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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 1286 ratings

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3 stars If you are looking for a Camel album that is more jammy and spontaneous sounding than is typical for them, you might want to set your chronometer to 1973 and listen to their debut. Here Camel has a more improvised approach, not quite jazzy, not quite bluesy, not quite psychedelic yet all of the above. The group sounds tight, and the relation between keyboards (mostly organ), guitars and vocals is already well established here. In many ways this is an instrumental album with vocal effects set low enough in the mix as to be inoffensive yet high enough to be appreciated if one is so inclined.

Apart from "Never Let Go", which has deservedly become Camel's signature tune of sorts, which showcases every strength of the band in a more mature way, and the ponderously beautiful "Mystic Queen", "Slow Yourself Down" is another slow burning essence, with a masterful wordless vocal section over guitars and organ. "Six Ate" shows a nascent form of the Mirage or Moonmadness style of melodic interplay. Andy Ward's drumming style is especially notable and advanced here. "Separation" introduces Camel's propensity for blues based accessible music married to hard rock.

One thing that is noticeable if you follow Camel from these earliest times is how much Andy Latimer's technical guitar skill improves over the years. Here we see only hints as to future greatness, chiefly in some of the emotional qualities as in the outro to "Never Let Go". He certainly holds his own in this environment but when you compare it to some of the flash of "Moonmadness", it pales.

As with any engrossing story, the best way to "get into it" is to start from the beginning, and the Camel saga is no exception. But their debut is sufficiently different that you should not be swayed one way or the other. A good and promising album.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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