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Camel - A Live Record CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.33 | 396 ratings

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4 stars One thing I particularly like about being a (relatively) young prog fan who has only discovered 70s Prog in the last couple of years, are some of the fabulous reissues of great albums. 'A Live Record' is a prime example, as the 2002 remaster of this album is packed with songs not heard on the original album. Along with live tracks on other reissues, these CD's have given me incredible insight into how Camel were as a live band. Since I was not alive in the 70s, I am incredibly grateful for all the bonus live tracks.

I'll say one thing about the original LP. This album was released after 'Rain Dances' but the original track listing only includes one song from that album, Skylines. While this is quite surprising, for a band who would probably want people to buy their latest record, it is a good thing they decided to do this, as it left more room for the amazing tracks heard on their first four records.

Although the artwork is now quite out of date (although what a cover it is!), the reissue is definitely a better album than the original. The CDs allow for more of your favourite Camel songs like The White Rider, Another Night and the stunning First Light.

The first CD contains a range of great Camel songs taken from several concerts, all played beautifully. Whilst some of these are played faithfully, there are also some interesting variations. My biggest disappointment was with Never Let Go from the debut 'Camel'. The beginning of the song is played like it was on the album, but with a funkier feel and a sax solo. Then at the instrumental, the band begins to break it down and have several different solos, until closing without finishing the song. It's slightly unfullfilling, as Never Let Go is such a good song, but the track does show great on stage musicianship.

There is just one song that is not taken from a studio album, Ligging at Louis'. This six and a half minute instrumental unfortunately suffers from the same symptoms as the other 'Six minute Camel instrumentals': it is very well played, but rather forgettable. Still, it's good to include something unreleased on the live album.

Lady Fantasy is played just as well as it is on the album, although the last section lacks some of the punch of the studio version. This version is longer than the album version, and there's no points for guessing that the extended part lies in the guitar solo before the Saw you... section. It would have been a travesty if this song were not on the album! It's brilliant to hear this wonderful song live, I wish I could have been there.

Of course the second disc is devoted to 'The Snow Goose'. If you do not already have the album, then I strongly advise you get that before hearing this. The important thing about the live version is that the group are accompanied by none other than the London Symphony Orchestra. They perfectly augment the band here, and really bring the album to life. Of course, hearing the entire album live allows you to reassess your thoughts about the studio version. It's easy to enjoy even the duller parts of the album here, because there's just so satisfying about hearing the entire of something (cough Never Let Go cough). The suite is played very faithfully to the studio version, with few surprises. There is however a big detour at Migration where the band perform something completely new before returning to the song.

However, on this recorded version, I hear a lot more passion in the songs. For example, the end of Dunkirk is played spectacularly, and you can hear the band and the orchestra going crazy! Not a note wrong either! Everything feels more exciting, and the quality of the recording is crystal clear. After hearing the studio version, I'd say this is how the album was meant to be heard.

With so many great tracks being played beautifully, I'd say this album essential to any Camel fan. Being taken from several concerts over several years, this serves as a photo album to Camel's early years live. We mustn't get ahead of ourselves though, this is a live album, and it's hard to say that live albums are essential (although I'm sure there are a few essential ones). As far as live albums go, I'd give this 10/10 any day, but since we're doing this relative to other albums, I'm going to give it 9/10, and round down. Very good live album!

baz91 | 4/5 |


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