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Camel - Stationary Traveller CD (album) cover

STATIONARY TRAVELLER

Camel

Symphonic Prog


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hopkins@katam
4 stars Well, this is far away from the 70's classic, tough it isn't bad at all. It's more commercial, with short cuts and only two instrumentals. Andrew Latimer shows himself as a great guitar player and also as rather good singer...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2409)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Feeling freer now than I've ever been"

By the time this album was released, Camel were very much Andy Latimer's band. They (he) attempted to answer the perennial criticism of previous albums (other than "Snowgoose"!) that their vocals were their Achilles heel by getting Chris Rainbow (who here remembers "Glasgow Boy"?) to take lead vocals on a couple of the tracks. The result is an excellent album by any standards. Once again, we have one of Camel's striking opening themes, with a brief but dramatic lead guitar piece instantly grabbing the listeners attention and setting the mood for the rest of album.

Latimer uses his position as de facto leader to showcase his guitar prowess, particularly on the beautifully crafted title track and the stunning closer "Long goodbyes". The latter track is a real classic prog ballad, with a soaring guitar solo to finish. As a whole, the album is generally lighter than the early albums of Camel, leaning more towards Art Rock and even at times AOR. The wartime concept contributes to the continuity and completeness of the album, with tracks such as "Refugee" and "West Berlin" reflecting the generally slightly depressed atmosphere.

A video. "Pressure points" which includes most of the tracks and mixes live footage with atmospheric war years scenes was made around the same time. It was recently re-released in DVD format.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#2410)
Posted Sunday, February 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I like the CAMEL of the eighties: they knew how to cope with the new technology. They did not fall into bland albums. This record has some accordion, fretless bass and saxophones, which give a serious romantic mood to the whole. More mature people could even like this record. The lead vocals are excellent. The guitar sound is varied and good. There are some instrumental keyboards that are really interesting.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#2413)
Posted Thursday, April 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Stronger in many ways than it's predecessor the Single Factor, there are some fine tunes on this album like West Berlin, Vapors and the title track. Latimer still prolific in the production room. It's is an interesting observation that even when certain works of Camel were critically unnappealing compared to the 70's classics like Moonmadness, they still plugged out pretty damn fine music at regular intervals. Granted albums were shorter then before CD format but nowadays you may be lucky every four years to get new albums form artists of similar traditions.Recommended to all Camel fans but not essential.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#2418)
Posted Thursday, July 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the most underrated albums of the eighties. By 1984 Andy Latimer is the only member of the original line up. The line up on ST includes Kayak's Ton Scherpenzeel on keyboards and David Paton from TAPP on bass on most of the tracks. This version of Camel sounds slightly different than the band of the seventies. Since the release of Nude the songs are mainly built on the splendid guitar melodies of Latimer. The cover art of this album takes you back to Berlin at the time when the wall was built. Stationary traveller may be a concept album but its concept isn't dominating the music. You can easily listen to the fine songs separatly without digging deep into the lyrics, although the lyrics explain why there isn't an uplifting mood. Not all is sad, "Berlin" and "Long goodbyes" reveal some optimism. Albums that were released during the eighties al have a similar production and this album is no exception. Big drum sounds, electronic drums, repetitive keyboard sounds and rhythmic bass lines are typical for the eighties. "Stationary traveller" is a fine album, not a masterpiece of progressive rock like "Mirage" or "Moonmadness" but still a very decent, enjoyable progressive pop album, one of the better efforts of the band. Songs like "West Berlin", "Fingertips" and "Refugee" may seem rather cold at the first spin but after a while you'll notice a lot of hidden emotion. One of the reasons for this are the vocals of Latimer who's singing abilities has matured a lot when compared to earlier efforts. Fortunately there are some dazzling instrumentals as well like "Pressure points", "Stationary traveller" and "Missing". Though it would take another 8 years (!) to release an album, these instrumentals are similar to the instrumentals on Dust and dreams. Amazing how a song like "Vopos" is able to create an atmosphere of military thread. "Cloak and dagger man" shows the band in a pretty heavy mood with a big symphonic sound and a splendid keyboard solo from Scherpenzeel. Throughout the album the influence of Scherpenzeel is noticeable as he puts some colour to the music. He even wrote one little instrumental which fits in perfectly. The vocals of Chris Rainbow on "Long goodbyes" makes a comparison with The Alan Parsons Project inevitable. This nostalgic song is perfect for closing the album but there's not one song on this album which isn't a good one. The only negative remark I would make is that this album's quite short in length. In the late eighties, I been searching for a cd copy of this album for years. Listening to the album I still know why I kept on searching.

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Send comments to Fishy (BETA) | Report this review (#2420)
Posted Saturday, December 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'm not the one who's gonna bash the 80's. Especially not the early years. Too much good stuff in my head and heart from this period. And some bands actually did well in the 80's: Rush, Asia, Pink Floyd, Talk Talk and Supertramp. All of those where actually art rock, but Camel and Rush kinda stepped aside of them. They kept a constant sound and gave everything they could on a lot of records. And I'm actually surprised when I listen to Stationary Traveller. I really feared an "Hall and Oates" sound, but only Refugee and Cloak and Dagger Man feels a bit corny.

Some keyboard parts of Vopos are really cool and demonstrates a will to please the ears, but staying apart of the herd. That's my Camel. A more relaxed Camel but with heavy and effecient beats. Some keyboard lines are almost 'dance floor' crafted like in Cloak and Dagger. Also, the mood is appropriate for night driving or just listening with very little lighting in the room such with Missing or Fingertips.

I cannot recommend this to people under 28-30 years old. The kids would totally laugh at your face at the 'plastic' keyboard sound or the big guitar licks. Having a fondness for 80's rock will help put things in perspective. But I rank this little bomb in the same leagues as Rush's Grace Under Pressure.

A good record, even closer to very good. But do not start here for understanding Camel.

Underrated, yes. But listen before buying.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#2421)
Posted Sunday, December 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album is very good. It has some "mechanical" sounds, because they maybe programmed some keyboards and drum machines. These things were done in a lot of albums from the eighties. It doesn`t matter, because the quality of the songs is very good. Ton Scherpenzeel is a very good keyboard player, playing in this album some "modern keyboard sounds from the 80s". The lyrics are about people from the divided Berlin in the Cold War Era (written by Susan Hoover). Maybe this makes this album sound dated now. But for me the most interesting thing in this album is the music. My favourite songs from this album are: "Refugee", "Vopos", "Stationary Traveller" and "Long Goodbyes". "Pressure Points", "West Berlin" and "Fingertips" were included in better versions in the "Pressure Points-Camel Live in Concert" album which also was released in 1984. The song "Pressure Points" from that live album is longer than the version included in this "Stationary Traveller"album. This "Stationary Traveller" album was recently re- issued by Camel Productions (see their official website), and it includes a long studio version of "Pressure Points" (included at the end of the CD), plus a song which was rejected by Decca Records and was not included in the original version of this album from 1984.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#2422)
Posted Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
arnaldosmp@sa
4 stars When the progressive rock was in a big crisis. When the Yes and Genesis was in pop territory without magic and beauty, Camel (Andy Latimer) made a great album!! With a new band with Kayal wizard, Ton, Alan Parson's Chris Raiwbow and the return of Colin Bass, Camel move in another direction. Inspired by the second war in Gernamy, Camel make an album with great guitar solos, beatiful vocals and lots of inspiration. Close your eyes and listen the instrumental "Stationary"! Camel in a eighteen years and in excellent form!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2424)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Stationary Traveller is a decent synth-pop album made by (the sole-surviving founder member) Andy Latimer and released under the Camel moniker. Latimer's lead guitar-playing and vocals aside, it bares little resemblance to the music played by the once great quartet of Latimer, keyboardist Peter Bardens, bassist Doug Ferguson and drummer Andy Ward.

This album was made in 1984 and you can really tell. Songs like Refugee, Vopos, West Berlin and Cloak And Dagger Man (perhaps the rockiest moment on the album, but also one of my least favourite) sound like the work of The Romantics (remember Talking In Your Sleep?), OMD, Ultravox or any synth-pop band of that ilk. While Latimer is actually a stronger songwriter than almost any member of the 80s pop brigade (and I suspect I actually would have enjoyed this album a lot had I heard it 20 years ago) the moments that will appeal to prog fans are few and far between. That's despite a guest list that includes Kayak keyboardist Tom Scherpenzeel, multi-reed maestro Mel Collins and Alan Parsons Project bassist David Paton.

The last song Long Goodbyes is the song that reminds me most of the old Camel (and I'm talking Breathless-era Camel here) although that's probably just because of the lovely organic sounding intro featuring Latimer on flute, as well as the vintage guitar solo that rounds the song off. Fingertips is another decent piece that starts off sounding organic and has a nice saxophone solo from Collins. It's also helped by Latimer's pleasing, yet mournful melody. The title track has a nice acoustic guitar intro, and a flute (probably a synth flute, actually) solo over an ominious yet enticing synth bass vamp, before Latimer takes over the last half of the sound with some fiery guitar work. West Berlin has some nice fluttering synth work on its outro.

But let's be honest ... I had to look hard to find all the good creative music on this album, whereas Camel's best work leaves me gasping. This certainly isn't a prog-rock album, and come to think of it, it's barely a Camel album. ... 20% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#2425)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The mid-80's could be considered a low point or a high point in music, depending mainly on the band; while some classic groups lost their way with pop aspirations, many embraced new sounds and styles. CAMEL rode an interesting middle course- the band's sound is more obviously modern, but not quite as laughably 'of the age' as so many 80's releases. Latimer & company had never been the most experimental of the classic proggers, tending rather to use whatever musical elements were current to craft accesible songs with intriguing depth and texture. Ultimately, like any good album from the period, whether you can appreciate "Stationary Traveller" depends heavily on whether you can stomach the mechanical minimalism of the rhythms and the glossy plastic production touches.

"Pressure Points" establishes the album's contrasting elements immediately: a pulsing synth rhythm and digital synth pads cushion a slick and searing guitar lead. Gilmour fans should have little trouble appreciating Latimer's tone and approach, but a harsher critic might observe that the track does little more than establish a theme and then provide a brief occasion to showcase Latimer's skills.

"Refugee" is full of classic 80's pop sounds, somewhere between ALAN PARSONS PROJECT and BILLY JOEL's less retro moments during the period. It's catchy, and reasonably intelligent, but it fails to light my fire in any single respect. "Vopos" delves deeper into the synth-pop textures, and almost suggests "Black Celebration"/ "Music for the Masses" era DEPECHE MODE (with the addition of some bluesy guitar, of course). Undoubtedly, Latimer's guitar is really the star of the album. Liquid-smooth overdrive with just a hint of soulful rasp, the solos sing much more effectively than any of the vocal tracks. He's rarely been as aggressive as on "Cloak and Dagger Man"...though it doesn't redeem an ultimately lackluster song.

The title track is the kind of moody instrumental that nobody does quite like CAMEL. The synths are understated, the drums much more natural, the changes are romantic and melodramatic in the best possible way, and the guitar comes in crying just as you need it. After this highlight it's back to the album's formula with "West Berlin", which is a mixed-bag of soaring chorus and plodding verse, all framed by completely typical 80's tones. "Fingertips" is a mellow, decent song- enjoyable for the Mel Collins cameo but not especially outstanding in any other area. The missing background song for a reflective Miami Vice montage? Then there's "Missing", which could appear on the soundtrack of any 80s blockbuster (though it has more interesting movements than most Jan Hammer or Harold Faltermeyer compositions). And "After Words" approaches heartbreaking, with the sad piano and accordion-like backing, but there's just not enough of a song there. And it's mixed so low that it almost disappears if you listen to the album at low volumes.

"Long Goodbyes" is a sentimental climax to the disc. I imagine those GENESIS fans who felt "Follow You Follow Me" was too sentimental or otherwise out-of-place will feel much the same with this track, but to me it's more like "Afterglow"; it has a genuine and heartfelt quality and sonically stands the test of time much better than most of the tracks. The verse and chorus seem a little mismatched, but the narrative brings them together.

CAMEL fans get what they want: undemanding and comfortable music with an interesting narrative foundation and a few moments of real musical bliss. For non-fans, all I can say is that "Stationary Traveller" won't be the disc that changes your mind- unless your tastes run to ALAN PARSONS PROJECT's "Ammonia Avenue" and post-Waters PINK FLOYD. "Stationary Traveller" is generally well-done but not particularly inspired, enjoyable but not very memorable.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#2426)
Posted Saturday, April 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
slack4justice
3 stars Stationary Traveller is a concept album around the story of split Berlin and what feelings spur from this situation. Fair enough, this album is Camel really trying to find it's own writing pop music. However, the songs that actually have vocals tend to be the weakest thematically due to emotions not matching with vocals and music, therefore the instrumentals on the album are the ones that deserve the attention, if any. The album has a slight mechanical sound with the occasional counter-melody guitar by Andy Latimer, so it's pretty distinct, but the album is weak song-writing wise and sound-wise, it just doesn't hit anything. Songs like Stationary Traveller and Missing can keep good interest however.

Standouts: Stationary Traveller

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38721)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
aledos@edoeap
4 stars Well it is not progressive rock but its an excellent addition to any music collection. Few other bands of progressive rock genre managed to produce such a modern and melodic album and without losing the fundamental elements that characterized their music during the 80's. Excellent production,very good and really decent pop-rock songs,balanced vocals(latimer should have hired very earlier chris rainbow and david paton) and of course, perfect execution by all the musicians. The concept of the story was very timely those days and not far away from west berlin's fall of the wall. Thre's a dark and moody-kleistophobic i should say-atmosphere in some of the songs(west berlin,vopos)and its that charisma latimer has...in all of the concept albums he made...he always got very deep into the substance of the story and always produced melodic and fully emotional music. Among the other songs i really focus on long goodbyes with the magnificent guitar solo which really tears hearts apart and you want to hear it again and again(the same happens with the guitar intro of airborn and the guitar solo of rose of sharon-for me latimer is the best at these kind of soloing...anyway). Overall, a very good and really underrated album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38728)
Posted Thursday, July 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Does this work represent the end of a Golden era? Well for me it's a temporary turning point of their career, regarding of the middle eighties, in which their AOR sound characterized their return on stage.after all the songs are melodic, sometimes a bit dramatic in the simple melodic lines (listen to "West Berlin") and also enriched - in a few circumstances- by a number of interesting instrumental tracks (such as "Sasquatch" for instance). Ok the songs are a bit light and the arrangement more immediate in comparison to the old times; nevertheless They were obliged (as often happens) to chose the way of a few radio-friendly songs, in the place of the most complex progressive episodes. However the same strategy was partially chosen within "Nude", a concept album which yet was quite complex, except on the lightest moments: so at the end the old fans could remain disappointed at the moment of the issue of "A Stationary.", but after a few years, since 1991, Camel came back to the old atmospheres (think of "Dust and Dreams" and some years later "Harbour of Tears"), which attracted the prog fans once again. It's a short turning point of their career in the direction of the melodic pop rock, but it could be worth checking out at least anyway, as it's different from the previous works. interesting AOR work, sometimes too much light (also in the arrangements), but never mind!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#46415)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The 11th work announced in 1984 "Stationary Traveller". It is a fine work of the concept album that makes the Berlin Wall a theme. It is a content that should be called the solo work of the old-timer British rocker in 1980's rather than CAMEL. (example: The sixth tune "West Berlin" and the seventh tune "Fingertips", etc.)

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#48140)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I do think that this is maybe the best camel recording ever.I bought this album before 3 years at my first steps to prog rock music.Those days i was listening to metal music mostly,and as a result when i first listened to it i was actually suprised!This album sounded to pop,or could i say soft,to me(and that could be a reason to easily reject it), but at the same time there was something in it that encouraged me to give it a second try.Later I found out that this "sth" was a bewildering essence of passion wich flows through this recording.I don't know in what kind of situation was Latimer at that time , but i can tell you that this recording includes some of the best stuff i've ever listened from this band.Songs like fingertips(where Mel Collins plays the sax),stationary traveller(andy does everything here),long goodbyes(prophetical ?),refugee,west berlin,pressure points(what a solo!) are simple demonstrations of music full of emotion.Every time i listen to this album i find something new:sometimes is fear ,others pain and grief,and even a unique sence of a bitter nostalgia about the memories you left behind,about life which changes every day and will never be the same again.I have to admit that some of my most ''strong'' recollections,pleasant or ill,are connected,till now,with the sounds of this album.But isn't this just another proof of the greatness of art?

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Send comments to suachili (BETA) | Report this review (#48160)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars While the preceding Camel album, "A Single Factor", was an attempt to produce a hit single, Stationary Traveller is Camel's last studio album of the 80's, a concept album, about the social and physical division of Berlin. The songs relate to refugees, loss of freedom, struggle and escapade. This album sounds just like an Alan Parsons album, maybe because of the people involved on the album.

1. Pressure Points - 4,5/5

2. Refugee - 3,5/5

3. Vopos - has a nice intro, but gets tiresome in the end. 3,5/5

4. Cloak and Dagger Man - 3/5

5. Stationary Traveller - Beautiful and powerful, great instrumental work. 5/5

6. West Berlin - 4,5/5

7. Fingertips - Mel Collins does add some nice sax parts. Awesome! 5/5

8. Missing - 3/5

9. After Words - 3,5 /5

10. Long Goodbyes - is one of the most beautiful pieces of Camel ever recorded. Andy Latimer's lead guitar work at the end of 'Goodbyes' sounds as if he were stepping to the edge of the planet and pealing off some interstellar paean to the cosmos. Breathtakingly beautiful but scalding at the same time! 5/5

Final Note : This album has the pop edge of all that made Alan Parsons Project so succcessful but also has the dark, brooding sensibility of a Pink Floyd project. But this is no derivitive band by any means! Camel is Camel!

4,5+3,5+3,5+3+5+4,5+5+3+3,5+5 = 40,5

40,5 : 10 = 4,05

Excellent addition to any prog music collection

Curiosity: Until the band's revival in 1992,Latimer was unable to release more albums in the UK due to lack of interest, and was involved in unpleasant law suits. So Latimer migrated to the US and formed his own music label, Camel Productions, under which he released Camel's next studio albums, among other releases.

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Send comments to Marquęs_Prög (BETA) | Report this review (#54833)
Posted Saturday, November 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
1 stars The only Camel album I can find no redeeming qualities in. I grew up in the 80's, and I don't need a band I normally like and enjoy reminding me of all the bad things about popular music from that time. I realise that this is not hit material, but it's also not particularly good material. I tried to like it repeatedly, and ended up giving it away. My friend I gave it to only listened to it once, and we are both big fans of Camel, so that should tell you something. Anyway, not worth the time it takes to listen to it in my opinion. Luckily, the long hiatus that followed this turky would yeild far better results.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#70350)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tony Fisher
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Lets get it straight - I am one of those who believes that Camel were, by a small but clear margin, the best prog band ever, bar none. However, their late 70s/early 80s output was variable in quality to say the least and this album is no exception. However, it is not a turkey on the scale of Invisible Touch or Big Generator.

By this time, Latimer was the sole remaining member of the original line up and had things mostly his own way. He was able to recruit a fine bunch of musicians to back him and the album is played to a very high standard. The vocals, so often a Camel Achilles heel, are superbly dealt with by Chris Rainbow (actually Scot Chris Harley, later to engineer Celt rockers Runrig so successfully). David Paton (ex Pilot and Alan Parsons Project) Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak) Mel Collins (ex everybody worth listening to) and Paul Burgess (ex 10cc) make up a band with no weak links.

The weak link is, however, the material. The album is a concept about life in the former Eastern bloc and some songs are relevant to the concept at the expense of quality. Despite some fine keyboard work, Refugee, Vopos, Cloak and Dagger Man are not really up to the usual Camel standard and the instrumental tracks, whilst all good and showing Latimer's guitar virtuosity to good effect, don't ignite. Long Goodbyes and West Berlin are undoubtedly first class with a wonderful guitar solo at the end of Long Goodbyes to close the album, but the real gem is Fingertips. Ironically, it's not a guitar based track but is a beautiful slow song containing some sublime sax work, excellent fretless bass playing and is sung beautifully - one of my favourite Camel tracks. Susan Hoover's lyrics are thought provoking throughout.

Overall, it's no Snow Goose - the style is more 80s and more commercial - but it is well worth buying. A good 3* album.

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Send comments to Tony Fisher (BETA) | Report this review (#70357)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is Camel's tenth studio album. It is the second one that is truly a solo project by Andy Lattimer. It is 42 minutes long concept album which is not bad at all. Musically this album resembles its predecessor "The Single Factor" whereby some music critics mentioned that the kind of these two albums Parsonizing the Camel music, i.e: the music of Camel had now refashioned into the kind of The Alan Parsons Project. In their effort to make the music popier under the banner of "Single Factor", "Stationary Traveller" seems like showing the band resolve the obstacles they got before through the relatively concise songs with long, atmospheric instrumental passages. The lyrics were written by Susan Hoover is about political and other issues related with the divided Berlin.

This album sounds just like an The Alan Parsons Project album. It has the same style, taste, structure, and quality. With Chris Rainbow on vocals on "Cloak and Dagger" which became my favorite (I almost not aware that this is Camel!) and it sounds like The Alan Parsons Project's "Eye In The Sky". All tracks featured are not bad at all unless the impression of being an APP album. And like all Camel albums, there are some stunning guitar segments from Andy Lattimer. This is like a solo effort from Andy Lattimer. He plays most of the instruments on the album with Mel Collins does add in some nice sax parts. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#73741)
Posted Saturday, April 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.4

Camel really started to lose their sound with this record, and it is not to my taste. The music is dark and the recording sound is poor. The keyboards are tinny and the drums sound like wet mushrooms.

However, some of the music is very good, such as the title track where the sound seems clearer and the music is very powerful, building from soft piano, acoustic guitars and chords on the synthesiser. This song, along with 'Vopos' and 'Long Goodbyes' are the highlights of the album, but generally the rest isn't too bad either.

'Refugee' has a fairly good melody, but lacks power and diversity, much like the other weaker tracks, such as 'West Berlin' and 'Fingertips'. These weak tracks resemble 80s pop with a rocky base ('Cloak and Dagger Man' is very poppy.)

This album is a fairly good addition to your collection but isn't essential. The heart of Camel is found in Mirage, Music inspired by the Snowgoose, Moonmadness and Nude.

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Send comments to ProgHappy (BETA) | Report this review (#75956)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
belz
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 1.9/5.0 This is a pretty decent synth-pop album, but is this Camel anymore, wth only Latimer left and a sound so far away from prog music?! I would say that this is the beginning of a third step in Camel's history: the first era, with great prog songs and imaginative music ended with Moonmadness; the second one, with more pop music but still some great prog epics, ended right before that album. And now, well, this is pop music and it's not what you want to listen to if you are a prog fan. You should get this album only if you are a collector or a fan. 1.9/5.0

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#76738)
Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was introduced to this album by the television screening of the "Pressure Points" video - I'd never seen a band present an entire album as a video before, and the whole package had Neo-Prog all over it.

For this is an evolved Camel - pared back and stripped down, but, thanks to the ever- present constant of Andy Latimer's magical guitar tones, still Camel.

There was much to dislike about "the '80's sound", but a few bands managed to produce great synth-washed sounds - Gary Numan's Tubeway Army, Cabaret Voltaire, Visage and John Foxx to name a few.

The sound of "Stationary Traveller" is not as stark as those synth-based bands - and, being Camel, far more melodically oriented rather than avante-garde like Cabaret Voltaire. It may have the glossy sheen of an AOR rock album along the lines of Dire Straits, and it may be lacking in the experimental department, but something about it still says Prog Rock to me.

I really hate to award it anything less than 5 stars, as it had a real impact on me the first time I heard it - but, since emotional impact is an important factor of Neo-Prog, and this album was released at the right time, I'm going to say that this is an Excellent addition to any prog music collection - but have to admit that it's not really an essential pick.

Even if it's not mind-blowing prog, the emotional intensity is mind-blowing, and any fan of Neo-Prog - and closet AOR listeners too - should invest in this album, which pays bonus dividends on every listen. I'd also recommend the "Pressure Points" video to anyone who can handle 1980's hairstyles - particularly as it mixes in parts of "Snow Goose" with this album.

The album opens with "Pressure Points", which gives a clear indication of the rather minimalist approach that is to follow. A pulsating low synth gives way to percussion stabs that sound like something out of Dire Straits "Private Investigations" (released 2 years later). Latimer immediately pounces on the opportunity to give a crash course in how to wring maximum emotion out of a single note - a wondrous feat that he is simply THE master of. This is wrought into a fine, strong, thread of melody, backed by synth, with sliding modulations. Gaffer tape for the neck hairs, please!

Pressure Points feeds into Refugee which is a great rock song with no outstanding Prog features - and yet somehow has Prog written all over it. The keyboard backing is like a kind of low Roger Hodgson electric piano "bounce", the bass obviously has a low B- string, and feels fat and solid, and Latimer's subtle rhythm picking and Mark Knopfler soundalike vocals make for a satisfying mix that sounds as if it ought to be on Rock Radio on the hour every hour.

Things pick up on the Prog front with the sinister entry to Vopos, which has one of my favourite 80's sounding build-ups of all time. The fretless bass absolutely snarls, and the menacing lyrics bring the nightmare to life. This is a showcase example of how "less is more" can be a profound Progressive feature, as the song slowly builds over time, then drops back expertly around 3:30.

A wondrously toned guitar solo carries the piece into Cloak and Dagger Man, an urgently charged rock song with tremulous synths and magnificent but subtle guitar work from Latimer. A firey guitar solo is followed by an equally charged keyboard solo using a particularly edgy sound. Guitar and keyboard finally team up for a sensuous ending.

The instrumental title track is the standout- as well as the centerpiece, and even closer to "Private Investigations" than "Pressure Points". The guitar melodies, as we come to expect from Latimer, are spine-tinglingly beautiful in themselves as well as in tone - and then we are treated to some wooden flute playing giving a nice "Incantation" touch. The whole is an ambient treat that drops into rock ballad territory around 3:30, and works material found later in "Long Goodbyes" with "Comfortably Numb" and "Hotel California" flavours.

"West Berlin" has flavours of "The Wall", with that big snappy '80's snare sound that I'm really not keen on, but fine textures otherwise, with very careful Alan Parsons standard attention to detail in the production. It's a reasonable enough song, with a good, if derivative instrumental passage around 2:30 that returns around 3:45, but otherwise the second lowest point on the album, showing how "less is more" can turn into "not enough" if you're not careful.

"Fingertips" is another ballad, with that softly flanged and farty-sounding fretless bass that you either love or hate. The lyrics are poignant, but I find the presentation until Mel Collins wonderful sax solo to be rather syrupy. This is the real low point for me.

Fortunately it picks up with the instrumental "Missing", which is surprisingly uptempo for Camel, and reminds me a lot of Twelfth Night on their "Live at the Target" album (1979). This is more firmly in Prog territory, with satisfying changes - although in reality these are from one jam riff to another. Latimer's solo around 2:10 is especially cool, displaying a good mixture of speedy and balladic melodies. There are also touches in here that put me in mind of Ed Wynne (Ozric Tentacles) style compositions with the slightly odd reggae feel. All good stuff!

"After Words" is really a mellophonium driven intro to the epic ballad "Long Goodbyes", another song of soul-stirring beauty and magnificence - and a fitting end to one of the best Prog Rock albums of the 1980s (and there weren't many, let's be honest!). A Hackett-style entry feeds into some flute playing that is remarkably Gabriel in feel. But that chorus is simply epic - and my repetition of the word should serve to underscore just how huge this is. A little REO Speedwagon, maybe, but hey - I like some REO Speedwagon ;o)

A really, really, good album. But it'll never make it into the Prog top 100.

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#77577)
Posted Tuesday, May 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars Andy Latimer is here the only one from the original line-up, and the music is more synthetic and Alan Parsons Project -like, but nevertheless this album is pretty good, its highlights among my personal favourites - maybe helped by the fact that it was among the first CAMEL's for me. Andy's guitar and flute have a wonderful companion in the clear, atmospheric keyboards of Ton Scherpenzeel (KAYAK) who also co-wrote the album.

It is a product of its time, but one of the better albums from the first half of the 80's (like Certif1ed, I associate it with Love Over Gold by DIRE STRAITS). There are two annoying songs, 'Vopos' and 'Cloak & Dagger Man', in which CAMEL's spirit gets totally lost in the harsh commercial approach. Maybe none of the songs is *very* special individually ('Long Goodbyes' is gorgeous but just a little oversentimental) but I like the album as a coherent, well produced whole. Not that I really get the concept - divided Berlin? - from the lyrics. CAMEL has always made its statements better thru the music itself, emotionally rather than rationally, and this album makes no exception.

Both LP sides have two instrumentals, all top class. 'Pressure Points' has a soaring electric guitar over a heavy synth beat, really powerful opener. The title track starts delicately with a Pan flute and develops into the same guitar heroism - perhaps a bit too self- poignant and calculated. Dramatic 'Missing' and moody 'After Words' give the lead role to Scherpenzeel and really grab the listener's emotions. Were the whole album in that (instrumental) style, it would be a true CAMEL classic and a rare beauty of its time.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#82080)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another concept album and a clear improvement after The Single Factor. The music is still pretty poppy, but considerably better, and there's some very beautiful instrumentals here. And there is Cloak and Dagger Man, which is a great rock song and actually one of my favourite Camel tracks. I love Chris Rainbow's vocals here. The production is very much 80's, which might scare some listeners away, but anyway this is a nice way to end the decade.

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Send comments to Pekka (BETA) | Report this review (#87410)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Stationary Traveller is a second helping of Camel (their first four albums being the main course). The music is, however, completely and utterly different, mainly because of the loss of the other half of Camel's creative force (impersonated by keyboardist Peter Bardens), but also because of Andy Latimer's being the sole remaining member (an instrumentalist that particularly stands out being keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel).

I could now write a bit about how great the songs are, and so on and on.

But what really matters is that people usually look down on this album, 'cause it does not resemble the Camel's "old stuff"'. Yes, cliche-ism is very strong in case of prog rock. most fans fail to notice the development in a band's line-up and inspirations. Anything new a band plays is usually juxtaposed to their previous achievements, judged in context.

As Camel's early work was truly outstanding, they are doomed to be labelled as "the 1970s band", so all their later work is doomed to be judged as "not so good as what they played in the 70s".

I write that this is an essential album, formulating an idea: this album is essential to understanding Camel, and understanding camel is essential to understanding progressive-ness in music. So much for the pathos.

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Send comments to Lakesfield (BETA) | Report this review (#95491)
Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars As if The loss of Ward was not sufficient, Camel (now a Latimer project) entered a period of legal problems that had plagued the band for years. Former manager Geoff Jukes had filed a lawsuit against the band claiming past commissions from Camel's earlier days. Having literally abandoned the band in 1978 at the point of Bardens' departure and upon the eve of a world tour, Jukes' lawsuit would ultimately prove futile. The legal battle began to heat up by 1983. Latimer battled the suit alone despite all members being named and it would take five stressful years at great expense, both spiritually and financially, before settlement in Camel's favour. In this year of change, Latimer fought hard but Camel was worth the battle.

In those difficult times, I guess that it was not easy to concentrate on music. This is another concept album from Camel. Well, I should say from Latimer. He almost does everything here. There are some good tracks on this album : but too few to make this effort memorable.

The opener is quite good : Latimer makes his guitar cry (or shout?). This track will take its full dimension while played live. A bit too short to my taste here. The problem with this album is that too many tracks are just average ("Refugee", "Vopos", "Cloak and Dagger Man", "West Berlin", "Missing", "After Words").

The beautiful title track is brilliant. Fantastic guitar with lots of feelings : Latimer produced another "Ice" oriented track. The first real highlight. Just too short (again).

"Fingertips" is a pleasant song : melancholic, with a great Mel on sax. A very nice melody as well. In one word : Camel like I have always liked. It has the mood of the album "Rajaz" already.

"Long Goodbyes" is a good poppy song and a decent closing number. This inspired melody should hold everything a Camel fan is waiting for : subtle and melodious vocals (a bit mellowish and naďve), and a very good guitar solo at the end.

Five out of ten, but I can hardly rate it as a three star piece. So, I will downgrade it to two.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#110975)
Posted Wednesday, February 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The 1980s were generally not much celebrated decade amongst the prog rock community (if you are not a neo-prog lover) with good reasons - many prog giants produced their worst in this period! It's enough to mention GENESIS ("Abacab"), YES ("90125"), JETHRO TULL ("Under Wraps") or PINK FLOYD ("The Final Cut") in order to comprehend the size of musical downfall they fell into.

CAMEL, although never in the "big league", also fell into the trap. And in their case it was called "The Single Factor". Worse than that they could hardly get, so Latimer (until now the only remaining original member) decided try something new. Well, nothing really new could you expect from the band who was largely recycling and repeating the sound of the first four CARAVAN-influenced albums, never bothering to break into the unknown, but one always hope...

Alas, the post-New Wave and synth-pop took their tolls and it is more than evident when listening to "Stationery Traveller". For some reason, Latimer and CAMEL continued to make "conceptual" albums and I fail to understand the point. As mostly instrumental band, CAMEL at this point could not offer any fresh and interesting ideas so as to hold a listener's attention. This album is overall a sort of "themed" collection of mediocre-to-awful techno-pop songs, occasionally interrupted with listenable instrumentals. Latimer is very capable guitarist, no doubt, but his playing is often burdened with mannerism and predictability.

The best moments on this album (which in no way I would recommend to any decent compilation of CAMEL) are two instrumentals, the opening "Pressure Points" and "Missing", and the highly untypical song called "Vopos". The latter is a remarkable dark techno pop that would nicely fit on a DEPECHE MODE or ULTRAVOX album and it contains even hints of what the celebrated ex Yugoslavian champions of alternative/post-punk/neo-psych rock EKATARINA VELIKA would make in the mid 1980s. Yes, you understood me right - the best track on "Stationery Traveller" is a synth-pop with techno drum machines, silky keyboards and synthetic bass! Enough?

Personal rating: 1,5/5 PA rating: 2/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#126479)
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars If "Nude" was Camel redoing "Snow Goose" for the 80s, then "Stationary Traveller" was the "Moonmadness" for this decade. Even the opener, "Pressure Points" packs a similar punch to "Aristillus". Of course, times have changed, and the shorter songs of "Single Factor" have returned here, so that in fact the authentic similarities to classic era Camel are few. Yet this is as far removed from "Single Factor" as you can imagine, being a dark brooding affair at the crossroads of prog and new wave, with almost nothing that sounds overtly commercial.

The loose concept surrounding the Berlin wall and the iron curtain of the time is held tightly together by the subtle changes between and within tracks; this is an album where the sequencing of material was carefully thought out and impeccably ordained. Moreover, all the material is of uniformly high quality. While the instrumentals are special highlights, in particular the emotive title tune that features Latimer on pan flute and on stellar solo, the vocals are strong and diverse. Chris Rainbow and Dave Paton lend their talents to the Camel sound without overruling it, as was sometimes the case on "Single Factor". "Cloak and Dagger Man" is a genuine rocker and "Vopos" has a nightmarish quality that should appeal to those who like their prog at its most sinister. "West Berlin" and "Fingertips" represent the best of latter day Camel - strong melodies, a variety of well arranged breaks with sax, double bass, and synthesizers, and, in the case of "Fingertips", unabashed sensuality.

This album received a decent amount of play in its day, and "Long Goodbyes" was a highly regarded closer, again a real high point for Camel thanks to excellent songwriting, vocals and a closing lead guitar section that rung out this phase of the band in style. No more studio albums would appear for almost 7 years, and in the pre-internet age, this was an eternity. I know I am in the minority, but far from alone, in saying that "Stationary Traveller" is probably Camel's most fully realized project. Even though I wouldn't recommend it first to prog fans, for anyone who appreciates the efforts, risks, and rewards involved in moving out of a stationary orbit, this one, this band, is a winner, hands down.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#170641)
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another excellent album from Camel. Underrate great work of Camel. This disc is succesful attempt to combine beatiful pop melodies with art rock music. Instrumentals like Missing and Stationary Traveller which with Ice from I can you can see you from here are the best instrumental works of 80-x. I like this album and I think it is one of the best Camel albums.I always will listen it with pleasure.

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Send comments to Aqualung83 (BETA) | Report this review (#176239)
Posted Sunday, July 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Can camels tell stories? Yes, with music!

Andy Latimer clearly has a thing for albums with a storyline told through music. First, The Snow Goose in the 70's, then Nude in the early 80's and now Stationary Traveller. And, of course, later on, in the 90's, there would be a further two story-based concept albums in the brilliant Dust And Dreams and Harbour Of Tears albums. That is five such albums throughout Camel's history!

In my view these story-based Camel albums are all very good, culminating in the excellent Celtic-flavoured Harbour Of Tears. This leaves Stationary Traveller somewhere in the middle both chronologically and in terms of greatness. It is not quite as good as Nude, but it is an album that has grown on me a lot since I first heard it.

All these story-based albums (perhaps with the exception of The Snow Goose of which I don't really know what it is about) are based on rather sad stories and events, and this is, of course, reflected in the music. Stationary Traveller is no exception; this is a rather melancholic and almost depressive affair. I will let you discover the concept for yourself.

Compared to Camel's previous, non-conceptual albums like Raindances, Breathless, I Can See You House From Here and The Single Factor, Stationary Traveller certainly is an improvement and a return to form. I would say that together with Nude, Stationary Traveller is the best Camel album of the 80's. However, as I said above, Dust And Dreams from the early 90's would be the true return to the form of their glory days of the first half of the 70's.

Like on Nude and some other Camel albums, the instrumental material on Stationary Traveller is the best. The opener Pressure Points, the title track and Missing are three great instrumentals with dazzling guitar work and lovely flutes. The first of these instrumentals was considerably extended and improved for the live performance on the tour in support of this album. And the extended version is available on the live album called just that - Pressure Points. This very good live album was recorded during this tour and was released shortly after.

The vocal material, partly handled by Chris Rainbow and partly by Andy himself, is good but a bit on the Pop side of things for my taste. Particularly Refugee, Cloak And Dagger Man and Long Goodbyes bring this album down a bit, in my opinion. However, the vocal material on this album is mostly not quite the kind of cheerful and light-weight Pop that is present on some songs from Raindances, I Can See Your House From Here and The Single Factor. It is, at least partly, a more melancholic and "serious" Pop Rock material that we find here. Chris Rainbow's vocals fit the material well, but I think that Andy should have handled all the vocals himself. That would have given this album a bit more Camel identity. As it stands, you could easily believe that you were listening to (a very good album by) The Alan Parsons Project!

Overall, this is a very emotional album just like Dust And Dreams and Harbour Of Tears would be. In that sense Stationary Traveller is forward-looking. But it is also backward-looking in a different sense. This is, after all, from the mid 80's with all what that involves in terms of sound and production. It was also the last Camel album for several years. Not until the 90's when Andy started his own label and found new creative freedom would Camel once again be an active band.

It is interesting to note that the best Camel-eras are those of the first four albums (the self-titled debut, Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness) as well as that of the most recent four albums (Dust And Dreams, Harbour Of Tears, Rajaz and A Nod And A Wink). What they did in between was of varying quality, but you can definitely find some gems from these in-between-years and Stationary Traveller is definitely one of them! Nude being the other worthy of special note.

Recommended for sure, but not quite excellent all the way

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#186232)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Stationary Traveller tends to be an overlooked album in the Camel catalogue, and it's not hard to see why - at this point, the band was essentially Andy Latimer and a team of trusty sidekicks, and without the keyboard contributions of Peter Bardens (or indeed the Canterbury-flavoured bass work of Richard Sinclair), many people felt that the band was missing something crucial at this point in its history; certainly, the production has dated poorly, and aside from the vocal contributions of Chris Rainbow and some excellent sax work from Mel Collins on Fingertips, Latimer's backing group turn in an uninspired, workmanlike effort, apparently content to simply provide a backing to Latimer's guitar, flute, and synthesiser work (in particular, Paul Burgess's work on drums seems entirely lacking in vigour, although the 80's production values don't help there).

Initially, I didn't enjoy this album, having first heard it after enjoying the likes of Mirage, The Snow Goose, and Moonmadness. But having digested Breathless and Rain Dances, I'd become more accepting of the idea of Camel performing shorter, more commercially-oriented tunes, and now Stationary Traveller seems like a logical descendant of those albums, combined with some cool, crisp influences from 80s New Wave (though not as much as some reviews of this album imply - this is still Andy Latimer and Camel, not Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army!).

In particular, Andy's guitar work on this album is a real treat, as always, and the later tracks - including the title track with its ethereal flute work, the gentle Fingertips, and the closing Long Goodbyes - show elements of Camel's earlier work, and indeed the title track wouldn't be completely out of place gracing one of the groups '70s albums. I get the impression that the coldness of many of the earlier tracks was entirely intentional - after all, with the songs I mention the lineup prove that they *can* sound like the Camel of former days, they just chose not to for some parts of the album.

It's important to remember that this is a concept album about the difficulties faced by East German refugees trying to escape into West Berlin, and I believe that the music is intended to reflect this. The colder, harsher, more emotionless tracks are intended to represent the East - economically deprived, politically oppressed, with free speech and free consciences strictly curtailed. The more warm and organic numbers, conversely, are associated with the West, and come to the fore in the latter part of the album as the protagonist manages to escape from beyond the Wall; their bittersweet tone is a reminder that the refugees have had to abandon plenty of friends and loved ones in order to gain their own freedom, and that the injustice of the situation continues (as of the recording of the album).

So, with that in mind, it's easy to see why many Camel fans found the album off-putting, especially since the more cold and less Camel-like tracks tended to be at the start - no better way to make a bad impression on someone looking for another Snow Goose or Nude!

Ultimately, the album is enough of a departure from the usual Camel fare that I think it is worth exploring, but at the same time for many fans it simply won't resonate. Sad to say, the combination of New Wave and Old Prog doesn't quite work here, which is a shame: a decent fusion of Gary Numan- esque synth rock and virtuoso prog musicianship would be a fascinating experiment to try. At the same time, I feel that the merits of Andy's musicianship (as well as that of some of his guest musicians) manages to save the album from being entirely forgettable. Stationary Traveller is the very definition of Good, but non-essential: three stars it is.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#191896)
Posted Friday, December 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Unless you love poorly written 80's synth pop, this is the Camel album that should be only purchased at bargin bin prices.

This is the Camel Studio recording to avoid.

Maybe it was record company pressure to put out something more accessible in order to keep their recording contract.

Maybe it was just a brain cramp by Andy Latimer because it is clearly in the manner of Alan Parsons Project, Jethro Tull (Under Wraps), Asia, Yes, etc from that early to mid 80's new wave sounding period. (One expected a pop/non-progressive recording from Genesis then)

I can't give it one star because there are so many worse recordings from other artists around.

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Send comments to SMSM (BETA) | Report this review (#221348)
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Stationary Traveller" is the 10th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Camel. The album was released through Decca Records in August 1984. The only original member of Camel left on "Stationary Traveller" is Andy Latimer (guitar, Flute, vocals). Drummer Andy Ward suffered severe alcohol and drug-related problems and had to leave the band before the recording of the album. Paul Burgess has replaced him in the lineup.

The music on "Stationary Traveller" is very much in the eighties synth pop/rock style with AOR type vocals/harmonies/choirs. Very easily accessible and almost completely lacking any form of edge or innovation. This is generally very soft and not especially challenging. The musicianship on the album and especially the really great guitar solos by Andy Latimer or on a high level but the tracks are generally not up to par with their earlier material. As on most Camel albums "Stationary Traveller" features both instrumental tracks and tracks with vocals. Chris Rainbow is a pretty generic sounding vocalist without much distinct sounding character to his delivery, so the instrumental tracks are definitely the most interesting on the album. "Stationary Traveller" is a concept album centered around the stories of East German refugees attempting to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin. As such an interesting concept, that could have worked well with more insteresing music to accompany the concept.

Upon conclusion "Stationary Traveller" is to my ears, along with "The Single Factor (1982)", probably the weakest album in Camel´s discography. Their transition from organic and analogue seventies progressive rock act to more mainstream/AOR tinged and synth heavy eighties rock band really isn´t that successful and a 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#230690)
Posted Sunday, August 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Finally! 8 years and 6 albums after Moonmadness, Latimer strips Camel of its symphonic ambitions and brings us a set smashing songs, rich in melody, sound and mood. Prog? Definitely not. Great song writing? Absolutely. If you thought Lies to be the best track from Nude then you should adore this album.

The opening Waltz is a short waltz that sets the mood for Camel's most gloomy album in their entire career. Refugee is an excellent sample of the concise song writing with focus on lyrical content that Camel has opted for here. Next on is the high point, Vopos finds Camel doing a dark and almost new wave interpretation of their sound. My favorite Camel moment next to The White Rider and Air Born.

Cloak & Dagger Man is the main reason why this album hasn't got 5 stars from me. In the days of vinyl albums, this AOR moment spoiled the album for me. Luckily we have 'next' buttons and remote controls now!

The title track is a shortened take on a song like Ice, a lyrical guitar solo that Latimer and Gilmour had a patent right on back in the days. With West Berlin and Fingertips Latimer adds two more examples of poignant song writing to his canon. These songs have been with me ever since I heard the Pressure Points live album when I was 13 and I still love them as much as back then. In fact they serve as landmark songs setting the boundary for seemingly simple but effective song writing.

Missing and After Words are ok but rather forgettable instrumentals. Long Goodbyes is not as bad as Cloak & Dagger Man but it comes close with its sentimental chorus. Sometimes I like it though, depends a bit of my mood. Whatever way I feel about it, the reissue will rinse any sour taste left by it by closing the album with an extended version of the astounding instrumental Pressure Points, just the way Latimer had wanted the album to end originally.

Unfortunately, this album wasn't the start of something beautiful but turned out to be Camel's last album to capture my interest for ages. There's no guarantee you will love it if you liked Camel's vintage years but if you're not an 80's-basher you might give it a try.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#254693)
Posted Monday, December 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It took me a long while to listen to this album, since it came after a disaster called The Single Factor. But I´ve decided to give Camel another shot since their 90´s output was good enough to restore my faith in the band (or should I say faith in Andrew Latimer, the sole original member and owner of the whole project since 1982). 1981´s Nude was a fairly nice surprise and Stationary Traveller was not bad at all either, although, again, it is quite different from most of what Camel was doing in the 70´s.

If you like good pop/new wave/techno stuff, you´ll love this album from start to finish. The songwriting here is everything that The Single Factor collection lacks: good melodies, good hooks, interesting lyrics. Vapors for exemple is a very dark and powerful track that would fit nice on any of the best Depeche Mode LPs. The rocking Cloak And dagger (with APP´s Chris Rainbow on vocals) would make a strong Alan Parsons Project tune. And so it goes: Fingerprints and West Berlin are also very good.

On the other hand, if you´re looking for prog stuff, then you´ll find at least 3 fine instrumentals like the excellent title track (the CD´s best, IMO), Pressure Points and, in a lesser extent, Missing. The ending solo of The Long Goodbye is also very good, but I found the tune itself a bit too mellow (again the shadow of the Alan Parsons Project is quite obvious).

Stationary Traveller would be Camel´s final studio album for the rest of the 80´s. Latimer would be fighting a bitter legal battle against the band´s former manager( which, fortunatly, he won) and could not concentrate enough into his music. But eventually he came back with a string of very good albums in the next decade. But this album hinted some of the fine stuff that would appear in future releases. My rating? this is definitly a good album, charming, but a bit uncharacteristic. Unlike some of CAmel´s late 70´s/early 80´s output. Stationary Traveller has no bad tracks. Even if the majority is more pop than prog, they are still very good songs. Maybe not enough to make it essential, but still above average. 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#255830)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This would be CAMEL's 10th studio album followed by the longest break of their careers as it would be 7 years before "Dust And Dreams" would be released. It's weird looking at the lineup here and seeing that the only original member left is Andy Latimer. In the liner notes he thanks among others "Mel (one-take) Collins, Alan Parsons (for nosh), and Kate Bush for the fairlight". This is a concept album written by Andy's partner Susan Hoover.

"In The Arms Of Waltzing Frauleins" is a short depressing track with reserved vocals, piano and synths. "Refugee" is more upbeat with Latimer on vocals. A catchy tune. "Vopos" has this melancholic intro. Latimer comes in vocally before 1 1/2 minutes. A good rhythm to this one. Guitar before 4 minutes. I like the synths. "Cloak And Dagger Man" is very 80's sounding with guest vocalist Chris Rainbow singing. A catchy tune with lots of synths and guitar.

"Stationary Traveller" is the first of three instrumentals. Some pan-pipe (say what ?) in this one, and I like the guitar 3 minutes in as the drums join in to create a full sound. "West Berlin" is another 80's sounding tune with the vocals and drums standing out. "Fingertips" is a relaxed tune with fretless bass, a beat and vocals standing out. Sax from Collins after 2 minutes. "Missing" is uptempo with lots of keyboards. A guitar solo after 2 minutes. "After Words" is piano and synths throughout. "Long Goodbyes" features synths and flute early. Bass joins in then vocals. It kicks in after a minute. Contrasts continue. Nice guitar 4 minutes in.

For me this is barely a 3 star album, probably 2 stars in reality.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#267617)
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is my 4th review of a Camel album as I work my way randomly through them all, or at least all of them I am familiar with. Stationary Traveler was an album I really enjoyed when it first appeared but over time, my appreciation has lessened some. Maybe I have come to discover that it is somewhat more simplistic than other Camel efforts. It is, however, much better than the previous effort SIngle Factor. I find the "mechanical" 80's sound of this album to be a bit dated and it has an overall Alan Parsons style to it in many parts. This is not to say that is a bad thing, but it does have a poppy feel to it-Short songs with choruses. As Camel had been pared down to almost nothing of what it started as, this may not be surprising. Andy Latimer holds up the Camle name in a mostly fine fashion. THis album is good but not great. A solid 3 stars is my rating. What is interesting is this is the last complete Camel album album I bought. No idea why, maybe I felt they had passed their prime.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#273558)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Recently I had the opportunity to discuss about Stationary Traveller in more than one PA forum, and I've also seen that some of the people I've discussed with has written a review of this album so it's time for me to write my review.

First of all this is an excellent album under all the possible points of view. It's in my personal top 50 list and I really loved it at the first spin.

This could be considered the first Andy Latimer's solo work, as also Andy Ward had to resign during the recording of the previous "Single Factor". The lineup sees Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak) at keyboards, Chris Rainbow (Alan Parsons Project) at the vocals other than the usual Mel Collins at sax.

This is the third Camel's concept album after "The snow goose" (quite unusual for an instrumental album being considered a concept) and Nude. It's about the Berlin Wall and it's the story of a person who decides to leave everything he has on the East to try to escape to the West, as many people did in the real world, some losing their lives since when the "door was closed" until the fall of the wall.

"Pressure point" is an introductive instrumental written for Andy's guitar. The live version on the omonimous live album is longer and features a long section of fretless bass. Nothing special.

with "Refugee" we are already in the masterpiece. The bad is that with this album Andy tried to renew the Camel's sound and make it more conformant with the standards ot the early 80s, so electronic drums and fairlight are almost everywhere in the album. The good is that this change in the sound is counter-balanced by Andy's musical skill, so at the end this is not disturbing. The guitar on the solo sounds a bit "Dire Straits", but it's well inserted in the song's structure and it's exactly how it has to sound here.

"Vopos" opens with about one minute of Fairlight and starts effectively when the electronic drum gave the rhythm. the lyrics are highly dramatic: the Vopos are around "As if a dream has come to life". One of the best songs of the album.

"Cloak And the Dagger Man" is another electronic song. I have the impression that the sequence of the songs on the album is the same on which they have been written.This songs clsoes a sort of trilogy with the previous two so now the story plot is clear.

Now we are at the last track of the first sife of the vinyl. the title track is an instrumental on which Andy's guitar can freely express. I remember the first listening made me think to Hotel California, but it hasn't anything to do with that song apart some similarities in the main sequence of chords. The guitar solo is probably one of the best ever played by Andy.

The B side of the vinyl starts with "West Berlin" I don't know if a single has been released from this album, but if one, this song would have been perfect for the A sdie. I think it can represent the whole album.

"Fingertips" is a love song, probably the most commercial, but is a great love song which features a fantastic sax solo over a fretless bass. The same year George Michael had a big success with Careless Whisper. I don't want to compare the two songs but the two sax solos have similar purposes. I think the singer is Andy himself, as the live version sung by Chris Rainbow is not as good as the studio one.

"Missing" and "After Words" are two instrumentals, still based on electronic drumming, Fairlight and the great Andy's guitar. They lead into the closure of the story.

"Long goodbyes" is what its title says: "Long goodbyes make me so sad, forgive my leaving now...." Another love song with a nice guitar solo at the end.

This album doesn't feature epic tracks: the longest is less than 6 minutes, but is not just a collection of songs. It's deeply into the 80s, also because of the concept. The fall of the wall closed that decade and after this album began the lawsuite which temporarily stopped Camel's activity. Without the attempt to sound mainstream it would have been an absolute masterpiece, now it sounds a bit dated.

4.5 stars

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#288866)
Posted Friday, July 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The beginning of the album begins with an instrumental high-flying, guitar tart and perfect sound. It then waits for the second title is from the outset of a high quality album of Camel is very sophisticated, quiet and facing hard fm while respecting his Camel. The album shortly be considered by purists as a Camel different album see like The Single Factor, a bit sulky, and yet it remains one of the best album of camel, see the best. The compositions are remarkable and touching voice always nice and fresh, a lot of emotion emerges from the album that makes it a marvel, you understand that I love the Camel.

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Send comments to Discographia (BETA) | Report this review (#314036)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Stationary Traveller" is a very good 80's album. It wasn't love at first listen for me but I initially at least thought it was good and better than it's predecessor "The Single Factor". Its theme is about the trials of East German refugees attempting to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin, so there's a very European feel (dare I say German feel like the album Harbour of Tears is Irish). For me, it does manage to bring to mind post war Europe. The overall sound is quite suitably moody. Camel had really developed a mature and sophisticated style here which they evolved even more later on.

The various synthesizer work stands out throughout the album. I especially like the dark keyboards at the beginning of "Vopos". There are plenty of cool guitar moments too, like on the opening instrumental "Pressure Points". One touching track is definitely the title track with Latimer on pipes as well as guitar. The grand piano playing is also very nice. Other great tracks are "West Berlin", "Fingertips" (which is very mellow with some piano, fretless bass and sax) and I adore the perhaps most touching "After Words" which includes some accordian. The ending "Long Goodbyes" is also a good track, particularly for the melancholy verses.

In all, this proved Camel to be a top group in the eighties and maybe a shame there was an eight year gap before "Dust And Dreams" came along. The album isn't like the band's more progressive work of the seventies and therefore probably isn't the best place to start exploring their music. It isn't essential but still a very enjoyable album, nice for any collection. Three and a half stars.

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#385047)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
3 stars Camel is a band that pretty much every Progger know. Especially their prime time during the 70's. The 80's, for pretty much all Progressive Rock, is another kind of affair.

Stationary Traveller (1984) is their 10th album in 11 years of career, nothing bad I would say.

The album itself isn't that bad, is actually good. If you're able to completely separate this album from their 70's and albums like Mirage (1974).

But one thing bothers me a lot, the vocals. They are dead, not a single drop of emotion on it, in none of all the ten tracks. And that pretty much kills the overall sound in Stationary Traveller (1984).

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#750454)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the somewhat failure of The Single Factor, an album I genuinely enjoy, Camel returned to the concept album, after having success with it with Nude, Latimer wrote another semi-rock opera based again on a true and compelling story.

While most would find the Berlin wall and the division and oppression it forced upon the Berlin citizens, hard to convey musically, Camel utilize the growing trend of synthesizers and drum beats to create a dark tone that reflects the depressing story they are telling, and it makes for refreshing and hard hitting music.

Pressure points sets the tone right off the bat, an excellent instrumental with great guitarring and solid synth beats that guide the listener into the dark world of the album, this isn't going to be an album to forget easily.

Refugee has it's 80's singalong quality until we realise what we're singing, not a bad number but a weaker one compared to the rest.

Vopos with a good drum beat and again more great guitar from Latimer, trots along and finishes with a solid guitar solo, not his most memorable but it works well.

Cloak and Dagger Man is perhaps the most easily accessible track, good synth work and a good chorus, that sweeps up the listener as Latimer pulls them along with some fierce guitar riffs.

Stationary Traveller is my Favourite from the album and one of my all-time favourite Camel tracks and also as an instrumental, A fine acoustic guitar melody followed by a pan pipe solo, then a roaring and fantastic guitar solo, that in my mind is Latimer's finest work, shorter than some of his others yet emotionally grasping and acutely symbolises feelings of despair and pain, a dark track, draining, yet addictive, a work of a master guitarist.

West Berlin is the catchiest track, Latimer's vocals and guitar work make it sound something like Dire Straits, so it's almost something of a pop song, but also a very rocking song, again a good chorus, encouraging the listener to sing out again, only to understand the harshness of the narrative.

Fingertips is a melancholic ballad of sorts, yet also inspiring, a curious track as it would later reappear in Camel's live sets some 20 years later, it has charm and feeling.

Missing has some solid drumming and melodic keyboard work complimented by some erratic guitar work, that shapes into some handsome riffs. Some fine piano appears before Latimer returns this time letting loose, Keys return to finish the track.

After Words is a short instrumental featuring something of an Accordion, very mellow but relaxing before the albums end.

Long Goodbyes ends the album very nicely, a simple farewell song ending with a very melodic, simple guitar solo as always full of emotion, yet it is perhaps the happiest track here, 12-string guitar and Ocarina make for pleasant listening, finishing the album on a positive note, literally.

In summation, a fine album with a heavy concept that the music does not fail to live upto, a worthy addition to a decade dominated by pop and producers, it's incredible to see a band like Camel delivering something with substance and style rather than the latter.

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Send comments to Mr Faust (BETA) | Report this review (#753058)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars Stationery Traveller: an album that manages to capture the awe inspiring experience of walking through aisles of reams of blank paper, envelopes, pencils and paper clips.

The album begins with Pressure Points, a slightly Pink Floyd-ish but all to short instrumental piece. With a nice Andrew Latimer guitar solo, this track is the only one on the album that I can bear listening to repeatedly.

The rest is a pile of eighties synth-pop, that most closely reminds me of Roger Hodgson's post Supertamp work. You know. Fairly well crafted, but immediately forgettable pop songs.

If there was more than a faint hint of prog here (and no, slightly weird eighties synth sounds don't qualify), I might have rated this better. But no. This is what was wrong with 80's music.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#1203400)
Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2014 | Review Permalink

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