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Camel - Moonmadness CD (album) cover

MOONMADNESS

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 1566 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Being a man of first impressions, normally when I listen a band for the first time I know if will have the chance to like their music (of course there are exceptions like Trespass which I hated for a long time and now is among my favorites), CAMEL is not one of them, and believe me....tried very hard to like them with the impulse of the great reviews and the huge fan base, but it was always a futile attempt, even bought almost all their collection but it was left there at a corner of the shelve gathering dust, no matter what I did, always used to find them bland and dull.

But something happened, last week, had to make a long travel by car and by some impulse I added "Moonmadness" to the CD's cartridge of the car and at last I could get them, won't say they are my favorite band but found something that was escaping from my perception.

The keyboards and dense atmosphere captivated me, maybe because somehow they remind me a bit of Steve Hackett's first album including the distorted vocals but much more relaxing (Not necessarily better).

But lets leave the chit chat and go to the album:

"Moonmadness" is opened with the pompous intro of Arsilus , well, to be honest the whole 1:57 minutes of the track work as an intro for the album. The keyboard work by Pete Bardens, that reminds me of "Voyage of the Acolyte" even when more martial, sadly too short and leaves the listener with the honey in the lips, outstanding song.

Song Within a Song is more in the soft and relaxing mood of CAMEL, the flute in the early section of the song is simply breathtaking, I don't like distorted vocals very much but in this case they are extremely appropriate for the song, which continues flowing as the atmospheric sound covers the listener. Around the third minute there's a radical change and the song turns stronger with a magnificent interplay of all the band and again Bardens is the star, they manage to keep making the music flow gently but with a touch of aggressiveness that makes the difference, incredible, two songs from a band I used to dislike and two songs that I find amazing. A special mention for Andy Ward and his brilliant work at the drums.

Chord Change is really a change, presents us the Fusion oriented sound of the band, clearly inspired by "MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA" but less dense and complex, my congratulations to Latimer, Ward and Ferguson who make an outstanding job, around the middle there's a change of mood, Latimer starts to remind me of Jan Akkerman and the soft Hammond in the background complete the FOCUS impression, three songs, three hits. also a lovely track.

Spirit of the Water is at this point the weaker track (IMHO of course) the artificial vocals, weak keyboards and flute don't match completely, seems as if they had an idea that were never able to develop, unconvincing and predictable but not bad.

Another Night is more my kind of music, strong and aggressive but without leaving the wonderful atmospheres which are CAMEL'S trademark, the changes are not radical or dramatic but never stopped to surprise me, when I believed they started to get predictable the magnificent instrumental section of the middle caught me by surprise, this is what Prog is about, to never know what's coming next, and CAMEL managed to do it perfectly in Another Night great song except for the ending, because I'm not very fond in fading tracks...Holy God, how could I ignored this band for decades?

If somebody doubts CAMEL has a great FOCUS influence, the flute opening and guitar playing "a la Akkerman" in Air Born should convince them, despite the "more than casual" similarities in soound, wouldn't dare to call them derivative because the vocals and the backing organ make the difference. The instrumental section is marked by a Baroque Synthesizer and Latimer's flute which are delightful, the spectacular ending completes the success.

Lunar Sea starts as another jazzy tune with brilliant bass lines by Doug Ferguson complemented perfectly by the accurate drumming of Andy Ward, you can't do anything but love the break point where the keyboards take the lead, when this guys stop to be predictable they are able of magic, magnificent interplay of all the band, a very strong closer with a great guitar and keyboards work at the end....

.....Who said they were too predictable?..Seems I was, but gladly admit I was wrong.

Finding new great bands is satisfactory but it's much better when you discover you had great music under your nose and learn to appreciate it, and that's what has happened with CAMEL, I always had 5 or 6 ignored albums that now I have the chance to appreciate.

Four solid stars for a very solid album, maybe after a couple more weeks of constant CAMEL feedback I will rise it to five stars but I'm still a newbie in a very old band.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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