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Camel - Rajaz CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 975 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Increasingly, Camel's most captivating material is that which contains vocals, whereas the opposite tended to be true in the 1970s. While the instrumentals of Rajaz chiefly display an admirable tightness that one would expect from a full fledged band rather than a supporting cast for Andy Latimer, they generally sound too similar and too much like what has been heard before, long before, while lacking that entrancing quality for which Camel is famous.

In contrast, Susan Hoover and Andy have matured greatly as songwriters, both lyrically and musically, and this is proudly exhibited on "Lost and Found", "Rajaz", "Shout" and "Straight to the Heart". In particular, the title cut is a full meal in a desert, with an irresistible beat. "Shout" is the most accessible song, but is also appealingly stripped down. Everywhere are Latimer's expressive guitars, acoustic strums, near Hawaiian tones, blistering bluesy leads, Frippian perversions and Glmouresque wailings, and so much more. "Straight to my Heart" is Latimer's most autobiographical song, and one can feel the shared intimacy of his experiences in the 1950s together with his brother, listening to tunes on the wireless.

The best instrumental is "Sahara", another brilliant fulfillment of the arid motif. It's really about time that Camel pay proper homage to its namesake habitat. "Lawrence" is one of Camel's longest tracks but is somewhat overreaching, and even the unusual vocal arrangement and thematic consistency cannot render more than passing interest. It is important that Camels know how to break out of their plod on occasion and gallop, but such is not the case here, some gorgeous leads notwithstanding.

With "Rajaz", Camel continued their remarkable journey in the 1990s. Even if it is a slight step down from the previous story albums, I cannot help but round up in acknowledgement of their adventurousness and sense of play.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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