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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2779 ratings

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4 stars REVIEW #1 - "Mirage" by Camel (1974)

Following their eponymous debut, Camel was showing growing pains of any new band. The potential was there, but there was a lack of direction and the group was still trying to develop its own unique sound. Their second effort, "Mirage", with its cover resembling a pack of Camel cigarettes, is a well-done expansion on their existing platform. What originally would have been average length songs are now extended, thanks to an emphasis on instrumental solos - most notably the guitar of Andrew Latimer and the keyboards of Peter Bardens. The atmosphere of this album is also superior to the first, as the band seems to capture the spacey feeling of the desert quite well with a touch of jazz influence, contributing to the beauty of the album in general.

The opener "Freefall" (3/5) gets this album off to a running start. With frequent tempo changes and a new, upbeat tempo, it establishes the tone of the album pretty well, but that's about it. We get an idea from this song of how the rest of the album is going to be, and already we can see a new and improved band, rooted deeply in prog. What follows is an instrumental piece titled "Supertwister" (4/5), which notably features Andrew Latimer on the flute - adding an ethereal aspect to the music, and it hits very well as being an intercalary to the next, certainly epic track, "Nimrodel" (5/5). Closing out side one, "Nimrodel" would ultimately come to be known as one of the band's most classic songs. Based on Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings", this song uses a variety of sounds, ranging from the prevalent bass of Doug Ferguson to added woodwinds and bells to create an atmosphere relatable to that of the subject matter. Split into three parts, and with seldom lyrics, it is simply put a masterpiece. With differentiation in tempo, as well as a great guitar outro, it is a fitting end to side one.

Side two is opened by the instrumental track "Earthrise" (4/5), which is a showcase of the band's musical virtuosity and a continuation on the atmosphere created on the first side. With passages of blazing guitars and spacey keyboards, complemented by Andy Ward's drumming, this song is solid but requires multiple listens to truly appreciate the intricacy of the song. Finally, the album is closed out with another epic titled "Lady Fantasy" (5/5) - another one of the band's seminal works. With multiple tempo changes, solos, and lots of riffs. The lyrics here are the best of the album, contributing very well to the song, and the track does not fail to bore the listener. This song is quite arguably the quintessential song of the album, and the defining work of Camel as a whole. A classic of prog rock, it is a mandatory listen for any prog fan.

This album was a moderate success for the band, which has been an underrated band of the genre in general. It prompted a tour of the American west coast, and would eventually lead up to the band's following, most successful album. "Mirage" is considered by many to be the best Camel album, and I certainly agree. With its invigorating sound and its instrumental nature, it deserves more recognition than it has at the moment. Even more importantly, this album serves as Camel's breakthrough, and saved the band from complete irrelevancy. I certainly recommend this album to anyone interested in prog, or even more harder rock. It balances both slow and fast tempos very well, and the tone of the guitar is outstanding.

OVERALL: 4.2/5 (B)

ProgMirage1974 | 4/5 |


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