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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 1190 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Camel - How to star an illustrious career!

The debut album from the symphonic prog masters would have been the envy of most newcomers to the progressive style of the 70s. It features what fans have grown to love about the band. Beautiful, compelling instrumentals, 'Six Ate', played in 6/8 time sig changes, and melodic songs with lengthy instrumental jams, such as 'Curiosity' and 'Never Let Go'. Barden's keyboards are inspirational but the real star is Latimer on vocals and guitar. The spirit of Camel resides in these artists, though it can never be underestimated the power of Ward's accomplished drumming and Ferguson's pounding basslines. Together they were untouchable, pure magic and there was never a lineup like them in early symphonic prog.

Listen to 'Slow Yourself Down' and 'Separation' as good examples of the Camel spirit. Short blasts of drums and keys merge with melodic verses to create an atmosphere of immense tension, that surprises as it twists and turns in various musical directions. Latimer's guitar is ever present and he rips out some searing lead breaks. The time sig changes are ubiquitous on each track and the innovation and creativity on this debut is astounding.

Things slow down considerably on 'Curiosity' with a strong bass line from Ferguson. Latimer sings in a falsetto style in tune to the piano melody. His duel guitar playing is in perfect harmonic melody. The echoing vocals are effective, "Sail, sail away, sail, sail away...", but the best part of the track is when the pace picks up with a blistering lead guitar solo. This is soon followed by staccato stabs on a piano, balanced by guitar runs and organ chord progressions. The band really take off on this track into an instrumental played with virtuoso prowess. A definite sleeper highlight.

"Arabaluda", whatever that means, is a great instrumental that builds gradually to a mountain peak with space effects and an inspired chord structure, not to mention that shimmering organ solo from Bardens. The time sig is off the metronome scale at times on this track. Ward drums with intriguing metrical shapes and the guitars are rock heavy with occasional meanderings into softer territory.

'Mystic Queen' begins with gorgeous acoustic picking and psychedelic phased vocals. "Have you seen the mystic queen riding in her limousine, over hills, over dales, till morning..." There is an excellent keyboard solo from Bardens that is haunting and memorable. Latimer's guitar sings to us with angelic beauty. The instrumental section is once again a showcase of virtuoso performance. Latimer violins his guitar towards the end of the track, similar to a section of 'Lady Fantasy' on the next album.

Camel pull out all the stops on their first album and it is a pleasurable experience. It all gels together like a band on a mission, and indeed they were. There wasn't a great deal of music like this available in the early 70s. Yet for all its estranged qualities the songs are accessible due to the rocking beats and soft vocals. Camels' debut album is all killer, no filler, and is a must have for Camel addicts and those interested in early 70s prog rock.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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