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Camel - Camel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 1237 ratings

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4 stars This is a funny little album indeed, and quite charming in it's obscurity. Before the fame that albums like Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness brought this fearsome foursome, Camel's debut made fairly little impact on the record-buying public. For such a prominent band in 70s prog, these guys were quite late on the scene; while bands like Yes and King Crimson and others started releasing albums around 69-70, this album was released as late as 1973. When you listen to this album, you can hear that they didn't really see themselves as 'progressive' and didn't want to copy other artists, yet there is no doubt that this music is very progressive indeed. Camel really came up with their own style, with extended melodic instrumentals being the norm. I don't think 'Symphonic Prog' is really the right genre for these guys, but then I can't think of anywhere else to put them, except possibly 'Canterbury Scene'.

The opener Slow Yourself Down starts out as a funky pop song, but halfway through explodes into an extremely rocking instrumental. The air-guitar inducing guitar solo is quite something! Camel set off on the right foot.

Mystic Queen is a very slow peice, with a wafer thin section of vocals at the beginning and towards the end. What I especially like about Camel's instrumentals are that they are usually very well composed and structured, not just random jams. You can listen to this song over and over, until you learn each part of the instrumental. However, this peice doesn't really reach it's full potential, and there's nothing particularly 'awesome' about it, it's just quite good.

Six Ate is an entirely instrumental peice. Despite the title, this peice isn't entirely in 6/8, as there is a 4/4 middle section. The first two minutes of this song are quite dull, but don't let this put you off, as the middle section is far more interesting. Some of the playing in this section is quite technical also. I have to admit I didn't always listen to this song properly due to the intro, but I've got more respect for it after listening to it properly.

If you prefer heavier sounds, then Seperation is for you. After the relatively light sound of the preceding two tracks, this song sounds more chunky. This is quite a complex track for it's length, and contains some very technical bits. The only problem is that it is quite a forgettable track, despite being so technically good.

The same could not be said for Never Let Go, which is arguably the best known song off the album. This song was also released as an edited single, and you can hear why. The verses of this song make up an extremely catchy song. The full version is almost 6:30, so for people who'd bought the single and enjoyed it, there would be an incentive to buy the LP and hear the full version. Everything about this song feels right, the intro, the lyrics, the instrumental, and definitely Latimer's awesome guitar solo outro.

Curiosity has a very meaty instrumental that you can really sink your teeth into. Lots of different parts, and generally quite interesting and technical. It's such a shame though that the lyrical section is rather forgettable, especially when compared to the last track.

The final track is an instrumental, titled Arubaluba. The main theme is actually in 9/8, although not the flashy ELP/Gentle Giant style of "look how technical we are", but in a rather subtle manner that you won't notice unless you listen for it. The piece is rather exciting, but there is little dynamic change throughout, so I don't really find it that gripping. As with 'Mystic Queen', there is lost potential here.

For a debut album, this is a very fine start to what would become a musical legacy. At the time of writing this, there have been 368 ratings (now to become 369), and not one of them gives this album a one star. If you are considering buying this album then this should assure you that Camel's debut is not rubbish. If you're new to Camel, starting here isn't bad, but I'd personally start with Mirage.

baz91 | 4/5 |


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