Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
But for some silly noises which can’t really be called vocals, this song is an instrumental. In an interview with the British newspaper New Musical Express in May 1973, lead guitarist Jan Akkerman said “Hocus Pocus” was “just a send-up of those rock groups.”
Joke or not, it was a big hit. The album version of this Van Leer/Akkerman composition runs to 6 minutes 42 seconds. The radio edit entered the Billboard Chart at #98 week ending March 3, 1973 and peaked at #9 week ending June 2. In the UK it made the charts the same time as the classic Focus instrumental “Sylvia”; not many groups can boast that.
This instrumental hit is known for its use of yodeling. The song stood out on the radio as there was nothing like it on the airwaves. The song also contains flute, accordion and various vocal sounds.
This song came together very quickly when the band was at their recording studio. Drummer Pierre van der Linden started playing some two-bar fills, and guitarist Jan Akkerman came in with a tune. Focus frontman Thijs van Leer decided this would be a good time to yodel, something he had never done before. “Everyone considered it a very funny joke,” he said. “But we found ourselves drawn back to the song.”
The song was originally recorded in 1971, but didn’t chart as a hit until the faster radio version was recorded and released in 1973.
Focus is a Dutch progressive rock band. This is their only hit.