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Focus "Live At The Rainbow"

Don't be fooled. This is an ensemble of fantastic musicians.



"The album itself is filled with lengthy prog-rock ditties with lots of titles and movements, and there is no denying that Focus were serious, excellent musicians through and through."

December 19th, Good morning live music lovers and welcome to “What-The-Hell-Wednesday” here on the Live Vinyl Lovefest. Wednesdays are for picking an "outside the box" live album and I've got a good one for you today. Let’s have a run at “Focus Live At The Rainbow”


This album holds it’s own neat little corner of my consciousness. This band was one of those wonderful anomalies that happen in music sometimes. A band just hits a nerve at just the right time and "poof" you’re in the history books. Focus did just that with the song “Hocus Pocus” in 1973. It was this crazy instrumental with actual yodeling in it, and if you had a radio on in 1973, you simply could not avoid this song. It was EVERYWHERE. And then, they showed up one night on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Yep, THAT show again. I mean, at that age, I had no idea that Dutch people played rock music? (kidding of course)


As a budding musician at the time, the musicality and the “jammy-ness” of this live song on the radio totally captivated me and I had to have this record. And it turned out to be such a pleasant surprise. The album itself is filled with lengthy prog-rock ditties with lots of titles and movements, and there is no denying that Focus were serious, excellent musicians through and through.


The interesting part for me was researching this live recording. I had not pulled this record out in quite a while and it was really cool to find out that it was recorded by Phil Dunne using the legendary PYE Studios Mobile Unit. If you’re not familiar with PYE studios and their legacy in studio recording as well as mobile recording I urge you to look them up. There is a fair amount of info on the internet about their history and their legacy. Their contributions are far too numerous to mention here, but their technical lineage is wonderful to examine. Their mobile recording unit essentially served as the blue print for the infamous Rolling Stones mobile which probably in some way, influenced every mobile recording service built after it. The album was mixed in London at AIR studios by John Punter.


I actually love having this record on in the office. There’s something just “right” about it. The guitar playing is fantastic, and I particularly love the B3 sounds and Thijs van Leer’s playing on it. That along with the very “open” approach to drum sounds they went for during capture and mix makes It very organic, real and engaging. Don’t let the “quirckieness ” and fun of the track Hocus Pocus trick you in to missing something really good here. This is a really great live record of a band I would have gladly paid to see in concert given the opportunity.

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