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Camel - Breathless CD (album) cover

BREATHLESS

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.15 | 732 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 78

Camel is, in my humble opinion and unfortunately, an underrated band in the progressive rock world, probably due to the simplicity of their music. For Camel, create music is a very simple thing. A bunch of guys, with guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, are capable to create clear and simple melodies with changes of rhythm and variations, all over the songs, with great creativity and improvisation. This is all very simple, nothing hidden, everything is visible and with no tricks. The result is music with very high quality, simplicity and beauty. However, that never changed the fact that Camel always was regarded as one of the most creative and respected bands in the progressive rock music.

So, no wonder that Camel's music continues influencing many other musicians, even in our days. The Opeth's front man Mikael Akerfeldt, has stated many times that Camel is one of the major influences in his music. For instance, the song "Benighted" from Opeth's fourth studio album "Still Life" released in 1999, has some resemblance to Camel's song "Never Let Go" and the song "Ending Credits" from Opeth's seventh studio album "Damnation" released in 2003, has also extraordinary similarities with the usual sound of Camel. "Endings Credits" represents his homage to Camel.

"Breathless" is the sixth studio album of Camel and was released in 1978. It's the last album from the group that features the band's original keyboardist Peter Bardens, who unfortunately left the band before the tour of the album. It ended with one of the best duos of progressive rock composers ever. It seems that Andrew Latimer and Bardens conflicted frequently during the recording of their previous fifth studio album "Rain Dances" released in 1977. Those tensions would come to an end during the making of "Breathless". Once it was completed, Bardens quit the group.

"Breathless" has nine tracks. The first track is the title track "Breathless". It was written by Latimer, Bardens and Andy Ward and represents one of the most beautiful and melodic songs, with a touch of pop, that I've ever listen to from a progressive band. This is an excellent example how a progressive group can make a really good pop song. The second track "Echoes" also written by Latimer, Bardens and Ward is a typical Camel's song and represents one of the most progressive songs on the album. It's a song with great Latimer's guitar working. It's certainly the best track on the album. This is Camel at their best. The third track "Wing And A Prayer" written by Latimer and Bardens is another song with a touch of pop and it has some similarities with the opener track "Breathless". However, for me, it's a less good song despite have a very good and interesting Mel Collins' saxophone working. The fourth track "Down On The Farm" written by Richard Sinclair is a humorous song, but it doesn't sounds as a Camel's song. Sincerely, it sounds more like a Caravan's song, which is very natural given his previous connection with that group. Bardens didn't like the song and he doesn't play it. It seems that he was right, because despite being not a bad song, it has nothing to do with Camel's sound. It should never be recorded by Camel. The fifth track "Starlight Ride" written by Latimer and Bardens is a song that sounds very different and it has a sort of a melancholic style. It's a pretty short track, but sincerely, the final result is a forgettable song. The sixth track "Summer Lightning" written by Latimer and Sinclair is another track with a touch of pop music with a repetitive dancing rhythm. It has some good Latimer's guitar solos which make of it an interesting track. The seventh track "You Make Me Smile" written by Latimer and Bardens is one of the more popish songs of the album and it has also a repetitive dancing rhythm. This is probably the weakest and the most disappointing song on the album. It doesn't make me smile at all. The eighth track "The Sleeper" written by Latimer, Bardens, Ward and Collins is an instrumental song and is the other progressive track of the album. Despite it sounds to a Camel's song with a slightly jazzy touch, it isn't as good as "Echoes" is. The ninth track "Rainbow's End" written by Latimer and Bardens ends the album nicely. It's a short song very calm and melancholic with beautiful chorus and good musical arrangements. In the end, "Rainbow's End", closes the album with a certain beautiful musical style.

Conclusion: "Breathless" is, without any kind of doubt, the weakest Camel's album released by this magnificent duo of musicians and composers Latimer and Bardens unfortunately. However, in my humble opinion, "Breathless" is far way from being a bad album. It has some good songs and it has also some others, which are interesting. I recommend strongly "Echoes" and "The Sleeper", which are definitely the two best and most progressive tracks on the album. But unfortunately, it has also "You Make Me Smile" with its dreadful disco sound, which is definitely the lower point of the album. So, the highlights are so few that can't make of it a great album. But unfortunately, "Breathless" represents also the Bardens' farewell to the band, the band that he left, but where he will be connected forever. And as a consequence of his departure, Camel could never be the same again, despite the excellence of their sound of the 90's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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