On Jan. 20, 1973, the second album by the Dutch band Focus, Moving Waves, entered the Billboard Top LP’s & Tape chart at #179. It would become a Top 10 album, peaking at #8.
The album had been released in October of 1971, but it took a while for this band to be discovered outside of Europe. At a time when heavy church organ chords and bass riffs, combined with bleak philosophical lyrics, ruled the world of progressive rock, Focus’ quirky six-minute rocker, “Hocus Pocus,” propelled the group and its LP into pop consciousness.
“Hocus Pocus” features a relentless, grinding guitar hook (Jan Akkerman) set to a driving drum beat (Pierre van der Linden) and prog-rock keyboards with primal, operatic yodeling, whistling and a hyperkinetic flute solo (Thijs van Leer). How could this combination be anything less than a hit?
… and so, “Hocus Pocus” by Focus replaced the Shocking Blue’s “Venus” as America’s favorite Dutch rock song. A single was released in the US in early ’73 (the first part of the song was on the A-Side, its conclusion on the B-Side) that went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I hadn’t heard “Hocus Pocus” in a while. It’s still silly. It’s still infectious.