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Camel - The Single Factor CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.65 | 536 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Heroes, I call for you

I am not sure if the title is a reference to the generally more commercial nature of the tracks here, but it is certainly appropriate. While there is nothing which immediately comes across as having the potential to be a huge hit single, the tracks are virtually all short and direct.

This was the first album without drummer Andy Ward who according to the sleeve- notes had suffered a serious injury to his hand. He had of course previously suffered at the hands of drink and drugs, especially around the time of the "Nude" album. This meant that of the original band members, only Andy Latimer remained.

On the plus side, the appearance of David Paton and Chris Rainbow on vocals instantly addresses the weary criticism which Camel have always suffered in that department. Paton's delivery on tracks such as the emotive "Heroes", one of the album's highlights, is superb. The presence of these vocalists, coupled with the generally lighter nature of the music can make this sound more like an ALAN PARSONS PROJECT album than a Camel one. Other notable guests were Sky members Tristan Fry and Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air), and early Genesis member Anthony Phillips. Latimer's partner Susan Hoover provides the bulk of the lyrics for the album, with only the first two tracks and the very brief "Lullabye" featuring Latimer's own words.

Latimer does not surrender vocal duties completely by any means though, the opening "No easy answer" being a pop structured song with his lead vocal, and accompanying la las by Rainbow and Paton. The following "You are the one" initially sounds like it is to be a bluesy dirge until the lightweight upbeat chorus bursts in, sounding as out of place as a prog song in the Eurovision song contest.

The aforementioned "Heroes" starts with an instrumental which sounds for all the world like it has been lifted straight from "The Snowgoose". It really is a beautiful piece, which understandably could easily be mistaken for the aforementioned APP. The song is followed by an emotional lead guitar instrumental "Selva" where Latimer's fine Gilmouresque lead guitar work is backed by the classical guitar of Anthony Phillips and the synthesiser of Duncan MacKay.

The instrumental track "Sasquatch" (the Red Indian word for "Big Foot", allegedly referring to Andy Latimer's feet!) which opens side two is interesting, as it features former band member (the now sadly departed) Peter Bardens on keyboards. We return to more pop based territory for the surprisingly rock based "Manic", one of the heaviest songs Camel have ever recorded. "Camelogue" reflects on the painful break-up of the original line up of the band, Hoover's lyrics clearly reflecting Latimer's own feelings well. The following "Today's goodbye", while on the face of it telling the tale of a romantic break up, may well also relate to the difficulties within the band.

The wonderful vocals of (Glasgow born) Chris Rainbow finally take centre stage on the two part closing track "A heart's desire/End Peace". Ironically, there's a "Local hero" (film) feel to Andy Latimer's guitar work here, Anthony Phillips' keyboard landscapes providing the perfect backdrop for this emotionally charged performance.

"The single factor" tends to get a bad press because it is often perceived to be something of a sell out album. While there are undoubtedly some worryingly commercial aspects to some of the songs, scratch the surface a bit further and there is actually a significant proportion of quality material. The problem, if there is one, is that the album is inconsistent. Worth exploring for fans of the band though.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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