BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 02/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1973 was a difficult time for Focus. Near the end of 1972, they released Focus 3, which spawned a minor hit with "Sylvia". In 1973, they released a live album (Live at the Rainbow), but there were tensions mounting with the band. Jan Akkerman was not in the best of moods (often refusing to speak to the other band members), Pierre van der Linden wasn't in the best of moods either. They were to record a followup to Focus 3, but was scrapped at the time. Pierre van der Linden left, only to team up with ex-Ekseption keyboardist Rick van der Linden (no relation) and ex-Cuby and the Blizzards bassist Jaap van Eik to form a band called Ace, which was quickly changed to Trace, because a British band was already calling themselves Ace (that was the band that featured a pre-Squeeze and pre-Mike & the Mechanics Paul Carrack, who had a hit with "How Long"). Focus then recruited a new drummer, Colin Allen from the Scottish band Stone the Crows and recorded the actual followup to Focus 3, Hamburger Concerto, regarded by many as the last great Focus album.
Ship of Memories consisted mainly of that scrapped followup to Focus 3 with Pierre van der Linden, and to be honest, the material isn't all that bad. "P's March" is a nice number dominated by the flute of Thijs van Leer. "Out of Vesuvius" was supposed to be a section of an epic that was to be the sequel to "Eruption" from Moving Waves, who knows what this piece would have sounded like if the album was finished and reached the shelves back in '73? Anyway, a nice jazzy piece with an untypical (for Focus) bluesy feel. "Glider" was later re-recorded for Mother Focus. This piece uses an early drum machine. It's also nice to hear van Leer's tradmark yodeling on this cut. "Spoke the Lord Creator" dates back to the In & Out of Focus lineup, recorded in January 1970, and it's obviously easy to tell, as it does sound like a missing cut from that album. "Crackers", not from the 1973 sessions, but later (probably 1975 or 1976) with yet another drummer (an American named David Kemper), has a much more disco-like feel than what you usually expect from Focus. Were they getting bad ideas from Earth & Fire (another Dutch band), who after recording some great prog rock albums (Song of the Marching Children, Atlantis) started going the disco route by this point? Don't know, but what is known was Focus bassist Bert Ruiter (who appears on most of the cuts on Ship of Memories, aside from "Spoke the Lord Creator") was dating Earth & Fire vocalist Jerney Kaagman. The album then closes with the title track, which was Pierre van der Linden's time to shine, it's all just him, on drums and harmonium.
Yes, Ship of Memories might not have the consistency of say, Moving Waves, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given these were leftover cuts from various eras. Still, not a bad collection of songs."
Focus outakes with several gems
r-devic-saint | Pittsburgh, PA | 12/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Much of this CD dates back to an aborted session at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in 1973, although liner notes for this reissue are non-existent, with the addition of several outakes from other sessions. It is understandable then that it lacks the cohesion of Art-Rock masterpieces such as HAMBURGER CONCERTO or MOVING WAVES, however several of the compositions rank with the group's finest. While the rhythm sections vary throughout the album the center of the action is allways the guitar of Jan Akkerman, and the keyboards, flute and yodeling vocals of Thijs Van Jeer. They are the primary composers of all the pieces with the exception of the title cut. The opener P'S MARCH is a superb peice as is RED SKY AT NIGHT, and the fifth installment of the composition FOCUS. Most of the other compositions have the feel of period Jazz Fusion jams with frequent fade outs. The album as a whole features some of Akkerman's most muscular soloing, however I miss the features for his accoustic and lute playing such as FocusIII'S ELSPETH OF NOTTINGHAM or DELITAE MUSICAE from HAMBURGER CONCERTO, and the cd suffers from a certain lack diversity because of this. The cd is completed with the US single version of their biggest hit HOCUS POCUS, it is taken at a much faster tempo than the MOVING WAVES lp version, and is an interesting if less satisfying companion to the original. While not an essential item no fan of Focus will be dissapointed by this collection."
A Dynamite Compilation of Studio Out-Takes
r-devic-saint | 06/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best way to descibe this CD. All the songs on it seem to span their entire career. You can definitly hear their musical style subtly evolve throughout the course of the CD (although not in linear progression). The first track, "P's March" has a nice, positive sounding musical theme composed by Van Leer that is both catchy and memorable. Another track which was composed by Jan Akkerman is titled "Can't Believe My Eyes". His guitar playing on this track is easily identifiable as the audio equivalent of someone shaking their head in disbelief to what they see and also expressing awe in disbelief to what they see. You'd have to hear the track to know what I mean. "Out of Vesuvius" is a track that sounds as though it came from early on in their career because it reminds me of what a band of high school students practicing in their parent's garage sounded like back in the '70's. Also included is the U.S. single version of "Hocus Pocus" with it's tempo kicked up a notch from the Standard LP version. This is a good CD to have if you want to get a feel for their evolution as a band."