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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover

CAMEL

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 922 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So, this is where it all started for a band destined for some of the greatest opuses in the history of symphonic prog rock: the peculiar style of Bardens as a layer builder and an elegant soloist, Latimer's unabashedly melodic approach to guitar playing and Ward's dynamic drumming will become some of the most featured staples of what symphonic progressive rock is all about. "Camel" was the first public manifestation of Camel's musical vision. The fact that the album's repertoire is still showing some unnecessary restraints concerning the elaboration of moods and ambiences that could have been more proficient signifies a claim for a band yet to find its ultimate maturity. but it wouldn't take too long, since the follow-up album "Mirage" (including a couple of tracks that already existed before the debut's release) would be an excellent explosion of progressive colors. But by now let's stick to this one. The instrumental buildings and interactions are as solid as can be expected from this selection of musicians, gifted and enthusiastic; nevertheless, the musical bases usually remain insufficiently explored and the band's organic sound falls short of its potential too many times. Having always been linked to the Canterbury scene, Camel always could flaunt a genuine originality in terms of style and its individual members' personality, but for the debut album the band was too close to Caravan (the era of their first three albums) and still was stuck on a limited pallet. The good things are: the dynamics is really there; you can tell that there's an inspired working labor; the band sounds cohesive in its musical expansions. Examples of this are the catchy opener 'Slow Yourself Down' and the powerful closing instrumental 'Arubaluba' bring fire to the atmosphere. The other instrumental 'Six Ate' is the closest that the band gets to the kind of sound achieved on the "Mirage" album: exquisite, well-ordained and using a moderately complex set of arrangements for the development of the main motifs. My four fave tracks in the album are the aforesaid pieces and the excellent symphonic ballad 'Mystic Queen' (something like Argent-meets-Procol Harum), so Baroque and so romantic that it really creates an eerie mood in the room where one is listening to this album. 'Separation' recreates the mood of the opener with a more modest attitude: catchy, strong, but not really too transcendental. Also not too transcendental is 'Curiosity', which all in all is a nice track where the band explores the jazz-oriented leanings that had previously been exposed on 'Six Ate'. 'Never Let Go' is the beautiful moralistic anthem (penned by Latimer, lead vocals by Bardens) that has grown through the years to become a Camel classic. Even though it is not as majestic as 'Mystic Queen' or as electrifying as 'Arubaluba', it retains a timeless beauty - my favorite part is the mellotron-flute solo, used as few other progressive bands have used it before. Being placed at the beginning of side B (it helps to build a climax after the A- side is ended), it wouldn't have been out of place as a closure, either. Well, 3 stars is the grade I give to this album: almost excellent as a whole, some specific tracks already bear the band's genius that in overall terms remains anticipated.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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