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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 1194 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Expert Level Mellow Prog Band Seeks Lead Vocalist

Camel is one of the top "Second tier" classic prog bands, among the first people discover once they venture beyond the major acts. That strange distinction has to do with the fact that instrumentally, the band is superb. Starting with a classic Santana sound, the band added more variety and complexity and created their own exciting flavor of rock n' roll. Guitarist Andy Latimer has mastered Carlos' back of tricks and added some Canterbury and Pink Floyd, resulting in a skill set among the best in the genre. Peter Bardens' key work is both skilled and tasty, complementing Latimer's guitar perfectly. Drummer Andy Ward can lay down some very quick, slinky grooves, but sometimes will settle back into straight rock beats, unfortunately pulling a little life out of the music when he does.

The band's greatest deficiency is in the vocal department. Several members try to tackle the task, and none quite get it done. They do hit pitch, which is about as much as I can say. The note choice, expression, and phrasing of the vocals are all at a much lower level than the rest of the music, and it really does pull the listening experience down. The single "Never Let Go" is a prime example. Instrumentally, this is a great, upbeat prog song. But the vocals are just weak. The rhymes are rudimentary, the vocal range narrow, and the emotional content quite limited. The lead vocals on the opener "Slow Yourself Down" are almost monotone.

This is a bit sad, because with a dedicated lead singer, this band may have been one of the major artists of the genre. Their jams are fantastic, showcasing a variety of tones, precise execution, and plenty of nuance. Latimer's touch on the guitar is among the best electric guitars in all of rock, let alone prog. Bardens jams like a rocker but can seamlessly employ more complex time signatures and composed bits as the best prog keyboardists do.

This album is more Santana than Genesis, with the bonus instrumental "Homage to the God of Light" being a great jazzy jam that could have been on Abraxas. The other bonus track, the single version of "Never Let Go" is pointless when we have the full version on the original album. Though the prog elements are superb ("Mystic Queen" comes to mind), the strength of this album is that when the guys are jamming, it's great classic rock. The band makes some good choices later by embracing prog a bit more, and even recording an entire instrumental album.

This album is very enjoyable, and I think most prog fans are going to find plenty here to grab their interest. At the same time, it doesn't offer anything new to the genre, and vocals are at best adequate. Good but non-essential fits perfectly.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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