Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Camel - The Single Factor CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars I´ve always been a fan to Camel, but there were some music by them I still didn´t have and "The Single Factor" was one of these albums. So I bought it not expecting much because I had read some negative reviews. But my surprise was very big: this album is incredible good and I keep on listening to it again and again. Highly recommended as there´s not just a single song in it that it´s not worthy.
Report this review (#2383)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
1 stars Camel DUNG must sound, taste and smell better than this.

I think Latimer was forced into making this one in order to keep his contract and made this half-hearted album full of potential singles (hence the title ) to please the record company. This allowed him to make the following concept album Stationary Traveller.

Look elsewhere because this is a true dud , that would deserve a lesser rating .......

Report this review (#2387)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The CAMEL of the 80's has always impressed me: a bit progressive, loaded of modern keyboards, clean electric guitar sounds, accessible, addictive, most of those albums are at least very good. The single factor belong to this group. The songs here can be very mellow and ("Selva", "End Peace / Hearts Desire"), rythmic and catchy ("No Easy Answer", "Manic", "Sasquatch").

CAMEL here can definitely be sentimental. Compared to "Nude", it is clear here that the songs are less progressive, but they are more accessible. The songs rather differ from each other. The keyboards are varied and their force resides in the floating mellow parts. The electric guitars are very good with their often clean distortion-free sounds. There are 4 keyboards players here, including Anthony PHILLIPS (ex-GENESIS' guitarist), and this contributes to make varied keyboards sounds. So this record is keyboards and electric guitar oriented, in a simple, sentimental an accessible way.

Report this review (#2389)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The singularly disappointing successor to "Nude". The title refers to the fact that only Andy Latimer remained from the original lineup (Andy Ward had injured his hand and couldn't lend the other to this recording), and for all intents and purposes "The Single Factor" is a Latimer solo album. As such, it's better than Anthony PHILLIPS' attempts at a pop crossover, but not by a whole lot.

Despite the participation of some talented musicians, including PHILLIPS, Dave Paton, Chris Rainbow and (briefly) a returning Pete Bardens, the opening tracks sound like half-cocked DIY songs: "No Easy Answer", "You Are The One", "Lullabye." As "Nude" revealed, instrumentals at least provide an audible link to the past, with "Sasquatch" and "Selva" here two of the highlights (the combined "A Heart's Desire/End Peace" is even more evocative of CAMEL's last record). It's not as though Latimer has forgotten how to write good songs; in fact, "CAMELogue" might be the catchiest pop song he's written, while "Manic" would have felt at home on "I Can See Your House From Here". But it took me a long, long time to appreciate "The Single Factor", and even now it remains my least favorite album from their catalog.

If you're one of those CAMEL fans still holding a torch for the progressive music of their past, then pass on this. If you didn't have a problem with the commercial compromise of "I Can See Your House From Here", or enjoy the solo music of David GILMOUR, then feel free to hook up with "The Single Factor". Note that, if you do fall into the former camp of prog purists, regard this album rating as a red, since it took me an awfully long time (10+ years) to appreciate more than a couple of tracks on here.

Report this review (#2390)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not as bad as some previous critics have made out IMHO. There are some gems on the album like Sasquatch, Camelogue( an ode to the the single factor of Latimer basically running solo), Selva and the catchy No Easy Answer. I do battle with the Alan Parson like contributions of David Paton and Chris Rainbow on vocals and would prefer Latimer behind the mic with all his natural but true vocal limitations anyday.All in still makes great listening but certainly a move away from the prog roots that many of the bands either from growing in different directions musically or were forced to do by demanding record companies of the 80's.
Report this review (#2393)
Posted Thursday, July 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Despite all those unfavoruble opinions and reviews about Single Factor I must say the thing is different. It is not perhaps best Camel album but certainly worth listening to. Tracks like No easy Answer or Your the one are really nice. Well done as for the album that Andy had to do on his own with all the other Camel members having already abandoned the group.
Report this review (#2395)
Posted Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars a post prog masterpiece! possibly its totally nostalgic but i believe the songwriting to be first class and the underrated guitar playing of mr latimer to be 2nd to none. heroes/selva is probably the highlight for me - makes me weep, man! the contribution of david paton (pilot/alan parsons project) on bass and vocals... what more do you want?! there are production influences from pink floyds "the wall" on "todays goodbye" which sound great. check it out and see. i am in love with "nude" too, one of my fave albums. i absolutley love it, and i have great taste!
Report this review (#43732)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The tenth work announced in 1982 "The Single Factor". Andy Ward finally seceded. CAMEL finally became soloed project of Andrew Latimer. Pop vorcal tune became an album at the center as the title of the album hinted this work. However, it is such especially a shine of "Selva" and "Sasquatch".The style of CAMEL after 1990's is foreseen.

Report this review (#48139)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 1982 found Camel with no direction but with many talented musicians. The album has it moments, but some people dislike it. This is called the Single Factor because only Andy Latimer from the original group remains, or it may be read as a sign of complaint that releasing singles is an important factor. There is a note that says drummer Andy Ward is not on the album because of a severe hand injury. Rumor is that is not the real reason. This album has a mumber of prominent progressive rock guest stars: Anthony Phillips (original guitarist of Genesis), Francis Monkman, Dave Mattacks and a couple of guys from the one of the Alan Parsons Project albums.

1. No Easy Answer - Rock/Pop music... 2,5/5

2. You Are the One - More pop/rock music.. 2,5/5

3. Heroes - is a fantastic song, lead vocal by David Paton is excellent and backing vocals, made by Chris Rainbow are great too. 4/5

4. Selva - Andy Latimer makes a emotive guitar solo. I love this track! 5/5

5. Lullabye - Short but good! 3/5

6. Sasquatch - Peter Bardens comes back to the fold to play some memorable solo, on this track. Superb! 5/5

7. Manic - 3/5

8. Camelogue - 3/5

9. Today's Goodbye - 3/5

10. A Heart Desire / End Peace - Good end... 3

Final Note: This album is a transitional album during a very difficult time in Camel's history. Musically it comes across a little bit like the Alan Parsons Project, but that's not necessarily bad because there's some great music´s in the album. Deserves a listen.

2,5 + 2,5 + 4+ 5 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 34

34 : 10 = 3,4

Good, but non-essential

Curiosity: In an interview, Andy admitted that at the time of working on the album the band was at a very critical stage of it's existence, apparently they were all under great stress, perhaps from the record company. Andrew: "The Single Factor [...] basically came about by accident. That album was a bit directionless in a way. It suffered considerably as a result of Andy's leaving."

Report this review (#54827)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars THE SINGLE FACTOR. . . Andy Latimer's the only REAL Camel guy on it, but this album is unfairly dumped-on by Camel fans. The whole 2nd side is gorgeous, especially "Sasquatch" & "A Heart's Desire/End Peace," "Manic" is an Xtremely angry-sounding tale of schizophrenia, & "Camelogue" & "Today's Goodbye" R at least pleasant & intresting. The 1st side's more of a problem: "No Easy Answer" is OK, & "Heroes" is nice ... but the rest IS a significant drop-off in quality from previous albums. So play the 2nd side, Njoy the guest work by Peter Bardens & Anthony Phillips, & take it 4 what it is -- perhaps not as "progressive" as the band's hard-core fans would like, but still real nice. I think Latimer held-up pretty well under the commercial pressure from his record company. This is as good as the earlier BREATHLESS and I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE, if not as solid as SNOW GOOSE or NUDE....

Report this review (#70334)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A much maligned album, but as I listen to it now, I find myself enjoying it a lot. It's been said before, but the involvement of Chris Rainbow and David Paton means this sounds a lot like the Alan Parsons Project, so if that brand of pop prog bugs you, stay away. There are a couple of schmalzty pseudo-rockers worth skipping here (You Are the One, Manic), but also some lush, gorgeous ballads (Heroes, A Heart's Desire) and several lovely instrumentals (with help from Pete Bardens, Anthony Phillips and Francis Monkman) like Sasquatch, Selva and End Peace. The latter two pieces feature some of Latimer's prettiest playing on record. Certainly anyone interested in collecting Camel's discography should not pass this up if they should come across it at the right price. It's far from the best album Latimer's made, but considering the high quality of his output, that's no shame. I found the used LP for $5.00 CDN, and having heard it, I may pick up the CD as well.
Report this review (#84171)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars

The Single Factor is an extraordinary album in the way that it starts off with easily the worst song of the bunch, No Easy Answer, which is a below-mediocre pop workout. Things start getting better after that in the form of You Are the One, which is a nice rock song, and Heroes, a very good ballady kind of thing that is one of the highlights of the album. I like the melodies on that one. Selva is a nice mellow piece for keyboards and guitar, nothing extremely memorable though. The short interlude type of thing called Lullabye continues in the lighter vein before Sasquatch, which is apparently the only song the band likes to remember from this album. A cheerful instrumental piece with some really nice guitar work, a clear choice to join Heroes in the highlights group. Manic is an urgent rock song, a pretty nice one as such, but Camel isn't really at their best with urgent rock songs. Camelogue isn't the most exciting Camel piece ever either, rather a mediocre one, though with some fitting lyrics for the situation of the band at the time. Today's Goodbye isn't much better, but the album is brought to a close with A Heart's Desire and End Peace, a very very beautiful composition with great vocals by Chris Rainbow and some very good guitar work by mr. Latimer. An underrated gem, no doubt about that.

Knowing that the album was made under really difficult circumstances with the inspiration level close to zero, this is a surprisingly good one. Heroes, Sasquatch, A Heart's Desire and End Peace are the definite bright spots, there are some good pieces as well, but then again too many fall into the mediocre category. A good effort given the circumstances.

Report this review (#87411)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
1 stars I totally agree with Sean Trane's review. I do not rate this album highly, It's not even a good pop album. I like pop music almost as much as I enjoy prog and this CD is absolutely awful! Camel never had a knack for pop songs like Genesis did, or even Yes. Everything here sounds forced, like trying to be a kind of second rate Alan Parsons Project, at its very worst. Of all the songs only Sasquach and Selva stand out, both fine instrumental tunes that remind us of what this band once was (is this the truth behind the title The Single Factor? Was it suppose to be a single with those two songs?) , but they are not enough to save it from being one of the most embarrassing things Camel has ever done under its name. This band made such fine records... This one's only for hardcore fans, if they can stand it.
Report this review (#87435)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Heroes, I call for you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#94313)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars At the risk of sounding like someone who discovered, and then grew to like YES only after 90125, or Genesis after ABACAB, I'm going on the record to say that THE SINGLE FACTOR was my first CAMEL album - and I like it! Sorry boys and girls - this is a very good album. I'll tell you why I started with this album - the answer is spelled P-H-I-L-L-I-P-S. Phillips as in ANT and SIMON, both of whom appear on this CD. I figured, anyone (Latimer) smart enough to commission the likes of these two, has got to know something about producing good music. Am I Very Wrong? What's that you say, "No Easy Answer", or more appropriately, "No Reply at All". The frist three songs, especially HEROES are just great. HEROES, I say again, is particularly good. Great vocal arrangement. The most addictive track on the album is easily SASQUATCH. I must have listened to it 100 times in the first few weeks after I got it. It's ear candy. It's Latimer's "Moonlight Shadow" (which also features Simon Phillips). TODAYS GOODBYE and A HEART DESIRE/END PIECE (the latt- imer co-written by Anthony Phillips) are beautiful. I will conceed that listeneing to the likes of Camel, Genesis, Yes, Oldfield, even Anthony Phillips, playing pop songs, as they all did in the early 80's, is a bit like Motzart playing "Chopsticks" with full orchestra. But, hey, I'd much rather hear Motzart, or the aforementioned demi-gods of Prog have a go at pop, than Paul McCartney, the undisputed king of the pop/rock song, trying to write progressive or classical music, don't you agree? This is by no means Camel's best outing, granted. But my verdict is for the defedant. You owe him four stars. Case closed!!!
Report this review (#95301)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
3 stars As you all have figured out by now, most of the great Progressive groups of the 70's gave way to a more streamlined, accessible formula in the 80's. This is where many a decent album has been viewed in the wrong light and shunned in ignorance. Surely, regarding 'The Single Factor', the emphasis is not on hanging on to past glories, but creating something worthy of artistic merit, whilst pandering to record companies' whims. This is possibly not a conscious move, but a decision to survive in a business which has fast become 'plasticised'. By now, Camel is down to only longtime member Andy Latimer, joined by many session players (particularly some from Alan Parsons Project) and various guests, including former keyboardist Peter Bardens, who contributes one heck of a solo (mini- moog) in Sasquatch. Other great musicians include drummer extraordinaire Simon Phillips, Ant Phillips (no relation!), Dave Mattacks, Francis Monkman, Duncan Mackay and so on. The result is an easy-to-listen-to set of songs, some poppish, some more involved, but executed perfectly and, at times, passionately. Highlights include : Heroes (superb track, well composed, great vocals), the beautiful instrumental 'Selva' (sounds like something lifted off an Ant Phillips 'Private Parts & Pieces' album), the dynamic, fast paced instrumental 'Sasquatch', 'Camelogue' (kind of MOR but really hits the spot) and another little instrumental 'End Peace'. Of the other tracks, they all do have something to offer, but generally marred by catchy choruses. Oh, and the verse sections of 'You Are The One' are quite Floydian IMO. Overall, a good 3 and a half stars for this release.
Report this review (#96303)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
1 stars After the jazzy period with Richard Sinclair, Camel ran out of ideas, so they tried to change their sound. The result is "the worst Alan Parson's album". Not a single song is remarkable. In particular, "Manic" and "You are the one" are the lower expression of Camel's music. I can save only the acoustic guitar in "Camelogue" and some good passages spreaded across the tracks. "Only for completionists" is the right definition.
Report this review (#97318)
Posted Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars We have learned that Andy Ward was inder strong alcohol and drugs influenced during the recording of "Nude" and its supporting tour but internal problems were not the concern of Decca Records to which Camel were contractually bound for a specific recorded output. Decca refused to be put off any longer and upped the pressure for a hit single. With delays no longer possible, Latimer had to accept that his friend and drummer would not recover and thus, with Andrew Latimer the sole surviving member of Camel this record was released. But hoping to keep the matter private, Camel naively included a simple footnote in the liner notes that Andy Ward did not appear due to an injury to his hand.

Camel did not sound great in those days. This album is not worse than "I Can See ..." or "Nude" but it is a weak one. Camel plays disco / pop songs like ELO has done it during that period (listen to "No Easy Answer" or "You Are the One" to understand). Very little inspiration throughout this album although some songs have catchy melodies.

The track I prefer is the instrumental "Selva" : a typical Camel song : full of emotion and beauty. Latimer's guitar sound is great. Although it is shorter in lenght, this one reminds me the grandeur from "Ice". It's a pity they did not expand it more.Very good song.

"End Peace" has the same flavour, but is less celestial.

Early 1983, the inevitable came to be. Unable to stop abusing alcohol, Ward could not continue with Camel. On a sad January day at the offices of Fleet Street lawyers, Ward's association with Camel ended. Nearly 13 years to the day he had joined Ferguson and Latimer, Andy Ward formally left the band and never performed with them again.

Two stars.

Report this review (#110897)
Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Several occasions happened prior to the release of this album and after the release of "Nude" in January 1981. One of them was the long absence of Camel's drummer Andy Ward due to injury. Camel was then became something like a solo project of Andy Latimer supported by a pool of talented musicians like Anthony Philips (previously with Genesis), Simon Phillips, Chris Rainbow etc. With this line-up, "Single Factor" sounds like The Alan Parsons Project's especially it's so obvious in many songs including "Heroes", "Selva" etc. The album was recorded in January - February 1982 at Abbey Road's Studio 3.

Musically this album is not much different with any album of The Alan Parsons Project but the recording quality which I think it's inferior, even against any previous albums of Camel. I actually don't understand it as this was recorded at Abbey Road Studio. The first two opening tracks are really light music and they can be categorized as pop rock music with no special things that need to be mentioned. They're just straight pop rock songs. But when it reaches track 3 "Heroes" (4:47) there is something nice that I can enjoy. The song itself is a mellow one but it has a strong melody. It sounds like a combination of both styles: The Alan Parsons Project and classic style of Camel music. The following "Selva" (3:30) is also a good one, followed with a short bridge "Lullabye" (0:55) which brings to attractive "Sasquatch" (4:40).

I purchased this CD was to complete my collection of Camel albums just to trace back how the band's music has evolved over time. I do not intend to give any conclusion on whether or not you should own the CD if you do not collect Camel music. Musically, this is a good album even though it has some mediocre tracks. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#120982)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Why am I listening to this album at all? I must be a sort of masochistic to painfully endure the entire length. Andy Ward finally left the flock leaving Latimer as the single original member to complete this LP. This must have been a joke or otherwise I don't see any reason for its existence. Cheap pop songs done with terrible synthesised production, spicing in some old "Snow Goose" ideas in order to sound "serious", can hardly be anything else than an obligatory "drop to the bottom" in many artists careers. And this is CAMEL's. Vocal songs are so pathetic and miserable that the worst examples of MOR/AOR/Disco works of the era (it can be freely played as soundtrack to "Flashdance" movie) can hardly match. In 1982 DURAN DURAN's "Rio" was more commercial, more quality pop music and more progressive if you want. These facts can firmly establish "The Single Factor" as a constituent of the group of the worst "prog" albums ever - together with GENESIS' "Abacab", YES' "90125" or JETHRO TULL's "Under Wraps". Avoid at all cost!
Report this review (#124768)
Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Honestly, I don’t understand people sometimes… This work has been derided so much that if I was Andy I’d shed lot of tears. Pop, commercialism, sellout… What pop? which sellout? Do you really think that taking mellower direction means selling out? No, there is big difference between pop (in it’s bad meaning of course) and what Camel did in this album. It’s Genesis that went POP, with their albums in 1981 and especially with 1983 one (Invisible touch is somewhat better despite containing In Too Deep…), which could hold a record of unexpressiveness.

So this album is more accessible, but it does NOT influence the quality of music. Alright, let’s go track by track:

1. No Easy Answer – A straightforward song, but still decent. Wish it was longer. The guitar solo that fades out could have been developed especially in hands of Andy. 2. You Are The One – Very good one, especially the tempo and mood change in refrain. Andy has a natural gift of doing such things. 3. Heroes – Brilliant, nothing more to say. Guys form Alan Parsons Project sing here with great passion. I love APP… And I love this song. 4. Selva –Beautiful, melancholic… When I paint Selva’s picture described by this piece in my mind, she turns out to be beautiful. 5. Lullabye – Very short. Can’t call it a filler ‘cause it fills only fifty seconds. 6. Sasquatch – That’s indeed very sentimental moment in this album, because it features Pete Bardens, a former member of Camel. And he does great job here. Like in good old Camel days… Superb. 7. Manic – Hard Rock from Camel! Energy plus catchy melody and good depressive lyrics. And then it suddenly becomes prog., Good , VERY GOOD. 8. Camelogue – A melancholic one. A kind of Camel autobiography. Good tune. 9. Today’s Goodbye – Well, this song is so-so. Not that is bad, but it looks like a track from Breathless or I Can See Your House From Here. 10. Heart’s Desire/End Peace – These Are separate tracks on CD, but it’s better to review them as whole. This is typical Camel ending, warm, mellow, ambient. 11. You Are The One (Single Edit) – It’s bonus track on CD. I think (maybe I’m mistaken, I don’t know) it’s only one song from this album issued as a single, because If there were more, there would be more bonus tracks. So It shows again that this album was never meant to chart a hit.

Although Andy was left alone from Camel’s original line-up here (Don’t count Bardens in Sasquatch), The Single Factor features many great musicians: Anthony Phillips (ex-Genesis, interesting he plays keyboards here whereas in Genesis he was known as guitarist) , Dave Paton, Chris Rainbow (both APP) just to name a few. There are four keyboard players and it makes album really interesting, but absence of andy Ward on drums is a problem we can’t ignore. His exceedingly rhythmic style would make songs like No Easy Answer, You Are The One and even Sasquatch sound better.

To put it short mellow but very good album, and definitely not “Pop”.

Four stars with clear conscience.

Report this review (#127868)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The "single factor" to which Camel aka Andy Latimer herein refers could be love, or it could be the desire to produce a hit song, seemingly held as much or more by the record company as by the band. Most likely it is a combination of the two, a double if not triple entendre, reflecting a band looking back on its first 10 years of existence and wondering whether continued survival in a harsh environment is possible, let alone worth it.

To give Camel the credit they deserve but do not always receive, that they were still a going concern in 1982 is miraculous in and of itself. Their albums were still striking the mid ranges of the top 100 British charts, in the company of bands that were mostly in diapers when the group's debut appeared. So in essence Camel were already elder statesman by this time, albeit largely ignored by anyone but their still sizable faithful fans.

The presence of various Alan Parsons project personnel gives this one some commercial credibility, especially on "Heroes" which could easily pass for a good APP song. "You are the One" shows the conflicts within Mr Latimer as he struggles between blistering bluesy inclinations and superficial choruses, but it's somehow triumphant all the same. "No Easy Answer" is pure pop but for the harpsichord strains. "Sasquatch" is closest to classic Camel, actually featuring a guest appearance by Pete Bardens. "Manic" is a different sort of Camel piece, sinister and Gothic sounding. There are some overly mellow tracks here and there but still reminiscent of passages from "Nude" and the "Snow Goose", but "Camelogue" is a great autobiographical tune with some creative Latimer licks.

It is decidedly light fare and not to the tastes of many on this list, but "Single Factor" represents another facet of Camel, a diversion if you will, tried on for size but ultimately rejected by both a newer audience and the band.

Report this review (#170625)
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The Single Factor is the ninth studio album from symphonic prog act Camel. Their previous album called Nude was a quite an enjoyable album IMO even though it´s definitely not my favorite from the band. The Single Factor unfortunately puts emphasis on some of the more doubtful sides of the music on Nude and as a consequence it´s the weakest effort I have heard from Camel yet ( of the nine first albums).

The music has become much more commercial pop/ rock influenced and in some of the worst songs like the opener No Easy Answer and You Are the One Camel almost sounds like an AOR band. There are some songs that are partially enjoyable like Heroes and Camelogue but the songs are generally very weak and not something I want to use my time on. Camel has made so much better music that this album seems a bit superfluos.

The musicianship is good as always. It´s noteworthy that The Single Factor is the first Camel album with only Andy Latimer left from the original lineup. Andy Ward was unable to record the drum parts as a result of a bad hand injury but was still a part of the band at this time ( Even though he was suffering severe problems with alcohol and drugs in those days too).

The production is thin and very much in eighties style. It doesn´t bother me but I´m not too thrilled either.

As I stated above this one probably won´t even satisfy the fans, but as I do enjoy some parts of the album I´ll rate it 2 stars. It´s pretty Superfluos though and it´s the last album I would purchase from Camel ( out of the first nine).

Report this review (#185671)
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Camelogue

The best comparison I can come up with for this album is Steve Hackett's Cured that was released only a couple of years before Camel's The Single Factor. Many people hate Hackett's Cured, and I am quite certain that those are the very same people that would hate The Single Factor. There are actually many similarities between these two albums and the respective musical careers of Andy Latimer and Steve Hackett. Both Andy Latimer and Steve Hackett are, of course, incredible guitarists both playing in legendary Symphonic Prog bands of the 70's. But I mean to make a somewhat "deeper" comparison here concerning their respective situations in the early 80's when they both ventured towards Pop territory while still retaining their respective amazing guitar work and progressive touch and writing some very good and emotional songs in the process.

Steve Hackett had formed a band around himself in the late 70's, but by 1981 he was basically alone with only keyboardist Nick Magnus and his brother John still by his side. Hackett handled all the lead vocals by himself for the first time on Cured and he grew a lot as a singer during the 80's and 90's just like Andy Latimer would do. Latimer was actually in a similar situation at this point being basically alone with some guests in creating this album (hence the title The Single Factor). The guests include founding member Peter Bardens, original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips, Francis Monkman from Curved Air, Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention and Chris Rainbow from Alan Parsons Project (who would later contribute even more to the Stationary Traveller album).

There are mostly shorter tunes on The Single Factor and it is a diverse album with several different styles being explored. Another similarity with Hackett's Cured is the presence of some poppy songs as well as some more progressive instrumentals. The instrumental Sasquatch, for example, became a live favourite that was often played live by the band during the 80's and 90's. Selva features great and emotional guitar work, in the vein of the wonderful Ice from I Can See Your House From Here. However, this is not quite as nice as Ice. For me personally both Cured and The Single Factor are actually more than decent albums (though Cured is the better of the two)!

Fans of progressive Rock usually fear the very word 'Pop', and for good reasons I hasten to add, but The Single Factor should not be put together with Invisible Touch or 90125. This album is not a "sell out" by those standards. Even if the songs are shorter here, these are hardly potential chart toppers. This is still very much a Camel album in the vein of I Can See Your House From Here and Stationary Traveller even if it is not as good as those albums. As a follow up to Nude, it is, of course, very disappointing indeed. But Nude was, after all, great!

Overall, this album is quite soft, but Manic, with its dramatic organ, sounds almost like it could have been the soundtrack for some film! Lullaby is a very short but beautiful piano ballad with a very good vocal performance by Andy. The song A Heart's Desire is very nice but completely out of place here, I think. It does not have a Camel feeling. This is largely due to Andy Latimer not singing it.

This is certainly not a bad album even if it is one of Camel's least good ones. Recommended for fans

Report this review (#193331)
Posted Monday, December 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album I must say is a bit of a disappointment to me. In my music collection I've got just about every album of Camel, however, this one, The Single Factor, is the one I seldom play. There are some nice tracks on this album (like Sasquatch, Camelogue and Manic), but the album is more a collection of songs. There is no coherence I think.

This album is only for the true fans of Camel, one of the best bands in the field. No one can be brilliant all the time, so I'll forgive Andy Latimer for bringing out this album that is really not worthy of having the Camel name.

Sorry, just two stars.

Report this review (#214707)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have a confession to make. I didn't buy this album with honorable intent. I won't lie. I had ulterior motives. As a seasoned prog reviewer I've found that it's oftentimes much more fun to criticize recordings that are seriously flawed as opposed to glorifying impressive works of aural art. In other words, my arsenal of snarky and sarcastic adjectives is darn near unlimited compared to my finite stock of the complementary persuasion and, besides, it's also easier to inject my questionable sense of humor into satirical essays as a rule. So, when I came across Camel's "The Single Factor" LP lolling in the musty bins of the local Second-hand Rose recently I just knew that I had a pitiful vinyl spheroid in my mitts into which I could gleefully poke more mean-spirited holes than a rusty screen door. (I could always claim later that the Devil made me do it.) Imagine my surprise and tempered disappointment when, after a few cursory listens, I had to admit that I liked it! Okay, "Moonmadness" it ain't, but when I consider the group's depressing state of affairs and the musically-confused time frame it was created in I find a lot to admire.

First of all, this is a lot more of an Andrew Latimer solo project than an official Camel offering. The band as a cohesive, functioning entity had ceased to exist in '81 and Andy, being the sole remaining founder of said combo, was stuck with the daunting task of fulfilling the group's contract with the label as best he could. Latimer enlisted the capable skills of Tony Clark to co-produce, rounded up a handful of crackerjack musicians like Ant Phillips and bassist David Paton, booked time at the prestigious Abbey Road studios and plunged ahead courageously. "Damn the torpedoes and the consequences!" he cried nervously. (Or so it's reported.)

One need only to notice the 1982 copyright date on the sleeve to cause any expectations of grandeur to dissipate like smoke and, frankly, to warrant a dread of the worst. Video may have killed the radio star but what it was doing to progressive rock was a fate more horrible than death. Add to that the eviscerating wounds that had been cruelly inflicted on the genre by the punk and New Wave movements of the latter 70s and prog was in the I.C.U. ward on life support. (If there had been a "do not resuscitate" order in effect we might not be talking today, kids.) All this is intended to warn you that the opener, "No Easy Answer," is nothing more than a mealy ort of pop fluff solely intended to bore its way into the heads of Top 40 radio listeners and create a chart-topper if at all possible. I suspect that the corporate honchos made him do it in hopes of recouping a fraction of their investment. It's no coincidence that it sounds remarkably like any number of the Alan Parsons Project hits for that very reason. It also gives Andy a chance to explain his dilemma up front. "You know it's always easy to say/you've gotta take it day by day/but sometimes it can be hard," he sings. We feel ya, bro.

While that low-calorie ditty is far from being intolerable or an outright insult the next cut, "You Are the One," is a big improvement. The Hammond organ droning at the onset is as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold night but the droll mood it creates stands in stark contrast to the upbeat chorus that comes along like sunlight breaking through dark clouds. Latimer's strong vocal chops reveal a new & improved confidence from him in that department and, while the song is still firmly entrenched in the pop category, it's entertaining enough to merit repeated plays. There's even a lofty spiritual slant to his lyrics with lines like "Looking round I can see/you are still here/not in sight but in me/your being appears," he avows. "Heroes" follows and it has a cool, mysterious prog intro before revealing yet another sizeable debt to Alan Parsons with its dense keyboard sounds and haunting melody. (Success breeds imitation, what can I say?) Here Andy turns the singing duties over to the soprano warblings of his buddy David Paton and the boy delivers a smooth performance from the higher registers as well as providing some silky notes on the fretless bass underneath. Latimer's imaginative arrangement shows that, despite the song's obvious contemporary leanings, he hasn't completely abandoned his progressive roots. You can take the lad out of prog country, you know.

The instrumental "Selva" is a charming slice of pure prog, though. The Prophet synthesizer manned by Duncan Mackay provides a deep, rich backdrop for the guitars of Phillips and Latimer and the composition is beautiful beyond reason. It conjures up serene, peaceful mental images and elevates this album to the next level. It's worth a whole star in itself. I'm a real sucker for songs under a minute in duration and "Lullabye" qualifies to be in that designation, coming in at a brisk 55 seconds. Not sure why, but short and sweet always gets me where I live (no snide remarks, please). Speaking of instrumentals, "Sasquatch" is next and it has a lively, energetic groove that's irresistible. If proggers had a TV station this would be the theme for the evening news program (hosted by the inimitable and charismatic anchorman Iain Lemming) and no one would complain. Andy's expert guitar work is superb, Camel keyboard guru Peter Bardens (in his only appearance on this disc) turns in a delightfully airy but inspired mini-moog solo and the whole thing has a dynamic, electrified atmosphere that can't be ignored. Well, done Mr. Latimer.

The same can't be said for the follow-up, "Manic," though. Andy's stab at getting heavy- handed fails to make the grade. His Ozzy-ish vocal is woefully underpowered, causing the whole endeavor to cave in on itself. At least he introduces a somewhat proggy, spacious interlude toward the end to break the monotony but it's a case of too little too late. "Camelogue" contains certain dubious New Wave ingredients that belie the doomed era it was born in. It's not a total embarrassment due mainly to the quality guitar work but it's also far from being memorable. While Susan Hoover (his wife-to-be) penned the words it's easy to connect the dots to Andy's own career predicament. "Standing at the crosswalk/wonder which direction to go/listen to the small talk/claiming how they told me so/I improvise/have to keep going for the song and the road/a lonely rise/now I'm relying on a song of my own," he relates. "Today's Goodbye" is next and I kinda like the stacked 10CC-like vocals that dominate this tune. It's really just a power ballad but it works for me, especially the contagious chorus that gets stuck in my brain for days on end. Latimer's echoing slide guitar doesn't hurt, either.

Possibly saving the best for last, Andy clears the bases with the interconnected "A Heart's Desire" and "End Peace." The former is a melodic gem with classical overtones that features guest Chris Rainbow on vocals. And the way it slides effortlessly into the instrumental 2nd half is very gratifying to this old prog dog. Andy and Ant combine to present a gorgeous piece of music that's like a slice of heaven and the "shimmering" fade out sends a shiver up my spine. And that's no little feat to turn your nose up at.

Andrew Latimer could've gone into the studio for a couple of days and churned out 8 or 9 tracks of dromedary manure to fulfill the requirements of Camel's contract with Gama Records and not given a hoot for the band's legacy. Other artists have done just that in similar circumstances. Yet it's what a man does when faced with adversity that defines his character, not when he's surrounded by talented cohorts riding the crest of popularity and acceptance. I expected to have a few heartless chuckles over "The Single Factor" but what I came away with was a newfound admiration for Andy. There are several low points to be navigated around, to be sure, but the occasional heights he attains are well worth the price of admission. Just goes to show that you never know for certain about an album until you lend an ear. 2.8 stars.

Report this review (#229455)
Posted Saturday, August 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars If Nude hinted at the possibility for a new series of good Camel albums, this one crashed even the lowest expectations. It's not much worse then Breathless but the rising quality curve since that album had everybody's hopes up for more.

Some songs like You Are The One start with strong verses but are entirely ruined by blatantly commercial and cheesy choruses. Most songs are cheesy all the way through. There are moments like Selva that are as good as Twin Peaks soundtrack would be but that do not offer much we didn't hear yet from Camel.

There's one song I really like though and that's Camelogue, it's equally commercial as anything else but if this album wanted to be pop music then at least it was successful with this track. The following album would accomplish what I think they wanted to achieve here. Easily Camel's worst.

Report this review (#254694)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Here is my 5th review as I work my way through the Camel discography in random order. This album, The Single Factor, fits in, I believe, with Stationary Traveler- shorter compositions and more "poppy" music. Probably because of the personnel involved, this seems like a "lost" Alan Parsons album to me. Good, catchy melodie tunes with an instrumental song thrown into the mix now and then. Reasonable music, but poor by past Camel Prog standards. This IS NOT Moonmadness. This IS NOT Mirage. This IS NOT even Breathless. I remember being dissapointed when I first heard this, because coming off of Nude, I thought the old Camel was returning. If you look at the lineup of people who made this, it is very impressive. But, alas, it doesn't show in the product. Average. Average. Average..... Only a 2 star on this one. ANd maybe that is being a bit kind.
Report this review (#275724)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars It was quite disappointing at first knowing that it came after "Nude" but I honestly think it's not a bad album after repeated listens.

There's a huge change in sound compared to the previous more progressive album although the songs here are more accessible and there is a lot of variey. It doesn't have the best of beginnings with "No Easy Answer" which was obviously meant to be a commercial track. I found it a bit too cheesy but it's ok. The songs seem to get better and better and the best tracks are in the middle of the album. "Selva" is a nice one. "Lullabye" and "Sasquatch" are excellent highlights. Things take a slight dive with "Manic" but pick up again with "Camelougue" and "End Peace" is also decent enough.

Probably the worst Camel album. I would have given it 2 stars a while back but I've learned to appreciate it over time. You shouldn't start you Camel collection with this one, but if you like the band a lot you could check it out. The following album was a big improvement. A low 3 stars.

Report this review (#336026)
Posted Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars I just don't get it. The Single Factor is generally considered to be Camel's bid for mainstream, radio-friendly commercial success. Now, I can get the radio-friendly and mainstream angle; these short, poppy tracks are both. But how anyone could have expected tepid, unfashionable soft rock like this to attain commercial success in the New Wave era is absolutely beyond me. Perhaps someone believed there was a market for an unenthusiastic-sounding Andy Latimer singing soft rock ballads for the terminally tasteless, but whoever it was must have failed to look at the pop charts for the five years preceding this release. It's not badly performed, but it's dreadfully badly conceived - Latimer and the record company must both have known that the prog audience would reject this one, but exactly what audience were they trying to win over with it? It's baffling.

UPDATE: OK, after trying to revisit the album and give it an honest try, I still can't think any better of it - however, having done a bit of background research, I can at least understand why it is the way it is. You see, this is the first album after longtime drummer Andy Ward left Camel, and what wasn't generally known at the time (and has only become apparent in later years with the blessing of all concerned) is that Andy's departure was precipitated by his attempting suicide, after his struggles with drugs, alcohol, and the stresses of life on the road had a terrible effect on his mental health.

Under the circumstances, I can see why songwriting for a new Camel album would have been the absolute last thing on the mind of Andy Latimer or any of the other friends and relations of the band who came together to make this album - but not only did the record label seem disinclined to give them any time off, they actually demanded that Latimer set his sights on producing a hit single! I can't really blame Latimer for turning out this weird collection of nonsense under such circumstances - particularly since there didn't seem to be a single, stable Camel lineup at this point (all the songs are performed by slightly different lineups, with at least one being a Latimer solo piece) - and it's perhaps fairest not to hold The Single Factor against Camel.

The irony of it all is that Andy Ward's next stint behind the drums would be a brief spell with Marillion - who, the same year that The Single Factor came out, showed that a prog band *could* have a hit single if they didn't water down their edge too much with the Market Square Heroes, and then the next year showed that the good old-fashioned prog album still had commercial legs to it at that with Script For a Jester's Tear. Perhaps this showed Decca/Deram the error of trying to water down their prog acts too much, because Camel were given a free hand to produce the more prog-oriented Stationary Traveller next...

Report this review (#569307)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yes, they've changed, but the music is still good.

While the late 70s were not a kind time to Progressive rock, the giants of Prog remained and stayed faithful to their musical roots as well as their fans, in amongst the rise of punk & pop bands like Camel, adjusted to conform enough to stay relevant yet also kept true to the music they had and were still changing.

The Single factor is an apt example of how Camel, under the pressure to produce popular pleasing music, crafted an album that delivers simple, short compositions yet gives it's fair share of Prog moments. While several tracks can be ignored and a are worthy of repeated listenings, this is not the album it has been made out to be, Yes, hardcore Symphonic-Prog fans may be dissapointed, and 80s pop lovers might not dance very much, this album is far from Camel's worst, they aim not for great heights, nor for the bottom of the barrel, and they succeed admirably.

The first four tracks are standard attempts at pop, radio accessible songs, none too terrible to listen, yet at the same time nothing to prick the ears at. Selva is the best track a smooth ambient guitar instrumental, perhaps too short, but is reminiscent of Pink Floydian style of music. Sasquatch the most popular track, delivers excellent and aggressive guitar work as well as melodic and rhythmic keyboards, not to mention a very groovy bass track.

The rest follows in a similar vein to the albums opening, however the quality is much better and the final track "End Piece" is a sweet final page to an uneven yet pleasing album.

On the whole, this deserves more credit than it has been given, it is not in the same league as other Camel albums as it is a different type of album, I agree Camel's best work came in the form of longer suites of music and also where the music revolves around a concept, but I can't deny that I enjoyed The Single Factor more than I anticipated, considering how harshly it's been treated.

Report this review (#753057)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars For those who are not familiar with Camel's repertoire, The Single Factor is definitely not the proper album to start with. But still this is not so bad album if one has in mind the existing musical trends in the early eighties, but also the circumstances in which the album was made. Andy Latimer was practically without the band, he was not in the mood of making another studio album, but due to the contract with the Decca record he was obliged to do it. The result was a collection of short individual tracks, an album which mostly resembles their 1979 studio effort I Can See Your House From Here, with almost no progressive content in it, but still with some nice songs such as Camelogue, A Heart's Desire/End Peace and Lullaby. There are too many pop-rock elements in this album, but Camel still managed to preserve its basic profile and integrity.
Report this review (#937046)
Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Some reviewers are angrily negative about this one. But I understand their feelings, because all of a sudden CAMEL decided to make a radio-friendly pop album. Even the albums preceding it (I Can See Your House from Here, Nude) were relatively progressive and quite faithful to the band's style. So this was a bit too false side-step from them. But still I think the poppiness itself is not the crime here (they had done simple pop songs before, even in the excellent Rain Dances, 1977) but simply the weakness of material. Take the weakest songs from painfully uneven Breathless (1978) and Stationary Traveller (1984), add some decent instrumentals and produce it to sound thin and typically eighties and you end up with something like this. Many tracks don't really sound like Camel, instead they are like some of the least interesting stuff by The Alan Parsons Project of the time.

I owned the vinyl around 1988 or so. I confess, my memory of some tracks has faded badly, but I presume those I don't remember would only be the most insignificant and classless. 'You Are the One' has a sticky, poppy chorus and slower parts in between them, but in its commercialism it succeeds to sound like Camel much more than several other songs.

'Sasquatch' is a bright instrumental, not even near the best by Camel but still one of the very few tracks here that wouldn't be out of place or a shame on some better album. 'Selva' is a soft, ethereal prog instrumental and a clear highlight. The closing, tender song 'A Heart's Desire' is sung by Chris Rainbow and is followed seamlessly by a beautiful iinstrumental tail. These tracks unfortunately don't save the whole album from being the all-time low in Camel's career. But compared to many other prog artists' all-time lows released at the early or mid-eighties (such as Steve Hackett) this is frankly better. Many progheads dislike also the following Stationary Traveller, which I actually enjoy if I totally ignore its worst tracks. But when the highlights (or the majority of material) are concerned, its quality is miles above this one.

Report this review (#1015639)
Posted Saturday, August 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
1 stars If you want to know what was wrong with music in the nineteen eighties, just give this a listen. On the plus side, in comparison it makes other prog rock artists' albums that venture toward pop sound very daring. Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Love Beach", Yes' "Open Your Eyes" and "Big Genitalia" and all of those eighties Genesis albums sound daring next to this one. To make matters worse, it's not even a good pop album.

Pter Bardens makes a brief reappearance, and some impressive guest stars, including Dave Mattacks, Duncan Mackay, Simon Phillips, Francis Monkman, Tristan Fry, and Anthony Phillips. I presume most of them regret this.

Did I say I don't like this album at all? I forget.

Report this review (#1196581)
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars After their tour for their "Nude" album in 1981, original drummer Andy Ward left the band due to personal and health problems. So, guitarist Andy Latimer found himself as the only original member who still was in the band. And while he still waited for a time for Ward to recover his health to return to the band (a thing that did not happened even if Ward later found the right medical treatment), he also found that the band still had a recording contract, with the record label waiting for a new album. But the record label's pressures had a new thing: "we want Pop Rock Hit Singles for the eighties". So, Latimer had to record a new album with this idea in mind to satisfy his "employers". So, Latimer went to Abbey Road Studios to record this album in early 1982, and there, working in another studio, he met some of the members of THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT (Chris Rainbow, David Paton). That band was also recording an album there. So, Rainbow and Paton were asked to participate in this "The Single Factor" album, in fact influencing the sound of some songs that sound a bit like "CAMEL meets THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT" (but without Alan Parsons's production and recording engineering). In fact, this album is more like a forced solo album from Latimer, recorded and released more as a contract obligation to the record label. He invited other friends and session musicians to record this album.

Is this album bad? No. While it clearly shows in some parts that Latimer was trying too hard to compose and to record commercial Pop Rock songs to please the record label, the album as a whole has some quality, with his guitar playing being very good. The most obvious commercial Pop Rock songs are "No Easy Answer", "You Are the One" and "Heroes". The rest of the songs still have some influences from CAMEL's "old" Prog Rock style, with the best of them being "Selva", "Lullaby", "Sasquatch" (the best of all the songs in this album, and recorded with former CAMEL's original keyboard player Peter Bardens, former GENESIS's guitarist Anthony Phillips playing a 12 string guitar, very good drums by session player Simon Phillips, and bass played by David Paton), and "A Heart Desire / End Peace", with very good vocals arrangements by Rainbow. "Manic" sounds like a Hard Rock song with very good guitars. "Today's Goodbyes" has very good vocals arrangements from David Paton, Chris Rainbow and Andy Latimer, with also good guitars from Latimer. "Today''s Goodbyes" and "Camelogue" sound to me like a bit influenced by FOREIGNER's music and sound.

The eighites were hard times for some Progressive Rock bands like CAMEL, with them trying to please their record labels "new musical ideas for the new decade". This led to CAMEL to finally end their relationship with that record label in 1985, and to try to survive making the music they liked in an more independent way. A harder way to follow, but maybe more satisfying for themselves in musical terms.

Report this review (#1496694)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Review Nş 166

"The Single Factor" is the ninth studio album of Camel and was released in 1982. It's an album with a strange story. After the release of their eighth and highly successful conceptual studio album "Nude", and after the departure of some band's members, the dependence on alcohol and drugs of Andy Ward, the founder drummer of the group, increased so much that he also failed a suicide attempt. Andrew Latimer saw clearly the problem and decided that Camel should make a break on their career in order to Ward recover from his personal problems. However, their record label Decca, insisted that Camel must honour their contract and must release a new album. Latimer opted to contract a variety of session musicians and invite some friends to recording the album. Of all these musicians deserves a special mention the return of the founder keyboardist of the group Peter Bardens who played keyboards on "Sasquatch" and also the presence of the founder guitarist of Genesis, Anthony Phillips who even composed a song, with Latimer, "End Peace".

So, "The Single Factor" is practically a solo album of Latimer and the choice of the title name wasn't by accident. The title refers the fact that Latimer remains as the sole remaining original member of the group, but it could also be read as an indication of the pressure he was under from the record company to produce a hit single. "The Single Factor" saw Latimer accompanied by an impressive line up of session musicians. Again the emphasis was on shorter songs, mainly under 5 minutes written by Latimer with assistance in the lyric department from partner, Susan Hoover. The end result is a pretty diverse gathering of songs, often sounding half finished, to say the least. But overall, this isn't a bad album.

"The Single Factor" has eleven tracks. The first track "No Easy Answer" written by Latimer is a good song to open the album. Despite being a song written in a pop style it's a nice song with a typical Camel's sound. It's also a song with good guitar and keyboard works. The second track "You Are The One" also written by Latimer is the only song chosen to be released as a single to promote the album. It's a more commercial song, very well structured, but any way, it's also a good song that keeps the good quality of the album. The third track "Heroes" written by Latimer and Hoover represents one of the great moments of the album. The song starts with an instrumental section that reminds us the old good times of their third studio album "The Snow Goose". This is really a beautiful piece of music. The fourth track "Selva" written by Latimer is an instrumental song very calm, beautiful and emotional. Despite it has the main characteristic of Camel's sound, this song reminds me very strongly Pink Floyd, because the guitar sound of Latimer is very close to David Gilmour's style. It's also interesting to note the good work of Phillips on classical guitar. The fifth track "Lullabye" written by Latimer is the shortest song on the album. It's a nice song only with piano and vocals that reminds me also Pink Floyd. The sixth track "Sasquatch" written by Latimer is another instrumental song. It's an interesting song, and the main characteristic of it is that this is the only song of the album featuring the presence of their former keyboardist, Bardens. The seventh track "Manic" written by Latimer and Hoover is a very surprising song for Camel's music. It's a more based mainstream rock song, very energetic with a great rhythm and full of speed. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the hardest and heaviest songs ever made by them. The eighth track "Camelogue" written by Latimer and Hoover is a nice ballad with a good tune that reminds me, in some moments, Foreigner. This is a very melancholic song, a kind of a Camel's autobiography that reflects the painful of the break of their original line up. The ninth track "Today's Goodbye" written by Latimer and Hoover is also a good song. This is a powerful ballad, very melodic and very strong, with good guitar work and nice chorus. The tenth track "A Heart's Desire" written by Latimer and Hoover is a very short, calm and beautiful song. It's a kind of an introduction to the last song. Curiously, this song reminds me very much the typical sound of one of my favourite neo progressive bands, IQ. The eleventh track "End Peace" written by Latimer and Phillips represents a great way to finish the album. It's one of the most beautiful musical pieces made by this fantastic band. The combination of the presence of Latimer and Phillips is so great that they transformed this song into a heavenly song. These two last tracks are perhaps, for me, the highest points of the album.

Conclusion: As I had read before that "The Single Factor" is the weakest studio album of Camel, this was my last purchase of their studio albums. But one thing is for sure, we can't believe in everything we hear or read. "The Single Factor" isn't a weak album, on the contrary, it's a very interesting album. It isn't, in a certain way, inferior to "I Can See Your House From Here", and even we can consider it a more cohesive musical work. So, "The Single Factor" is a good album, at the same level of many of the albums released by other progressive bands like Yes or Genesis in those years, and is even better than some other albums like "Giant For A Day" of Gentle Giant. So and despite its weaknesses, "The Single Factor" is an underrated album of an underrated band. In my humble opinion, Camel never made a weak album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1890628)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2018 | Review Permalink
2 stars Contractual obligations have rarely produced a good album. Take ELP's "Love Beach" as a classic example of how the demands of a record label punish the quality of the music and strain or completely rupture relationships within band memebers.

"The Single Factor" is another clear example of this sad reality. Although in this case, the matter of relationships was not a consequence of label pressure, the quality of the music truly was. This is a mediocre album which, as Camel's official website puts it, was 'written on demand' of a hit single. No long tracks, no album concept, no outstanding musicianship (with the exception of the guitar player)... in a few words: no prog rock. At all. Even pop reviewers must feel offended by the resulting "odd mix of songs" (again quoting from the official website).

Only a few tracks save the day: the instrumentals "Selva" and "Sasquatch". Most of the other songs are not even worth mentioning because of their mediocrity. An exception would be "Manic", which I feel is Andy Latimer's failed attempt to imitate Ozzy Osborne's voice (that's what I thought: what???), so that one merits the Worst Song title.

I give this album a rating of 2 stars. Honestly, this made me rethink if "Breathless" actually merited a 1 star rating instead of 2 stars. But no, there's still "Echoes" and "The Sleeper" in that album, two very good songs in a bad album. This one has two good songs in an mediocre album. So the rating remains.

Report this review (#2138055)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'll admit I have a soft spot for this album. I first bought this on cassette in a local department store after seeing the band Camel mentioned in a progressive rock mail order catalog at the time. I figured they must be pretty well known among prog collectors since their name kept popping up. Seeing how they were compared to Genesis quite a bit(as in "such and such band is in the Genesis/Camel vein")made me think they must share some similarities which indeed they do but I think both also very much had their own distinct and identifiable sound.

When I popped the cassette in the player I didn't know what to expect. Obviously this album is from a later period and so doesn't sound much like the earlier Camel that was much more typical prog sounding.

So fast foward over 30 years later(yes I'm old(ish))and I listen to this again(the esoteric version from 2009) after just recently buying it(yes, I still buy cds and no I won't apologize for it or pretend to be up on the latest technology). So has my opinion changed? Am I more snobby now and think this album is crappy because it's not prog(or at least as prog)as their earlier output? Actually, no. While I won't pretend this album is in the same league as Mirage or the Snowgoose(the two other Camel albums I bought way back when on cassette tape for the first time in that same department store)it's a very good pop album with some mild prog textures thrown in. You can call it prog pop or prog lite if you want.

Some of my favorites on this recording are: "no Easy Answer" which starts the album and is a nice power pop tune, "heroes" which is a very thoughtful almost ballad like song with a nice chorus, "Selva" which is a nice mellow guitar led instrumental and "Sasquatch" another instrumental which features Anthony Phillips(ex Genesis)on 12 string guitar(Ant is featured on other tracks on this album including on keyboards on two other tracks on here). "Sasquatch" features an almost Alan Parson's like guitar sound(which is interesting considering that Chris Rainbow(who sang with APP) is also guest performer on here). I also liked "Today's Goodbye" which is another solid pop rock tune.

To sum it all up, no this is not a prog masterpiece and only has a few moments(particularly Sasquatch)which harken back to the classic era of the band. However, those who enjoy later Utopia or the Alan Parson's Project(from roughly the same time period) could do a lot worse. Although it obviously shows the band trying to keep up with the times by eschewing their prog past(for the most part)I enjoyed this album all those years ago and still do.

Report this review (#2413987)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2020 | Review Permalink
2 stars REVIEW #10 - "The Single Factor" by Camel, (1982)

Considered to be Camel's worst album, "The Single Factor" has a surprising bit of backstory for an album this deep in a band's back catalogue. Released after 1981's "Nude", its creation was rather forced by Decca Records, which demanded Camel release an album that focus more on commercially appealing rock songs. Guitarist Andrew Latimer, effectively the leader of the band at this point, did not want to release an album, as he was hoping to recoup the band after drummer Andy Ward's failed suicide attempt, which was kept under wraps at the time. In the liner notes, it says that Ward is absent due to a "hand injury". With a contractual obligation to be fulfilled, Latimer took to the studio to basically create Camel's least contrived album, with an assortment of songs that the band's official website even declares to be "odd".

For those who were dissatisfied with Camel's emulation of the Alan Parsons Project over the past few albums, "The Single Factor" will definitely disappoint, as Latimer actually enlists members of APP to play on this album. The story goes that as Latimer was getting ready to work on this album, APP was in the same studio, and over some friendly conversation, he was able to get both vocalist Chris Rainbow and bassist David Paton to feature on this album, as well as original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips on mainly keys but some guitar too. A silver lining of the dramatic roster change was that Camel's long-running problem with finding competent vocalists was fixed. Both Rainbow and Paton do contribute some vocals, and can operate at higher registers to allow for some more unique tracks in Camel's catalogue. Paton's main vocal contribution in particular, on the song "Heroes", is perhaps the highlight of the album, and continues the tradition of strong pop prog tunes that we saw with "Drafted" on "Nude" and would continue to see on the band's next album "Stationary Traveller". I will admit, I did not expect to leave this album with a song I would consider replaying, but "Heroes" ended up being that song, even if it is more APP than Camel.

With that said, Camel still at least tries to throw a couple bones at their older fans with some remotely progressive instrumentals. In fact, Latimer is able to bring back Peter Bardens on keyboards for a cameo appearance on the instrumental "Sasquatch", another positive takeaway from the album even if in the general context of Camel instrumentals it's quite bland. "Selva" is another quaint yet short instrumental which draws on the emotive themes of 1979's "Ice". The situation for the band at the time is alluded to in some of the music, especially the light-hearted "Camelogue", and even the album title itself ("The Single Factor" can refer to Latimer being the sole original member remaining, or the fact the album was made just to create singles).

There are really no ways to mince the obvious upon listening to "The Single Factor", which is that it's painfully mediocre. It's not a bad album in the sense that the musicianship is awful, but rather the album is uncontrived, which is unsurprising given the circumstances. Songs like "No Easy Answer" or "You Are the One" are uninspiring throwaways, bland smooth rock that wouldn't interest anyone, even the target audience Decca was looking for. Songs such as "Manic" are just weird. Ultimately, a lot of the album suffers from this malaise, and it's why this album is Camel's worst album. The few bright spots do not make "The Single Factor" a listenable album, but rather an album which has a more interesting backstory and roster of musicians than actual songs. I would be hard pressed to even call this a Camel album if by this point the band was effectively Latimer's band; no Colin Bass, Andy Ward, or Mel Collins effectively stripped any sort of identity from the album, making it an oddball in the discography.

I was conflicted in how I would rate "The Single Factor". While the backstory is interesting and I understand why this ended up being such a bland album, I don't think it is fair for me to give Camel leniency just because of unfortunate circumstances. This is a band that we know is capable of churning out decent albums, even in the context of the 1980's. Fortunately this album did turn out to be rock bottom, as Decca likely saw the writing on the wall and gave Latimer more creative control for 1984's "Stationary Traveller". Ultimately, I feel like this album has just enough listenable material and effort put in to barely avoid a one-star rating, with "Heroes" and "Sasquatch" being highlights. I only recommend it for people who want to complete listening to Camel's discography; there really isn't too much here, and as far as I know, only "Sasquatch" was carried over into the live shows.


Report this review (#2490273)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2021 | Review Permalink

CAMEL The Single Factor ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of CAMEL The Single Factor

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.