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Camel - Lunar Sea - An Anthology 1973-1985 CD (album) cover

LUNAR SEA - AN ANTHOLOGY 1973-1985

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 30 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pekka
5 stars This is the seventh attempt at collecting the best Camel pieces onto one release, and being the newest, this is the only one I've seen in stores in these few recent years that I've known the band. The two cd's contain material from all the Decca-released albums in chronological order, and as a bait for collectors an unreleased version of Lady Fantasy recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra on the same occasion as the live rendition of the Snow Goose found on A Live Record.

The first disc concentrates on the Doug Ferguson era, the first four albums that are usually regarded as the golden age of Camel. From the self titled debut we get the classic Never Let Go, which is an obvious choice having remained in the band's live set for pretty much every tour ever since, and the opening track Slow Yourself Down, which is a nice choice too. I myself could have gone for Mystic Queen instead, but it's nice to open with a little more uptempo numbers. Next we have two tracks from Mirage, the first five star masterpiece. Freefall could have been replaced with the instrumental Supertwister, but hey, five star albums only contain fantastic tracks. Nimrodel/The Procession/The White rider was the song that turned me on to Camel, so it would be a personal insult to leave it out. Fortunately nobody needs to be accused of such a thing. After four vocal tracks comes the instrumental theme album The Snow Goose, and the opening threesome does a very good job of presenting it. Listen to the flute and bass melodies of Rhayader, ahh, pure perfection. Then we go back to Mirage in the form of Lady Fantasy. This live version has a very urgent tempo especially in the intro, and the symphony orchestra adds a nice flavor, but in my opinion nothing really special. A nice curiosity to own, though. The era ends with four fantastic selections from Moonmadness, thankfully leaving out Another Night, the only very slightly weaker track from that album. Stress on the words "very slightly", that's still a great five star album.

Disc two collects the rest of the Decca material, and opens with the only real mistake the compilers made. Two very mellow tracks from Rain Dances don't really give a realistic picture of that album, and don't fit as the opening pieces back to back. They are both very good songs and high points of the album, but one of them should have been replaced with a more uptempo piece like First Light or Unevensong. After Rain Dances Camel released a couple of weak albums, but they still produced a couple of good tracks for the compilation. Echoes and The Sleeper are nice choices from Breathless, and next comes I Can See Your House from Here, where this could have gone really badly wrong. Thank goodness they didn't make the same ugly mistake that many compilers have done before by including Remote Romance, the only real crap track from the Camel catalogue, seriously one of the worst songs in the history of mankind. Instead we get the stunning Ice, probably the best Camel instrumental ever, and Hymn to Her, the other fantastic track from that sub par album. Three cheers for the compilers! Nude was a welcome improvement after a couple of years of mediocrity, but it's a bit strange that even though the album was mostly instrumental, all three selections contain vocals. I would have replaced the very good but a bit overlong Lies with a good instrumental piece like Docks or Captured. The Single Factor was an album Andrew Latimer didn't want to make but was forced to by the record company, and it's no surprise that the only track from that effort is the only track the band has since played live, Sasquatch. While I personally enjoy the album quite much, this song is all a newcomer needs to hear. Camel's times with Decca ended with Stationary Traveller, from which we get a surprisingly large number of songs: four, though West Berlin is a live version from Pressure Points. Luckily the choices are again very good, from the highlights only Fingertips is missing.

Despite the one slight mistake this compilation gives a great look at the Camel's pre-90s career. If you need an introduction to this brilliant band's world, look no further.

Pekka | 5/5 |

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