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Focus Ship Of Memories album cover
3.18 | 206 ratings | 18 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. P'S March (4:48)
2. Can't Believe My Eyes (5:23)
3. Focus V (3:02)
4. Out Of Vesuvius (5:50)
5. Glider (4:39)
6. Red Sky At Night (5:51)
7. Spoke The Lord Creator (2:33)
8. Crackers (2:44)
9. Ship Of Memories (1:47)

Total time 36:37

Bonus Track on CD editions:
10. Hocus Pocus (US Single version) (3:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Thijs Van Leer / vocals, organ, piano, electric piano, Mellotron, clavinet, flute
- Jan Akkerman / guitar, lute
- Bert Ruiter / bass (1-5,8), vocals
- Martin Dresden / bass (7)
- Pierre van der Linden / drums (1-5,9)
- David Kemper / drums (6,8)
- Hans Cleuver / drums (7)

Releases information

This album is a collection of unreleased tracks, including obscurities and different takes.
Most of it was recorded during 1973.

Artwork: Cream Group (Amsterdam)

LP EMI ‎- 050.25610 (1976, Netherlands)
LP Harvest ‎- SHSP 4068 (1976, UK)

CD EMI ‎- CDM 7 48858 2 (1988, Europe) With 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to tarcisio moura for the last updates
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FOCUS Ship Of Memories ratings distribution

(206 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FOCUS Ship Of Memories reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Scraping-the-bottom-of-the-drawers for this release, but there is some fine stuff so much so that the real albums pale out in comparison. This is certainly much stronger than its predecessor Mother Bogus (that was an easy one but I had to say it) but I wish the art work did not refer to it (this warship thing). Since there is material that dates back to the first album , this vimyl always lacked direction.

Although some fine tracks , again Focus shows us how thin on ideas they were by repeating the Focus themes and (respectively at version 3) and the short (single) version of Hocus Pocus. red Sky at Night being the best track on here but there are some fine Akkerman moments on side 2.

I would almost say that this album is for completist but I like Focus enough to award this album that third star.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars "Ship of Memories" is a compilation of unreleased tracks (mainly form 1973).

I am always reluctant with "unrealeased" material. IMO, most of the time it should have remained so. And there are very few exception to this rule, IMHHO (in my humble and HONEST opinion). I even rank Led Zep and "Physical..." in this category (and believe me, I like them an awful lot). So, let's hear what "Focus" has to propose after their extremely weak "Mother Focus".

The opener is quite strange : two different tempos. One is purely folkish and a bit dull, while the other one features some fabulous guitar work from Jan. "Can't Believe My Eyes" is on the very heavy side of their production. Dull and repetitive. Almost jamming, but we know that they like to do this. At times, the riff reminds me with the one of "Kashmir" from who you know. It should have been titled "Can't Believe My Ears".

A well established tradition comes next with "Focus V". As usual this "Focus" theme is very pleasant. All in harmony and subtlety. A nice symphonic & jazzy song with beautiful guitar and flute. This is exactly what a Focus fan is expecting (at least it is my case). Of course, one might argue that they lack in diversity with these "Focus" songs but at the end of the day Carlos did it over ten times with "Samba Pa' Ti" and I always have found these songs one of the best of each corresponding "Santana" album. and I have the same feeling with "Focus".

Jazz ("Out Of Vesuvius") and funk ("Glider") will respectively be on the menu. Some short background yodeling during the latter. Let's say that none of these two songs will be remembered as great ones.

My favourite song (and the longest one, almost six minutes) from this album is without any doubt "Red Sky at Night". Symphonic "Focus" just as I like them. Poignant melody and emotional keyboards. A classic "Focus" song after all. The listener will be brought back down to earth with "Spoke The Lord Creator". This is a real bad song. Country type. But it is not the frst time that they are flirting with this genre, unfortunately. Remember ""All Together...Oh That!" on their previous album.

The funky / disco "Crackers" could have remained for the vaults. Press next to reach the title track. This one sounds completely unfinished. Some useless 1'46" of music.

The closing number is better known as "Hocus Pocus Fast Version". It is a short version (not an excerpts) of the song we all know over here (in Europe, I mean). It was released as a single for the US market. It holds more wild moments that anything else (hence the title...). A nice touch to close this average compilation work.

So this work follows the rule. Two stars.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the disaster of the previous album Mother Focus, Akkerman, van Leer and company released this collection of outtakes and unreleased tracks. This is much better record that brings back some of the old FOCUS magic. It is particularly worthy to listen to the nice and playful flute-marked opener P's March and the dark and noisy rendition of fuzz and Mellotron filled Can't Believe My Eyes. There is also quite a few amazing jazz jamming moments in Out of Vesuvius and Crackers and interesting, rather dirty version of Hocus Pocus. The rest is not very much up to the standards of FOCUS and it is plain to see why these had been left over. Ship of Memories is not essential record, but it has a healthy dose of nice music that can mend (at least temporarily) the broken hearts of the fans who had already dismissed the band as passe after the previous failure.


P.A. RATING: 3/5

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One thing I really like about this album is the name of the album. In digital days, this album might be named as Previously Unreleased album or each individual track will be inserted as bonus tracks of remastered series of Focus. Rather the band opted to use "Ship of Memories" which contains previously unreleased songs from their previous albums. This is an instrumental album released by by Sire Records, with materials spanning from 1970, 1973, and 1975. The first four tracks were originally should appear on a follow-up album to Focus III in 1973, but there were disagreements among members of the band about the quality of the material, and finally it was not released as an album. That's why you will find that the musicianship and performance of the band are quite good for all four songs here.

You can find that with the opening track P's March, there is a sense of style similar to the band's debut album In and Out of Focus. There are lots of combined electric guitar work, distinctive style of Akermann and dynamic drumming slated with keyboard / organ work throughout the album. It's typical Focus sounds of the early seventies. But if you meticulously observe each individual track you will find why they were not included in the album. It's not bad at all but it's not measuring up with those of Focus III or "Moving Waves" or "Hamburger Concerto".

Overall, this is a good album especially for those who enjoy instrumental work from Focus.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by friso
5 stars Focus - Ship of Memories (1976)

On this album, somehow hidden to most fans of the band, Focus found some new ways to express it's more then capable musicianship. With Thijs van Leer on organs, keyboards and flute and no less then Jan Akkerman on the electric guitar some sensation can be suspected. On bass we have the professional Bert Ruiter and during the album we get to listen to three different drummers, among who Pierre van der Linden of the original Focus line-up.

Somehow the word spread that 'Ship of Memories' is an album full of leftovers from other records, but I must say the material sounds as if recorded in the same period. The style and sound is consistent. Having that said, the album does have a different approach then most other Focus records. There are very few vocals by Van Leer and there's more fusion to be found. The compositions are shorter and the sound is very full and well developed. There are little influences from classical music and the sound is rooted in heavy jazz rock. Somehow most compositions have distinctive atmospheres and it's apparent that on some tracks Jan Akkerman plays particularly psychedelic, fierce and confronting. I myself can't imagine any of these compositions being 'leftovers', because most of them are simply brilliant. Perhaps they weren't suitable for other albums because of the distinctive atmospheres that are less accessible then the symphonic styled tracks of Focus.

'P's March' is an opening track with two face; the folksy parts with flute (that perhaps sound a bit too optimistic) and the darker parts with brilliant guitar screams by Akkerman. Non of his solo's are melodic, but they somehow cut through metal. 'Can't believe my Eyes' is a heavy, dark psychedelic fusion track ? one of my favorites! The style is very distinctive; a bit troubling and exciting. The chords progressions are very original and the solo's of Akkerman psychedelic and confronting. The way he interprets these chords schemes without thinking to much about harmony, but instead focusing on the dark atmosphere is really a prove of artistic brilliance. It sure took me a while to understand this track though. 'Focus V' is another instrumental with a slower pace and a more clean style. The melodies sound intimate, yet again distinctive. 'Out of Vesuvius' is a great vehicle for very professional fusion jamming with lot's of great solo's of both Akkerman and Van Leer. Just listen to the thickness of the sound!

On side two 'Glider' is a great compositions with a funky fusion main theme and a symphonic/progressive refrain with some nice psychedelic screams by Van Leer. Great track. 'Red Sky at Night' is a composition that has some drama to it, which is very attractive for listeners of progressive rock. The emotional solo's of Akkerman really touch something whilst the impressive chords and especially moog bass by Van Leer make this a unique track. The flute parts are really welcome and it's good to see how the song be send into folky directions. Very catchy this one. 'Spoke the Lord Creator' is an optimistic track with some traces of classical music. This is perhaps the only track that really would have worked well on the debut or Moving Waves. Jan Akkerman's 'Crackers' (a track he would also record on self-titled album and play live frequently) is not a very attractive track because it's a pure fusion track with that let's dance vibe. 'Ship of Memories' turns out to be a short atmospheric impression by Pierre van der Linden. The opening has some nice drums and the hormonium piece that soon follows sound nostalgic, but not too professional.

Conclusion. This is my favorite Focus album, albeit a bit non-Focus-like. The distinctive atmospheres, the great use of fusion styles (which I find hard to find elsewhere!), the artistic bravery of Jan Akkerman (some of his best solo's), professional performance and great recording make this album a real winner. I can image fans of Focus being disappointed after first spin, but most of them will grow into it. For fans of the progressive fusion style this is the most attractive Focus album. Furthermore I would recommend repeated listening before making judging on this album. Somehow, after years of little replay this record started to fascinate me. I'm going to reward this one with the big 4,5 stars rating. Overlooked and underrated in my humble opinion.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 3 2/3 stars, really - Focus' "Ship of Memories"is a collection of old takes and leftovers that this Dutch band released as a means to deal with the ultimate crisis of its classic line-up (Jan Akkerman's departure) while keeping up with the recording contract. The "Mother Focus" album had been an almost total disaster in artistic terms, showing a band that used to be grandiose until recently ("Hamburger Concerto" had been an amazing follow-up to the "Focus III" and live albums) going down as a muzak ensemble. This Focus had evidently fallen far out of focus. This album was not designed to show sings of improvement or further decay, but it actually happened to be a very good late testament for the Akkerman and Van der Linden days. In fact, most of the material comes from the time between the live album's release and the "hamburger Concerto" sessions. While in America prog, Kansas was elaborating one of its finest compositions ever with the linkage and rearrangement of various leftovers ('Magnum Opus'), Focus revealed that it could deliver pretty good ideas that didn't have much to envy those tracks that ultimately had made it for the first 5 studio efforts. One must really reconsider the traditional meaning of the word leftover in this kind of situations, even though the sound production quality is irregular throughout the album. 'P'S march' kicks off the album alternating an adapted joyful classical piece and a slow jazz-rock portion, combining light spirit and melancholy in a typically Focus kind of way. 'Can't Believe My Eyes' is a jazz-rock jam that exposes some of the most dynamic playing by Akkerman: despite not being too fast, it is energetic and it rocks big time. On the other side of things, 'Focus V' states a very reflective mood, based on eerie mellotron/organ layers and ethereal guitar phrases: the latter's controlled dynamics fits well the flute solo that appears somewhere in the middle. A lovely piece, indeed, it is a crime that it should be kept in the dark until this album was released. 'Out of Vesuvius' goes to a similar territory to that of track 2, if a bit funkier: some cadences may remind us of the 4th section from the 'Hamburger Concerto' suite. The album's second half starts with 'Glider', which basically is the original demo of what eventually became 'Mother Focus'. Unlike the insipid final result, 'Glider' happens to be a ballsy, effective exercise on rock-meets-funky, with a pleasant use of jazzy disco elements. There is also a funny entry of a rhythm machine, which joined with the extra percussion seems to flirt with the disco thing. But this is no 'Invisible Touch' or 'No Reply at All', this is a great piece of humorous, catchy rock: the added flavors provided by Akkerman's solos and Van Leer's multiple keyboard inputs are properly fuelled by the rhythm duo. 'Red Sky at Night' is a majestic exhibition of progressive romanticism: shifting things from the classy frivolity of 'Glider', this piece states a portrait of reflectiveness through its well-construed melodic development. The flute solo is pure Van Leer magic. 'Spoke the Lord Creator' is closer to the Focus that recorded the debut album, a bit naïve yet catchy and proficiently performed. 'Crackers' displays a sort of strength that was sorely missing in "Mother Focus", while its framework remains similar to most of the tracks that were included in it. The namesake closer is a brief, experimental piece performed by a van der Linden doubling on drum kit (a ceremonious roll) and harmonium (soft chord progressions): the idea of a ship setting out to sea is well portrayed here. Surprisingly good, this album outdoes the preceding and follow-up efforts that Focus came out with in the wake of its career. Unlike the current resurrection era, way back then, the leadership of Van Leer alone wasn't enough.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Luckily, I didn't pay to much for this album. I have the Sire LP version, and I picked it up at a used record store. It appears to be in pristine condition, but the sound throughout it is muddy.

The album opens with P's March a mix of fusion and medieval sounds. Can't Believe My Eyes is primarilay a vehicle for a bluesy Jan Akkerman solo. The grungy guitar then gives way to Focus V, a slow, light fusion song by Thijs van Leer. Side 1 closes with Out Of Vesuvius, another bluesy jam, that doesn't quite erupt.

Glider, a funky guitar piece with a little fusion, opens the second side. It has a heft helping of cheese, but Akkerman's guitar saves it. Red Sky At Night a slow piano driven ballad, is also assisted by Akkeman's adept guitar. Spoke The Lord Creator, the worst titled song on the album, doesn't seem to know if it wants to be a keyboard prog song, or country rock. This version of Crackers which fared better on an Akkerman solo album I've heard, has some nice fusion sections, but the arrangement wanders much too close to disco. And the title track, Pierre van der Linden' Ship Of Memories starts out like it may be a grand voyage, but just sinks.

There is very little prog on this album, compared to the better known focus albums. But with Akkerman and van Leer together, it's not completely uninteresting.

2.5 stars, rounded down (sorry).

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Like Led Zeppelin Coda, this is not a "real" studio album, but a collection of unreleased tracks from this famous dutch band. After the disaster that was their latest LP (Mother Focus) and the departure of guitarist Jan Akkerman, it was clear the band needed to have something to fulfill contractual obligations until they could get someone to replace him and come up with newer material. So Ship Of memories was the obvious solution: tracks rejected for their previous records put together in one place. Of course the quality of the songs vary wildly and the album has absolutely no coherency or even flow. To be fair, there are a couple of very good songs: the opener PS March is one of them, and Focus V is another: both have fine melodies, tasteful arrangements and great trademark guitar solos by Akkerman. But those are the exception to the rule. Most of the tracks are only average, butthere are also some hideous stuff like the funky Crackers and the jazz rock/disco Glider. The title track is not even a song: itīs just some musical noises put together in less than 2 minutes, a real turd.

Although this is not a total loss, saved partially because of Akkermanīs beautiful guitar licks even on the worst tracks, and this is somewhat better than Mother Focus, Ship Of Memories is typically the case of release to satisfy only the hardcore fans and collectors. Focus doubtless lost their focus (pun intended) around 1975 and was one of the first great prog acts to lost its way during the mid to late 70īs. Unfortunately they would not be alone, but thatīs another story. I can recommend this album to the ones that have and love their earlier works up and including Hamburger concerto and want to have it all, even a bunch of previous rejected material.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nš 512

"Ship Of Memories" is the sixth studio album of the Dutch progressive rock band Focus and was released in 1976. However, this is really a very different studio album because it isn't a studio album with new material composed by the band, after the release of their previous fifth studio album "Mother Focus". It's an album that features largely unfinished Focus' tracks from that aborted 1973-1974 studio sessions, in order to produce a follow up album to "Focus 3".

Because of that, the line up on this album is a bit wider than it was usual. So, the line up that performed on all the tracks of "Ship Of Memories" is Thijs van Leer (vocals, keyboards and flute), Jan Akkerman (guitar), Martijn Dresden (bass guitar), Bert Ruiter (bass guitar), Hans Cleuver (drums), Pierre van der Linden (drums) and David Kemper (drums).

"Ship Of Memories" has ten tracks. The first track "P'S March" written by Thijs van Leer is a very nice and interesting track with a clear medieval influence which became a truly trademark in the band's music. It's a song with a very nice guitar work performed by Jan Akkerman. What is more interesting about this track is that it's divided into two different tempos. One is a folksy happy tempo with a flute work and the other is a darker tempo with a brilliant guitar work. That is very interesting, really. The second track "Can't Believe My Eyes" written by Jan Akkerman is a very heavy and repetitive track with a very nice guitar work performed by Jan Akkerman. It's a jazz/rock song with one of the most heavy and dynamic performances by Jan Akkerman that rocks all over the time. This is a very heavy and dark psychedelic track, one of my favourites on this album. The third track "Focus V" written by Thijs van Leer is another instrumental track which recovery the Focus' serie. As is usual with all Focus' themes, this is a very pleasant and harmonic song with beautiful guitar and flute. It's a short fusion song, very atmospheric and in the same vein of the other Focus' themes of the serie. The fourth track "Out Of Vesuvius" written by Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman, Pierre van der Linden and Bert Ruiter is a fusion of a mix of funky, jazz and rock music. It's a very well played song by all band's members, with great improvisation that seems composed to be more performed live than on studio. By a pure technically point of view, it's perfectly played, but it seems to me that there is something missing to it, to be able to be considered a great song. The fifth track "Glider" written by Jan Akkerman is basically the original demo of what eventually became to be the title track of their fifth studio album "Mother Focus". This is an excellent track with great guitar performance by Jan Akkerman and with a fusion mix between funky, rock, jazz and disco. It isn't as good as "Mother Focus" is, but it's a very nice, pleasant and humorous piece of music to listening to. The sixth track "Red Sky At Night" written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is a powerful and majestic piece of progressive rock music and represents one of the best musical moments on the album. It's probably the most attractive and appellative song on the album for all prog heads. The musical performance of Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is so emotional and touching that makes of this song a real unique track. The seventh track "Spoke The Lord Creator" written by Thijs van Leer is closer to the Focus' material which was recorded on their debut studio album "In And Out Of Focus". It's a nice and catchy country type song, but that is at the same time naïve and with some traces of classical music. The eighth track "Crackers" written Jan Akkerman is, without any doubt, a funky/disco uninspired song, which sincerely represents, in my opinion, one of the weakest points on the album. This is a song that seems to me a fish out of water. The ninth track is the title track "Ship Of Memories". It was written by Pierre van der Linden. I think this is the only theme composed by him for the band until that moment. It's very short theme, only with drums and an organ on the back, with no melody. Sincerely, I don't know if we can call it a song. The tenth and last track "Hocus Pocus" written by Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman is the US single version of the original song released on their second studio album "Moving Waves". It's a short version of the original song expressly composed for the US market. Of course this is a great song of Focus, one of the best known of them and a trademark of the group. However, I clearly prefer the original long version of the song.

Conclusion: "Ship Of Memories" is a very special album of Focus in all their entire discography. In reality, "Ship Of Memories" is more a compilation of previous unreleased songs than a true original studio album of the band. This was more a project of Mike Vernon, who was the group's producer at the time, than a band's project, really. The band hadn't a real active involvement on this release and Akkerman showed a complete lack of interest about it. In general, "Ship Of Memories" has a better collection of songs than "Mother Focus" has. However, it has also its weak points and the main of all is that "Ship Of Memories" isn't a true cohesive studio album but a collection of previously unreleased songs. We all know that a collection of songs, although as good as they can be, doesn't make a real studio album. So, I'm going to rate "Ship Of Memories" with the same 3 stars of "Mother Focus", because it's interesting but is a non-essential album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars I've had the album for maybe 15 years and only now I've realized it was a collection of outtakes. I'm glad that this effort took place because the selections are solid and no fillers. The recording years span 1970-1975 but mainly 1973 when the band were at their peak. The first album half dedi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2967405) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, November 7, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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 throug ... (read more)

Report this review (#194412) | Posted by Steven in Atlanta | Friday, December 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Some out-takes and rarities here. Pīs march A nice up tempo track, in the medieval influence tradition by the band. Not the most original thing to do, but the melody is fine and it has soaring guitar work from Akkerman. 5 stars Canīt believe my eyes This track is much more jazzy than most ... (read more)

Report this review (#132627) | Posted by Peto | Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This compilation is not enough appreciated, maybe because it can't truly be called an album, as the tunes here weren't intended to sound out together in this order. It is therefore a compilation spanning many years and not a coherent album, however the quality of the music here is sometimes on par ... (read more)

Report this review (#128031) | Posted by Salviaal | Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another minor release in Focus' first era. This is a kind of Tull's "Living in the past", which is a studio album but it's really a bunch of outtakes and b-sides and, then, it's in general catalogued as a compilation. The main difference is because "Living...." was released, in fact, as a compi ... (read more)

Report this review (#127481) | Posted by sircosick | Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The frantic activity of Focus, because of their success in both Britain and the US, had drained the band and recording sessions in mid-1973 failed to produce a new album. Some of this work was later released as Ship Of Memories in 1976. This album was compiled of leftover tracks from that sess ... (read more)

Report this review (#75466) | Posted by Agemo | Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another underrated album. This one features outtakes and rarities from mostly 1973, one track from the first line-up and a few from the later line-up (Mother Focus). Side one is truly great! First track P's March was intented to be a single and fits fine with the early single "House Of The King" ... (read more)

Report this review (#69067) | Posted by Robin | Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This is one of the wrost records I've ever heard from a major Prog group. Total lack of inspiration by sr. Akkerman and song writing is mostly made of crap. The guitar and the whole atmosphere sound poppy and wow, this album is BORING. "Focus V" is probably the wrost song ever to carry the ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#41881) | Posted by | Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Why the silhouette of the World War II German battleship Bismark was selected for the cover of this Focus retrospect album rather than a graceful tall ship is one of those record company mysteries. Containing snippets and unused material spanning their career up to 1976 when Jan Akkerman called it ... (read more)

Report this review (#22950) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, March 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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