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Camel - Breathless CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.14 | 761 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I'm not quite sure why I got this album, but I don't regret having it, and that's a good start. Breathless is surely Camel's most inconsistent album up to that point. The bad stuff is truly dire, and the good stuff is progtastic! Given it's release date (1978), Camel were doing quite well, as this was the year that also brought us 'Tormato' and 'Love Beach' (though applause must be given to Rush for giving us 'Hemispheres' that year). If you can't stand commercial sounds, you might want turn away now, as this album was choc full of cheesy pop tunes, some better than others.

The title track Breathless opens the album on a remarkably poppy note. It's not a bad song, but it's quite predictable and quite tame.

Echoes is fanastic. You can easily forget your listening to a poppy record when you hear this. The guitar at the very beginning is fantastic, and it sounds like it's going to lead into a verse. But it doesn't. Instead we continue on this extremely exciting musical journey, with breakneck technical playing by the band. The peice changes moods several times, and you think this might just be one of the best Camel instrumentals you've heard. But no! At 4:09, the lyrics of the song begin. This means that the intro lasted over half of the song. Brilliant! I have to say, the rest of the song isn't quite on par with the beginning, but it plays out quite well. This doesn't matter though as I am truly impressed with this song, and just knowing that fantastic track is there makes the album worthwhile.

Armed with Echoes, we now charge forth into Wing and a Prayer. Oh god, this song is cheesy! The lyrics, the melody, the instruments, everything is so cheesy. And I love every second of it! Maybe it's just a guilty pleasure, but this song just really strikes a chord with me! The beautiful production of this album is definitely a contributing factor, as the clarity of the instruments is very appealing. Love it!

The fun doesn't stop! Down on the Farm is one of those pop songs which has something distinctive to make it stand out, much like Yes's Leave It. The distinctive thing in this song is Sinclair's fast paced humourous lyrics about farm life, and the sound effects to go with it. It might be gimmicky, and seems like Caravan meets The Wurzels, but this track is very charming. Those lyrics, which aren't at all cryptic are a nice change from most prog lyrics. It's a very fun track indeed.

Starlight Ride is also very cheesy, but not in such a good way. There is a slightly classical feel to the interludes between verses, which is interesting on close inspection, and the melody is nice enough, but that's about as much as I can say about this track.

When Summer Lightning starts, it takes on a disco feel. While this is a little cringeworthy, all is not lost! You'd better believe it when I say that the final THREE MINUTES of this song are devoted to a Latimer guitar solo. Boy, can he play his instrument. Not a terrible song at all, but I preferred Down on the Farm.

You Make Me Smile is a very cute song indeed. With verses in 3/4 it's also a little odd, but still an enjoyable poppy track.

Hold on, we're near the end a Camel album, but it feels like we're missing something. Do you know what it is? That's right, an instrumental! Camel's obligatory instrumental The Sleeper is quite a complex proggy workout indeed, and very enjoyable to hear after so much pop! There are fantastic time signature changes, and great musicianship on all parts.

Last AND least, comes Rainbow's End. The singing on this track is horrible, and the melody doesn't have much substance to it. We leave the album with a slightly sour taste.

After writing this review, I've found that I enjoyed that album a lot more than I thought I did before. This is actually better stuff than 'Rain Dances' to be honest. 'Rain Dances' has a heavier and more serious feel to it, with it's five instrumental tracks, and I just don't find them good enough. With 'Breathless' everything is far less serious, and the pop stuff can be quite good, not to mention the incredible Echoes. I'd give this a good 7/10, as it really isn't bad at all. Unfortunately though, this is my final installment in my list of Camel reviews (for now anyway). Maybe one day, I'll feel rich enough to fork out for 'I Can See Your House From Here', but until then, I have better albums to spend my cash on.

baz91 | 3/5 |


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