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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 1189 ratings

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4 stars Camel, starting with a bang!

Camel were one of the safer 70s prog-rock bands. Their albums were easy to assimilate, fun to listen to, and never too dark, difficult, or heavy. Too easy perhaps for some who considered them a bit boring or at least not all that challenging. One of my progger friends doesn't even consider them prog except for Snow Goose, but rather just mainstream 70s rock with some prog window dressing. Whatever you consider them, they are talented musicians, good writers, and produced some very enjoyable albums. Believe if or not, I actually prefer this album to the more widely loved Mirage and Snow Goose.

"Slow Yourself Down" features some great organ work by Bardens and sounds like a cross between Santana and Caravan, with the spunk of the former and the crisp sound of the latter. The bass is nice and thick and Latimer peels off a few nice leads. "Mystic Queen" starts with acoustic guitar and a subdued vocal by bassist Doug Ferguson. The song stays in a more relaxed mode than most of the other material but is effective nonetheless. "Six Ate" again brings Caravan to mind (I've been listening to Caravan lately!) in the style of jazzy jamming and the tight rhythms. There are some nice guitar riffs that ride the percussion in places. Man I love the full bass sound. "Separation" like the first track is quite heavy rock but this time with some dramatic, dark moods that you wouldn't usually associate with the pleasant Camel sound. "Never Let Go" begins with acoustic guitar and a nice mellotron background before the band kicks in with vocals by the late Peter Bardens. Some repetitive chords back this vocal section along with an upbeat groove. Some pretty wild keyboard solos around 3 minutes and again the bass is on fire. Andy Ward's drumming deserves a special mention throughout as well, always with the perfect amount of intensity for the song in question. The last minute features an explosive electric solo from Latimer. "Curiosity" begins with some nice guitar leads and the fragile nasally vocals of Ferguson again. The song title is perfect because there is a curious (or perhaps disjointed) style of play at work here, little pieces starting and stopping, changing before they really have a chance to fully develop. Nevertheless the track somehow works pretty well-there's an almost throwback 60s psychedelic feel to the affair which is always welcome. "Arubaluba" is our closer and there's no letting up here: big keyboard and guitar send-ups do battle with each other and with the monster rhythm section.

It just rocks, simple as that. By the end you'll be moving and ready for a beer-this is a decidedly different experience than the more laid back Snow Goose. I have yet to hear all of the Camel albums but I can safely say this is a gem. Constant wall to wall energy and primo jamming prog-rock. While the later material may have been more sophisticated or had more memorable guitar melodies, this Camel debut is a must for fans and highly recommended to any 70s prog fan. I love debuts..not always the best an artist has to offer but often interesting and bubbling with enthusiasm and energy as is the case here.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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