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Camel - The Snow Goose CD (album) cover

THE SNOW GOOSE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 2187 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Camel goes classical and instrumental

3.5 stars

After their second (majestic) studio opus, CAMEL understood that the sung parts and lyrics weren't their strongest points, existing only sporadically to make songs. The musicians were more at ease during the instrumental parts. Furthermore, the band was lacking a genuine charismatic frontman. For these reasons, they decided to compose a fully instrumental record, based on Paul Gallico's story "The Snow Goose". However, the author brought a lawsuit against them, due to copyright infringement, and CAMEL therefore renamed their new album "Music inspired by The Snow Goose".

Thought as a single 43 minutes piece, this third opus was recorded with The London Symphony Orchestra. The instrumentation and orchestration are much more ambitious than before: guitars, keyboards, percussions, wind instruments, violin... Peter Bardens' synthesizers become more and more present, although they sometimes quite strange. It also incorporates a few female vocalizations. Musically speaking, the disc is more melodic than the band's previous efforts, but, in return, offers less room to develop long guitar or keyboard soli, as the tracks have a short or normal duration. Less jazz / rock than before, "Music inspired by The Snow Goose" is more about merging symphonic rock with classical music.

The first half of the album is charming. After the mysterious and calm introduction "The Great Marsh", begins "Rhayader". Dominated by the flute, this tune is lively, catchy, and even a little jazzy. The best passage of the record is nonetheless the enchanting "Rhayader Goes To Town". Alternating soft and heroic moments with floydian guitar interventions, this track rocks! Then come the sweet and melancholic "Sanctuary", the delicate and pretty "Fritha", whereas the title track is simply beautiful and touching. Driven by wind instruments such as clarinet, oboe, bassoon and flute, "Friendship" is pretty much is in the style of SERGEI PROKOFIEV's "Peter and the Wolf". The dynamic "Migration" includes wordless vocals.

The second half is unfortunately a bit more uneven. Although "Rhayader Alone" is quite convincing with its guitar and Fender Rhodes piano, "Flight Of The Snow Goose" contrasts by incorporating an electronic sequence. Average, and a little out of place. The threatening "Preparation" sounds futuristic but also bizarre, I think it could should have been shortened. The first part "Dunkirk" is too repetitive and lengthy. Thankfully, the second part is more epic and nervous. "Epitaph" reuses the theme from "Preparation", whereas the piano dominated "Fritha Alone" is more interesting, displaying a slight ethereal atmosphere. "La Princesse Perdue" uses a few cheesy synthesizers but however some nice moments too. Curiously, the short closer "The Great Marsh" concludes the disc on an haunting note.

"Music inspired by The Snow Goose" is the release CAMEL is the best known for, due to its instrumental approach and the successful concert at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1975. It contains some flaws and weaker passages though, such as the dated keyboards sounds, but remains one of the few fully instrumental good studio albums of the 70's - except the electronic ones. More electronic and less jazzy, the desert animal is still inspired, his music is enchanting and will transport you to a land of fantasy.

Unique in the band's career, the musicians won't renew this stylistic exercise in the future. The first half of the seventies was maybe the only time period such a lyric-less record could earn success in the rock sphere. Anyway, one of CAMEL's best albums, recommended to symphonic prog fans!

Modrigue | 3/5 |

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