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Camel - Moondances CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.93 | 62 ratings

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4 stars CAMEL is one of my oldest prog favourites, I found them as a teenager shortly after Genesis, Yes and other essential bands. Well, isn't Camel essential too, easily among the Top Ten of the 70's British prog groups? That said, it feels funny that I have never before seen any live material. This DVD I borrowed from my friend.

The first set (roughly 50 minutes, I presume) is from Hammersmith Odeon, April 1976, featuring two tracks from the albums Mirage, Snow Goose and Moonmadness. The choices are pretty good, except that Snow Goose's 'Preparation' is a bit overlong interlude before the effective 'Dunkirk'. The emphasis is on the soaring instrumentality in the classic Camel spirit, and the tight, dark mooded song 'Another Night' fits perfectly to the set, followed by the wonderful 'Lady Fantasy' from Mirage. The sound quality is OK, but the picture is quite shady and dark, concentrating on the musicians at close range.

The Hippodrome concert from September '77 feels fresher and brighter in every way. Bassist Doug Ferguson is replaced by Richard Sinclair who also handles most of the vocals. I have always appreciated his clear and elegant singing (for example in CARAVAN's In the Land of Grey and Pink) which is actually just like a better version of Andy Latimer's voice. The then new album Rain Dances forms the majority of that gig. It's one of my Camel favourites; the group really updated their sound with the additions of Sinclair and saxophonist-flutist Mel Collins, and with the increase of Canterbury-like jazziness. Earlier albums are represented too. 'Rhayader / Rhayader Goes to Town' is much better excerpt from Snow Goose, benefitting from two flutes.

The reappearance of 'Lunar Sea' doesn't bother me at all: one can compare the two versions. For me this line-up is much more competent. Again the show doesn't have any visual spicing up, but to see the quintet playing this great music live is more than enough. The music's all that matters. And the debut album's highlight 'Never Let Go' is like tailored for this line-up!

As bonuses one gets two rare tracks: Autumn (1974) and Riverman (1975) with a slide show of early band/album/poster photos. Neither of them I had heard before - how come?!? I only know that the latter was the sole recording from the cancelled project inspired by Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha ; Camel chose Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose instead of Siddhartha or Steppenwolf. Both songs were good in their melodic peacefulness. Also the slide show is very nice extra.

Of course I'd like to see more Camel DVD's but I can definitely recommend this one to all fans.

Matti | 4/5 |


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