Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Focus--Hocus Pocus (1973)

     With it's odd blend of classical, jazz, and avant-garde, progressive rock in the early 70's struck an odd pose compared to much of what was going on around it. Every so often however some of this music broke through to a wider audience. One of those songs was "Hocus Pocus", with it's yodeling, whistling set on top of a hard rock base.
     What is somewhat unfortunate is that a majority of those who remember that song is unaware of the Dutch group's background in improvisational-jazz style progressive rock. The band began with keyboardist/flutist Thijs van Leer, guitarist Jan Akkerman, bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Hans Cleuver. This was the group who recorded the 1970 album, "In and Out of Focus" which wasn't heard much outside The Netherlands. Akkerman left to form his own group with bassist Cyril Havermans and drummer Pierre van der Linden. van Leer soon joined and Bert Ruiter replaced Havermans. This became the classic lineup of the band for much of the 70's.
     The song, "Hocus Pocus" came from the second album.  ("Focus 2" in Europe, "Moving Waves" in the states) It was released stateside in 1973 where it reached the top 10. Although it the only hit they would have on the US charts, several songs were used quite a bit as background music for sports shows ("House of the King", "Sylvia") and their albums sold quite well to the progressive rock crowd during this time. They never received the attention due them, but if you want to dig a bit deeper than the hit, you might find yourself listening to a bit more of this band.


Post a Comment