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Camel - I Can See Your House From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.83 | 526 ratings

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4 stars This album marked a number of firsts for Camel. It was of course their first album without founder Pete Bardens who had left the band the previous year. It was the first appearance of bass player Colin Bass who was to become such an important figure in Andy Latimer's future attempts to keep the band going. It contained the band's first, and thankfully last attempt at a disco number, and Latimer's first short composition for orchestra! It was also the first Camel album I bought as a new release - which I daresay is of considerably less significance in the history of the band.

Bardens' departure (along with Richard Sinclair who had shared bass and vocal duties in the previous two studio outings) and the inclusion of two keyboard players, Kit Watkins and Jan Schelhaas, to replace him, together with Bass's arrival and Latimer assuming the burden of the writing duties, meant that some change in sound was almost inevitable. The continuing tension between being faithful to their musical roots and the desire for the 'breakthrough' single can also be felt in this collection of nine pieces.

The album opens with 'Wait' - in many ways a statement of intent or taster for what is to come, a strong uptempo song with an instrumental break which gives both keyboard players some solo interplay, ending in a long guitar solo. 'Your love' is a shorter, more commercial sounding piece, followed by 'Eye', a Kit Watkins composed instrumental. 'Who we are' is a longer piece with more nice interplay from the keyboards, but I find the heavy orchestration bringing an unwelcome sweetness to the sound!

'Survival' sees the strings continuing on their own - and a nice minute it is too! 'Hymn to her' is a much stronger song with Latimer's guitar taking the lead on the theme, and with a nice change of pace midway. Noticably the orchestra has been left behind. 'Neon Magic' and 'Remote Romance' are hopelessly infected with the disco spirit of the age. 'Neon' is not a bad song as such, but the little quotation from the Snow Goose in the final seconds only serves to remind us how far this sound has wandered from classic Camel. I pass over Remote Romance. Though understandable in context, it is surely unarguably their worst song - by a long way!

And then from nowhere comes that classic Camel we almost feared forgotten. 'Ice' became a permanent fixture in the concert set list right to the end of Camel's touring life - and rightly so. A simple guitar melody introduced over acoustic piano is joined by the drums, and after a short keyboard interlude builds into the kind of classic guitar solo which Latimer has made his own. I've always felt the closing acoustic section was the one weakness of this track, and the fact that it is usually omitted when played live may add weight to that idea. But what a great way to end an album.

Despite its obvious weaknesses, this remains one of my favourite Camel albums. It presents us with a band clearly searching around for the right way forward, but despite the awkward moments they definitely live to fight another day.

Lazarus | 4/5 |


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