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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 November 2001
Second album from the Dutch rock band Focus. The opening track Hocus Pocus was a hit single worldwide. It intersperses yodelling, whistling, a flute solo, and what sounds like a barrel organ in between guitarist Jan Akkerman's riffs and solos. In stark contrast, the second track Le Clochard features Jan Akkerman on classical guitar with a string section like backing played on the mellotron. A bland track Janis is followed by Moving Waves which seems inappropriate on this album. On it, the keyboard player and flautist Thijs Van Leeer plays classical style piano over which he sings an Inayat Khan poem. The instrumental Focus 2 finishes what was side one of the original LP. The rest of the album consists of Eruption, over 22 minutes long and made up of a series of pieces. Very classical in its style of composition it was very sophisticated for the time, and still is. Some of the sections of Eruption are actually very good in themselves. One part of it, Tommy, was released as a single. In 1976, the main musicians Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer went their own ways. Jan Akkerman has had quite a prolific career since then, producing a lot of very good music. He still plays Hocus Pocus and Tommy when he performs live.
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on 13 March 2006
This second album from Focus was so well composed and executed that it has easily stood the test of time. It is good music through and through; clever, exciting, beautiful and moving. This dutch band really knew what they were doing musically and boy could they play! They were (and still are) essentially an instrumental band with the melody carried by guitar, flute, keyboards and occasionally vocals. Focus didn't appear to be too much swayed by music fashions or commercial pressures of the music business when they recorded this album and that is one of the reasons why it sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did when it was released in the early 1970's.

The album kicks off with the one that was released as a 45, "Hocus pocus" a thunderous, relentless rocker composed by Akkerman & van Leer. Suitably titled and very clever, it has lots of surprises, tricks and dazzling guitar licks, and a damn good dose of comedy thrown in to add to the entertainment. Keyboardist Thijs(pronounced Tys) van Leer plays the jester with his wild flute playing, whistling, yodeling and other crazy vocal gymnastics, effortlessly hitting notes higher than Brian Wilson ever went on any Beach Boys recording. Not to be outdone, guitarist Jan Akkerman provides a lot of the thrills and excitement with his amazing gibson les paul antics and oh what a cracking job by the rhythm section, drummer Pierre van der Linden and bassist Cyril Havermans.

In contrast to this on the next track Jan reveals his talent as a classical guitarist by playing his own composition the gentle, haunting "Le clochard". Nice touch by Thijs with the mellotron backing which adds a touch of eeriness to the piece. GORGEOUS. Track 3 "Janis" is another Akkerman composition and features Thijs on multi-tracked, interwoven flute parts. This is probably the weakest track on the album, but is still interesting to listen to. The impressionistic title track "Moving waves" is one of the sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan set to music by Thijs on vocals and piano. Listen to the words with the music that van Leer has written. The rippling piano chords and the crescendos and diminuendos conjure up the image of the ocean waves as they "become excited and then all calm together". The ascending last few chords rise with the waves as they "reach upwards" (to the moon). This is good composing. Track 5, oh yes! Thijs van Leer's "Focus II" with jazz and classical influences and beautifully sensitive guitar playing by Jan. It is typical of Akkerman to add expression with the use of dynamics and subtle phrasing to enhance a melody as he does on this magical piece. STUNNING, however the best is yet to come.

The last track is made up of several different compositions, most by Thijs who came up with the overall concept "Eruption", aptly titled lasting 23 minutes. It commences with a line of music borrowed from Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo" with Thijs on Hammond organ and Jan using his violin guitar effect ( volume control tweaking. You hear a smooth note without the sound of the plucking). The sound is mesmerising and instantly captures your attention. After a minute or two it bursts into life taking you on a journey through the most amazing music, including stunning guitar solos that never get tedious and a couple of incredibly skillful drum solos which add hugely to the overall piece and don't lose one's interest for a second. The richly melodic guitar oriented Pupilla/Tommy segment is spine tinglingly sublime! The range of musical styles in this piece is incredible, from the renaissance style "Orpheus" and "Dayglow" to the Latin American organ solo segment of "The Bridge". The impact of each composition is enhanced by the contrast between it and the next, but despite the great variety it all flows and makes musical sense. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Thijs shows us how good a flautist he is as his instrument produces the richest timbres. His jazz/rock Hammond organ playing is fabulous. I wonder if dutchman Eddie van Halen was paying homage to Focus when he used the Title "Eruption" for his ground-breaking piece for solo guitar in the Late 1970's.

Musically the band was in a different league to any other at the time if you consider the musical progressions within each piece of music and the expertise of each band member. Jan Akkerman is a hugely talented musician. Technically brilliant with a lot of feel and a real understanding of music, he must be one of the best and most versatile guitarists in the business. Pierre van der Linden is a great drummer and definitely a musician, hugely enhancing the music with his highly creative and technically clever drumming. Cyril Havermans (later replaced by Bert Ruiter) plays a highly musical, rhythmic and solid bass. Thijs van Leer is a multi-talented musician with a great gift for composition and has written music which stands among THE MOST EXCITING, ORIGINAL AND BRILLIANT ROCK/POP MUSIC EVER RECORDED. If there is a genius in this band, then it is him.

If you want to hear something dramatically different then give "Moving waves" a listen. This is one of the best albums of "rock/pop" music ever recorded.
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on 20 May 2004
Moving Waves is solid glossy rock-pop with an added dash of Dutch weirdness that in the early 70s kept the Led Zep and ELP fans at a confused distance and left Focus to the cooler kids in the school. Focus never really fitted in with the progrock scheme of pompous instrumental noodlings and unlistenable sword-and-sorcery lyrics - they had no vocalist for one thing, just a guitarist whose virtuoso flexibility allowed him to be more articulate than most of the singers around at the time. Focus sounded like they were having fun, wrote great tunes, and could play like nobody's business without ever sliding into endless dribbly soloing. First track, and of course Big Hit, Hocus Pocus, must be one of the most good-humoured pieces ever written - a massive riff, yodelling, pixieish muttering, Morris dancing, and Jan Akkerman spinning out a guitar line as taut and dangerous as tripwire. Listen to him run out of Yodel 2 like a buzzsaw somersaulting along a tightrope. Le Clochard is one of Akkerman's sweet acoustic numbers, as is Janis, if less memorable. The title track is the kind of thing that only Focus (actually, probably only Thijs van Leer) would have done - an oriental poem set to a delicate piano tune sung in a Nice English Accent. Odd, but not unappealing. Focus 2 is one of van Leer's trademark Focus numbers, romantic and melodic with a clean, lyrical guitar theme for Akkerman to caress. (There's also a beautiful version on Akkerman's storming, and scandalously unavailable live album 10,000 Clowns, where he reprises in muscular fashion several other Moving Waves tracks). Final track Eruption is a suite of excellent tunes, including a Sleepy-Shoresish piano piece, a deliciously warm guitar swoon for Akkerman called Tommy, and a central section which lets him stretch out briefly - one flaw on the album in fact is that there's no opportunity for Akkerman to hit full improvisational flight, one of modern music's great experiences. So all in all it's a happy-hippy disc - look at that cover! - with four fine young musicians, one genius, and an assortment of great songs.
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on 13 March 2006
I'd second all that Daveyboots says. What set Focus apart from other so-called rock fusion bands were the influences and ability of the personnel within it. It is a carefully constructed musical work of art that could only have happened because a classically trained musician (van Leer) was involved. There's something almost perfect about this album in the way it runs its course. A must for anyone interested in hearing something breathtakingly different.
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on 27 October 2003
This is a great album, maybe Focus' best ever! Already the opening with the mytical Hocus Pocus brings up clearly the style and the originality of their sound, but it's not over! the album in fact remains on the astral plane, mixing a Jethro Tull-style flute with the "waves" of progressive rock. A must for all prog fans... and for all those who want to experience the "space notes" of Focus!
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on 10 September 2009
Moving Waves was Focus' breakthough album, though recorded a good year or so before the band took off in the UK during 1972. Prior to this all sort of bands had been trying to meld (butt-joint more like) 'classical' and 'rock' music, usually with awful hamfisted results (Deep Purple's 'Concerto for Group and Orchestra' anyone?). Focus managed it though, and their music is - to me - amongst the most melodic and carefully thought-out 'prog' music out there. Luckily, Moving Waves is free of the instruments which to some extent brought prog down - I'm thinking of the synthesizer and electric piano. On this album Thijs van Leer sticks to piano, Hammond organ and mellotron - what else does a prog keyboard player need? Jan Akkerman's guitar playing is fantastic - he's easily one of the most versatile rock guitarists of all time but often overlooked. His bass playing wasn't too bad either - in a 1991 fanzine (which I put together), he claimed most of the bass on this album was played by him, not Cyril Havermans. Pierre van der Linden's drumming is great throughout, another overlooked musician, though it's nice to see him back in the 21st century Focus line-up despite advancing years. The follow-up album Focus 3 was much more earthy and 'heavy' in terms of production, but is every bit as good as Moving Waves. Really they're the only two Focus albums you really need.
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on 27 October 2014
Probably one of the best Albums of all time. It's not an Album for anyone who wants to have a singalong because there are no vocals whatsoever but it's purely one of the best instrumental renditions ever produced. The guitar playing by Jan Akkerman is sublime as is the keyboard work of Thijs Van Leer and it is driven along by the superb Bass of Cyril Havermans and drums of Pierre Van Der Linden. Years ago I went along to see a then unknown band called Focus play at a now closed small venue 'The Granary' in Bristol and was knocked out by their brilliance in which they played the majority of Moving Waves. Shortly after they were 'Big Time' and playing larger venues. This album is a masterpiece and would get 10 stars if it was possible!!!
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on 30 August 2015
This music takes me back a few years, still sounds good and interesting sound quality as to be expected and my Cyrus had difficulty tracking this cd but I think that's down to the player being very fussy .
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on 31 December 2013
First saw this band on Sounds of the 70s in the 90s on BBC when they showed a clip from OGWT and this prompted me to buy Focus 3 shortly after seeing the clip. Having recently seen the new incarnation of Focus in a recent gig (with Thijs and Pierre), I promptly bought a stack of Focus CDs and would recommend this to any Focus and indeed non-Focus fan as it simply exudes fantastic musicianship. The Focus sound of Hammond organ, guitar and flute complete with yodelling and Thijs's vocal acrobatics are just so different and combine to produce one of the best and most underrated groups of the 1970s. Hocus Pocus, need I say more...
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on 13 September 2007
I really cannot comprehend why some of you dare to slag off Focus. They were one of the most original and exciting bands to have come out of the 70's and the skill level of each musician is pretty much unrivalled. I mean there you are picking the songs to pieces when in fact the music was cleverer and more exciting than other so called mega bands such as Genesis and Camel and Jethro Tull. And if they are not categorised as progressive rock, who cares? I think they created wonderful music and exhibited amazing originality and actually this album is one of the classics of the 70's. So just stop picking them to bits and accept that this is a brilliant album.

And as for Hocus Pocus, yes it is up there with the greats like Stairway to Heaven, Radar Love, All Right Now etc.
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