Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Masters from the Vaults Special Collections Edition Focus Footage from 1971 - 2002|
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts
The outstanding Dutch band, featuring Thijs Van Leer and Jan Akkerman. Includes rehearsal of material for the album "Moving Waves," extended extracts from the Old Grey Whistle Tests, 1972 & 1973, concert footage of the Ham... more »
I don't think the Focus fan could ask for more...
Glen Bourgeois | Cheticamp, Nova Scotia Canada | 07/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...but then again, I'm not familiar with the source material to determine if there _was_ more to choose from. A mid-'70s TV special offers "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" within the hour-long documentary, plus a 16-minute "Hamburger Concerto" as a bonus. The "Medley 1973" is in fact an abridged version of "Anonymus II", we get an Old Grey Whistle Test performance with Philip Catherine on guitar, David Kemper on drums, alongside Thijs and Bert for a very Mahavishnu Orchestra-like track (minus the lightning-fast runs) referred to as "Angel Wings" by the announcer... two early promo films of the "Moving Waves" line-up miming tracks from "In and Out of Focus" ("House of the King" and "Focus (vocal"), several performances taken from within a Dutch castle (an electric version of "Le Clochard", "Eruption" with variations from the recorded version (also played live in another segment, with other variations), as well as a segue into "Hocus Pocus" (which explains the Hocus Pocus-like mini-segment on the album version), and a delightful number sounding like traditional Dutch folk which shows the band in the kitchen/dining area of the castle whilst the owner cuts cheese (and bread?). And I believe three "Old Grey Whistle Test" performances are documented in full here, as well as the same performance of Sylvia from which individual band member shots were taken for the US edition of the "Focus 3" album.
Overall, the performances are what you'd expect from live Focus from that era. To counter a previous reviewer, from what _I've_ read in accounts, I've only been able to determine that Jan was unreliable as a live musician, period. Certain nights would see him soar, while others he was obviously struggling to get the notes out. As to blaming this on drug issues, I would have to say that much of the previous reviewer's comments noting Thijs and Jan's on-screen interaction comes down to reading way too much into things. I didn't notice exactly where Thijs looks "searchingly" for Jan (oftentimes, it looks like Thijs is visibly demonstrating a great amount of respect for Jan), and the segment where Jan walks off-stage (and tries to tell Thijs musically to stop the take, while Thijs stumbles in disbelief, not understanding the musical cue the rest of the band members give him at least twice, then continues on) is because Jan's guitar strap has become disengaged, and perhaps even broken. Jan can be seen picking up a second strap off his guitar amp and locks it in before resuming guitar. In fact, during that performance, there are others in the band who look way more "under the influence" than Jan, though I won't name them here.
True, there is most likely very little love lost between Thijs and Jan (and I've heard this from people who know either/or personally... I came close to meeting Thijs due to one of these people!), but thankfully you don't see it here. Instead, you get a charming memento of the best years (composition-wise) of the band, as well as appearances from over 75% of the musicians that passed through Focus in the 1970's (only Hans Cleuver, Martin Dresden and Eef Alberts (spelling?) aren't visually present... although at least the "Focus (vocal)" track mimed to is actually played by Hans and Martin, and Thijs refers to them by full name in his interview segments).
The only caveats are the visible age of one of the performances from the castle, as if that particular performance was taken from a previously viewed projector reel, although the sound is quite good (good fidelity with no dropouts). While the two earliest performances ("Focus (vocal)" and "House of the King") are mimed, these happen very early in the DVD and therefore minimize any negative feelings amongst viewers, of which most are probably seeing Focus play (on TV) for the first time!
Overall, a very, VERY worthwhile purchase for the Focus fan, and (from what I've heard as available over the years), all-inclusive.