May 24, 2004
Hux Records
Pop/Rock, Art Rock, Prog-Rock

Album Review

Recorded in concert in London by the BBC on March 21, 1976, this couldn't be considered a representative document of Focus at its peak, for the very important reason that it's missing guitarist Jan Akkerman. In fact, only Thijs Van Leer and Bert Ruiter remained from the original band by the time this was recorded; Akkerman had left only weeks before, to be replaced by the Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. With another new recruit (Los Angeles session man David Kemper) on drums, the quartet soldiered through a British tour, this show (at London's New Victoria Theatre) being one of the final tour dates. Although the sound quality is very good, the music doesn't only suffer from Akkerman's absence; it's also about half-comprised of boring, laid-back, instrumental jazz-funk fusion. Akkerman's guitar is especially sorely missed on the obligatory finale "Hocus Pocus," a jittery version in which, it must be admitted, Van Leer sings-yodels with real gusto, even remaining in yodel-song while he introduces the other members of the band. The numbers where their characteristic earlier flute-paced prog rock reasserts itself fare best, including Catherine's composition "Sneezing Bull," Van Leer's solo flute interpretation of Bach's Sonata for Flute, and a welcome dive back into their early repertoire on "House of the King."
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Virtuous Woman
  2. Blues in D
  3. Maximum
  4. Sneezing Bull
  5. Sonata for Flute
  6. House of the King
  7. Angel Wings
  8. Little Sister/What You See
  9. Hocus Pocus