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Camel - Rain Dances CD (album) cover

RAIN DANCES

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.60 | 899 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 77

In my humble opinion, after Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd the three best progressive groups of the 70's, Camel, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Van Der Graaf Generator and Rush are in the next position as some of the best and most influential bands of the 70's, and undoubtedly, all of them also belong to the very strictly group of the some of the greatest progressive bands ever.

Camel is a band who always took a very own path and they never were inferior to the most of the other greatest bands. They are respected and appreciated and they also continue influencing many other bands with different styles of music, even today. For instance, Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth often mentions that he has suffered many influences from bands like Camel. Camel is a band that needs to be discovered, especially the albums of their classic period.

"Rain Dances" is the fifth studio album of Camel and was released in 1977. This is the album that marks the first changes into the line up of the band, ending with their classic line up and also with their classic musical era. After the stability of their first four studio albums, their bassist and founder member Doug Fergusson, quit the band soon after the release of their previous fourth studio album "Moonmadness" released in 1976. His replacement was made by Richard Sinclair an ex-Caravan's member. To complete the transformation of the usual line up, the group had the addition of other musician, the saxophonist Mel Collins an ex-King Crimson's member. This transformation in the line up of the band brought a certain change on Camel's sound, making it more experimental, relaxing and much closer to the jazz style. The album has also some participation of Brian Eno, the ex-Roxy Music's member, on the keyboards.

"Rain Dances" has nine tracks. The first track "First Light" written by Peter Bardens and Andrew Latimer is an inspired and fantastic instrumental piece of music that represents a great opening to the album. It's also the first time that we can listen to a sax on a Camel's album, and I would say, what a great job was made by Collins all over the album. The second track "Metrognome" written by Bardens and Latimer is another fantastic song with a very calm and beautiful beginning and which becomes progressively more complex and experimental, with some jazz influences. The third track "Tell Me" written by Bardens and Latimer is a very calm, delicate and beautiful ballad with a fine Latimer's flute working. This is a song that makes us dreaming. The fourth track "Highways Of The Sun" written by Bardens and Latimer was the song chosen to be released as a single. It's a song with a more commercial mood and with some pop characteristics, but with a final touch of Camel's sound. It's a good example how to make a good pop song by a progressive band. The fifth track "Unevensong" written by Bardens, Latimer and Andy Ward is a song with great musical variations. It's really a pretty good and brilliant song. This is a song with a lot of breaks and tempo changes and has also great Latimer's guitar solos. The sixth track "One Of These Days I'll Get An Early Night" written by Bardens, Latimer, Ward, Sinclair and Collins is the more experimental track on the album, and it has also good individual performances by all musicians. It's clearly a piece of music with great jazz influence. The seventh track "Elke" written by Latimer is practically a Latimer's solo piece of music, featuring the usual excellent electronic experimentation by Eno. It's a very nice, peaceful and atmospheric instrumental song. The eighth track "Skylines" written by Bardens, Latimer and Ward is another instrumental song with great jazz influences. It's also a good musical number very well performed by all members of the group. The ninth track is the title track "Rain Dances". It was written by Bardens and Latimer and is a reprise of the opener track. It's the smallest song on the album and is a very good instrumental track, almost very classic. It represents a natural and a great ending to this excellent musical working.

Conclusion: First of all, in addition to the changes into their line up, "Rain Dances" is an album released in the punk era. A time where to be a progressive group was the same of being an old dinosaur. A time where many record labels and critics had completely turned their backs to the progressive rock. So, it was in that context that was born this Camel's album. Anyway and despite these changes, "Rain Dances" is really a great album. It's very consistent, but unfortunately, isn't a masterpiece. However, I'm not one of those who consider this album as a weak point in Camel's discography. This is a very well balanced piece of music with great moments, and the musical change of their sound is very enjoyable and flows gracefully from the beginning to the end. In my humble opinion, in the progressive rock, the groups can change and evolve their music. I also think that the presence of some new band's members in a group is also a very good thing, especially if they are great musicians and experienced artists. They can bring something new.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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