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Focus - Ship Of Memories CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.16 | 179 ratings

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Steven in Atlanta
4 stars Although this is primarily a clean-out-the-vaults vehicle for Focus' label at the time, the end result is perhaps Focus' most cohesive and consistent album. Certainly their most melodic.

Focus were, through '75 at least, a melody-driven band. And boy, are beautiful melodies in abundance throughout this album - most notably in Focus V, the fifth in a seemingly endless series of Focus-titled tunes (I think they're up to Focus X, as I write this). As the liner notes point out, the band's twin towers Thijs Van Leer and Jan Akkerman were barely on speaking terms at this point, yet still managed together to create a tune of such remarkable beauty. Perhaps the discordance actually added fuel to the song's power, I don't know. A genuinely moving performance, Focus V remains my favorite tune by the band, and I thank the release of Ship of Memories for making it available.

The fusion elements so prevalent in the band's late '70s years were only just beginning to creep in here, notably on Crackers which Akkerman covered later on one of his early jazz fusion solo albums. Elsewhere, there are many moments of that celebrated classic Focus sound to be heard here without any of the lengthy solo-fueled side-long workouts that dotted the previous chronological album, Focus III.

By 1976, the band was already losing their (sorry) focus with the advent of many more jazz fusion elements, notably much Fender Rhodes, poly synths and the requisite solo noodling that the era sort of demanded. Actually, some of their fusion-esque stuff I'm quite fond of, but it never seemed like a natural progression from their original sound - just too abrupt a transition from one genre to the next. However, the Ship of Memories album very ably demonstrates that trademark Focus sound, with its classic lineup (for the most part), that even their supposed throwaway stuff can justify a release of its own and still stand proudly alongside its more formal releases.

An easy four stars.

Steven in Atlanta | 4/5 |


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