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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2778 ratings

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Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The beginning of Camel's excellence

If one were to take all my feelings of what I love about prog and throw them into one band, that band would be Camel. They take all of the beauties and complexities of progressive music and combine them not like many other groups do. Combining washing keyboards and symphonic aspects of Yes with light improvisational jazz, they make quite a sound for themselves. It all began with their '73 self titled debut. While it demonstrated some good songwriting and melodies it wasn't until Mirage that Camel became one of the top prog acts of the '70s.

Mirage is an excellent addition to any prog rock collection if I ever saw one. There are long keyboard and guitar solos and two epics clocking over 9 minutes. One thing that makes me love Camel so much is their ability to write REAL songs while keeping them proggy. The music is always rather catchy and and has a good sense of "groove" to it. A good example of this would be the opening track "Free Fall". It starts with some twisting riffs and a great rhythm and could probably be a hit on the radio. On Mirage we get everything from beautiful mellow jazz to time signature changing prog.

The musicians playing is always very tasteful, never too pompous or overblown. They always keep things at a minimum, making sure not to play too many more notes than are necessary. Though there are a number of wailing guitar and keyboard solos they never ramble on for too long. The drumming and bass playing are very jazz influenced, only touching upon hard rock when need be.

My only problem with the album is the singing. I'm not a big fan of Latimer's voice and I find Camel is at their best when playing instrumentals. Thankfully the majority of Camel's music is instrumental, but it's a shame this album would be stronger if it was 100% instrumental. It also feels as if it falls a little short. I've always been more into the modern method of making an album at least an hour so I can't help but feel that a lot of '70s stuff feels short. Considering that was the way music was made back then though, I won't let it reduce the rating.

Overall, this is a pretty great album but not quite as good as it could be. If it was more conceptual and more instrumental it would be drastically improved. This is a problem Camel fixed with their next album, The Snow Goose, which in my opinion is their timeless masterpiece. Mirage is still an excellent addition to any prog music collection though, any kind music collection actually. It also ends with one of the greatest songs Camel has ever produced, "Lasy Fantasy". Drenched in excellent guitar and keyboard playing and a very epic finish. So, if you are looking for some pretty laid back classic prog rock with good melodies and no pretentious playing this album great for you.

My rating: 8.5/10

Fight Club | 4/5 |


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