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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2420 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review N 55

Sincerely, I always considered that Camel is an underrated progressive band among the greatest bands of the 70's. Probably it was mainly due to the Andrew Latimer's voice. Latimer is the main vocalist of the band despite that is true that he never was a true vocalist and that he has a very strong and deep voice. Still, Latimer always knew it, and because of that, many of Camel's songs are mainly instrumentals. This was one of the things that made of Camel a truly unique band in the progressive rock scene. On the other hand, he was never considered one of the greatest guitarists of the 70's, which is, in my humble opinion, very unfair. Probably, he isn't one of the most virtuous guitarists, but he is, for sure, a guitarist who knows very well how to create a unique and unmistakable sound with his guitar. His guitar style is still appreciated by many other guitarists, even in our days, like Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth.

And now, a curious story about Camel and "Mirage". Camel was involved in some controversy with the American brand of Camel cigarettes. We can clearly see the similarities between the album cover of "Mirage" and a pack of Camel cigarettes. As the peak period of the advertisement of the brand cigarettes, that had a picture of a camel smoking, coincided with the peak period of the release of "Mirage", the album was boycotted by some anti- smokers.

"Mirage" is the Camel's second studio album and was released in 1974. It became as one of the group's most acclaimed albums. "Mirage" is probably the album that best illustrates the main features of the band, already mentioned by me above, which are undoubtedly, quality, simplicity and beauty. This is the album where Camel begins to develop their own distinctive sound with some intricate rhythms and the wonderful and unpredictable instrumental exchanges made by the two mainly songwriters of the band Latimer and Peter Bardens.

"Mirage" has five tracks. The first track "Freefall" written by Bardens is almost an instrumental song largely dominated by the Latimer's guitar and with nice musical moments performed by Bardens' keyboards, very well supported by an inventive bass and a dynamic drumming work. This song is influenced by diverse styles of music and the melody is excellent. The second track "Supertwister", also written by Bardens, is the nice and most peaceful song on the album. It's a great instrumental track partially dominated by a great flute work of Latimer. With this song, Latimer proved that he is a great flute player too. The third track "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider" written by Latimer is one of the two multi-part epic songs on the album. This song is based on the book "The Lord Of The Rings" written by J. R. R. Tolkien. This is one of the best songs on the album with its frequent time changes and musical soundscapes, which carries the theme to an exceptional symphonic climax by the band. The fourth track "Earthrise" written by Latimer and Bardens is a very nice instrumental track with a frenetic middle section with Latimer's guitar and Bardens' keyboards. It's the second instrumental track of the album and it's probably one of the best and finest instrumentals ever made by them. The fifth track "Lady Fantasy" is divided into three parts: "Encounter", "Smiles For You" and "Lady Fantasy". It's the only track written by all band members and represents the other multi-part epic song of the album. Usually, this is the most celebrated song on this album and one of the most famous songs released by Camel. This track contains one of the most progressive songs made by them and is a very good example why Camel is one of the best and most respected bands in the progressive rock universe. Here we can clearly see how Camel has influenced Akerfeldt.

Conclusion: In my humble opinion, "Mirage" is with "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness" the three greatest masterpieces from the group. But, despite I choose in the first place "Moonmadness" followed by "The Snow Goose", I consider "Mirage" the most simple, pure, nave and unpretentious of all Camel's studio albums. It might be even its best work. Every moment of every song on "Mirage" is to be treasured and every musical note is perfectly placed. The album is composed of two epics, but the seamless track flow, unifying theme, and harmonious sound, all make the album feel like a real masterpiece. The album showcases an uncanny ability for melody, in which the songs with no lyrics or words to them will have you creating stories in your own mind to fit the real mood. "Mirage" is an essential progressive rock classic album. With also the releases of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" of Genesis, "Relayer" of Yes, "Red" of King Crimson and "The Power And The Glory" of Gentle Giant, only to mention some of the most important progressive musical releases in 1974, this was undoubtedly an amazing year for the progressive rock music. With "Mirage", Camel becomes one of the greatest and most respected progressive rock groups. If you really like of good progressive music and you don't have this album yet, do yourself a favour and get "Mirage" as soon as possible.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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