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Camel - Stationary Traveller CD (album) cover

STATIONARY TRAVELLER

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 482 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Recently I had the opportunity to discuss about Stationary Traveller in more than one PA forum, and I've also seen that some of the people I've discussed with has written a review of this album so it's time for me to write my review.

First of all this is an excellent album under all the possible points of view. It's in my personal top 50 list and I really loved it at the first spin.

This could be considered the first Andy Latimer's solo work, as also Andy Ward had to resign during the recording of the previous "Single Factor". The lineup sees Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak) at keyboards, Chris Rainbow (Alan Parsons Project) at the vocals other than the usual Mel Collins at sax.

This is the third Camel's concept album after "The snow goose" (quite unusual for an instrumental album being considered a concept) and Nude. It's about the Berlin Wall and it's the story of a person who decides to leave everything he has on the East to try to escape to the West, as many people did in the real world, some losing their lives since when the "door was closed" until the fall of the wall.

"Pressure point" is an introductive instrumental written for Andy's guitar. The live version on the omonimous live album is longer and features a long section of fretless bass. Nothing special.

with "Refugee" we are already in the masterpiece. The bad is that with this album Andy tried to renew the Camel's sound and make it more conformant with the standards ot the early 80s, so electronic drums and fairlight are almost everywhere in the album. The good is that this change in the sound is counter-balanced by Andy's musical skill, so at the end this is not disturbing. The guitar on the solo sounds a bit "Dire Straits", but it's well inserted in the song's structure and it's exactly how it has to sound here.

"Vopos" opens with about one minute of Fairlight and starts effectively when the electronic drum gave the rhythm. the lyrics are highly dramatic: the Vopos are around "As if a dream has come to life". One of the best songs of the album.

"Cloak And the Dagger Man" is another electronic song. I have the impression that the sequence of the songs on the album is the same on which they have been written.This songs clsoes a sort of trilogy with the previous two so now the story plot is clear.

Now we are at the last track of the first sife of the vinyl. the title track is an instrumental on which Andy's guitar can freely express. I remember the first listening made me think to Hotel California, but it hasn't anything to do with that song apart some similarities in the main sequence of chords. The guitar solo is probably one of the best ever played by Andy.

The B side of the vinyl starts with "West Berlin" I don't know if a single has been released from this album, but if one, this song would have been perfect for the A sdie. I think it can represent the whole album.

"Fingertips" is a love song, probably the most commercial, but is a great love song which features a fantastic sax solo over a fretless bass. The same year George Michael had a big success with Careless Whisper. I don't want to compare the two songs but the two sax solos have similar purposes. I think the singer is Andy himself, as the live version sung by Chris Rainbow is not as good as the studio one.

"Missing" and "After Words" are two instrumentals, still based on electronic drumming, Fairlight and the great Andy's guitar. They lead into the closure of the story.

"Long goodbyes" is what its title says: "Long goodbyes make me so sad, forgive my leaving now...." Another love song with a nice guitar solo at the end.

This album doesn't feature epic tracks: the longest is less than 6 minutes, but is not just a collection of songs. It's deeply into the 80s, also because of the concept. The fall of the wall closed that decade and after this album began the lawsuite which temporarily stopped Camel's activity. Without the attempt to sound mainstream it would have been an absolute masterpiece, now it sounds a bit dated.

4.5 stars

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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