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Camel - Moonmadness CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 2151 ratings

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4 stars Camel's finest hour?

Personally, Camel's first album is my favorite of their classic period which I consider the first four releases with bassist Doug Ferguson. The debut album has so much enthusiasm and fun jamming. But I have to admit that "Moonmadness" is probably their masterpiece, the most well-rounded, full-sounding, and consistent album of those years. They entered the studio in January 1976 and the album was on the street just two months later which is a testament to how efficient they must have been at that moment. Moonmadness seems the most mature of these albums and corrects the shortcomings of the fan favorite "Snow Goose" by eliminating the more docile spaces between the great moments in an album that was already low-key enough. Liner notes indicate that new producer Rhett Davies sought to give Camel a more spacious sound on this album and it's a difference you can really notice when you listen. Lush, melodic, and with improved writing, Camel's fourth turned out to be an album that would live up to the fantastic cover art and grand intentions.

The stage is set instantly with properly noble introduction titled "Aristillus" which likely gave fans in 1976 plenty to be excited about as they began to explore the lunar concepts. But it is on "Song Within a Song" that you realize this is going to be special. Few bands do the pastoral this fine: lush keyboards, beautiful flutes, restrained guitar and drums, mellow vocals. This is one of those very difficult albums for me to describe because the adjectives just begin to repeat. Beautiful, gorgeous, et al. "Chord Change" sees an uptick in the energy level with Latimer and Ferguson playing off each other very nicely. It chills out a bit as Latimer lets flow one of his most fantastic solos ever with Bardens using restrained organ behind him. After Bardens takes his own solo the pace picks back up until the end. A brief respite with the great piano and rippling voice on "Spirit of the Water." The roll they were on just kept rolling with "Another Night" which was chosen as the single being an upbeat rocker with suitable vocals. "Air Born" may be the single most beautiful melancholic prog track ever written with the flute and synth perfectly setting up Latimer who executes both acoustically and electrically. The vocals here are sufficiently dreamy to fit well with the mood. The closer is the instrumental "Lunar Sea" that puts this album over the top. The soaring atmospheres created by Bardens and Latimer absolutely bath the listener in the smooth rocking lunar vibe that the album is selling, wide-open, propulsive by Camel standards, and fun! The hero on this piece is Andy Ward who's understated but tight percussion holds everything in perfect orbit.

How fitting that this review is being posted tonight, about an hour before I will be stepping outside to view a full lunar eclipse on a clear, freezing cold night. No, I didn't plan that, this album just happened to be on the top of the pile tonight. An essential title for a wide range of progressive rock fans who adore melody and accessibility. There is nothing abrasive here, this is plain and simple musical comfort food. 4 stars for me.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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