll put it down to artistic tiredness - you can choose your own epithet!).

    Thanks for another great post.

    By Julian on Mar 21, 2009

  7. Amazing band that new generations should be listen!
    Thanks!

    By Rochacrimson on Mar 21, 2009

  8. Sorry to contradict earlier posts, but I’d already downloaded this gig several years ago and it came with the following information:

    Focus - Paris Theatre London, England 20th July 1972, BBC FM Broadcast

    Jan Akkerman - Guitars
    Bert Ruiter - Bass, Backing Vocals
    Pierre Van Der Linden - Drums
    Thijs Van Leer - Keyboards, Flute, Vocals

    1. Bob Harris Intro
    2. Anonymous II
    3. Bob Harris Announcement
    4. Focus I
    5. Focus III
    6. Answers Questions
    7. Focus II
    8. Bob Harris Announcement
    9. Hocus Pocus

    Hope that helps, cheers Dave Sez (dan terima kasih untuk musik bagus sekali!)

    By Dave Sez on Mar 27, 2009

  9. Thanks Dave Sez - the BBC is no longer the meticulous, conscientious organization it once was, and their background research (even from their own records and files) isn’t always reliable nowadays, so I think we should take your information as final.

    Cheers
    Tony

    By Tony on Mar 30, 2009

  10. This recording is a real gem. It captures Focus during the “golden age” before endless gigging and the pressures of overnight fame began to take their toll. And the sound quality is excellent. A big thank-you to all concerned.

    By Malcolm on Apr 8, 2009

  11. hey bigo, this is pretty killer!!! thanks!!! i’m a little late getting this one.

    best,
    ed

    By Ed Saad on May 11, 2011

  12. The ending of this live version of Anonymous II is just ferocious. No wonder Harris referred to their playing as remarkable.

    By Steve T, on Dec 25, 2011

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