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Camel - Chameleon (Best Of Camel) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

1.98 | 17 ratings

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3 stars Review Nš 190

Formed in 1972 in Surrey, Camel originally consisted of Andy Latimer, Andy Ward, Doug Fergusson and Peter Bardens.

By the end of 1973, the band released their eponymous debut album "Camel" and in 1974 they released their second "Mirage". In 1975, Camel released their breakthrough album, their third album "The Snow Goose", a great commercial success in England. The band's English audience declined in 1976 with their fourth album "Moonmadness". The album was more successful in America. Following the release of "Moonmadness", Fergusson left the group and was replaced by Richard Sinclair, ex-Caravan. At the same time, the band added the saxophonist Mel Collins. In 1977 they released their fifth album "Rain Dances". In 1978 they released their sixth album "Breathless". Then Bardens quit the group. Before recording their next seventh album "I Can See Your House From Here", in 1979, Camel replaced Bardens with two keyboardists Kit Watkins from Happy The Man and Jim Schelhaas from Caravan, and replaced Sinclair by Colin Bass. By the time they released "I Can See Your House From Here", rock music had been changed due to punk rock. That resulted in less press coverage for progressive rock and the inevitable decreased record sales of those groups. So, Camel suffered this shift too and "I Can See Your House From Here" received much less attention than any of the band's releases since their debut. Still, Latimer returned to writing conceptual albums with their next eighth release, "Nude", in 1981. On this compilation, we have only songs that belong to these eight studio albums, from Camel.

"Chameleon (Best Of Camel)" is a compilation of Camel and was released in 1981. It was only released on LP format. It has eleven tracks. The first track "Echoes" was released on "Breathless". "Echoes" is a typical Camel's song and represents one of the most progressive songs on that album. It's a song with great guitar work. It's the best track on that album. This is Camel at their best. The second track "Rhayader" was released on "The Snow Goose". "Rhayader" is an excellent track with a powerful melody combining flute, guitar and organ performed in classical influenced music with medium tempo. It has a memorable flute melody supported by an organ solo. The third track "Rhayader Goes To Town" was released on "The Snow Goose". "Rhayader Goes To Town" brings the music into faster tempo, with great combination of guitar and organ with energetic beats. It has an extended guitar solo too. The fourth track "Song Within A Song" was released on "Moonmadness". "Song Within A Song" is a calm, beautiful, and melancholic song which contrasts with the deepest voice of Ferguson. It's an excellent song with a nice and relaxing guitar and flute works. This is a typical Camel's song. The fifth track "Remote Romance" was released on "I Can See Your House From Here". "Remote Romance" is unqualified for a Camel's song. It's a pop electronic new wave song completely dislocated of the group's music and even of that album. It's an awful song. The sixth track "Nude" was released on "Nude". "Nude" is a very short track with only 0:23. It's a kind of a link between the previous and the next track. The seventh track "Drafted" was released on "Nude". "Drafted" is stuffed with great melodies and guitar themes of classic Camel's style, and proved beyond any doubt that the band was back at their best on that album. The eighth track "Lies" was released on "Nude". "Lies" is a strong vocal track that somewhat resembles Pink Floyd, and Mackay delivered an organ solo to prove that he could understand what the kind of keyboards that a progressive band should use in the 80's. The ninth track "Supertwister" was released on "Mirage". "Supertwister" is the nice and most peaceful song on that album. It's a great instrumental track partially dominated by a great flute work by Latimer. He proved on this track that he is a great flute player too. The tenth track "Unevensong" was released on "Rain Dances". "Unevensong" is a song with great musical variations. It's a good and brilliant song. This is a song with many breaks and tempo changes. It has also great Latimer's guitar solos. The eleventh and last track "Rainbow's End" was released on "Breathless". "Rainbow's End" is a short song, very calm and melancholic with beautiful chorus and good arrangements. It closes that album beautifully.

Conclusion: "Chameleon (Best Of Camel)" isn't a great compilation. It isn't well balanced and well representative of Camel's career. It covers all the 70's and the beginning of the 80's. So, apparently it covers the golden musical era of the group which comprises their first four studio albums. However, I think that it isn't totally true. In the first place, we have only one song from "Mirage", two songs from "The Snow Goose" and one song from "Moonmadness". By the other hand, their debut album "Camel" isn't represented. In the second place "Breathless" has two songs and "I Can See Your House From Here" has one song. These are, in my humble opinion, the two weakest albums from Camel with their ninth album "The Single Factor". Fortunately, we have one song from "Rain Dances", which is an excellent album and especially three songs from "Nude", which is, for me, their best studio album from the 80's. So, this isn't the best compilation that we can expect from this great band. Still, it has songs with enough quality to be rated with 3 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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