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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2779 ratings

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5 stars As far as I'm concerned this album is the ultimate expression of the talents of Camel's classic line-up of Latimer, Bardens, Ferguson and Ward. A dramatic improvement over Camel's enjoyable first album, Mirage is the ultimate answer to the band's many critics.

It kicks off with the fiery largely instrumental Freefall. Dominated in the begining by Andy Latimer's guitar, it contains some nice moments from organist Peter Bardens as well. The vocals, which admitedly were flawed on the first album are exactly what's needed to set the careening tone of this pulsating track.

Amazingly Latimer didn't play his flute on the first album, but when one hears the intoxicating Supertwister it's instantly clear that he's a wonderful player. The seriously underrated rhythm section of bassist Doug Ferguson and drummer Andy Ward also show their skill as they negotiate a delicate, complex piece that ranks among my favourite instrumentals of all time.

The monster Tolkien-influenced track Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider is another thing of great beauty. It commences with some eerie keyboards that fade into a skillful flute-dominated fanfare before the main part part of the song kicks in. A moody, ethereal melody about the travails of Gandalf then unfolds before Latimer launches into a lovely quintessentially Camelesque solo, with the trademark jazzy chords, slow build-up and gloriously melodic choice of notes. Bardens then takes over with a daring Moog synth (or is it an ARP?) solo that will take your breath away if you have even an ounce of soul within you (it might just get my vote for Camel's greatest- ever moment). A return to the vocal melodies then follows before the track closes with a dark almost metallic riff that sees Latimer wig out like never before with an effects- laden solo.

Mirage's fourth track Earthrise is a lengthy instrumental that starts off with some jazzy tones before moving into some high-octane instrumental exchanges between Latimer (who might just overdo some of his guitar "frenzies"). Being merely a very good track, Earthrise is the cut I enjoy least here.

The album concludes with another indisputable Camel classic ... Lady Fantasy. Moody intro, melodic vocals singing melancholic fantasy lyrics, a brazen keyboard solo, a dramatic tempo change which Latimer graces with some glistening guitar leads, and beyond the solos, some of the most heart-breaking memorable melodies I've heard in prog-rock, a virtual fade-out into atmospheric guitar swells before the vocals return, and then Camel catches fire with some hard rockin' (replete with solos from the Bardens/Latimer monster) before one of those melodies returns to close out the track.

This is compelling, absolutely essential stuff that has captivated me for quite a long time and I recommend it heartily as one of the truly great progressive rock albums. ... 92% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 5/5 |


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