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Camel - I Can See Your House From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.87 | 619 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It seemed like a good idea at the time

The first challenge here is to get past the questionable taste of the sleeve, which was intended to show that the band does in fact have a sense of humour. The title for the album was originally to be "Endangered species", but despite Andy Latimer's protestations he was overruled by the rest of the band, and both the name and the sleeve were changed.

With Peter Bardens having left the band before completion of the "Breathless" album, Andy Latimer had become the de-facto leader, keyboard duties being shared by Jan Schelhaas and Kit Watkins.

In terms of the contents, what we have here is actually a very enjoyable album. While many of the tracks find the band continuing to explore more commercial territories, the closing track is cited by many as the best Camel track of all. "Ice" is a 10 minute guitar instrumental recorded live in the studio, with Phil Collins guesting on percussion. Apparently Latimer played what he felt was a bum note at the beginning of his solo and wanted to re-record the track, but those present pursued him to leave it be. When you think about it, there really are far too few long, well developed lead guitar solos like this around. For those familiar with Camel's later "Nod and a wink" album, "Ice" resembles the final track "For today".

Looking at the rest of the album, "Wait" is rather weak for the opening track on a Camel album, devoid of the usual striking guitar and/or synth melody we have come to expect. It has a passing resemblance to some of the songs Russ Ballard wrote during his time with Argent.

"Who we are" is the other feature track. It starts as a jazz fusion piece along the lines of the Average White Band's "Cut the cake", with a distinctive theme which is developed and improvised upon. Later the introduction of vocals signals a complete change in the track, as it becomes a highly appealing ballad with building orchestration and some atmospheric flute. While the two distinct parts of the track do not sit particularly well together, the track as a whole is classic Camel.

There are a few pop based songs on the album, some of which work better than others. "Remote romance" is an awful song which serves only to show that Camel, or perhaps their record label, were becoming increasingly desperate to find a hit single. The track is 80's electronica in the mould of Devo, M, or Soft Cell. Even the lyrics are amusing because they're so bad! "Your love is stranger than mine" is as bad lyrically, but is more acceptable musically. It has a decent sax solo (by Mel Collins who appears as a guest on the album) and a bouncy, inoffensive feel.

The instrumental "Eye of the storm" is interesting in that it also appeared on Happy the Man's album "Better late", as keyboard player Kit Watkins had been a member of that band before joining Camel. It is thus a very rare example of Camel doing what is technically a cover version. "Hymn to her" manages to perpetuate the corny title syndrome the band manage to include on virtually every album, but the track itself has echoes of the "Moonmadness" era, with some good guitar work, and a pleasant melody.

In all, something of an underrated album in the Camel catalogue, with some symphonic prog, a little fusion, and some melodic pop. The album does have its flaws, but the track "Ice" renders the album essential for anyone who enjoys the music of this great band.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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