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Camel - A Live Record CD (album) cover

A LIVE RECORD

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.32 | 383 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 47

'A Live Record' is the debut live album of Camel and was released in 1978. It was originally released as a double vinyl disk with recordings taken from three different live tours of the group.

The first disk, features recordings taken from their second studio album 'Mirage' released in 1974, when they toured the album and from their fifth studio album 'Rain Dances' released in 1977 when they toured this album too. The first track 'Never Let Go' originally recorded on Camel in 1973 and the second track 'Song Within A Song' originally recorded on 'Moonmadness' in 1976, were recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, in October 1977 and were taken from the 'Rain Dances' live tour. The third track 'Lunar Sea' also originally recorded on 'Moonmadness' was recorded at the Colston Hall, Bristol in October 1977 and was also taken from the 'Rain Dances' live tour. The fourth track 'Skylines' originally recorded on 'Rain Dances' in 1977 was recorded at Leeds University, Leeds, also in October 1977, and was also taken from the 'Rain Dances' live tour. The fifth track 'Ligging At Louis' is a live version of an instrumental song originally composed by Peter Bardens but unreleased on any Camel's studio album and the sixth track 'Lady Fantasy: Encounter/Smiles For You/Lady Fantasy' originally a song recorded on 'Mirage' in 1974, were recorded at the Marquee Club, London in 1974. The second disk is devoted to a complete live performance of the band's instrumental conceptual album 'The Snow Goose' released in 1975, during the live tour of the album made in 1975 and was performed with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The line up of Camel on this live album is Andrew Latimer (lead vocals, guitars and flutes), Peter Bardens (keyboards), Doug Fergusson (bass), Andy Ward (drums and percussion), Mel Collins (saxophones and flute) and Richard Sinclair (vocals and bass). Sinclair, an ex-member of Caravan, replaced Doug Fergusson who was the original bassist and founding member of the band that left Camel in the early of 1977, after the release of the band's fourth studio album, 'Moonmadness'. Collins joined the group at the same time of Sinclair and both participated on the Camel's fifth studio album 'Rain Dances' as band members. Given the recording sessions correspond to different years in different stages, between 1974 and 1977, and the group had two different bass players, Sinclair plays on tracks one, two, three and four of the first CD and Fergusson plays on tracks five and six of the same CD and throughout all the second CD. Collins plays on the same tracks that Sinclair plays, namely on tracks one, two, three and four of the first CD.

About the performance, the album opens with 'Never Let Go' that sounds completely different from the original version from their debut. This one is a lot jazzier and is probably how it would have sounded if it had been written and recorded to 'Rain Dances'. Definitely interesting, it's no substitute for the superior original. 'Song Within a Song' and 'Lunar Sea' are performed very similar to the studio versions, despite the inclusion of Collins. 'Ligging At Louis' is a good jam despite wasn't be found on any of their other albums. 'Lady Fantasy' sounds, in my opinion and unfortunately, rather tame and a bit uninspired compared to the much more powerful studio version. However, it remains a great version. Then we go a few years back in time to hear the band perform the then brand new 'The Snow Goose'. It's overall a good performance with a few interesting differences from the original, such as the additional solo on 'Migration' and the theme on 'Flight Of The Snow Goose' being played on organ instead of synthesizer.

Conclusion: This Camel live album certainly shows the band's strength on stage during the early years of the group. As I wrote before, it's not a recording of one single concert but a selection from several. It was released shortly after the launch of 'Rain Dances' and the record label didn't wish interfere with the studio album sales. So, they reduced the number of tracks to be included from the 'Rain Dances' live tour. The second CD is 'The Snow Goose' performed entirely with the backing of The London Symphonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. And what a fabulous rendition it is. It just gives to the piece a whole new dimension sound. I must say that 'The Snow Goose' is one of my favourite albums of the group, and this live version is, in my humble opinion, even better than the version on the original studio album. 'A Live Record' is a brilliant live album, by one of the most brilliant bands of the 70's. It's one of the best live albums I've ever heard, and isn't less inferior to other great live albums from some other great bands, of the 70's. If you want to feel the power and the strength of Camel on live, you must get this album and I would certainly recommend it to everyone. This album would make a great starting point to anyone who wishes to listen to Camel for the first time. The production is warm and clear and it serves as a great representation of their classic early musical period.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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