Saturday, September 26, 2009

Focus - Hamburger Concerto (1974)

(Dutch 1969-1978, 2001-Present)
Focus is a band I have always admired. They have a way of delivering calm orchestral yet stunning and sharp pieces of music, as well as simple acoustic songs. Focus is a Dutch rock band, founded by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the songs "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia".
In 1971, the group released 'Moving Waves', which brought the band international acclaim and a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the radio edit of the rock rondo "Hocus Pocus". This rock classic consists of Akkerman's guitar chord sequence used as a recurring theme, with quirky and energetic interludes that include alto flute riffs, accordion, guitar, and drum solos, whistling, nonsensical (Dutch) vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling. This album established Thijs van Leer and Akkerman as composers who could appeal to progressive-rock album listeners (a large audience in the early 1970s) and radio single buyers.

However, it is their 1974 album "Hamburger Concerto" which really caught my attention as it is nothing short of being a 'masterpiece'. The selftitled track “Hamburger Concerto”, is a brilliant composition which manages to maintain sounds of both classical instruments and of modern rock instruments as well. "Harem Scarem" picks up the pace a notch and has some really great keyboard and guitar work - my favourite track on the album by the way. They do a terrific job at not drowning out different instruments with their assortments of synthesizers and guitars. It really does sound great, but that's not all this album has. “La Cathedrale de Strasbourg” is a nice change of pace, providing a slow piano drawn piece, featuring some great accompaniment and general good musicianship. “Birth” is an upbeat tune with some great Ian Anderson-esque flute work and nice whining solos. The CD release of the album ends with the bonus track “Early birth”, which carries themes from birth including the flute and guitar and puts them in a great dramatic ending, something only leaving you wanting more. This is a great instrumental album. If you can't listen 5 minutes without lyrics, this is not the album for you, and progressive rock is probably not the genre for you anyhow.
The rip here was taken from CD remastered copy at 256kps and includes full album artwork.
Track Listing
01. Delitae Musicae
02. Hamrem Scarem
03. La Cathedrale de Strasbourg
04. Birth
05. Hamburger Concerto:
I) Starter
II) Rare
III) Medium I
IV) Medium II
V) Well Done
VI) One For The Road
06. Early Birth (bonus track)

Band Members:
Thijs van Lee(Flute/Organ/Piano/Harpsichord/Recorder/Mellotron/Vibes/Accordian/Whistling/Vocals)
Jan Akkerman (Guitar/Lute/Timpani)
Bert Ruiter (Bass/Auto Harp/Triangles/Chinese Finger Cymbals/Swiss Bells)
Colin Allen (Drums/Conga/Tambourine/Castanets/Cabassa/Chinese Gong/Timpani/Flexatone).

Focus Link (81Mb) New Link 13/04/2020


  1. I agree with you, I love Focus, I think you should listen to In and Out Focus, their first album, I think Anonymus is the best song in this album, Eruption from Moving Waves, Focus 3 from Focus 3.

  2. Hi Dalan
    Thanks for dropping by
    Yes - I've got their full collection and was introduced to Focus through a school mate via Moving Waves LP - bloody fantastic album. For some reason - Hamburger Concerto is my favourite nevertheless, probably because it was their first 'concept album'. I ended up learning flute because of Thijs van Lee (and Ian Anderson) and aspired to play some of their material one day. I'm still waiting :-)

  3. este album e de arrepiar, sensacional.