I thought, that I was pretty familiar with most Rock/Prog Rock/Folk Rock groups, most things Prog and Folk Rock in fact, yet I had never acquired, for my own collection, anything from FOCUS - how amiss of me :-) - and I was in for a treat!
I decided to dunk my toe with HOCUS POCUS: THE BEST OF FOCUS, my starting points being a love of;- Rock, Metal, Folk Rock, Prog Rock, Classical, Blues et al.
According to other reviewers it seemed that most Prog Rock fans really rate FOCUS. I had, of course heard the likes of the Tullesque 'HOUSE of THE KING' by Jan Akkerman and the brilliantly witty, driving, 'HOCUS POCUS' with it's multi-ranging yodeled vocal middle eights and sideline 'scatting' from Mr. Van Leer and that was the sum total of my 'appreciation' of FOCUS - or so I thought. As a point of note the latter Track may be 'an acquired taste' for some, yet it makes me smile - every time - to hear that hard hitting, driving, 1970's Guitar based Rock under, ancient, Folk based, vocal techniques. I am surprised to say that even my girlfriend loves the, in the main, instrumental tracks, of this album, with comments such as;- 'it has a great groove', 'it's funky - wow listen to that!'.....
.....Personally, this album took me awhile to 'get into' yet as with most enduring musical loves of mine, perseverance is well worthwhile - it was the same for me, many, many years ago with some of Zep's (et al's.) work, and such has remained a favourite of mine for 30-40 years - this album is like a treasure chest, in that the deeper you dig the more treasure you find, every time I listen to the Tracks within, I hear more and more, like taking another new journey with the same music, depth, craftsmanship, feeling, courage, innovation - just superb!
The Bass part on 'ANONYMUS' is superb (Martijn Dresden), as is the guitar solo (Jan Akkerman) - very evocative, taking me on a journey back to times and places, from Rock folklore that I had, until now, yet to visit...and the intro (guitar and vocals) to 'TOMMY' is just haunting - wow!
This Album makes me want to dust of my old Guitar - maybe take up the Flute - and learn, what for me are 'new' songs and ways of making music!
....When I re-discovered 'SYLVIA', which I must have heard before, whilst listening to the radio many, many years ago, as a small boy (my mum always had such music playing in the background) and I, rather embarrassingly realised that, with some 'classical' training under my belt (that element of my musical 'education' didn't last long!), I had, for many years, been playing, very naively, as a semi-acoustic type 'warmup', something akin to the intro chord sequence from 'SYLVIA' and there was I thinking that I was being original!! (how the mind can play tricks on one as loved music is never truly forgotten!).
Hocus Pocus as an Album, is, in many ways, and at first unbeknownst to me, a real homecoming, musically speaking, it has it all, heavy Guitars, haunting Guitars, Bass lines to die for, Hammond Organ/Keyboards loaded with 'funk', out-there, acrobatic vocal visitations (with unbelievable range), haunting, rasping, breathy Flute solos, Prog Rock, Folk Rock, Lounge Rock, elements of Trad. Folk, tempo changes etc. etc.......it has it all.
1970's nostalgia by the bucket-load - superb!