Focus to Celebrate 50 Years With New Live Collection

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To celebrate 50 years of ground-breaking progressive rock, the Dutch band Focus have announced Focus 50, a 3-CD/Blu-ray collection. The title will be released on April 30, 2021 in the U.K. and May 7 in the U.S., via Cherry Red Records.

At the heart of the package are two CDs and Blu-ray of “Focus Live in Rio,” a concert recorded in Nitteroi, Rio de Janeiro, in 2017. The performance features music from across the history of the band from “Focus 1” and “House of the King,” on their very first album, through the classics “Hocus Pocus,” “Sylvia” and “Focus III” to “Song For Eva,” released in 2017.

Focus 50 includes a bonus CD, Completely Focused, with the classic Focus tracks numbered 1 through 12 re-recorded by the current Focus line-up of Thijs van Leer (keyboard, flute and vocals), Pierre van der Linden (drums), Menno Gootjes (guitar) and Udo Pannekeet (bass). The Focus tracks have been recorded during the lockdown period. The current line-up has been together since 2016.

The discs are accompanied by a booklet with notes by the band, their long serving engineer Geert Scheijgrond and South American tour promoter Marcel Castro with whom Focus have had a long relationship and who brought together the recording of the show in Rio. The booklet also features photos from the Rio concert together with personal photos from touring and in the studio. The album cover comes from legendary artist Roger Dean.

Watch Roger Dean and the band talk about the album package design

The Coronavirus pandemic forced Focus to postpone their anniversary celebrations from 2020 and Focus 50 will herald a year of celebration which will culminate in the release of a new studio album in early 2022.

Focus emerged in 1970 with a debut album, Focus Plays Focus, which became better known as In and Out of Focus. Their breakthrough came with the worldwide success of singles “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia” in the early seventies with a line-up which included founder member Thijs van Leer (keyboard, flute and vocals), Pierre van der Linden (drums) and Jan Akkerman (guitar). The albums Focus II/Moving Waves and Focus 3 put the band at the very forefront of the progressive music scene.

Related: “Hocus Pocus” was one of the biggest radio hits of 1973

Beloved by the student population, Focus’ music fused van Leer’s love of jazz and classical music and he employed a unique vocal style of yodeling and scat, using the voice as another form of instrumentation rather than singing in a conventional style.

Through many line-up changes across the years van Leer consistently sourced great musicians to join the Focus ranks. Focus went their separate ways in 1978, occasionally reuniting to perform on stage or record together on solo projects. Van Leer officially reformed Focus with a new line-up in 2001 and released the Focus 8 album the following year. Pierre van der Linden returned in 2004 while current guitarist Menno Gootjes joined the band in 2010. Udo Pannekeet completed the current Focus line-up in 2016 contributing to 2017’s Focus Family Album collection, which includes re-recordings and previously unreleased material, before the band returned to the studio to record Focus 11.

The complete track listing for the new release is below the links.

Focus 50 Track Listing

DISC ONE: LIVE IN RIO CD
1. FOCUS 1
2. HOUSE OF THE KING
3. ERUPTION
4. SYLVIA
5. SONG FOR EVA
6. ALL HENS ON DECK

DISC TWO: LIVE IN RIO CD
1. LE TANGO
2. P’S MARCH
3. FOCUS 5
4. HAREM SCAREM
5. HOCUS POCUS
6. FOCUS 3

DISC THREE: LIVE IN RIO BLU-RAY
1. FOCUS 1
2. HOUSE OF THE KING
3. ERUPTION
4. SYLVIA
5. SONG FOR EVA
6. ALL HENS ON DECK
7. LE TANGO
8. P’S MARCH
9. FOCUS 5
10. HAREM SCAREM
11. HOCUS POCUS
12. FOCUS 3

DISC FOUR: COMPLETELY FOCUSSED CD
1. FOCUS 1
2. FOCUS 2
3. FOCUS 3
4. FOCUS 4
5. FOCUS 5
6. FOCUS 6
7. FOCUS 7
8. FOCUS 8
9. FOCUS 9
10. FOCUS 10
11. FOCUS 11
12. FOCUS 12

On April 3, 2021, the band released a live clip from 1970.

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