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Live at the BBC

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Audio CD, May 3, 2004
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 3, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hux Records
  • ASIN: B0001QNOBK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,797 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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

Editorial Reviews

Recorded in London on 21st March 1976 by the BBC just days after the departure of founding guitarist Jan Akkerman. He was replaced by Philip Catherine. The group soon disbanded after this tour. A unique recording for any Focus fan to explore.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Simon C. Lawford on October 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Some of us have been waiting a little while for this release! In fact nearly 30 years have passed since 1976 when Focus made their last tour to the UK - famously since Jan Akkerman had just departed and his place been taken by Philip Catherine, a substitution that in the minds of many Focus fans was tantamount to the demise of the group.

I heard the band play at Southport New Theatre on March 27 on this tour. I was completely obsessed with Focus at that time, and in particular had a huge admiration for the unique harmonic style of Thijs Van Leer. I have never forgotten the wonderful, haunting, effect of the opening chords of the first number, Virtuous Woman, which struck me as one of the best things they had ever done.

Later I acquired the LP Focus con Proby, and that was great because it contained another outstanding piece played at this concert, Maximum.

So when I heard that this new CD, Focus Live at the BBC was coming out I was fascinated to find out whether my impressions and memories of the music I had heard 28 years earlier were accurate.

In short, this CD confirms that Focus imploded at the very time they were discovering a new and valid direction. Much of the playing is beautifully spacious and laid back - Maximum for instance is stretched out to 14' compared to 8'36 on Focus con Proby, and the same feel is evident in the slower opening sections of Virtuous Woman.

Another feature of the band's performance is their effective use of dynamics, the opening of Virtuous Woman or the final notes of Little Sister being good examples. The lengthy improvised sections of Eruption and Anonymous II have given way to more tightly constructed works with Focus' trademark colourful harmony and imaginative soundscape.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. Fox on January 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
There isnt much standard Focus fare here. Only oldies House Of The King & Hocus Pocus. The rest is mostly Thijs Van Leer solo songs performed by the then current line up. Most of it is a rock/funk/jazz mixture. Virtuous Woman & Blues In D get going pretty good after a slow opening in Virtuous Woman. (Listen for a few lines from Bennie Helder in the ending to Virtuous Woman).

Maximum is a longer version than the one on the Focus Con Proby album. Kinda slower but still a fantastic piece of music.

Sneezing Bull is double the length of the Con Proby version and has some taped guitar parts. This was originally a Philip Catherine solo song.

Sonata for flute is a solo flute piece. Good if you are a flute fan but otherwise a low point. They then go into House Of Ther King. a bit weak on the guitar parts. This proves the point that Philip Catherine is a better jazz guitarist and Jan Akkerman the better rock guitarist (although in recent years Akkerman has done some great jazz stuff)

Next is Angel Wings. Another Philip Catherine song, it is the STANDOUT, HIGHLIGHT of the album. Nothing on this cd comes close to a better song. Killer drums by David Kemper, Great soloing by Philip Catherine. A fusion jazz classic!

Little Sister/What you see has a little vocalizing by Thijs Van Leer. Not too bad but as usual you wish he wouldn't sing.

Hocus pocus has little guitar pyrotechnics like Jan Akkerman would do, BUT is still a great song to hear live!

Fans and non fans of focus. Fans of Fusion jazz (like Mahavishnu Orchestra) will ALL find this a STUNNING live concert CD!!!!
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By James D. on January 7, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I just want to say "Thanks!" to the previous reviewers of this disc, or I never would have purchased it. I am a big Jan Akkerman fan, and the "Con Proby" album (no Akkerman; Philip Catherine on guitar, as on this disc) was a poor finale for such a fantastic band as Focus. So if not for the extremely positive reviews, I would not have given "Live at the BBC" a second thought.

The two Catherine-penned pieces are my favorites (Sneezing Bull & Angel Wings), which reinforces Catherine's contribution to this lineup. Everything else is very good to great as well (just ignore Van Leer's "vocals" at the very beginning of the disc). The other reviewers have said it better than I can.

If you are a fan of Focus, buy this disc.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kireviewer VINE VOICE on September 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This CD comes from a live BBC broadcast in 1975. It is 62 minutes long and the sound quality is very good to excellent. There are some liner notes that explain what the band was up to and some details behind this recording.

This CD was recorded after Jan Adkkerman left Focus. Philip Catherine ha replaced him on guitar. It was recorded between the albums Mother Focus and Focus Con Proby. Mother Focus has a collection of short, jazz oriented compositions. In Focus Con Proby, a Texas singer who was popular in Europe sang on a number of tracks. That was a blues oriented album and quite a bit different than anything else Focus has done. This CD, Live at the BBC, is nothing like either of those albums.

This is CD is a mixture of jazz, jazz fusion and what I would call British progressive jazz. British progressive jazz is the style of music many British progressive bands switched to after progressive music died out. Those bands include Gong, Colosseum

and Brand X (featuring Phil Collins).

The first two tracks and Angel Wings are great jazz fusion compositions, but played in that wonderful flowing Focus style. If all tracks on the CD were like this, it would probably deserve 5 stars.

Maximum and Sneezing Bull are more traditional jazz. They are good tunes, but contain some of those jazz cliches that were popular in the mid seventies through the mid eighties. It reminds of what Billy Cobham was doing during that period. Both compositions would later appear on Focus Con Proby, but in a shorter and slightly different form.

Little Sister/What You See is a straight ahead British progressive jazz composition. It sounds like that it could come from Hatfield and the North, including the vocal style. It is a very nice track.
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