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Camel - A Compact Compilation CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 31 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A decent anthology from the infant days of CD technology. You gotta love the snappy alliteration of the title, and the breathless hype of the small advertisement in the corner of an already awful cover: "contains over ONE HOUR of music". Wow, one full hour on a single disc?

This particular collection has long since been superseded by more comprehensive, multi-disc retrospectives. But the single CD benefits from its relatively narrow focus on the band's four best albums, released between 1974 and 1977. The tracks (a baker's dozen) are all neatly arranged in chronological order, with nearly half of the total number taken from "The Snow Goose", providing a sort of Reader's Digest abridgement of Paul Gallico's celebrated wartime fable.

But the remaining selections were chosen with some care, including a dynamic "Lady Fantasy" (from the 1974 "Mirage" album) and the career peak of "Lunar Sea", from the quintessential 1976 album "Moonmadness". Both songs highlight Andy Latimer's fluid electric guitar work and Peter Barden's typically modest but deft touch at the keyboards, with the unusually tight rhythm section of Andy Ward and Doug Ferguson completing the ensemble.

Historically, Camel is usually (and unfairly) relegated to the second tier of the mid '70s Prog Rock hierarchy. Blame their lack of any strong marketable image or musical gimmicks, and perhaps the conspicuous absence of a charismatic lead singer. The latter was always a particular weak spot, as any exposure to "Song Within a Song" (included in this set) makes all too clear (it might also explain why the instrumental "Snow Goose" album remains perhaps the band's best-loved effort). This was instead a group that strived to succeed on the merits of its musical abilities, all of which are abundantly displayed throughout this disc.

In the end the compilation might be a little too compact: even with over ONE HOUR of music there's plenty of room for at least a few more songs. And confirmed fans will find nothing new here. This one is strictly for newcomers looking for a worthwhile introduction to an overlooked band from the Golden Age of English Progressive Rock.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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