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Camel - Camel On The Road 1972 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 137 ratings

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3 stars REVIEW #15 - "Camel on the Road 1972" by Camel, (1992)

The first of a series of "official bootlegs" released by Camel. Perhaps most fascinating about this album is that the band claims that it was recorded in 1972. For those aware with Camel's discography, this means this performance, which contains one song from their debut album and two from their critically acclaimed "Mirage", predates the release of their first album by about a year. This means that the songs "White Rider" and "Lady Fantasy", considered to be Camel's two most monumental compositions, were not written in the wake of the commercial failure of the 1973 self-titled debut.

While this phenomenon definitely makes me want to know more about the early history of Camel, this album features four compositions in a pretty standard live performance with decent sound quality for a then-unknown band with no studio releases to their name. "Lady Fantasy" does not deviate much from the eventual "Mirage" studio edition, but the overall live sound of the band is extremely refined, and it's obvious these guys were talented even before they got to their most seminal works. The one song from the debut album which is on this record is the instrumental "Six Ate", and to my knowledge it's the only recorded live performance of this rather obscure Camel song out there. I still feel it's a very mediocre composition compared to the rest of the band's work, especially on this album. The only real difference here is I believe they play it a little bit faster.

"White Rider" really needs no introduction, it perhaps has Camel's coolest concept of any of their songs, and it is a very engaging and dynamic example of progressive rock. Like the songs that precede it, Camel really doesn't go out of the way to improvise. However, perhaps the standout song here, if not for quality but rather for obscurity, is the song "God of Light Revisited", which is a cover of one of keyboardist Peter Bardens's SOLO songs (yes he released solo albums, a couple of which predate Camel). Running at just under fifteen minutes, this is basically where the band focuses all their improvisation. For those savoring an extended instrumental epic with lots of soloing, then you are in luck, because this is just that. The main motif of the song, which is performed by Bardens on the Hammond, is the seminal part of the song, while much of the rest is just pure jamming.

This album really isn't all that enticing to anyone more than a Camel fan, but I feel this album, released by Camel Productions in 1992 after guitarist Andrew Latimer had wrestled control of the band, was marketed with the sole purpose of appealing to that demographic, so I feel it's unfair to give this album a two-star rating. However, the renditions of the material featured here really do not offer anything interesting or different from their respective studio versions, and "God of Light" is nowadays available on a lot of the remastered editions of Camel's studio albums. With that in regard I'll give this album a flat mediocre review; with the age of the internet this is really only listenable for the novelty.


PacificProghead | 3/5 |


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