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Symphonic Prog

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4 stars strangely underrated, this first album represents wonderfully what camel were able to give during the peak moment of their career (1973-1976): delicate melodies, good instrumenrtal interplay, dreamy atmospheres. No track here is less than good. What else can you ask? Recommended.
Report this review (#1996)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars I have a sweet tooth for this one although it is more of a rocker than a proger. Six strong and hard rocking tunes with the occasional moment of near excellence in that particular style. Regardless of the style it is classified in , IMO , this is their stronger album as they will never show the same amount of energy again.
Report this review (#1971)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Four to the fore

The early 70's really were exciting times for prog weren't they!

This, Camel's first album, showed that they had hit the ground running. From the upbeat opener, "Slow yourself down", symphonic prog of a superior quality with tinges of jazz features through to the last track. Camel were slightly late onto the scene compared with many of the bands they are listed alongside, and were clearly influenced by many of those peers. There's more than a hint of Caravan in the music (Canterbury sound and all that), but they still find their own identity throughout the album.

The instrumental closer "Arubaluba" features some fine keyboard work by the late Peter Bardens but the album balances his talents with Andy Latimer's guitar prowess superbly. There's a certain naivety and at times over ambitious feel overall, with track titles such as "Six ate" seeming corny.

The band's creativity and song writing skills grew as they matured, and indeed their next album, "Mirage" was a significant improvement. This was though an excellent start.

The Remastered CD release includes a 19 minute live version of "Homage to the God of light" an early live favourite. The track originally appeared on Barden's rare solo album "The answer".

Report this review (#1974)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good album, but I can't say it made me fall on my knees... It has lots of beautiful melodies, and also very dynamic moments: LOADS of hammond and guitar great solos, powerful rythm-section play, and nice vocals. It can be easily heard that the band does not yet know what to play, there are some Santana influences, there are tracks that may have been inspired by early Purple, there are Floydish moody passages, and Cantenbury-style jazz-rock moments. The whole album is pretty powerful, but raw - like many debut albums. Not very complicated prog, but if that's ok for you, go get it...
Report this review (#1978)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a question this would be one of my all time favs. This is CAMEL when CAMEL were CAMEL! Superb and highly memorable songs lavishly accented with deep keyboard (organ & Mellotron) sounds creating a very spacey atmosphere. Song are uniquely longer in duration than much of their later material adding a different dimension and feel. CAMEL's debut album offers deep and warm sounds with solid musicianship throughout. Put this one into the "Essential Progressive Rock" category.
Report this review (#1985)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fantastic and gently moody with peaks of excitment. Camel started as they ment to go on with this album. Mystic Queen and never let go are the highlites for me, but there isn't a low point in Camels back catalogue untill the Single Factor, and even that's OK.
Report this review (#1979)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Camel's first album is surprisingly good quality compared to what they did after Moonmadness. The songs are shorter but they remain pure Camel product. The classic line-up is giving all it can; hard to find a 'weak' song on the album. The remaster album has a clear, crisp sound, giving Andy Ward's drumming full appreciation. A definite winner with not much singing (kinda good) and could get more keyboard though. The songs are less 'dreamy' than Mirage, so expect less replay value and no long epics. The jazzy approach is for sure a Canterbury influence and, who could whine about crafty songs?

Low chances to regret the buying; Camel's oldest albums are safe bets to invest money on, remaining the high improbability of so much talent concentrated in one band. And yet, it did exist for a short period of time. *sigh*

Report this review (#1981)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first CAMEL album. Surprisingly progressive, a bit like early FOCUS, although maybe less hard rock (the electric guitar is slightly more shy). The keyboards are mostly floating and rythmic organ full of effects, and some mellotron, piano and VCS3 parts. The bass is quite present and rather complex. There are tons of sophisticated drums. The lead vocals are very good, as always. You listen the early CAMEL mainly because of the outstanding keyboards.
Report this review (#1982)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars As debuts go, CAMEL takes the high road in search of a suitable resting place for astral travellers. The superlative playing and band chemistry is already in place, what remained was the reining in of musical possibilities to focus on a signature CAMEL sound. And you can already make out the shape of things to come ("Mirage") on tracks like "Mystic Queen". But CAMEL is still sorting out what path to follow, which included the difficult road of GENTLE GIANT ("Curiosity") and the sultrier lands of SANTANA ("Slow Yourself Down").

There's no question that CAMEL's debut will prove a hospitable oasis for prog fans over time (similar to GENTLE GIANT's "Acquiring The Taste"), though listeners who sampled their later masterworks first (which were easier to find in record stores) may need a few spins before the "new" old CAMEL sinks in. Instrumental jams like "Arubaluba" and "Six Ate", for example, might taste a little heavy to anyone raised on the refined airs of "Snow Goose" or "Moonmadness". (In fairness, the superior "Mirage" still found the band fine-tuning the right mixture of sounds.) Likewise, CAMEL doesn't really work on a conceptual level -- although how many bands wrote concept albums the first time out? There are consistent themes of joining and unjoining that might cause the wandering mind to speculate, but nothing like the miniature epics on "Mirage" or the scripted "Snow Goose". Given that the band drifted from the progressive waters beginning with "Rain Dances", fans of classic CAMEL should drink from the past before venturing into the (sometimes inhospitable) future.

Report this review (#1983)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I bought this when I was at college studying art. I'd never heard of them but that superb album cover got to me. Today I still play odd tracks of this, but they all sound a bit clunky and dated, apart from the sublime Never Let Go, which is still one of their finest tracks to date.
Report this review (#1987)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not bad for a debut album. Funny cos I only backfilled my Camel collection with this album after Rain Dances.It really defines what Camel are all about and fits like a jigsaw piece into the following release of Mirage. All the tracks are strong with Bardens at his best, personal favourites would be Seperation, Arubaluda and Never Let Go. The vocal harmony that Latimer and Bardens managed to combine is particularly solid.
Report this review (#2004)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Superb first effort

I would just love to call this album a masterpiece of prog, but the old "flawed diamond" story is just stretched a little too far; This is a great album, and would surely become a treasured part of any prog collection - but in the same way that a comfortable jersey or old pair of jeans becomes a treasured part of your wardrobe.

"Slow Yourself Down" is just wonderful, and somehow epitomises 1970s rock music. It is punctuated marvellously with incidents from Latimer's guitar and Barden's keyboards that just make you sit up and take notice - that real "wow" factor.

"Mystic Queen" would be equally marvellous if it wasn't for the slightly cheesey lyrics. However, the warm bass and organ more than make up for this. Sumptuous flowing textures are the order of the day in this contrast to the driving rock of "Slow Yourself Down". Latimer excels himself with lyrical, melodic solo lines and rich acoustic rhythms.

"Six Ate" is more upbeat and slightly funky with Ferguson's fat rolling bass and subtle keyboard rhythms from Bardens - possibly a little bit "elevator music", but satisfying nonetheless. However, the sudden change to a kind of dark muddy texture is part of why I feel this album is not quite the "flawed diamond" it could be, as "Six Ate" sits somewhat uncomfortably within the rest of the album - and the wierd keyboard sounds do nothing to enhance it. Latimer's wonderful solo lifts it well, temporarily - but you still get the feeling that Camel were floundering a little with this one.

"Separation" is a good rocker, with the welcome addition of Latimer's flute - but its the solos we anticpate - and with good reason! There is some beautiful fast work from Latimer that escapes the bluff trap, arpeggioing around the melodies very nicely and demonstrating that Latimer is not restricted to the slower, singing style that he is rightly famous for.

"Never Let Go" is a Camel classic, full of every element that make Camel such a pleasure to listen to; the rich 6th-laden harmonies, flowing melodies and slightly funky bass and drums. Bardens really works it with Latimer's flute in the middle section to provide some beautiful, timeless prog. While Bardens might not have had the most notable voice in prog, it fits well here, the lyrics patch in well, and Latimer really lets fly with some classic air-guitar worthy soloing in the burn-out.

"Curiosity" lives up to its title well, with slightly dodgy lyrics, but nice shifting time signatures and interesting textures - including many of the trademark "soft clashes" you get when layering 6ths. I'm particularly keen on the sections where the keyboard and bass double each other, while the guitar doubles the voice. Bardens produces some beautifully lyrical keyboard work, more than complementing Latimer's guitar.

"Arubaluda" walks away with best title award - and also contains some of the most exciting textures and rhythms; Camel decided to end on a high, and this is a real rocker - although the time shifts are not neglected in the pursuit of rock! Some superb crunchy Deep Purple-esque riffing, although the guitar work remains solidly within Latimer's pure melodic domain, no matter how hard Bardens tries to descend into dissonance - brilliantly, it has to be said! Also notable is Ward's loose yet somehow solid way of keeping everything together whilst at the same time turning the rhythms upside down - not exactly Carl Palmer, but wonderful stuff nonetheless!

This is especially stunning as it is Camel's debut album - the maturity of the playing is quite remarkable, and the establisment of Camel's sound at such an early stage of their career is quite incredible - I can think of no other band that held on so fastidiously to their sound all the way from beginning to, well, present, in the case of Camel. Somehow Camel (Latimer...), despite heavy losses, have survived intact unlike so many of their contemporaries.

File under "ESSENTIAL!".

Report this review (#2005)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well Camel is a rock-solid and awesome band. From they very beginning they have a polished sound with tight drums and very good guitaring. The bass and keys are pretty standard for the era, but everyone in the band is together and their musicianship shines though. I like "Six Ate" and "Slow Yourself Down" and "Arubaluba" especially but the whole album is very good. There is some very jazzy playing on these tracks, almost loungy, but in a good way. This is another album that I rarely skip a track. This is also one of the few bands that have a debut album that I would recommend a collector start with. A prog gem!
Report this review (#2006)
Posted Monday, September 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A rather polarizing group is Camel. Nobody seems to dispute that they were considered a sort of second-tier prog group thoughout their career, but half the proggers out there think that they were criminally under-rated, while the other half think that Camel deserved to be lightly regarded. I'm in the former camp.

That said, this debut album by the classic Camel line-up of Latimer, Bardens, Ferguson and Ward isn't quite the place to begin if you're trying to convince someone of the group's place among the all-time greats. While it contains many good songs and a couple of great ones, there are a few factors that prevent it from approaching the heights that Camel would reach on subsequent releases.

The first factor is the vocals. A lot of people have derided Camel's vocal abilities, but I'm a fan and I think their songs normally suit the mellow, limited vocal styles of Latimer, Bardens and Ferguson (who share lead vocals on two songs each here). However on their first album, Latimer's two vocal spots are poor, particularly on the opener Slow Yourself Down and Ferguson also turns in a weak performance on Curiousity. (Incidentally, the record's liner notes inform me that Camel actually stopped recording at one point and spent three days auditioning for outside vocalists before deciding to stick with what they had!)

Another factor that drags this album down is that there are actually a couple of bum notes and misplaced harmonies running around this album, a sure sign that it was recorded in a hurry. But what really makes this album sound even more like a "trial run" is the fact that Latimer's had yet to develop his guitar style and didn't even play the flute on a single track.

Despite these lapses, Camel is a good album. It includes two stellar moments that remain among the finest songs Camel recorded ... Mystic Queen and Never Let Go. The mournful Mystic Queen, which features a lead vocal by Ferguson, sees some delightfully melodic Hammond organ playing from Bardens. And then there's Never Let Go, a pulsating piece which sees some lovely exchanges between Bardens and Latimer. Both pieces contain melodies that will never leave me.

The rest of the album contains a bit of exciting instrumental playing. Latimer almost sounds like Richie Blackmore during parts of Separation, and while Bardens shines at some point during virtually every song (his solo on Never Let Go is one of my favourites), it is their trademark exchanges that can really be intoxicating.

There's a point I have to make the CD bonus track on this album. It is a 19-minute live version of Homage To The God Of Light, a song originally recorded on Barden's debut solo album ... and it's a great track, full of confident free-form playing that showcased the extravagant talents of the quartet. It's shocking to think that it stayed in the vaults for 28 years! If this track had been on the original album, I might well have given it 4 stars. ... 61% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#2011)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nice album and a good debut. Not overly fond of the vocals, but the rhythm section is absolutly great. The keyboards bring in a lighthearted symphonic feel to the sound, with some souring guitarplay. The emphasis of the sound lies in the instrumental passages, with a huge variety of sounds and textures, sometimes straight-forward rock, but also atmospheric and symphonised soundscapes.

1. Slow Yourself Down (4:45) A very rhythmic song, with great bass/drum play, not very good sung, but a great opener to the album. 2. Mystic Queen (5:53) a very mellow dark symphonic piece, with slow soft playing, growing in intensity as the song develops. great. 3. Six Ate (5:57) I like the tempo and melodies of this instrumental song. with some great guitarplay from Andy, and some nice changes in atmosphere. not their best song, but worth a listen. 4. Separation (4:54) Rhythmic rocker, with some fine guitarsolo's. and fabulous bass and drum play behind the guitar. great song.

5. Never Let Go (6:20) Accoustic guitar opening, besides the voice it's a great track. with continously changing tempo and a great interplay between the different instruments, taking turn in taking the lead. some nice flutes, guitar and keyboards. and the omnipresent rhythm section that keeps me dazzling. 6. Curiosity (5:52) Soft lush melodies, great instrumental passages, again the vocals are not Camel's best part, nice song, especially the keyboardsolo deserves a mention. 7. Arubaluda (6:26) Easily the best song on the album. Heavy rock (compared to other Camel pieces that is), with great drums, fabulous guitarplay and driving bass-play. Gets me excited everytime I hear it.

Overall A great album, not a masterpiece but definitly something every prog-lover should listen too at least once. 3, 5 stars to be more precise. Recommended to all who like melodic symphonic music. I think the average neo-prog fan (IQ, Pendragon) will like this album.

Report this review (#2012)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an incredible first record !!! Music is very melodic and at the same time very dynamic. I remember I've been very surprised the first time I listened to this album. In fact I discovered Camel with "Snow Goose" and for me this band was supposed to produce soft- symphonic prog. I couldn't imagine than Camel could be so heavy as on this one. As for all other bands with their first LP, you can find some influences ( Focus, Genesis and certainly ...Santana ), but the way the songs are composed and developped is already very personnal. Latimer, Bardens, Ward and Ferguson produced later music more sophisticated and ambitious, but don't forget this first one. It's pure pleasure.
Report this review (#2013)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an amazing first album in many respects and only just falls short of 5 stars. The style is very individual, with elements of classic prog rock with some blues and jazz influences coming through but the thing about Camel was that they NEVER became overindulgent. All the tracks are excellent, with some superb keyboard/guitar/flute interplay and dynamic drums and bass - all the musicians are exceptional on their instruments. Arubaluba, Slow Yourself Down and Never Let Go are my favourites but you could make a case for any of the other tracks as well. Weaknesses? The vocals are sound but not inspiring, though most of the album is instrumental anyway. My vinyl album (original 1973 vintage!) has a slightly compressed sound quality and reduced dynamic range, probably because they didn't get the funds to do the job properly. Perhaps a remixed CD might solve this. This album was the basis for the three utterly brilliant albums which came next and is absolutely essential for any collection even if it has a few minor weaknesses.
Report this review (#2014)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a very credible debut album from Camel that still rates amongst my all time favourites. Some really classic tracks (including the timeless "Never Let Go") with the great instrumental "Arubaluba" strking out with great impact.

An album that once heard is never forgotten.

Report this review (#2015)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can't beleive i had not heard this after hearing and owning all of their albums (up to Nude, of course!). I thought this was an average quality lp as this was their first and i remember hearing it a couple of times at sme friend's house...but i was not impressed. But , even though i was right about their technique not being fully developed, this is a very nice album to discover 25 years later! As always with Camel the melodies just stick to your brain and 'never let go'. Great to have (get all ther stuff from 'Mirage' to 'Nude' first and then come to this ) after completely giving up on them ...(their latest DVD is worth checking out though).
Report this review (#35904)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If we talk about prog move in the seventies, I would consider that Camel came a bit late compared to other bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, ELP, etc. Fortunately this debut album brought different style as compared to what's already there in the market and I could reconfirm that Camel is band with its own style. It's difficult to identify its influences from other band(s). Once I thought there was some influences from Genesis, Jethro Tull and Focus. But when I thought about it later, I was wrong as the music textures and contents were totally different. How could I say that this band was similar with, say Focus or Jethro Tull, on the basis that some track of Camel were using flute? It's too naïve to say so. Finally, I gave up defining sort of influences this band had. Just enjoy the music man! Music is emotion.

I have to admit musically that this album is really excellent in terms of composition - structures, songwriting and arrangements - and also great musicianship and overall performance. And I have to honest with you, my friends. As you know, my basic philosophy in enjoying music (any kind of genre / sub-genre): music is emotion. Judging from the latter only I can only say that this album only "so and so" in creating musical emotion for me. Yes, I feel touched with the stunning guitar work by Andy Latimer (he is one of greatest prog guitarists I've ever known) or soaring Hammond organ sound by Peter Bardens. But - forgive me - they failed to stimulate something that can drive my adrenaline to explode like what I experience with Genesis' "Firth of Fifth", "Fly On A Windshield", "Supper's Ready", or Marillion's "Emerald Lies", "Forgotten Sons", "Grendel" or Yes' "Gates of Delirium", "Close To The Edge" . and many more touchy songs from prog heads. But I'm sure that this is something to do with personal taste - and be it, I think. We have to be honest, don't we?

Musically, you will hear this album has great segments that demonstrate how the combination of skillful guitar work of Andy Latimer mixes wonderfully with Peter Bardens organ works. The compositions are excellent. The only thing that does not fully suit my taste is a bit lacking of melodic segments. My favorite tracks include: "Arubaluda" (6:24), "Slow Yourself Down" (4:45), "Six Ate" (5:57).

On the basis of musical quality, I rate this album as excellent, but as it does not create a true musical orgasm for me then I think three stars is the most appropriate rating. It's not bad at all. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#39909)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being born in 1980 was perhaps not the greatest thing considering most of the early great prog bands had already changed their styles or had split up altogether. Because of entering the game so late, I missed out on many bands that others seem to rave about, and Camel was one of those bands. I hadn't ever heard of this group before, let alone owned any of their material. Living in a small US town doesn't help, because even after learning of this group I couldn't find even one of their CD's in the record stores!!! On to eBay.

I found every disc I needed from this debut up to "Nod And A Wink" and after listening to them incessantly I feel I can give some advice on what to get and what not to get. As for this release...get it!! I think this disc is highly underrated, perhaps because it is their debut and was quickly overshadowed by their follow-up album "Mirage." I'm not going to sit and pull the album apart track by track since I firmly believe that every song is wonderful in its own way. The songs are still vital today and the early guitar work of Andrew Latimer shines here, along with his wonderful vocals on the album opener and "Separation."

Sharing vocal duties on the album are keys player Peter Bardens and bassist Doug Ferguson, both who add their own vocal dynamic, while oddly sounding almost identical to Latimer. The 2002 release is a must have for all Camel fans...the sound quality is amazing and two previously unreleased tracks have been tacked on to add an additional 22 minutes of music.

The first bonus track is only a single version of "Never Let Go" (3:36) and is here mainly for completists. The true gem is the 19 minute live version of "Homage To The God Of Light" recorded live at the Marquee Club on October 29th, 1974. This song was originally recorded by Peter Bardens for his first solo album in 1970, and was resurrected by Camel as a live track in the early days of their live performance set. The liner notes for this remaster say that this is possibly one of the final live performances of this track.

As far as debut albums go many either love them or hate them!! This one is certainly one that deserves a second listen and a third and a fourth! I've only had it for several months and it's been in constant rotation. A great opener by a band that was unfortunately never given much of a chance in the states!

The album only sold 5,000 copies its first year of release and the band was quickly dropped from the label.

Report this review (#40163)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The year 1973 saw how rock 'n' roll, in general, was beginning to reach a level of quality it had never reach before -- and to this day has never reached again, as some people believe. There were masterpieces during the year. And this was also the case in the realm of progressive rock: there were "Dark Side of the Moon" (of Pink Floyd), "Tubular Bells" (Mike Oldfield), "A Passion Play" (Jethro Tull), "Selling England by the Pound" (Genesis), "Brain Salad Surgery" (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and probably also "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh" (Magma) and "In A Glass House" (Gentle Giant) to name a few.

This debut album of Camel would probably have been on the same ground had it not been for the unfocused materials reason. This fact does not mean it is a weak attempt, however. In fact, the band had their passion and energies, along with their musicianship, to cut a record in which there are strong hints of promise -- proven to be materialized several years later and attract a dedicated cult following.

The band open this album with an upbeat song titled (as if it were an irony) "Slow Yourself Down". It is a great, rocking tune with a good mood to start with.

The songs that follow vary widely, fluctuate between jazz-tinged rhythms and hard rocking tunes. But in tracks like "Mystic Queen", "Never Let Go" and "Arubaluba" that the listeners actually capture the finest moments in which Peter Bardens delivers his marvelous organ playing that almost dominate the band's sound while Andrew Latimer occasionally fill the music with his graceful guitar work.

If it is necessary to suggest simple words to describe this album, here they are: the band was still finding a firm formula in terms of sound, style, direction, etc.

Not a bad effort, though.

Report this review (#42246)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this is a drastically underrated album. It is one of the Camel and prog classics, which reveal one of the finest moments in 70' s. Great solos from Latimer, incredible rhytm sessions from Ward and Ferguson, and admirable work from Bardens. All the songs deserve to be called as the best song of the album.

The collaboration of Latimer and Bardens gives clues of the unforgettable future works of this couple. Their solos following and assisting each other can not be compared with any other band.

This is a great introduction to Camel music and also to progressive rock. A masterpiece without any doubt.

Report this review (#46823)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first work announced in 1973 "Camel".This was my first Camel record.An album that once heard is never forgotten. Intellectual atmosphere drifts youthful. This debut work is a wonderful work.All the songs deserve to be called as the best song of the album."Never Let Go" is one of the most important works of them. Five stars.Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.
Report this review (#47749)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is very good for a first album (but not as good as in the court of King Crimson of course) the best thing about this album is that it is rock solid and has constitantly good songs that don't sink in first time you listen to them but eventually you will learn to love them, just like all prog. When compared to first albums from most major prog bands like Yes and Genesis This is really very impressive. When I first saw this album I bought it just because I liked the look of the cover (like most progressive album covers, esspicially Yes) I found the music was just as good as the cover.So much for the saying " don't jude a book by its cover" This is a very good album overall and I will give it a well deserved five stars. If you want more Camel then I suggest The Snow Goose, Moondadness and Mirage.
Report this review (#48883)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Camel's debut album and still one of my personal favorites. One of the most underrated album in progressive rock history.. The rythm of each song is highly catchy with such an amazing feel to it.The keyboards are mostly floating and rythmic organ full of effects, and some mellotron, piano and VCS3 parts. The bass is quite present and rather complex. There are tons of sophisticated drums. The lead vocals are very good, as always. A big step for Camel as we see in next album Mirage.

1. Slow Yourself Down - 5/5

2. Mystic Queen - is a superb ballad whose soft-spoken vocals contributes a lot. The acoustic intro is beautiful and so is the later crescendo until the pace slows down again. 5/5

3. Six Ate - 4,5/5

4. Separation - 4/5

5. Never Let Go - Lovely acoustic intro once again and superb playing by everyone. It's weird because these song is so beautiful and soothing and yet so dark and haunting at the same time. 5/5

6. Curiosity - 4,5/5

7. Arubaluda - The album closes with this fine heavy meltdown with some Peter Bardens' fantastic Organ improvisations. Great! 4,5/5

Final Note : Although "Camel" might not be as focused as later efforts like "Mirage" or "Moonmadness", but every song has something different to offer. I would definetly recommend this.

5+5+4,5+5+5+4,5+4+4,5 = 32,5

32,5:7 = 4,64

Essential: A masterpiece of progressive music.

Curiosity: Dave Williams, the album's producer, urged the band to find a real singer. The idea was finally dropped after the band auditioned a singer who started dancing on stage while the other were gigging through instrumental improvisations.

Report this review (#54612)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all, pardon my Chantrainesque review. When I first discovered this site, and Camel along with it, this debut album kept a very low score, when compared to the following three. After some time, it is a plesure seeing it climb to same status as the others, as I believe it deserves. This might be a proof that this album has aged very well, better, in fact, than most Camel albums post-Snowgoose. I find the first three albums to be my favorite, and on this triade, "Camel" sits quietly at the top as my favorite. That said, I can only give it one score: 5 stars.
Report this review (#56053)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first album of the great band is the most aggressive. The opening track and the last track are the most aggressive ones in this album. "Mystic Queen" is a very fine ballad. The next track is an instrumental one which reminds early albums of SUPERSISTER. "Separation" is an excellent prog song with an interesting musical development. "Never Let Go" is a sad song which is played live by CAMEL so far. The next track gives less impressions, but the last (again instrumental) track breeds a lot of energy. Excellent debut
Report this review (#58872)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.3/5.0

Clearly Camel's most underrated album! As some people pointed out, this is not exactly progressive music yet (still, I believe this is still closer to prog music than to pure rock) but it is possible to get a feeling of what's going to happen (the three next albums are masterpieces!).

The whole album is really easy to listen to and it is never any boring. "Six Ate" has that well-recognized Camel keyboard touch, yet to be developed the way it is on Snowgoose or Moonmadness, but still this is one of the most prog song on the album and one of my favorite, even if I enjoy the whole album.

If you like Genesis's From Genesis to Revelation, or later Camel or Caravan, you should enjoy this album!

Report this review (#65894)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since Camel appeared in the time period when my interest in prog ongoings was heavily fading, mostly due to the lack of time and changed way of life, it happened that I somehow 'missed' this band. Just recently I have started collecting their albums and so far I collected their first five releases.This debut album was really solid outbreak showing band's musical talents and superior musicianship.The sound is predominantly coloured by Barden's keyboards and Latimer's guitar/flute playing, while Ferguson and Ward make appropriate rhythm section. The whole album material is pretty equable, but to me 'Slow Yourself Down', 'Never Let Go' and 'Curiosity' are sticking out.Promising entry, with even continuation as the time will show.
Report this review (#75907)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here it comes, I received this cd a couple years ago from my friend in USA, and I got this cd with a special signature from the former of this band, Andy Latimer. I'm so happy of course. And yet I still have this, I listened all of those tracks, one by one, little by little, then I felt enjoying what I have to supposed to listen. I like all of those tracks as Slow Yourself Down came to my ear. This track has a power of 70's nuance with the organ and mellotron sound and of course Latimer's voice. I don't know how it reminds me to Trapeze's song. I listen the percussion everywhere, and I noticed in the sleeve note that there are several players played some instruments. What a great collaboration. Second song, Mystic Queen, just like Pink Floyd's song in Dark Side of The Moon or Meddle, filled by mellow guitar and Gilmour's sound, also with Ferguson'soft voice. It's nice track. If you like early Pink Floyd, you should hear this! Six Ate, an instrumental song with many parts and combining exploration sounds and beats. There are also many sudden change in a little bit jazzy tunes. Maybe, only this track I need more attention and more patient. Separation, this old fashioned rock style as the opener part, fast and slightly, then we hear another great solo guitar. I like part of the middle song as the the bridge to another crowded instrument sounds, all of instruments become one conclusion until fading out.. Never Let Go, this track is amazing ! unforgetable track in this album, so highlight for me, that's why they choose this track in their live performances. I think this is the best creation as Bardens created this. All of explorations skills are here, VCS3 was so haunted me everytime I hear. Beside that, I love the string guitar when the track begin as the character of this song. I give this track two thumbs up !! Curiosity, this track is absolutely nice but not to easy to comfort at all. The tunes has descent to more attractive beat. And I think it might be the first or more effort to prog character in the later album. Arubaluba, as the closing track gives us a statement that they should be noticed as a prog band in their early debut album. If you're big fans of Camel, you should have this one, this album is excellent !

Atang - Indonesia

Report this review (#76054)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent album.

You can really see here that the band has alot of energy. They do find it hard to be subtle at times however but overall they give a true, honest representaion that is original and inspiring.

Report this review (#80769)
Posted Friday, June 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Camel's debut is an interesting album, with enjoyable music, but they really weren't mature, ready to make the great music they would show us in their next albums. Six Ate is a good example of badly arranged song. It has very good themes, but they repeat too much, and it sounds boring. Mystic Queen is the best song here, reminding me Pink Floyd. It has a delightful instrumental section, where Andy Latimer and Peter Bardens show us the great musicians they are. Never Let Go is a simpler song, with beautiful lyrics and a good chorus. It gets really better in A Live Record, with saxophone. Here I come to a complain: why doesn't Latimer play his placid and beautiful flute here? It could improve so much some of the songs.

Report this review (#85067)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars As I write this review, I'm not exactly a Camel expert knowing almost nothing about the middle of their career. Judging by reviews of albums of that era, though, it seems I'm not missing much.

Camel's self-titled debut is, however, one of my very favorite albums and quite possibly Camel's strongest album as well. There's virtually no filler on this one and their energy is at its peak.

And in fact, this is not prog in the same way early Genesis is prog, to cite a reference in the genre. Camel from this age is quite a bit more rythmic and rocking. This doesn't happen in later albums, particularly towards the end of their career, when everything getts much more mellow, yet beautiful.

"Slow Yourself Down" sets the pace for the entire record, an upbeat track sang by Andy Latimer in his quite original tone. But it's "Never Let Go" (which has an even better rendition on "A Live Record") - my favorite Camel track - and "Arubaluba" that steal the record for me. "Six Ate" has this great grooving bass line as the backbone of the entire track while "Mystic Queen" is the most mellow track yet doesn't disappoint, being beautifully sung by bassist Doug Ferguson and featuring Bardens intensely exquisite keyboards. And everywhere Andy Ward's drumming is perfect for the mood.

I find Camel to be an essential band in the genre, and as I find this to be their best effort, this record is also essential, even if you're probably better served with next year's "Mirage" for a more progressive output.

Report this review (#85424)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars ***½

A very nice start from this remarkable band. Every track is at least good, but in the end there are few that are really truly memorable. Mystic Queen, Never Let Go and Arubaluba rise above the others, and recently I've noticed that I've come to like Curiosity very much as well. The remaining three lack something these have, but they are still very fine numbers.

Report this review (#87426)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I always had a special relationship with CAMEL's debut. Very naive in its simplicity and poor production, the music is still very catchy and inspiring. They were to develop their composing and performing skills up till "Moonmadness", but this first album is in many respects unbeatable. Except for extremely dull "Separation", all the album contains some of the nicest melodies I heard in prog! While I am not a big fan of this band and they are surely not much original artists, their first record keeps a special place in my heart! ***1/2
Report this review (#88523)
Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Why is this album rated significantly lower than the three albums that come after it? Sure, all three of those are true classics, and this album doesn't really have a bad score, since it is over 4.00 right now. But, in my opinion, Camel's debut is on the same level as the three undisputedly great albums that followed it. On this album you see a lot of foreshadowing of various melodies that would creep into Camel's later works. In a way, they were only ripping themselves off later! Just kidding, but as someone who listened to the "Big Three" Camel albums before listening to this, it's interesting to hear those similarities. Speaking of rip-offs, "Benighted" by Opeth really steals from the beautiful guitar line from "Never Let Go" on this album. That's ok, Mikael has at least acknowledged many times that Latimer is by far one of his biggest inspirations.
Report this review (#93939)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Camel were the one good band I listened to during the worst period of my life when I was a disgusting prick. Despite the bad memories, they have transcended that period of blackness to become a group I will always go back and listen to and treasure. For those of you who haven't heard this album, or Camel, I will go so far as to say this is one of the best debuts in progressive rock history, or 70s rock history for that matter. I had not heard this one during the bad period, and during this new and improved period I much prefer their earlier to later work- mainly this album through Raindances. This, along with Mirage and Raindances, could be my favourite Camel album. It's a bit rougher than some of the later ones, and this works to the benefit not the detriment of the record. Already some of the elements that made Camel are in place- a strong Pink Floyd influence at times, very melodic passages of dreamy symphonic sound pictures, clear almost translucent vocals in Caravan/Floyd mold (you may know that Richard Sinclair of Caravan made two albums with Camel), and some ferocious fiery guitar work from Andy Latimer. There are some differences here too, a bit of a Santana/Latin feel to the opening track, "Seperation" is quite different than anything else on the record with a sharp change and juxtaposition of styles, perhaps to accentuate a song about a break up/love lost. "Mystic Queen" is a classic Camel ballad, very ethereal and haunting. Overall, "Mystic Queen" is the most obviously like Camel song and the rest of the album utilizes more guitar than usual, or at least more outfront wailing. These guys all had a lot of experience prior to forming the group, and that shows here less than one might expect. There is a rawness that really does sound like a brand new band with something a little different up their sleeve. There isn't the laziness of I Can See Your House From Here or Breathless- both very good albums, but they wouldn't get the full five star mark from me like this one, Mirage, Moonmadness, Raindances. The production is quite good on this album, but under rather than overproduced. It sounds like Camel basically recorded jams and overlaid vocals on them, then fixed it up so it worked brilliantly. "Never Let Go" is a particularly impressive number, and one of the high points of the band's career. This album is just splendid, not one note I would change and it's very refreshing to hear music with so much feeling in it. If you have never heard Camel, you could be very happy if you start here at the very beginning. I missed the chance to see them on their farewell tour, but hopefully Camel's music will live on every time I play their records. One last thing to say is that Camel should not be termed a "Second Division" prog band- they were every bit as important and influential if not more than a band like Yes. I actually prefer Andy Latimer to also great Steve Howe, but I love both. I just find it unfair that some people claim Camel to be a group who "jumped onto the progressive band wagon" this could not be further than the truth, and this album speaks volumes about Camel's place as a first and foremost classic progressive band
Report this review (#95320)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first album of the great band is the most aggressive. The opening track and the last track are the most aggressive ones in this album. "Mystic Queen" is a very fine ballad. The next track is an instrumental one which reminds early albums of SUPERSISTER. "Separation" is an excellent prog song with an interesting musical development. "Never Let Go" is a sad song which is played live by CAMEL so far. The next track gives less impressions, but the last (again instrumental) track breeds a lot of energy. Excellent debut
Report this review (#95655)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars It's a pity that Camel didn't follow the way they started with their debut album. "Slow yourself down" opens the album with a keyboard based introduction, some lyrics, and then percussions and drums give an exciting introduction to the second part of the song that's more jazzy. "Mystic queen" is an acoustic ballad, the first track where the influences of Bardens and Latimer are both present. "Six Ate" and "Separation" come back to the initial feelings and close the first side (remember that it was a vinyl). The second part is opened by their masterpiece "Nevel Let Go". It's the most complex song of this album, that's opened by an acoustic guitar and has a fantastic flute solo in the middle (in the live version it's replaced by keyboards and Mel Collins' sax). "Curiosity" is a typical Camel's song and finally "Arubaluba" is totally driven by Latimer's guitarwith one of the best guitar solos of the prog's history. This is not fast, or difficult, it's only that every single note is in its place.

The drums of Andy Ward are very impressive on all the tracks, also when there is no rhythm as in "Mystic Queen". 5 stars, absolutely.

Report this review (#97316)
Posted Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best debuts ever! There are no weak tracks, everything sounds like it will on the next few albums. I love Camel and I love this record. Fantastic rythms, great guitar and keyboard solos and wonderful voice of Andy Latimer. A masterpiece.
Report this review (#100411)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Camel's debut was recorded in February of 1973 and it's the first studio album under this name. However, they had also recorded an album in September 1971 backing songwriter and pianist Phillip Goodhand-Tait titled "I think I'll write a song" without Peter Bardens. Peter wasn't a member of the band at the time. At that time the band was named The Brew (had other names before like "Phantom Four" and "Strange Brew") and was a trio consisting of guitarist Andy Latimer, bassist Doug Fergunson and Andy Ward who joined the band in 1969 at the age of 14 after being suggested by his friend Fergunson who had performed with him before. In October 1971 Bardens joins the group. Bardens had already an impressive profile and had already been musically active for almost a decade.

Anyway, "Camel" is by 1973 a fact. Though it is a very good debut it wasn't successful and that lead them to change record company. If Camel hadn't released such amazing records after this one, I would consider this a masterpiece. Mostly instrumental, Camel show from the beginning of their career their compositional abilities. Powerful, memorable, honest and expressive melodies that captivate you (and will become even better in the albums to come) provide a very pleasant musical journey. Camel is one of the few bands that had found their sound from the very beginning. Being familiar to Camel it's very easy to understand it's them even if you haven't listened to this one. Their distinctive sound is all over the album.

Overall, it's an amazing album. I don't see why people say that it's not a good starting point. Moonmadness to say the truth was not only my introduction to Camel but to prog as well and I believe that if it was this one, it would have worked as well. The remastered cd has two bonus tracks. The single version of "Never Let Go" and a live recorded track, "Homage To The God Of Light". The first one doesn't really offer much from the other version but the second one is a great example of the powerful live performances of this band (better seen in the live album released in 1978) which is around 20 minutes.

Report this review (#100696)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The start of something beautiful.

An excellent start to one of the best bands in the history of the prog genre. This is one of my favorite debut records and the band has already established itself well. Despite the poor production, the notes really hit home here and it's the most rocking of their 70's catalog.

While being overshadowed by the 3 albums that were to follow, this album is no slouch by any means. Latimer's playing is wonderful as always, with some of the best note choices of any guitarists in the history of music. The textures found here are not that familiar to many other of the prog bands of the era, yet there is many similarities as being part of the genre. The fact that they never could find/have good vocals should not be held against them. It may have made them less acceptable to a general public, but theres no denying the musicianship and ability of the band.

Also as another note, Opeth covered "Never Let Go" on the album Still Life in a song called "Benighted". Despite what many may think, there is a very strong connection between the two bands styles. It was a wonderful tribute to a classic and criminally underrated prog band. Overall, while this album doesn't reach the heights of Mirage or Moonmadness, it is a wonderful little gem by a band that deserves more credit than they're given.

Report this review (#104162)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow! That is what I call debut!

If you are familiar with the rest of CAMEL's career, you will realise that other albums are more daring and less rocky then this one, however this debut is still full of charming melodies, soaring guitar/keyboard interplays and pleasant vocals.

"Slow Yourself Down" and "Mystic Queen" are not very demanding, but they are excellent tracks with perfect ratio of instruments, clever developments and...wait a second, that is actually a definition of almost any song from the band's catalogue. Well, the point is that band paved the way for their unique sound at the very beginning of their career. The opening guitar arpeggio in "Mystic Queen" was exploited in one of the songs by ex-Yugoslavian band GALIJA few years later.

"Six Ate" is not so cryptic title as it may look at first sight, it's actually quite self-explanatory; the majority of the song is in 6/8 time measure. Very pleasant instrumental work.

"Separation" and "Curiosity" are two beautiful multipart tracks, so typical for early CAMEL and so enjoyable.

The highlight of the album is the song "Never Let Go". It's simply outstanding. Excellent tune, breathtaking melodies...and the sound. Oh my God, the sound. This is an album from 1973 - and this song sounds so ahead of its time - like it was recorded in the middle 80's. The similar atmospheres and sounds could be experienced if you listen to Paul Young, PET SHOP BOYS or U2 - please don't get me wrong, I'm only talking about the sound of an era. Mellotron tapestries are sweet, flute-sounding solo is unforgettable.

In my opinion, this album is a masterpiece of sound production, so crystal clear and lush and juicy at the same time. Perfect balance between all instruments. Bravo!

The closing track, "Arubaluba" is yet another pleasant instrumental work utilising furious solo played on overdriven Hammond organ through the wah-wah pedal. The guitar part that sounds like it's been played in common time measure (and of course it was not) is also worth mentioning.

At the end of the day, this might be not the best CAMEL album around, but it's well worth your precious time. Recommended both for newbies and veterans.

Report this review (#104178)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Camel's first and eponymous album is an excellent account of their formative years. It's full of energy, enthusiasm and marvellous Hammond organ soloes (especially the one in Curiosity). But the album is also a new look on progressive rock. It lacks that depressing mood of King Crimson and the psychedelia of Pink Floyd - and is generally pleasant, with more resemblance to the work of canterbury scene. Not a single weak pont on this album, sheer pleasure of listening, but also - a piece of history, in the end Camel is one of the greatest representatives of the genre! A must-have.
Report this review (#107471)
Posted Sunday, January 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Camel's debut album is quite simply stunning. If you are not familiar with their work then this is the ideal place to start. Slow yourself down opens the album in a suprisingly upbeat way considering its title, and is a song that can put a smile on even the most worried face. Mystic Queen is a beautiful sweeping tune with great lyrics. Six Ate kicks in nicely leading on to Separation a moody and deep song about a break up which grabs the feel of the situation perfectly. Next up is Never Let Go a monolithic song of hope and one of my favourite ever tunes. Curiosity is another song to make you smile, and last on the album comes the bouncy upbeat Arubaluba. Every track on the album is great with confident powerful drums and bass. Peter Bardens keyboards are magnificent especially when the mellotron kicks in, and Andy Latimer is a guitar genius. Vocals are shared by three of the four band members with only Andy Ward on drums missing out, and this works so well with the voices matching the songs.

One of my all time favourite albums by my favourite band.

Report this review (#109126)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars When I was 14-15 years old (I was born in 1959) I was a huge fan of Yes, Genesis, Floyd, ELO, ELP, Van Der Graaf Generator, Barclay James Harvest and later on of more obscure bands like Ramses and Fireballet at least in the prog genre (often referred to Eurock in Belgium at the time - Merci, Piero). I have no clue how nor why I could have missed a band like Camel. This will only change in 2004 after having read so many good reviews of their work. I decided to give it a try and purchased about half of their catalogue in a very brief period of time (most of their earlier work sells really cheap).

This is probably not Camel at his best but it is still a good album. A bit too jazzy oriented to my taste like "Slow Yourself Down" (almost sounds at times like a Santana track), "Six Ate" or "Curiosity".

Latimer has not yet reached his emotional peak (guitar wise) and the music produced here is somewhat different from their later work. Maybe "Never let Go" is the exception.

I like "Mystic Queen" very much. It is a highlight. Although the general mood is quite tranquil, it rocks at times as well. Latimer performs here a very subtle guitar break. Very good piece of music (like "Separation" and "Arubaluba").

Since I was quite late in discovering Camel, I purchased the remastered edition with two bonus tracks; one of which is an instrumental live track recorded at the mythical Marquee Club : "Homage To The God Of Light" recorded on October 30, 1974 (19 minutes number !). This is a long jam number : jazzy and hard at times, prog at (too few) others. It will be a song from the early stages of Camel. They performed it already before the release of this album during live gigs (it sits on "Camel On The Road - 1972). The second one is the single version of "Never Let Go" which is still at present a live favorite.

This album was sold just over 5,000 copies during its first year of release which led MCA (the record company) to decline the release of further Camel work; I guess they must have regretted this decision. Two stars.

Report this review (#110699)
Posted Sunday, February 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After hearing Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness and Rain Dances, I was interested to hear where it all began. I had read through some reviews here that this album was more of a rocker than a prog rocker but I was amazed at how jazzy it came across to me. I wasn't impressed by how the the first song starts off, Slow Yourself Down is a great song but it seems to start off like it's in the middle of the song, not the beginning. (maybe it's just me) But the falsetto vocals in the middle are a highlight.

Mystic queen showcases some very nice subtle guitar work by Latimer certainly inspired by Gilmour to some degree. The rest of the pieces are a nice mix of rock/jazz fusion with quirky melodies mostly coming from Peter Bardens keyboards. In fact, I think this album features more keys as highlights than any other early Camel album.

If you're a big Latimer fan, Iwould recommend Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness over this one.

3.5 out of 5

Report this review (#111689)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A solid debut.

CAMEL offer a gentle, subtle form of progressive rock. They rate highly on this and other sites because they are relatively easily digestible, and were consistently strong song writers through their first four albums. With guitar and drum patters similar to the more pastoral Pink Floyd (1970-73), one feels when first listening to a CAMEL album that one has heard it - or something just like it - before.

This doesn't sound like a strong recommendation for adventurous listeners, but CAMEL is definitely mood music. They are well worth stocking in your music collection for those times when you want something to put a smile on your face. 'Slow Yourself Down', indeed. But, of the first four albums, this one does not have as much as the following three to recommend it. At least two of those are essential to any music collection, but, in my opinion, this is not.

Report this review (#113354)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Fight Club
4 stars Camel is one of my favorite 70s prog acts. This is an impressive album in a number of aspects. The guitar playing is top notch. I've always loved Latimers guitar work. It's very delicate, very melodic, and very well integrated into the band's sound. The overall sound of the album is something somewhat new for the time. It's hard to tell who their influences really are, which one thing that makes the band so unique. Anyways, let's talk about the great things in this album.

Musicianship is excellent. All the instruments are played to their fullest here. The songwriting is also great. It's mostly guitar and organ driven which is what makes it standout in standard symphonic prog. There's somewhat of a canterbury style influence in this without quite being canterbury. If I could think of any genre to put this band in it would be symphonic jazz. However where jazz, is very technical, this album relies more on feeling. It's not as strong as some of Camel's other albums, Mirage and The Snow Goose, but it is still a superb effort.

The main complaint I have is the vocals. Vocals have never been a strong part of Camel in my opinion, and I have always seen them as more instrumental, which is why The Snow Goose is my favorite album by them. Even when there is singing involved, it seems to slip right passed, serving almost no purpose in the overall sound. The album is also somewhat inconsistent, and feels more like just a collection of songs rather than a full adventure.

Make no mistake, however, Camel's debut is still an excellent album. It's filled with great melodies, great musicianship and of course the signature flute sound we love if you've ever heard their other works! However, the inconsistencies and vocal work compels me to bump this albums rating down a star. Not a masterpiece, but nonetheless a great addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#116335)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A strong debut

This debut is mostly in the style of the next 3 albums and is considered part of the classic Camel line-up. The next 3 albums refine the sound of this album, but stick to the relatively same style of music. One thing that is prominent on Camel's first four albums is the interaction between the late Peter Bardens (died in 2002) and Andy Latimer. This is a key element to the band, and very pleasing to hear.

The music is good and an obvious connection can be made to the jazz/rock sound found in the Canterbury Scene (I have mistook this band for a Canterbury Scene band because of the sound similarities - another reason for this is Richard Sinclair from Caravan - a real Canterbury Scene band - played on a couple of albums). The lush organ from Bardens and emotional guitar from Latimer (can be compared to David Gilmour's style of playing in Pink Floyd) are really what make this debut album such a strong one as to merit 4 stars for me. The lyrics are not really necessary but make a good addition to the music and the vocals on here (supplied by Latimer, Bardens, and bass player Doug Ferguson) fit the music. This album is a good idea of what the next 4 albums are like, great songs, good lyrics that don't subtract the music, and very good instrumentals. This album is often overlooked because of the 3 great albums that followed (Mirage, Snow Goose, and Moonmadness). My favourite tracks on here are: Never Let Go because of the good guitar playing, Six Ate because it is a good jazzy instrumental, and Slow Yourself Down for being an all round good song and a great opener. This is a strong release that is always pleasing to hear and merits the 4 star rating I am giving it.

I have the remaster of this album and would like to add a few things about it. First it has a single release ofNever Let Go, which is shorter than the album version and would be for completionists. But the next track makes it necessary for any fan of this band to have. It is Homage to the God of Light, a piece from one of Peter Bardens solo albums before he joined Camel. It is necessary because it is an epical song (19 minutes long) that was recorded live at The Marquee Club and gives fans the ability to hear a 19-20 minute epic from this band (as the sadly did not make one).

Report this review (#119360)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A very strong debut by one of the most underrated bands of the 70´s. This album is rarely talked about, but it is easily up to his three elder (and more famous) brothers. Ok, the guitar work here is less prominient then on future releases, but it shines anyway. Bardens on the other side leaves no stone unturned: his keyboards are brilliant thru the whole album. Bass and drums are excellent as ever and the only truly weak part are the vocals. Don´t get me wrong, they are not bad at all, but not par to their stunning instrumental parts (except maybe on Never Let Go, one of their best songs ever). From the get go it was clear that Camel had a tremendous chemestry and drive that almost prescinded of vocals at all (which, by the way, they actually did on the marvelous The Snowgoose).

With a decent production and not a single bad track or filler, Camel stood the test of time with honours. Definitly one of the ´magnificent four´done by this outstanding band in a time that there were so many outstanding bands around. A must have for any prog fan. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#134053)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Camels' debut shows the band's obvious talents: catchy songs (or at least parts of songs), nice organ/keyboards, tight playing overall, and creative writing. This album also showcases some of the flaws that they have had to address in later efforts: keeping the songs interesting throughout and being careful to not allow the vocals to detract from the work.

I view this album as having six songs with interesting parts that as a whole could each have been better executed, and then one monster final rocker. The first six songs contain plenty of highlights: the absolutely inspired and rocking guitar/keyboard section of Slow Yourself Down, the toe-tapping Six Ate, the creative repeated triplet close to Separation, and the acousitc guitar and mellotron bits of Never Let Go. What is lacking? Of course, the vocals. Not a highlight of any of their albums, they really seem to have taken the Bruce Springsteen, just-shot-up-with-novacaine technique for (non) pronounciation. It's not only that. There are less interesting things going on during the vocals (keyboard flourishes, guitar wails, etc), which has the effect of really leaving the vocals exposed. Finally, the general pattern of songs is to start slowly, have very interesting middle/closing sections, but not lead into the other tracks. That's OK of course, but not necessarily progressive. They obviously improved on all of these in later efforts.

Arubaluba. If it was 1973, and I had listened up to this track, I would have some concerns about Camel's future. After this? Not anymore! Great intro that quickly sets a rocking pace that doesn't relent. Wonderful keyboard and guitar interplay, and a special mention has to go out to the rhythm section--they really cut loose. A sign of Camel's later trademark tightness.

My objective opinion is that Camel has plenty of creative, musically interesting, and worthwhile moments. My subjective opinion is that the music (except Arubaluba) is a bit boring, or at least has enough boring parts interspersed to divide my attention.

Report this review (#138028)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars CAMEL's career begun in 1971 as a bass/guitar/drums trio called ''The Brew'', but with the addition of Peter Bardens on keyboards they were renamed to CAMEL,while their first gig was at Waltham Forest Technical College of London as supporters to Wishbone Ash.In August 1972 they were signed by the MCA Label and in early 73' ''Camel'',their debut,was published.This album showed an open-minded band full of high skills and ambition but with a somewhat undeveloped personal style.''Camel'' is actually a mix of classic rock tunes with smooth progressive elements.The musicianship is based on Andy Latimer's calm,melodic guitars,Barden's fantastic Hammond organ parts,while the rhythm section is very tight.Sometimes seems like the band is in a mood for jamming,flirting with Canterbury prog and jazz.''Camel'' was a very strong start for CAMEL and,though not exactly an adventuruous release,I recommend this one highly to all lovers of tight,really well-composed classic/progressive rock!
Report this review (#146757)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Camel, starting with a bang!

Camel were one of the safer 70s prog-rock bands. Their albums were easy to assimilate, fun to listen to, and never too dark, difficult, or heavy. Too easy perhaps for some who considered them a bit boring or at least not all that challenging. One of my progger friends doesn't even consider them prog except for Snow Goose, but rather just mainstream 70s rock with some prog window dressing. Whatever you consider them, they are talented musicians, good writers, and produced some very enjoyable albums. Believe if or not, I actually prefer this album to the more widely loved Mirage and Snow Goose.

"Slow Yourself Down" features some great organ work by Bardens and sounds like a cross between Santana and Caravan, with the spunk of the former and the crisp sound of the latter. The bass is nice and thick and Latimer peels off a few nice leads. "Mystic Queen" starts with acoustic guitar and a subdued vocal by bassist Doug Ferguson. The song stays in a more relaxed mode than most of the other material but is effective nonetheless. "Six Ate" again brings Caravan to mind (I've been listening to Caravan lately!) in the style of jazzy jamming and the tight rhythms. There are some nice guitar riffs that ride the percussion in places. Man I love the full bass sound. "Separation" like the first track is quite heavy rock but this time with some dramatic, dark moods that you wouldn't usually associate with the pleasant Camel sound. "Never Let Go" begins with acoustic guitar and a nice mellotron background before the band kicks in with vocals by the late Peter Bardens. Some repetitive chords back this vocal section along with an upbeat groove. Some pretty wild keyboard solos around 3 minutes and again the bass is on fire. Andy Ward's drumming deserves a special mention throughout as well, always with the perfect amount of intensity for the song in question. The last minute features an explosive electric solo from Latimer. "Curiosity" begins with some nice guitar leads and the fragile nasally vocals of Ferguson again. The song title is perfect because there is a curious (or perhaps disjointed) style of play at work here, little pieces starting and stopping, changing before they really have a chance to fully develop. Nevertheless the track somehow works pretty well-there's an almost throwback 60s psychedelic feel to the affair which is always welcome. "Arubaluba" is our closer and there's no letting up here: big keyboard and guitar send-ups do battle with each other and with the monster rhythm section.

It just rocks, simple as that. By the end you'll be moving and ready for a beer-this is a decidedly different experience than the more laid back Snow Goose. I have yet to hear all of the Camel albums but I can safely say this is a gem. Constant wall to wall energy and primo jamming prog-rock. While the later material may have been more sophisticated or had more memorable guitar melodies, this Camel debut is a must for fans and highly recommended to any 70s prog fan. I love debuts..not always the best an artist has to offer but often interesting and bubbling with enthusiasm and energy as is the case here.

Report this review (#149494)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This energetic debut album by Camel's classic lineup of Andy Latimer (guitar, flute, vocals), Peter Bardens (keyboards, vocals), Doug Ferguson (bass guitar, vocals) and Andy Ward (percussion) features solid, passionate guitar work and rousing keyboards. Ward's drumming is dynamic and tasteful. Ferguson's bass is understated but provides a solid rhythmic/harmonic backbone. The recording rocks harder than much of their later efforts, though interestingly, underlying jazz leanings can be heard throughout, particularly in the instrumental breaks. Cohesive playing very unusual for first efforts is evident on all the tracks, and there is not a bad track to be found. This is not a concept album, but rather one of individual pieces. Overall, it is stunning work. My biggest complaint is that the great instrumental playing truly overshadows what I must honestly say are unexceptional vocal talents---- not bad vocals, but I wouldn't put Andy, Peter or Doug on my top 50 list of vocal performers.
Report this review (#150605)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6.8/10 Decent

Camel's first, but not my first Camel album. I came to this album after hearing "The Snow Goose" and being blown away of course. This album certainly did not live up to the sound of Snow Goose, but definitely holds with it a strong "Camel" feel. "Camel" is actually a decent album with some of the best musicianship the band has done, and this being because they are all fantastic musicians!! This band works together so well, and this album is a stand-alone great rock/prog album. Latimer and Bardens are two of my all-time favorite musicians, and just hearing Latimer play guitar is a treat on it's own.

The main problem with this album is that there are just not enough complete songs that are great. The songs feel like "examples" or the potential the band has. They are holding together some good stuff, but there is a sort of emptiness to it all, as though it should just be background music to a friday night party or drive somewhere, or even in a movie. "Never Let Go" is my favorite track, and does hold together as a fantastic song. The vocals on here also need a little work, and I love the vocal work on all of the later albums. This album just feels kind of weird with the vocals. Despite all of this the band definitely sounds tight and holds some super strong potential here. The leap forward from this to Mirage is just staggering, but this is a good start for one of the most underappreciated, genius bands of the 70's.

Report this review (#151033)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great debut by this legendary band. I'll be short here, Camel is one of my fav from the '70's so this first album is a good example of what Camel became later on, a factory of stunning and well crafted albums, the mid '70's are the best for them. Talking about the music here, on some pieces i think are some canterbury flavour, but not in a big cantity to consider Camel a canterbury band, only some influences from the master as Caravan and even Egg. So a good album but not the best they ever did, i prefer the next one to be their masterpice. 3 stars
Report this review (#154825)
Posted Sunday, December 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first Camel album is certainly a classic along the lines of Moonmadness, The Snow Goose and Mirage. More of a traditional Canaterbury sound with a bit of a Deep Purple feel. It can be compared to first Caravan album on the basis that it's more embrionic and less symphonic. This is Camel at their most raw. The wordless back-up vocals are already present a la Snow Goose. Peter Bardens is tres heavy on the organ, probably the heaviest you'll hear of him on record. Also present is the mellotron, which rarely appeared on subsequent Camel albums. For interst in Camel music...start here. Recommended.
Report this review (#164945)
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut album from Camel is a pleasant listen. Allthough I´m not the biggest fan of Camel I do like their first 4 albums a lot. Camel´s debut is a bit different from the next three which are pretty symphonic. This one has one leg in the Caterbury scene and the other in the symphonic prog rock scene. I like the warm and almost lazy sounding Caterbury influences but also enjoy the symphonic tendencies.

The music is very pleasant and warm and there are lots of soloing throughout the album from both Latimer and Bardens. The vocals are the weak point here obviously. It´s actually quite funny that three of the members sing two songs each and they sound so much alike that it sounds like it is the same person singing. The vocal lines and the vocal perfomances are actually pretty inoffensive and pleasant but they don´t excite me. The music is generally very melodic and this is were Camel have their force. Sometimes they remind me of Caravan without being clones at all though. Camel doesn´t reach the same intricate hights as Caravan though on this debut album. There are no bad songs here but on the other hand only a few stand out. I like the beautiful Never Let Go and the Canterbury influenced Slow Yourself Down, but the rest of the songs are pretty much average prog rock tunes with almost the same mood.

On the remastered version from 2002 that I have there are 2 bonus tracks. It´s the Single version of Never Let Go which I find superfluous and the long live jam song Homage To The God Of Light which will be a treat to some but for someone like me who isn´t too excited about endless jams this isn´t that interesting. Since these are bonus tracks I guess I should just be happy to get some additional tracks no matter what the quality is.

The musicians are all competent and especially Andy Latimer gets to show of his solo skills throughout the album. I´m not that fond of his solo style though even though he is a good musician. His style is way to easy listening and melodic to please me. I need some more bite to satisfy me fully. Peter Bardens, Andy Ward and Doug Ferguson are also great musicians. Andy Ward has a soft drum style that I have always liked and Peter Bardens play lots of nice organ passages.

The sound quality is pretty good but would get even better on the next couple of albums. This production is way above average for the prog rock scene in general though.

This is a nice debut album from one of the most prominent bands from the seventies. It´s not an excellent album by any means though and I´ll rate it 3 stars. It´s close to 4 stars when I´m in the right mood, but most of the time this is a 3 star album.

Report this review (#164989)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So, this is where it all started for a band destined for some of the greatest opuses in the history of symphonic prog rock: the peculiar style of Bardens as a layer builder and an elegant soloist, Latimer's unabashedly melodic approach to guitar playing and Ward's dynamic drumming will become some of the most featured staples of what symphonic progressive rock is all about. "Camel" was the first public manifestation of Camel's musical vision. The fact that the album's repertoire is still showing some unnecessary restraints concerning the elaboration of moods and ambiences that could have been more proficient signifies a claim for a band yet to find its ultimate maturity. but it wouldn't take too long, since the follow-up album "Mirage" (including a couple of tracks that already existed before the debut's release) would be an excellent explosion of progressive colors. But by now let's stick to this one. The instrumental buildings and interactions are as solid as can be expected from this selection of musicians, gifted and enthusiastic; nevertheless, the musical bases usually remain insufficiently explored and the band's organic sound falls short of its potential too many times. Having always been linked to the Canterbury scene, Camel always could flaunt a genuine originality in terms of style and its individual members' personality, but for the debut album the band was too close to Caravan (the era of their first three albums) and still was stuck on a limited pallet. The good things are: the dynamics is really there; you can tell that there's an inspired working labor; the band sounds cohesive in its musical expansions. Examples of this are the catchy opener 'Slow Yourself Down' and the powerful closing instrumental 'Arubaluba' bring fire to the atmosphere. The other instrumental 'Six Ate' is the closest that the band gets to the kind of sound achieved on the "Mirage" album: exquisite, well-ordained and using a moderately complex set of arrangements for the development of the main motifs. My four fave tracks in the album are the aforesaid pieces and the excellent symphonic ballad 'Mystic Queen' (something like Argent-meets-Procol Harum), so Baroque and so romantic that it really creates an eerie mood in the room where one is listening to this album. 'Separation' recreates the mood of the opener with a more modest attitude: catchy, strong, but not really too transcendental. Also not too transcendental is 'Curiosity', which all in all is a nice track where the band explores the jazz-oriented leanings that had previously been exposed on 'Six Ate'. 'Never Let Go' is the beautiful moralistic anthem (penned by Latimer, lead vocals by Bardens) that has grown through the years to become a Camel classic. Even though it is not as majestic as 'Mystic Queen' or as electrifying as 'Arubaluba', it retains a timeless beauty - my favorite part is the mellotron-flute solo, used as few other progressive bands have used it before. Being placed at the beginning of side B (it helps to build a climax after the A- side is ended), it wouldn't have been out of place as a closure, either. Well, 3 ¾ stars is the grade I give to this album: almost excellent as a whole, some specific tracks already bear the band's genius that in overall terms remains anticipated.
Report this review (#167627)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars If you are looking for a Camel album that is more jammy and spontaneous sounding than is typical for them, you might want to set your chronometer to 1973 and listen to their debut. Here Camel has a more improvised approach, not quite jazzy, not quite bluesy, not quite psychedelic yet all of the above. The group sounds tight, and the relation between keyboards (mostly organ), guitars and vocals is already well established here. In many ways this is an instrumental album with vocal effects set low enough in the mix as to be inoffensive yet high enough to be appreciated if one is so inclined.

Apart from "Never Let Go", which has deservedly become Camel's signature tune of sorts, which showcases every strength of the band in a more mature way, and the ponderously beautiful "Mystic Queen", "Slow Yourself Down" is another slow burning essence, with a masterful wordless vocal section over guitars and organ. "Six Ate" shows a nascent form of the Mirage or Moonmadness style of melodic interplay. Andy Ward's drumming style is especially notable and advanced here. "Separation" introduces Camel's propensity for blues based accessible music married to hard rock.

One thing that is noticeable if you follow Camel from these earliest times is how much Andy Latimer's technical guitar skill improves over the years. Here we see only hints as to future greatness, chiefly in some of the emotional qualities as in the outro to "Never Let Go". He certainly holds his own in this environment but when you compare it to some of the flash of "Moonmadness", it pales.

As with any engrossing story, the best way to "get into it" is to start from the beginning, and the Camel saga is no exception. But their debut is sufficiently different that you should not be swayed one way or the other. A good and promising album.

Report this review (#170600)
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 53, Camel, Camel, 1973

I acquired Camel's debut album a little after the classic three, Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness. It is very different from any of them, resembling a classic four member band and favouring extended, simple songs with a couple of instrumental pieces. The line-up is essentially organ, drums, bass and electric guitar, with other keys and acoustics featuring occasionally, and plays an odd mixture of blues and Latin music with odd psychedelic and rock edges. I wouldn't really consider it genuine prog, but it is a very good album, with some great material. The vocals are fairly weak, but otherwise the playing is solid.

Slow Yourself Down is a good opening to the album, with a relaxed vocal, a solid organ performance (with that wonderful swelling high organ tone making an appearance). Andy Ward and Doug Ferguson create a rather Latin-feeling rhythm section. The instrumental break in the middle features a solid screechy solo from Latimer, as well as organ soloing. The piece comes to a neat blues-based conclusion. All in all, good, even if the second verse felt a little pointless.

The sublime Mystic Queen is the album's high point for me. A liquid vocal from Ferguson acquits itself quite well, conveying psychedelic lyrical content, while Bardens handles both background and lead organs competently. Latimer's brief soloing is welcome, and Andy Ward provides a performance which is both energetic and tasteful. Soft, relaxed, haunting and beautiful. Probably my third favourite Camel song (after The White Rider and Lady Fantasy).

Six Ate bursts in quite tastelessly after this sublime conclusion with a slightly elevator-y sound. The organ is basically repeating itself too much for my liking, and Latimer's twists are foreseeable and not particularly stunning. After about a minute and a half the piece shapes up with softer, faster and more rhythm-based sections taking precedence. Pete Bardens contributes a VCS-3 solo, which is a decent change. My issue with this piece is that it feels a bit random and meandering, never really creating a solid and sustained atmosphere.

Separation is a return to form, with rocking guitar, solid riffs, enjoyable vocals and lyrics, and a definite force without the crunch you'd get from a harder rock band. A superb whinnying guitar solo with a moving background transitions nicely to the chorus, and Ward is on top form for the song. The harder instrumental conclusion is stunning and fast-paced featuring another great solo. Good stuff.

Never Let Go begins with a minute of unrelated acoustic guitar opener before moving to the vocal material, with a fairly nice organ-based backing. Pete Bardens' vocal is woefully inadequate, not having the force to really convey the lyrical ideas, but I can't see either of the other available vocalists doing much better. An excellent VCS-3 solo features before the piece returns to the acoustic ideas with backing bass for a brief interlude. It is at this point that the piece really kicks off, with full mellotron, percussion and nicely twisted acoustics, as well as a superb bluesy guitar solo for the final 'never let goooo'. With a better vocalist, it could be a very strong piece.

Curiosity opens with a slow bass before again moving to a rather Latin feel, before a weird softer and curious section with an odd very minimal piano and quietened vocals. The 'curiosity is killing me/I just have to go' chorus is sort of halfway-sung, leaving the music hugely dominant. The piece takes off a little with the guitar solo, though a rather wallowing organ solo doesn't help it much. At around the fourth minute, Latimer adds that odd and wonderful Spanish-on-an-electric thing (that we see, for instance, on Rush's La Ville Strangiato). Overall, a good song, but not as good as some of the other material on here.

Arubaluba is the album's second and much more successful instrumental, with a definite rock feel at the forefront and great guitar performances, as well as a very interesting grittier organ. Even Ferguson acquits himself pretty capably, and Ward is an impeccable drummer. A great ending, with some silly VCS-3 soundage to compliment it.

Homage To The God Of Light is a very good piece of extended psychedelic improvisation, with all four members handling themselves competently for an interesting 20 odd minutes of music. Ward takes a brief near-solo (a couple of organ stabs over the top), and both Latimer and Bardens do their jobs interestingly. Ferguson's bass feels less repetitive than it is, and the piece as a whole is a good bit of funkadelica.

I'm wavering between three and four stars here (both could describe the way I feel about it). I wouldn't really suggest it to those who want genuine full-bodied progression in their music, but I would say that anyone who simply wants a good, enjoyable album (with blues and Latin influences) shouldn't hesitate to get it. I think I'll go with four in light of Homage's presence on the remaster. Nevertheless, Camel will grow in a more progressive and interesting direction for the following Mirage, which benefits from a greater sense of exploration and more varied styles.


I'm dropping Camel to three stars, since it is admittedly good and enjoyable, but not often much more than that. Additionally, the atmosphere is perhaps a bit too limited for my taste, and that's shown through a bit more with a few replays. Sorry, Kotro.

Rating: Three Stars Favourite Track: Mystic Queen

Report this review (#175571)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Camel's underrated self-titled debut album will for always stand in the shadow of Mirage and Moonmadness. Right from the start it was evident that the Camel was a very special, band. Jazz and blues are the biggest influences here, but also some slight Folk influences can be found due to some acoustic guitars. No flutes here though (apart some flute like keyboards).

The keyboards and guitars get about equal space and there are a lot of instrumental workouts. Some parts are very similar to some parts on Mirage but compared to all other Camel albums this is a very jazz-rock/fusion affair. There are many interesting time changes throughout and some tracks contain many different riffs and melodies.

The keyboards are basically organ with some touches of piano and mellotron. It is true that Andy Latimer had not truly found his own distinctive guitar sound here yet. But this album shows so much potential. And it is clearly a Camel album in all what that involves.

Standout tracks are for me Slow Yourself Down which features a great riff that grips you from the start, Mystic Queen which is more mellow rock song with more than a hint of Lady Fantasy from the next album. Never Let Go is a classic and became a live favourite. I love the lyrics to this one. However, I think that there are better versions of this song from various live recordings.

An excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#177418)
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Big debut for Camel! It contains more jazzy sound than most of the albums in progressive rock music. But it has a little harder sound, too. The strongest songs are in the middle of the album which is unusually for most of the albums. Songs like Six Ate, Separation and Never Let Go make the album essential.
Report this review (#178233)
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars CAMEL are one of my all-time favourite bands and this is where it all began for them with their self titled release from 1973. Bardens was the last piece of the puzzle for this band, and at this point he had been playing professionally for 10 years. He had been playing with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green before joining CAMEL. Interesting that when bassist Doug Ferguson joined earlier he almost insisted that his former band mate and drummer Andy Ward also be part of the group. Both were accepted. There's something very special about the playing of Bardens and Latimer not only on this record but on subsequent releases. Andy Ward who was still a teenager at this point really impresses me with his prominant and energetic playing. Their first concert under the CAMEL name was opening for WISHBONE ASH. During the recording of this album they tried to find a vocalist but that having failed the band shared the vocal duties between Latimer, Ferguson and Bardens.

"Slow Yourself Down" features Latimer on vocals. I like the organ early. The guitar after 2 minutes is raw and abrasive. The organ that follows is outstanding. "Mystic Queen" is simply an amazing tune. It's sung by Ferguson as acoustic guitar, light drums, bass and organ tastefully play. The guitar 1 1/2 minutes in livens things up. Latimer then comes in with a beautiful solo before 2 1/2 minutes. Vocals return as themes are repeated. Mournful guitar 5 minutes in. "Six Ate" is a great jazzy tune with pulsating organ. The drums are quite active throughout. Guitar before 2 minutes. The organ and drums are outstanding later on. "Seperation" is led early by energetic drumming. Vocals from Latimer come in. Aggressive guitar a minute in and later 3 1/2 minutes in to end it.

"Never Let Go" is my favourite song on here. This is the only song Bardens sings on. This is also the only track with mellotron. It opens with acoustic guitar as waves of mellotron flood in. A groovy melody follows a minute in with vocals. I'm in love. Something about the lyrics and music that is so moving for me. Check out the flute / mellotron interlude after 2 1/2 minutes. Guitar is back 4 minutes in. The drumming is so good. A guitar solo after 5 minutes to the end rocks. Brilliant track. "Curiousity" is laid back early before the tempo picks up before a minute. A loud guitar solo 2 minutes in. Piano follows. A more tasteful guitar solo 4 minutes in. Ferguson is on vocals for this one. "Arubaluba" is the closing instrumental and the longest song on here. I like the organ a lot in the intro. The tempo starts to pick up 1 1/2 minutes in. Check out the organ 4 minutes in ! Great drumming late.

I just love the mood of this album.

Report this review (#180724)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my most favourite Camel album and that will have everything to do with the fact that Camel is a bit of a mellow symphonic band and this is actually their most aggressive and energetic album of all times. And that's how I like music best in general.

And this is already evident with the first track of this album: Slow yourself down. Fantastic opener of this great album played with lots of passion (4,25*).

Next is Mystic Queen showing the bands more ballad like side especially in the beginning, later on the song becomes more diverse with some very fine melodic passages (3,75*).

Third up is Six Ate and here the band shows its ultimate versatility with this bluesy track. The whole band is doing an excellent job here both individually as in team performance (4*).

Seperation starts pretty energetic until a mellow chorus surprises suddenly. But after this the band really gets going. Another cracker making this album a true classic. Superb ending of a great song (4*).

And then the best is yet to come ! Never let go has always been the all time favourite song by this band for me. Never heard Latimer surpass the solo effort he is doing on this one. Love it forever (4,5*).

Unfortunately the last two songs, Curiosity (3,5*) and Arubaluba (3,75*) can't sustain this huge level but also these two are still fairly good songs.

On this release there are also a radio version of Never let go and a live performance of Homage to the God of Light. These are bonus tracks so I will not count them in the score but they are very fine additions.

The final score for one of the best debuts in prog history is no surprise probably and can only be four stars. Even though they made some nice albums after this, it has always been their magnum opus where my personal taste is concerned.

Report this review (#196709)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars With this album things got started really. This album shows the quality of things that were still to come. One of the best tracks is Never let go. Personally I don't really care much for the song Mystic Queen. The other songs are strong and to the point. Of course the soundquality (the production) could have been better, even in those days. But I think that the way the album is produced gives it a certain charme. Musically I should say the album is worth 4.5 stars. However, since this album still is one of the discs I choose to play (eventhough many other great albums have been put on the market since), there must be something very good about it. Most Camel songs take a while to 'burn in' as they say. Once that has been achieved, you won't forget the melody. This album is no exception. The tracks take a little while to get used to, but after listening to the album for a few times, you'll know what I mean.

I rate the album 5 stars.

Report this review (#201549)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars My second review.


Slow yourself down (4+) Good drums and a great organ... Nice mellow singing and a really good song overall. The change after 2 minutes are really great with a rock'n roll-guitar combating with the organ. Mmmm...

Mystic Queen (5+) Great intro with a nice bass tune and some really good singing - again mellow. And again, really great drums and organs. Overall there's magical playing on the instruments. Maybe the albums best song.

Six ate (4+) A catchy but cool rythm and great tune from the guitar. The song can easily be boring but don't get that way - mostly because of great members in this band. Really good chord changes and parts.

Separation (2+) The weak spot of the album. Not really bad but it don't blow me away - too hesitating and don't even especially great playing from the band.

Never let Go (5+) A wonderful song with mellow singing and a great rythm guitar and serveral parts. The flute is marvellous.

Curiosity (4+) Beautiful intro with a great bassline. The song overall is very good with moody singing.

Arubaluba (2+) In my opinion the albums only uniteresting song. Good instrumentals, sure, but it don't grip me really - maybe beacause I don't like the organ.

Report this review (#207390)
Posted Monday, March 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars A mix between Focus, Ekseption, Genesis and Moody Blues... A great band...: Camel!

Because yes, 'Camel', debut album of Camel, is a great album in the vein of a strange mix between the mentiones band. In various percentage depending on the songs but sure with great personality and magic. In my opinion Camel are good because essentials, with great atmospheres and melodies, with not complicated songs and with a great writing style. Also the production is good, as the technique.

Not explosive as Genesis or Rock as Ekseption but with Focus on Atmospheres and Moody Blus on melody Camel delivers a debut album full and powerful, without many of the mistakes made by other bands. Almost all instrumental 'Camel' is an album without major peaks but really compact and superior to the media.

But if this review reflect the power and the magic of 'Camel' is because 'Camel' is this: a magical album by a magical band.

Report this review (#222191)
Posted Sunday, June 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars Excellent debut from one of the most representative 70's prog band!

Camel managed to record this album after years of playing together, and they sounded really cohesionated, with a flawless instrumental work, and with a bunch of excellent songs... To be fair, every track of the album deserves close attention. I specially enjoy the marvellous Latimer's guitar sound, wich is perfectly mixed with the equally great Peter Barden's keyboards. Andy Ward and Doug Fergusson also gave an playing lesson here!

Although this album is almost instrumental, it's never boring, and it will keep your attention from the first minute, with the funny Slow Yourself Down, wich has some The Doors influences... Then comes Mystic Queen, an impressive slow track with incredibly beautiful keyboards. I can crearly see the roots of albums like Opeth's "Damnation" in this track... But after this peaceful beauty, comes the groovy Six Ate, a funny theme with good rythm, almost funky. Separation and Never Let Go are two worthy vocal tracks, specially the second one, and even better are the instrumentals Curiosity and Arubaluba, wich closes the album wonderfully, leaving you wanting for more!

Best Tracks: I specially enjoy Mystic Queen, Six Ate and Arubaluba, but the album has no weak songs.

Conclusion: if you want to hear an album with perfect instrumentation, the exact dosis of variety, and tons of elegance, then give the Camel's debut an opportunity... It's a really ejoyable, catchy album, and it's like a summary of the best from the first 70's years. The true Camel's style was not really developed, but this album has enough interest and the songs are so good, that it's plenty worhty of being on every prog music collection.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#226851)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though I prefer Mirage, Camel's debut is somehow a collection of classics. Songs like Mystic Queen and Never let go stick in you mind and need to be listened to. On their debut Camel sounds a bit dry at the first song (Slow yourself down) but then starts to open up with The Mystic Queen and most of the tracks that follow., with instrumentals Six Ate and Arubaluda falling just right in the middle. The production sounds afwull on cd, but is just good on a vinyl record. The progstyle is symphonic prog.. but somehow I always felt like Camel had just fallen between sympho and Canterbury of which it has some elements.

The interesting thing about debut albums is that one can see how a band started of and developed itself. On this record you can hear some naive elements. The soloparts of mystic queen could have been a bit more satisfying, slow yourself down could have been more lively and Six Ate hasn't a clear intention. But this doesn't bother me at all, all are excellent tracks with lots of melodies switching swiftly from one another. Highlights are the vocal parts on Mystic Queen, The solo parts on Separation, the complete Never let go song, the cute lyrics and melodies on Curiosity and strange time signatures on Arubaluba. Furthermore, Camel deserves a great compliment for the way how complete this album sounds! That's something still rare for debut albums, even those of the great progbands.

A great addition to my collection, just as all of the first four albums of Camel are in my opinion. Camel has a relatively mature sound and the composition skills are great. Four well deserved stars!

Report this review (#231189)
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hits? Hits! Hits?

Camel's eponymous debut is an excellent breakthrough album for an excellent band, in their not so early stages. Despite Camel being formed in 1964, there have been constant line-up changes until this album came out, with the famous line-up of Andrew Latimer, Andy Ward, Doug Ferguson, and Peter Bardens.

The tracks are played with passion, and determination to succeed, and that's how every album should be played. The band's supposedly loud parts are played softly in such mellowness that make the album just sweep you off your feet and lays you down on a silk bed.

Slow Yourself Down is a samba-like track, but Latimer's vocals and guitar parts turn it into an amazing, 5-minute masterpiece. It's happy for me to say that this is one of the weaker tracks on this album, and it's still very good, so 4/5.

Mystic Queen is a disappointment though, as it is a few steps too mellow, and a step back from the fun and genuine Camel sound that was developed on this album and well-executed on the next album, Mirage. This track also features Ferguson's first vocal duties, but clearly the whole band sings very much like one another, so there isn't a major difference of sound between all tracks. 3/5.

Six Ate is the first out of two instrumental tracks to be featured on this album. It features many acoustic guitar parts fit for the Prog Folkers yet stunning electric guitar solos and Hammond organ parts, very similar to Pink Floyd fans, with slight Deep Purple and Genesis influences thrown in for good measure. Camel is one of those bands that can master instrumentals perfectly, without all the unnecessary returns to the so- called "verses" and "choruses", so this track gets a 4/5.

Separation's heavy riff is probably the most recognized opening of a Camel song up to date, and its stunning, barely audible Hammond line, along with the almost too audible guitar riff standing as interludes between the verses, solos, and bridges. Separation is not the only way after all, 5/5.

Never Let Go, Camel's acoustic song, is the longest track on the album, but its poppy feel and structure give it the air time it needs without losing valuable parts of the song. This is Peter Bardens' only appearance on a Camel track as a vocalist. Being given the fact that Bardens is the vocalist on this track, he was given an amazing keyboard solo alongside Latimer on the flute. 5/5!

Curiosity, the second to last track on the album and the last Camel track to feature Ferguson on vocals, has him doing a pretty good, actually, excellent job on the microphone. The "tiny" piano part played by Bardens in the verses is simply heart-warming and sends shivers down your spine. This is THE Camel track, musically speaking. 5/5 for the amazing composition and writing.

Arubaluba is the final track on this album, and is a great bookender, showing us what Camel is all about. I remember listening to it on a trip to England in my hotel room after a long exhausting trip through a lame CD player and I just wasn't expecting the album to end with such excellency. The rhythm section of Ferguson and Ward providing the perfect accompaniment for this sort of track, with Bardens and Latimer sharing lead duties, with solos all over the place. A fantastic 6-minute track to end the album with, but is no match for tracks like Never Let Go and Separation, so 4/5.

The average of ratings for every song on this album has led me to the number 4.28, or 4.285714285714286 to be exact, but in both cases, it rounds up to a PA rating of 5, so I give 5 stars to this fantastic piece of music that will be remembered for many years afterwards.

Report this review (#239560)
Posted Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Expert Level Mellow Prog Band Seeks Lead Vocalist

Camel is one of the top "Second tier" classic prog bands, among the first people discover once they venture beyond the major acts. That strange distinction has to do with the fact that instrumentally, the band is superb. Starting with a classic Santana sound, the band added more variety and complexity and created their own exciting flavor of rock n' roll. Guitarist Andy Latimer has mastered Carlos' back of tricks and added some Canterbury and Pink Floyd, resulting in a skill set among the best in the genre. Peter Bardens' key work is both skilled and tasty, complementing Latimer's guitar perfectly. Drummer Andy Ward can lay down some very quick, slinky grooves, but sometimes will settle back into straight rock beats, unfortunately pulling a little life out of the music when he does.

The band's greatest deficiency is in the vocal department. Several members try to tackle the task, and none quite get it done. They do hit pitch, which is about as much as I can say. The note choice, expression, and phrasing of the vocals are all at a much lower level than the rest of the music, and it really does pull the listening experience down. The single "Never Let Go" is a prime example. Instrumentally, this is a great, upbeat prog song. But the vocals are just weak. The rhymes are rudimentary, the vocal range narrow, and the emotional content quite limited. The lead vocals on the opener "Slow Yourself Down" are almost monotone.

This is a bit sad, because with a dedicated lead singer, this band may have been one of the major artists of the genre. Their jams are fantastic, showcasing a variety of tones, precise execution, and plenty of nuance. Latimer's touch on the guitar is among the best electric guitars in all of rock, let alone prog. Bardens jams like a rocker but can seamlessly employ more complex time signatures and composed bits as the best prog keyboardists do.

This album is more Santana than Genesis, with the bonus instrumental "Homage to the God of Light" being a great jazzy jam that could have been on Abraxas. The other bonus track, the single version of "Never Let Go" is pointless when we have the full version on the original album. Though the prog elements are superb ("Mystic Queen" comes to mind), the strength of this album is that when the guys are jamming, it's great classic rock. The band makes some good choices later by embracing prog a bit more, and even recording an entire instrumental album.

This album is very enjoyable, and I think most prog fans are going to find plenty here to grab their interest. At the same time, it doesn't offer anything new to the genre, and vocals are at best adequate. Good but non-essential fits perfectly.

Report this review (#239807)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars It is debut, but after how many years of playing. I say after much years. So, the word describing this album would probably be mellow. Because that's what this music is about. Sometimes it sounds like jamming party, sometimes like prog done in exactly this way I like. Oh, I can take all songs maybe except first, Slow Yourself Down, which simply isn't something that fits me here, while Never Let Go outcomes as the best here. Not that I don't like singing ,but it's so rare here that . Final two tracks also pleased me, even the overall rating would be just

4(+) for its instrumental skills, nice little music which offers a lot.

Report this review (#249648)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Camel's debut is the first of four very charming symphonic prog albums. The accent is on concise song writing with an occasional organ or guitar solo. The vocals aren't really Camel's best talent here but as they are rather sparse and put to the background they don't bother too much. The music is rather different from the ensuing albums. I'd say there's still a perceptible influence from the Canterbury scene, resulting in a very dry, mellow and woolly sound.

Throughout the album there are touches of the melancholic and melodic sound that this band got famous for. Especially Slow Yourself Down and Never Let Go are very charming. For Opeth fans, Never Let Go is the song that Akerfeldt nicked the opening bars from for his ballad Benighted on the album Still Life.

Camel still had to grow up, but fans shouldn't miss this promising debut. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#254541)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good dose of ''oomph'' is what this album could've used; I may have upped the rating by a star if I felt that ''oomph'' was there. However, I feel this album and the following album (MIRAGE) are of the same calibre in terms of musical prowress and captivation. Personally, I think MIRAGE and CAMEL are just as good as each other, but objectively speaking, CAMEL loses on PA because the progginess isn't as there as MIRAGE.

This is more of a hard rock album than anything else, taking hints from the Cantebury scene and a tad of the Pink Floyd sound. Tracks like ''Slow Yourself Down'' and ''Separation'' veer more towards hard rock than prog, but have this captivating staying power that makes both of them good, particularly when Latimer gets to solo. Others like ''Arubaluba'' and ''Never Let Go'' gives clues to the prog direction Camel would partake on their next album.

It's really a matter of what you like. I couldn't get into Camel until the rockier songs hit me and made me appreciate Camel. Expect some long, jam-type instrumental passage that may not be of the most ''exciting'' of sorts, but those with a sense of melody or patience (or both) shouldn't have problems getting into Camel's debut.

Report this review (#259483)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have decided to randomly work my through the reviews of Camel's albums starting with Snow Goose, and now this album, their debut. I was lucky enough to purchase this CD last year for only 2 bucks and it has been WELL worth the cost. "Slow Yourself Down" is classic Camel right from the start...keyboards interlaced with guitar and typical "Nonsense" lyrics. SPeaking of lyrics, "Mystic Queen" has some pretty weird, useless ones but I don't care! They work, and make the song better. This is one of my favs, album version and Live as I have it on the remastered Mirage. "SIx Ate" is my lowpoint. Good but not great, I sometimes skipover it. The next 2, "Seperation" and "Never Let GO" are classic Camel again. If you love Camel, you most likely like these 2 tunes. The last songs are also good, but have not captured me as has the first half of the album. My only complaint might be a somewhat "blurry" sound production but I don't know if that is real or just my copy. I guess it just doesn't feel "crisp or clean" to me. I may want to search out the remastered version. Nevertheless...this is a solid 4 stars in the Camel genre. Below Mirage or Moonmadness but mountains above Single Factor.
Report this review (#271096)
Posted Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Camel - How to star an illustrious career!

The debut album from the symphonic prog masters would have been the envy of most newcomers to the progressive style of the 70s. It features what fans have grown to love about the band. Beautiful, compelling instrumentals, 'Six Ate', played in 6/8 time sig changes, and melodic songs with lengthy instrumental jams, such as 'Curiosity' and 'Never Let Go'. Barden's keyboards are inspirational but the real star is Latimer on vocals and guitar. The spirit of Camel resides in these artists, though it can never be underestimated the power of Ward's accomplished drumming and Ferguson's pounding basslines. Together they were untouchable, pure magic and there was never a lineup like them in early symphonic prog.

Listen to 'Slow Yourself Down' and 'Separation' as good examples of the Camel spirit. Short blasts of drums and keys merge with melodic verses to create an atmosphere of immense tension, that surprises as it twists and turns in various musical directions. Latimer's guitar is ever present and he rips out some searing lead breaks. The time sig changes are ubiquitous on each track and the innovation and creativity on this debut is astounding.

Things slow down considerably on 'Curiosity' with a strong bass line from Ferguson. Latimer sings in a falsetto style in tune to the piano melody. His duel guitar playing is in perfect harmonic melody. The echoing vocals are effective, "Sail, sail away, sail, sail away...", but the best part of the track is when the pace picks up with a blistering lead guitar solo. This is soon followed by staccato stabs on a piano, balanced by guitar runs and organ chord progressions. The band really take off on this track into an instrumental played with virtuoso prowess. A definite sleeper highlight.

"Arabaluda", whatever that means, is a great instrumental that builds gradually to a mountain peak with space effects and an inspired chord structure, not to mention that shimmering organ solo from Bardens. The time sig is off the metronome scale at times on this track. Ward drums with intriguing metrical shapes and the guitars are rock heavy with occasional meanderings into softer territory.

'Mystic Queen' begins with gorgeous acoustic picking and psychedelic phased vocals. "Have you seen the mystic queen riding in her limousine, over hills, over dales, till morning..." There is an excellent keyboard solo from Bardens that is haunting and memorable. Latimer's guitar sings to us with angelic beauty. The instrumental section is once again a showcase of virtuoso performance. Latimer violins his guitar towards the end of the track, similar to a section of 'Lady Fantasy' on the next album.

Camel pull out all the stops on their first album and it is a pleasurable experience. It all gels together like a band on a mission, and indeed they were. There wasn't a great deal of music like this available in the early 70s. Yet for all its estranged qualities the songs are accessible due to the rocking beats and soft vocals. Camels' debut album is all killer, no filler, and is a must have for Camel addicts and those interested in early 70s prog rock.

Report this review (#272686)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Their Debut is one of my favorite Camel albums. I really don't understand why "Camel" is thought by many as inferior to their later three albums. I think it is at least up there with "Mirage", "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness", if not the best of the four. This debut was the first Camel album I had listened to and I enjoyed it so much I had trouble appreciating their later albums for a long time. Highlights are Peter Bardens' keyboards and - Andy Latimer's guitars. The songs are longer than avarage and contain extensive organ and guitar solos, both being genuine musical orgasm! The style is also very original. Camel was a little late on the scene, but they arrived with an surprisingly original output. Definitely a classic of symphonic prog!
Report this review (#275023)
Posted Sunday, March 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Camel's debut is a lightly-ambling, subtle and carefully-crafted album that hints towards the material that would show up on the group's next three albums after this, 'Mirage', 'The Snow Goose' and 'Moonmadness'. Those three albums, together with this eponymously-titled effort, would make up Camel's classic period before the usual internal wranglings, key line-up changes and, of course, the advent of punk-rock changed the musical landscape forever, forcing Camel, and many others like them, to eschew their complex arrangements in favour of a more commercial touch. However, despite this debut album's light touch and mellow feel, it is still worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the previously-mentioned albums above. It may not feature the furious inventivity of 'Mirage' or the sumptuous instrumental arrangements of 'The Snow Goose', but it still marked Camel out as a band to be reckoned with, hence their long and successful career. Stand out tracks include the live favourite 'Mystic Queen' and the rocky, charging album opener 'Slow Yourself Down', which bursts into life after a quiet, quaint opening. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#283618)
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yes, I know I should not be reviewing an album with more than 200 x reviews. But in this case, we are talking about one of the classic albums and a great album too.

Camel are listed under the Symphonic Prog label here in ProgArchives. But this album is a fully fledged Canterbury Scene album. I believe that the band also originate from this cathedral city in Kent, England. But I may be wrong. Anyway, Camel debuted with an album in this genre and most of the stuff here is very similar to what Caravan was doing at that time. Camel was only a sigarette paper more symphonic than Caravan. I love both symphonic prog and the Canterbury scene so this album goes down like honey among grizzly bears in my home.

The opener Slow Yourself Down is very much in the Caravan camp with the catchy, poppy verse-bridge-verse structure. Camel branches more out into Canterbury and symphonic prog on the other songs. The stuff is always interesting though and there is never a dull moment on this album. Nuff said about an album with over 200 reviews. This is a great album in my book.

4 stars

Report this review (#286220)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is pretty evident that Camel was not the band We used to love in the seventies. This is their first recording, and a pretty amazing debut, but they had not decided yet where to go musically speaking. They are all there, including the magnificent Ward, but there´s a lot of styles colliding on It. A little progressive, a little psychedelia, a little plain rock, so maybe that's why this is one of my favorite recordings from them. That indecision worked wonders for me. So if You must start somewhere listening to this band why not start at the beginning? Try get this one.
Report this review (#287933)
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great and powerful debut album and probably one of the best debuts I know. Very enjoyable tunes with beautiful keys and well done guitar and bass arrangements. There are 7 songs here and the albums starts with "Slow yourself down". Inspired keyboard arrangements with a consistent rhythm sustained by Doug Ferguson on bass and Andy Ward on drums. Definitely an highlight. "Mystic queen" is the second one which start slowly with a nice acoustic guitar filled with a melodic bass line and continues in the same slow manner sustained by a mystic and flickering voice. It is hard to decide for an highlight on this one because all these songs have somehow the same level. Anyway a plus for "Mystic Queen" which is a song easy remembered. This is a strong characteristic of a good album for me.

"Six ate", the third song start with in fast tempos and has the same unique Camel flavor.

"Separation" is the fourth song and the shortest one with the same fast tempos as "Six ate". In the middle of the song some slow parts and the end of the song is very powerful and probably one of the most enjoyable part. All instruments are joined in a free jam session style sound.

"Never let go" is a very optimistic song in terms of lyrics and the melodic line is indicating the same thing. The song start to come to an end in a slow manner and finally ends with the same style as the aforementioned song.

Curiosity sounds a bit inconsistent and uninspired here and there(more in the first part) and somehow it doesn't attract me in the same way as the other songs did. Nevetheless it is for sure not a bad song.The last song is instrumental ("Arubaluba") and it is a good song to end the album, very heavy and intense especially in terms of keyboard but as overall sound also.

What I enjoy most from Camel is that they were able to create an unique and specific sound from the right beginning even if they have discrete influences from Canterbury scene bands or Pink Floyd. This one deserves 4 solid stars easily and is recommended beyond Camel fans to a broader prog crowd audience. I don't know why Camel weren't not able to step in the first line of progressive rock scene. One possible answer is that their music was not groundbreaking and haven't pushed any limits. It is simple with a characteristic "camelesque" sound, melodic and very well played. Melodically Camel is for me one of the best bands I know and for this I came to appreciate them a lot. With this album they started the musical journey in a very good and elegant manner.

Report this review (#288524)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an amazing debut! I must say that It's very hard to find bands of young musicians as exciting and talented as this these days. Although most Camel fans consider albums like "Mirage" and "Moonmadness" to be better albums overall, this 1973 release contains some of the thier most beloved songs. The first track "Slow Yourself Down" is one favourite, as is "Never Let Go" and the instrumental "Arubaluba". Camel aren't as progressive here as they would become but they'd already established thier distinctive jazzy sound that would appear on at least most of thier 70's albums.

One of my personal favourites include "Mystic Queen" which has the more graceful, softer sound the band would refine on classics like "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness". "Six Ate" is a great jazzy instrumental. I also really like "Seperation" especially for it's rhythmic changes.

Definitely a very excellent edition to your progressive collection. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#326176)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the great start for one band. All of the songs are quiet good, except Separation, that one is pefect lol... That is not too long as well and when it ends you are still capable of listening to some music unlike those 2 CD prog albums like Marillion's Marbles or so... lol2...

Mystic queen is like u're dreamin' and listenin' to some music that not only u never hearad before, but also you will never hear in future...

Vocals are not charismatic but they're perfectly emotional and all this thing is very melancholic and dreamy, i love this album. Great!!!

For me Camel and Mirage are too parts of one bigger piece and i almost always listen to the second one when the first one finishes.


Report this review (#329393)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Camel's debut in fact is nice album. Really strong technically as for debut, it contains very eclectic sound (in sense there is no way "classic" Camel sound of later works).

For good and for bad, this album has many influences,dominated in prog circa 1973. Symphonic prog, Canterbury sound, mellow hard rock,etc. In this album I like their true rock roots (very soon they will miss them), energetic and small amount of sweet-pop additives they will be so well known just few years later. Some vocals there possibly are quite controversial, but heavy keyboards passages, plenty of rocking guitars, melodic and quite complex rock atmosphere - all these really made the debut album attractive release.

From negative side I want to notice that the album is quite unfocused,especially stylistically, and sounds like band of good musicians just searching for their face (what is in fact true).

On their two next releases they will find their own style, and I believe,this debut work is good start to "Mirage" and "Snow Goose" both. Then band will turn to simplified,more mellow (and even cheesy on some albums) and polished sound,and will become hardly interesting for someone but heavy fans. So, this album isn't best place to start, but if you like "Snow Goose" and " Mirage" yet, third logical choice is this release (if you're not a fan of synth-pop over- arranged music, then you can try some their later releases).

My rating is 3+ for still raw and not very original, but rare really prog rock album of popular band.

Report this review (#345664)
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#428449)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | Review Permalink

I really think this album deserved a better ranking on the site here, because the sound it offers is the same as their successors, the masterpieces "Mirage " (best of all of the Camel), "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness ".

"Camel" is a good album, but not in all.I´m personally am not a fan of the voice of Latimer (except on "Moonmadness") and unfortunately, the flute is not yet present.The Bardens´ keyboards are also not good, except in "Never Let Go". Oh God ... this song is wonderful.Mellotrons are uplifting and divine.

In the version that I downloaded the album, still had the single version of "Never Let Go" and an epic song played live, "Homage to God of Light" (which contains an excellent section of heavy metal).

Overall, great album, but far from a masterpiece, a post I think it only belongs to "Mirage".3,5 stars.

Report this review (#439053)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Camel's debut album doesn't get reviews as shining as its successors, but I still think it's an extraordinarily strong debut. If the compositions aren't quite as tight as those on Mirage or The Snow Goose, they're certainly most of the way there, and by and large the band has its own distinctive identity from the very beginning apart from the occasional spot where Andy Latimer comes over all Steve Hackett (and that isn't *such* a bad thing, is it?). The recent CD remaster adds an entirely useless single edit of Never Let Go and a gorgeous rarity - Homage to the God of Light, a Peter Bardens solo track expanded into a full-group workout. It's not on the top tier of Camel albums, but second-tier Camel is still head and shoulders above most of the competition.
Report this review (#505243)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Better Never Let Go!

Slightly lower than what would be three classic pillars of the group, and that would come after this great debut. The sound on the remastered version is great and raises the album to another level. The album contains four classics:

 Slow Yourself Down, claimed with two good acoustic versions on The Paris Collection. Mystic Queen, a beautiful acoustic symphonic song. Never Let Go, and powerful instrumental Arubaluba.

Vocals are interspersed between Latimer, Ferguson and Bardens, none with a voice and style defined there, Latimer achieve something in the future, and sometimes Ferguson. But in fact, as is well known, would never be the strongest of the group at the beginning, and yes one of its specific features that distanced him with reference to other classic bands of the genre.

As for the instrumental parts is clearly seen the potential of the band, being much greater results than the sum of its parts. Curiosity and the other instrumental Six Ate, are also worthy of the best Camel, not Separation .

Despite not having extensive songs, is a symphonic progressive album around the meaning of gender. 4,5 stars.

Report this review (#1100904)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.75 Stars

Impressive debut from Camel. It is instrumentally very raw and passionate; one can say full of sexual energy as some 70s classic rock acts like Led Zeppelin. I may go ahead and say it is one of Latimer's best guitar albums, even if the songwriting is not as mature as many later works.

Songs generally do not have a lot in common with progressive rock, so it takes a 70s classic rock fan to enjoy the raw energy here. The opener in particular has fierce guitar and organ playing that sound absolutely phenomenal all the way through. Andy Latimer's vocals try to sound like Jim Morrison but only partially succeeding. My personal opinion is that the vocals are typically not Camel's strength. Luckily the band knows their limits as singers and don't overstretch themselves. Also, they focus on instrumental sections, tho the scatting halfway through works great.

Great guitar and organ playing continue on the slower, but spirited 'Mystic Queen'. 'Six Ate' and 'Separation' speed things back up with plenty of riffs varying in quality, the latter showcasing Latimer's soloing skills once again. The songs seem to have some resemblance to The Doors and Santana, but they already sounded confident with their own voice this early on. 'Never Let Go' has a positive drive and would have worked great with a better singer as it is the only part of the album where I feel the vocals really detract from a song (it's not Andy singing). The extended mellotron solo is excellent and redeems the track. Oh, and another great guitar solo at the end.

'Curiosity' has a brief vocal segment leading into an extended instrumental section with jazz leanings. One of the more progressive songs here along with the instrumental closer 'Arubaluba' which brings the fiery energy present on 'Slow Yourself Down' and is simply awesome all the way through.

4.5 Star Songs - Slow Yourself Down, Arubaluba

4 Star Songs - Mystic Queen, Separation

3.5 Star Songs - Never Let Go, Curiosity

3 Star Songs - Six Ate

Report this review (#1134130)
Posted Wednesday, February 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Camel's debut album arrived in 1973. At this time, classic prog rock was at the height of it's popularity. I was in high school. And Yes, ELP, King Crimson and Genesis were the favorites of the music aware factions (yes - my school was enlightened). A friend introduced me to this album, and, I can admit now, I was not impressed. The lightness of the sound was not what my teenage sensibilities was looking for.

Four decades later my tastes have refined, and I am able to appreciate some of the artists I rejected in those days. And now I am revisiting this band that barely appeared on my radar back then.

In this debut, Camel sounded more like the prog of the late sixties, solo-heavy pieces with psychedelic subtexts, and a nod to the early fusion projects. To me, it could be described as a mixture of transitional Pink Floyd (pre-Meddle), a bit of Procol Harum, with some of the style of fusion of the Canterbury bands.

And now, while the album may not be as progressive as their peers, or even their own subsequent albums, I find this to be a joy to listen to. Primarily Peter Bardens' keyboards, primarily organ, electric piano and mono-chromatic synth, retro even in 1973, along with Andy Ward's tight drumming, drive the music along.

While I still would not rate this with the great albums of the seventies, it should not be overlooked.

Report this review (#1162700)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars One heck of a debut.

Camel flies out of the gate as an exciting, mature and rocking prog band. I will admit that it can sound rather derivative, like "Mystic Queen" sounds to me a lot like Pink Floyd at times and King Crimson on others, but I still love it. A great song that flows along and doesn't rush itself. There's also some Santana, Tull, ELP and Yes moments as well on other songs. Almost as if the stew of their influences hasn't fully mixed yet. No lengthy suites here just seven tightly contracted tunes that only exceed 6 minutes on 3 tunes but are packed with detail and strong musicianship. Best of all, these tunes rock, Camel hasn't mellowed yet on this record, That will start on "Mirage".

Highly Recommended, four and a half stars rounded to 4, I won't call it a masterpiece but there isn't a moment I don't like on this album.

Report this review (#1372199)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars A modest debut from one of the prog's more well-known groups. Released in 1973, this was before Camel had fully developed their symphonic approach that would forge classics like "Mirage" and "Moonmadness". More straightforward rock oriented than their later works, they still manage to chisel out a very solid album.

The album contains a mix of jazz, hard rock, and a well-balanced interplay between acoustic and electric sounds. Rockers like "Slow Yourself Down", "Separation" and the instrumental "Arubaluba" show that Camel could have gone into mainstream rock music had they felt to, but each of these songs still retains a degree of sophistication that keeps them firmly in the realm of prog. "Slow Yourself Down" sounds as though it could have been a (considerably) more mellow Deep Purple cut, with guitar and organ soloing that shreds like "Burn" or "Highway Star".

There is more progressive material on the album, too, and that is where the most magical moments lie. "Mystic Queen" and "Never Let Go" are both ballads that feature excellent acoustic and electric guitar work from Andrew Latimer, as well as flute in the latter. "Six Ate" is a jazz rock instrumental not unlike something off of Caravan's "In The Land of Grey And Pink". Both "Never Let Go" is the clear highlight track on the album, featuring one of Latimer's most aggressively passionate guitar solos. Altogether, the album is very consistent and there aren't any weak tracks.

While Camel is sometimes criticized as a sort of "insomnia antidote" of a band, the refreshing rock energy on this debut album of there's certainly stands out. I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't keen on Camel's more symphonic records but would still like to give the band a try, and is a must-hear for those who are already fans of the band's other 70's works.

Report this review (#1476995)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nº 63

This is my fifth review of a Camel's album. The others are their second, third and fourth studio albums 'Mirage', 'The Snow Goose' and 'Moonmadness' which were released in 1974, 1975 and 1976 respectively, and their debut live album 'A Live Record' released in 1978. In 1972 the band signed with MCA Records and the result of it was this musical work 'Camel', their eponymous debut studio album which was released in 1973.

'Camel' has seven tracks. The first track 'Slow Yourself Down' written by Andrew Latimer and Andy Ward is a great song to open the album and represents, to my taste, the third best song on the album. This song features great organ work by Peter Bardens and is very well accompanied with a relaxed vocal work. A great rhythm section was also created by Doug Fergusson and Ward. The second track 'Mystic Queen' written by Bardens represents, for me, the second best track on the album. The song is absolutely sublime and is one of the two highest points of the album. It represents another great song with a good organ work by Bardens, perfectly accompanied with a tasteful Latimer's guitar solo. It has also a great performance on the drums by Ward. The third track 'Six Ate' written by Latimer is, in my humble opinion, the weakest point of the album. But, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that it's a bad song. What I'm saying is that the song can be, sometimes, a little bit repetitive and represents the lower point on the album. The fourth track 'Separation' written also by Latimer is the shortest song on the album. It's a very good song with some slow parts and with a very powerful and superb ending. This is another great song. The fifth track 'Never Let Go' is another Latimer's song and that eventually gave its name to a live album of the band. It's also one of the lengthiest tracks on the album. It's my favourite song on the album and one of my favourite songs from the group. It's a wonderful piece of music with the only appearance of Bardens on vocals. He gave an amazing keyboard solo very well accompanied by a marvellous Latimer's flute work, too. The sixth track 'Curiosity' written by Bardens is a song with a strong bass line featured by Ferguson. This is a typical Camel's track with a good writing composition. It's also another very good song, in the same line of the rest of the musical material found in here. The seventh track 'Arubaluba' also written by Bardens is the closing song on the album. It's an instrumental track that represents the lengthiest song on the album. This is one of the best songs on the album, and in my point of view, it's in the fourth place. It's a very strong track with great guitar performances, an interesting organ work and a good complementary job made by Fergusson and Ward.

My CD version has also two bonus tracks. As I usually say, I don't review bonus tracks mainly because of two reasons. First, bonus tracks don't make part of the original album and so, they shouldn't influence the album's review. Second, unfortunately in the most of the cases, the bonus tracks don't have good quality and are added without much criterion. Luckily, this isn't the case. Despite the first bonus track 'Never Let Go' not bring anything new to the album, because is simply a shorter single version of the original track, with the second bonus track we can't say the same. 'Homage To The God Of Light' is a 19 minutes live version of an original track written by Bardens, which was originally recorded on his solo studio album 'The Answer' released in 1970. This is really a great piece of music performed live superiorly. The track is full of free musical improvisations by all the band's members with extended psychedelic improvisation sounds and where all the musicians show their musical competence. This track was recorded live at the famous and mythical Marquee Club at 29th October 1974, and was previously unreleased. Unfortunately, it's shocking to think that this live version of 'Homage To The God Of Light' was hidden for so many years. I'm perfectly convinced that if this track has been released on the original album, it might be considered a truly masterpiece.

Conclusion: 'Camel' is a great debut album from the band. In my humble opinion, it has two tracks that deserve to be rated with 5 stars 'Mystic Queen' and 'Never Let Go', four tracks that deserve 4 stars 'Slow Yourself Down', 'Separation', 'Curiosity' and 'Arubaluba' and one track that deserve only 3 stars 'Six Ate'. So, the final average of this album is between 4 and 4,5 stars. So, I decided to rate it with 4 stars. Sincerely, I think that it missed very few to it to can achieve the status of a masterpiece, which fortunately would happen, with their three following studio albums. This is really a great starting point if you want to listen to Camel as a newbie. This is an album very catchy and easy to get into, especially for the beginners. It's an amazing musical work, especially as a first album of any band. Don't get be repelled by the fact that it isn't very known and popular, compared with some of their other studio albums. This is a great album, probably the most simple, pure and naive of all their studio albums. Sincerely, I deeply recommend it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1539814)
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars A little jazzy and proggy hard rock animal

Not often cited by fans, CAMEL's self-titled debut album offers an energetic jazzy rock, supported by Peter Bardens' colorful keyboards and Andy Latimer's inspired guitar play. As always, the sung parts remain rather discrete and the musician already focus on their strong points: the instrumental passages. Not as progressive as their next albums, the music is nonetheless quite lively and promising. As many other bands in the 70's, the compositions were tested and refined at concerts before being released in studio version.

The opener "Slow Yourself Down" is a catchy punchy jazz-rock in the style of SANTANA, including various cool soli. In contrast, "Mystic Queen" is my least favorite track of the record. It has pretty and melancholic moments I find it overall a bit boring and lengthy. Back to jazz-rock with the instrumental "Six Ate". Driven by keyboards, it features a few cool rhythm changes. Surprising, the galloping heroic "Separation" is hard rock oriented, sometimes even sounding like early 70's metal! Great!

More melodic, "Never Let Go" announces the style that CAMEL will develop in their next album, "Mirage". A melancholic tune, with jazzy and enchanting variations, supported by Peter Bardens' mellotron. "Curiosity" is an evolving but a little uneven song, enjoyable though. The closer "Arubaluba" is the other instrumental track of the disc. Dynamic and powerful, it simply rocks!

CAMEL's self-titled debut album has lots to offer and already unveils the band's potential, especially for composition and instrumental parts. Unfortunately, the musicians won't earn the success they deserve with this release, maybe due the lack of originality of their music at the time and of a charismatic frontman. Nonetheless, it still remains a lively and inspired opus, as well as a good entry point to the band for hard rockers.

CAMEL's rockiest effort, and one of their best albums. A promising and talented animal, recommended to jazzy rock and SANTANA fans!

Report this review (#1577651)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2016 | Review Permalink

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