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HARBOUR OF TEARS

Camel

Symphonic Prog


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Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After several years and a couple of weak albums in '80s, CAMEL returned to the prog scene with their "Nineties Trilogy" (three original and brilliant albums -"Dust And Dreams", "Harbour Of Tears" and "Rajaz"-, recovering the magic of this great band). CAMEL's music was then in another vein, intimate and moody, plenty of beauty. And I think that in the extense CAMEL discography, "Harbour Of Tears" is their most sensitive album. An Irish flavour and distant melodies gives to the listener a sadness and tragic feeling. Beautiful!

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#2463)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Much better than Dust but does not captivate me . Latimer has every quality and principle that would please me and make me a fan , but somehow ,the execution of his music I find much too tame and reserved, lacking the exuberance and happiness. Of course the theme of this concept was not a happy one depicting the departure of thousands of Irish fleeing the famine as the potato disease and very English regime were unavoidable and as a result the Irish uprising in 1916 to 1922 ( if my memory serves me well)

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#2462)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Founding Moderator
2 stars Am I missing something here? I admit that this is the first album I've ever heard by Camel, so it is entirely possible that their earlier work was not only more important (historically), but better. This particular album sounds like an amalgam of Renaissance, Genesis and Pink Floyd, put through an Irish filter. The female vocals call to mind Annie Haslam (though not nearly so "present" or magnificent), and the male vocals are, admittedly, quite good most of the time. The music, however, is maddeningly inconsistent. When the band is "on" - on songs such as "Watching the Bobbins" (my favorite track) - they are quite good. However, most of the songs are not very compelling. Almost all the guitar solos (of which there are many) are hopelessly derivative of David Gilmour's blues approach (though, I must say, most are quite good just the same). And, guys, let's get real: 14 minutes of nothing but ocean wave sounds does not progressive music make! A couple of minutes, maybe. (And if this were written in the early 70s, maybe a bit more for "tripping out" to). But 14 minutes?! All it did was leave me feeling "robbed" of my time. Still, at the risk of wasting another hour of that time, I'll listen to it again, just to make sure I'm not missing something...

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#2455)
Posted Monday, March 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
emokid3000@ao
2 stars so what about Camel in the nineties ? I only knew old albums by the band and what I knew I really liked ! so my expectations were great... so was my disappointment ! first, the music is way too mellow with that horrible sound Pink Floyd had in the eighties... then, the songs are just boring, no surprising rythm changes, no great lead guitars (just lame Gilmour's replicas) and none of the musical humor Camel had sometimes in their prime... very serious/boring mellow nineties rock that i won't even call progressive... no really bad just the opposite of essential... it's not good to get old...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2468)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is another winner and a splendid concept album too, containing the sensible "The Hour Candle", the powerful "Coming of Age" and also an unusual "Running from Paradise", in the vein of the band SAGRADO CORACAO DE TERRA. The other important reference could be Mike OLDFIELD, if you listen to "Irish Air" (instrumental reprise) carefully, reminding us of the best stuff by Mike OLDFIELD; but the rest is characterized by such a typical CAMEL mood, an important imprinting by Andy Latimer, even though the album is a bit prolix close the end (listen to the sound of the sea, which never ends)!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#2469)
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars How can mere mortals make such beautiful music? is the question I ask myself every time I listen to "Harbour of Tears". It is one of those rare albums for which I reserve my 5-star rating. It is a most exquisite concept album that tells the story of an Irish family who emigrates to the U.S. in order to start over - its musical themes are so convincing they manage to convey a nostalgia for places we've never even been to. 'Harbour of Tears" is also very moody, even more so than "Dust & Dreams", but that's what makes it most poignant and exactly the way I like my CAMEL: with full-bodied arrangements and stunningly beautiful melodies.

Although the lyrics set the stage, it is the music that mesmerizes. It starts ever so delicately, with a simple a capella female singing an Irish air, something reminiscent of the eerie soundtrack of the movie 'Titanic' (and I don't mean the Céline Dion tune). Next, the oboe picks up the theme and then LATIMER's guitar, the keyboards and the rest of the band step in, giving the album its first full CAMEL flavour. The third track, which develops the theme further still, introduces Latimer on vocals. Then comes this incredible short track entitled "Cobh", one of those divine pieces that unmistakenly bring on the legendary lump in the throat, so familiar to CAMEL lovers. From here on, the album picks up the pace and gets better and better with every track. Among the best are the bluesy rocker "Watching the Bobbins", the whirly/flighty "Running from Paradise", the joyful "Coming of Age", the whole thing culminating in "The Hour Candle" which features one of LATIMER's most heart-wrenghing blues guitar solos ever (think "Ice" carried to the 10th power). The CD ends with the sound of waves splashing on a lonely shore, leaving the listener with a strong, lingering feeling of homesickness ((( sigh...)))

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Send comments to Hibou (BETA) | Report this review (#2465)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having often heard that after the MoonMadness album ,Camel went downhill ; I was scared that this album would not compare to the earlier albums.I was pleasantly surprised, It is very good.If like me, you enjoyed the first four Camel albums you should enjoy this one.It is still in a "Camelesque" style. It's generally smooth prog through out the whole album and also has an emotional feel to it .It has those great guitar riffs,a bit of irish flavor and really descent melodies that go an get you .My favorite track is # 12 "Coming of Age" and if you think its because it has some Genesis syle to it ; well you'd be absolutely right ! (Just to let you know , it's the only track with a Genesis style ) I Definetly reccomended that you give this album a try.

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Send comments to Aztech (BETA) | Report this review (#2466)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars CAMELl's "Harbour Of Tears" is a beautiful concept album centered by content and feel of Irish immigrants leaving for America. Mae McKenna opens the album with a little traditional Irish aire and really sets the mood of the album. The quality of this album rests in its haunting, melodic and symphonic nature. Andy Latimer's guitar, as ever, shines strong and there are nice touches of flute, oboe, french horn, cello and violin. Songs are very well written and really do take on a slight Irish feel in composition and as always contain that symphonic CAMEL way.

Latimer is joined by Colin Bass (bass), Mickey Simmonds (keys), David Paton (bass), John Xepoleas (drums) and a good chunk of chorus members. As we now come to expect from a CAMEL album the vocals are in short supply with just five of the tracks containing them but when they do come they enter just at the right moment and enhance the whole concept. Overall a wonderful album with some great breathtaking passages and vintage CAMEL swoops.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#2467)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars My great-grandparents made this same journey. Having been inundated with real Celtic music as long as I can remember, I am unduly critical of "Irish-flavored" music (of which recent history can give us many examples, including some improbably popular dance- oriented shows). So it was with foreboding and heightened critical faculties that I first put this on. The beginning almost convinced me that I needn't have worried; the opening pieces ring with respect for the long traditions and adds sparing modern embellishments that rarely conflict. Flowing from unadorned and authentic voice to soaring instrumental accompaniment, "Irish Air" draws you into this tale which the title track gently and sadly defines. "Send Home the States" is authentic both lyrically and musically, with just a hint of rock heaviness to expand the palette. "Under the Moon" develops the singing guitar work even further, and "Watching the Bobbins" finally establishes the modern sound with perhaps a nod to PINK FLOYD's post-"Animals" sound. Slightly less enjoyable musically, the narrative is still emotionally moving as the desperation hinted at begins to take definte shape. "Generations" into "Eyes of Ireland" encapsulates the Irish feeling of expulsion from Eden as well as I've ever heard, and brings to the mix some backstory and sense of time passing. "Running from Paradise" is a left turn into the upbeat, admirably attempting a modern Gaelic dance feel, followed by a softer segment that returns us to the bittersweet end of the spectrum in "End of the Day". The downfall of the album begins to become apparent on "Coming of Age", which to its credit adds an instrumental urgency that increases the impact of the dramatic moments. True to the name, this is a crossover piece, where the Celtic and modern elements meet head-on- though the music becomes somewhat less than the sum of its respective parts. The second and third-generation of Irish immigrants drifted away from their roots, but few of us should be characterized by the bland soundtrack- style of much of the remainder of the album. Finally, "The Hour Candle" resolves the tale with melancholy, expressive (almost bluesy) guitar, a completely modern crescendo and then ultimately a reprise of the a cappella opener. I am left unsatisfied, as if the promise of the first half of the album was too strong for the comparatively average conclusion. It's not a heartbreaking failure- the good parts weren't that magnificent and the bad parts weren't embarassing, simply lackluster. It's hard to judge this album; I want to give CAMEL the credit they deserve but I think they bit off more than they could chew. A concept album is an incredibly hard thing to pull off- even PINK FLOYD could barely make "Dark Side" without sticking in some filler here and there, and this is more personal and much less cosmic in scope. The narrative avoids becoming pretentious or preachy, but also tapers off halfway through- either they intended the music to conclude the story, which is never truly achieved, or they simply ran out of ways to finish the story. But why on earth didn't they incorporate the classic fiddle-and- bagpipe intricacies of Celtic music with the characteristic instumental complexites of progressive rock? If you enjoyed "Lord of the Dance" or its imitators, this is a big step up; if it's real Gaelic music you want, there are hundreds of modern practitioners that are much more authentic. If you want to hear real Irish heart with a rock sensibility, THE POGUES are incomparable. If you like successful pairings of traditional and progressive rock influences, a better choice would be JETHRO TULL's "Songs from the Wood" (despite the fact that the influence is much less Celtic).

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#2476)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars HARBOUR OF TEARS is a somewhat schizophrenic, uneven offering from 2nd-rank (in terms of chronology -- not quality) English prog stalwarts Camel. This 1996 concept album blends traditional Celtic flavours with a classic, keyboard and guitar-driven prog sound to tell the sad tale of the Irish emigrant experience, and therein lies the inconsistency.

HARBOUR OF TEARS is an ambitious work that seems unsure whether it is Celtic or progressive. What we have here is a would-be wedding of progressive rock and Celtic/British traditional, but, for my money, this marriage of musical forms has been much more harmoniously executed in the past by bands like Horslips (especially on their classics BOOK OF INVASIONS and THE TAIN), and even English "folk fusion" acts Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, who draw more upon straight rock sensibilities for the non-trad component of their sounds.

Some of the material here, such as the lovely opening "Irish Air," would not be out of place on a modern Celtic compilation; some, such as the instrumentals "Cobh" and "Generations," with their rich orchestration, sound much like a film soundtrack; while more, including the heavily-accented "Send Home the Slates, " and the fine Floydian-guitar tinged "Watching the Bobbins," are a mélange of "trad," prog, and film score-like music. There is certainly beauty and power within, and some moving lyrics, but for my tastes, the disparate flavours never quite coalesce into a unified whole. This is an album well suited to your CD player's "program" button -- with the tracks you select depending upon whether you're feeling more Celtic or "proggish." If you are craving pure, pompous "symphonic" progressive rock, I can heartily recommend the instrumental tour de force "Coming of Age." From its infectious and rhythmic string-section intro, to its soaring, cutting guitars and uplifting Genesis-like keyboard themes, this is as good an arrangement of latter-day prog as I've had the pleasure to hear. Crank this one up -- it's majestic! (The album closer, "The Hour Candle," with its fine lead work, continues in much the same vein, before reprising the "Irish Air," but its "ending," which -- as fellow reviewer Maani noted -- takes the form of some fourteen minutes of gull and ocean sounds, can safely be skipped by all but the most sentimental of coast-craving, land-bound sonic sailors!)

Throughout their long and distinguished history, Camel have released albums that fit more solidly within the progressive rock field than HARBOUR OF TEARS. Nonetheless, there is still much that merits the attention of prog and Camel fans here. While less than cohesive, it is yet good music, and when firmly grounded within its genre -- as on "Coming of Age" -- it is very good indeed. Worth checking out.

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#2478)
Posted Tuesday, October 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Brings Tears (of joy) to the Eyes

It's with breath of earthy folk, meditative and melancholy ambience combined with rich orchestral textures reminiscent of "The Snow Goose", that Camel present "Harbour of Tears" - a superb addition to any collection of prog rock, although largely retrospective as opposed to truly progressive. That is to say this album is prog rock styled and deeply rooted in the old school, but excellent prog nonetheless.

Irish Air - with all the Celtic charm of Clannad - begins with an a capella vocalist extolling Ireland in a slighty breathy and very pleasant voice that holds the key and shapes the melody very well - without the assistance of Antares. To me, it matters less that it sounds a bit like Enya, than it is pleasing, effective and above all, real in itself.

The instrumental reprise carries a similar flavour - with strong Camel undertones thanks to the soft 6ths in the harmonies. Latimer first reprises the melody on the flute, then with his trademark guitar sound - it's certainly not derivative, whatever my fellow esteemed reviewers may suggest - except of Latimer himself. These are the famous tones that carry the Camel "branding" from the first album to the present day.

The little piece then modulates and changes timbrally for a 4th time, to a pipe lead - Latimer pulling out the pseudo-Celtic devices somewhat over-enthusiastically for my taste, but the music is enjoyable enough to carry the sonic assault.

The air segues into the title track, and Latimer takes the mike and leads a heartfelt farewell to the "Harbour of Tears" accompanied by cello and piano, with a backing vocal that seems a little over intrusive. Melodically as strong as ever, this song would not have been out of place on the "Stationary Traveller" album, stylistically.

Latimer proves that he has not lost the golden touch, and provides some spine- tinglingly beautiful guitar work with single notes, as only he can. Perhaps they are somewhat reminiscent of Gilmour in "Echoes", but that's hardly the point - the seagull imitation is obviously intentional, and the musical punctuation so overwhelmingly appropriate that only a heart of stone would not melt before the majesty and yet humility of these pure tones.

The guitar work is not stunningly original here from a purely technical point of view - it reminds me too much of material on earlier Camel albums. Latimer seems to have worked more on the sound and emotional conveyance than the content - which is a very good and wondrous thing. The ambience is perfect, as the music segues into Cobh, with wonderful woodwind and choral textures producing an orchestral high that drives into "Send Home the Slates".

A mechanical rhythm suggests the monotonous work and builds the tension well, as the semi-melodramatic tale unfolds over sumptuous orchestral washes, until Latimer unleashes the guitar with some really fresh sounding melodies. The band seem to have issues keeping it together underneath - but frankly, I'd be distracted by playing of such exquisitness.

The orchestral arrangements - whether real instruments or synthesised - are better here than anything on The Snow Goose; Camel were on top form for this album.

"Under the Moon" is another chance for Latimer to shine (couldn't resist that one - but it is true...). Simple lines intertwining - but this is no Spinal Tap style bluff, this is pure melody and rich, soft harmony ebbing and flowing perfectly.

"Watching The Bobbins" is a surprising change of direction, and the drum production seems to spoil the overall effect for me. However, the clarity of the production overall allows the listener to hear the tremendous amount of detail in this song which, while not my favourite Camel number by a long chalk, keeps the listener's attention with the textural complexities, although the guitar solo is packed with Gilmour licks from "The Wall". The instrumental section is a real high point however, and Latimer develops it superbly in the second half - in fact the whole band swing into action to produce some beautiful and monumental ambient prog with subtle time and key changes and textural goodies.

"Generations" maintains the ambient theme moving into symphonic grandeur with ease, but providing a slightly puzzling link to "Eyes of Ireland", which reverts completely to the quasi-Celtic style.

"Running from Paradise" opens in a hugely symphonic style, reminding me a bit of Barclay James Harvest - but this is much more inventive and stylised than BJH, and grows organically in "proper" prog style. I find the major key orientation to be off- putting, when the ensemble band kick in around 3:00 however - but that's probably just my taste for darker music coming to the fore.

End of the day is a simple little song - but clearly meant as an intro to "Coming of Age", a Camel classic and mini masterpiece. You NEED to hear this piece!

Anyone complaining about the 14-odd minutes of wave sound at the end of "The Hour Candle" obviously hasn't been paying attention! This is a deeply meditative album, that rewards intense and deep listening - as it is so deceptively accessible that one could mistake it for easy listening MOR music. This is, of course, another Camel trademark - the depths are so carefully hidden that it is a mistake to try to hurry it along. You need to ride and live each note to get the maximum benefit from this album - and it's worth it.

Camel proved that they were back on form - and even raised their own game a little with "Harbour..." - but it's not quite the masterpiece that "Mirage" was, as there seems to be a little too much intention and not quite enough spontaneity for my liking. That's not to say that there is no spontaneity, of course - the Camel magic works well throughout this album, and any Camel fan should find much to revel in - perhaps not in the first few listens, but after the album has taken time to "mature" in your collection. Like the best wines and whiskies, this definitely improves with age.

Cheers!

If the quasi Celticness doesn't upset you, then the album as a whole really is a feast of subtle, gentle and inoffensive yet richly tailored music with sumptuous washes of great sound that you need to balance your prog collection. ENJOY!

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#40226)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was announced in 1996 "Harbour Of Tears". Profound concept album by which Andrew Latimer searches for own root. The tragedies of ancestors that it is made doing the compulsion immigration from Ireland are summarized in a solemn work and it raises it. It is an album that chiefly does the work of the transparent beauty. It is a skillful album composition. "Coming Of Age" is a famous piece of music that seems to be CAMEL. It is a healed masterpiece in the aria of opening and ending.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#48142)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Camel´s second studio album of the 90's, "Harbour Of Tears" is the port of the city Cobh in the southwest of Ireland, of where once the emigrant ships ran out to America. Paul Burgess, who played with Camel since 1984, decided to retire from drumming and he is not present in the album The album is generally more relaxed and moody than Camel's previous studio release.

1. Irish Air - departure song, a'capella performed by Mae McKenna. 4,5/5

2. Irish Air (instrumental Reprise) - 5/5

3. Harbour Of Tears - 5/5

4. Cobh - 4,5/5

5. Send Home The Slates - marriage of the traditional Irish folk songs and the bombastic swing of American bands exploress that momentary hesitation present in every heart. 4,5/5

6. Under The Moon - a final guitar spasm interlude... Superb! 5/5

7. Watching The Bobbins - 5/5

8. Generations - 3,5/5

9. Eyes Of Ireland - majestic clash of orchestration and progressive guitar-driven storytelling. 4,5/5

10. Running From Paradise - 5/5

11. End Of The Day - 4,5/5

12. Coming Of Age - brutally intervenes with the dreams of all varieties, and we are captured by the heartbreaking, aggressive solo of Andy Latimer. 5/5

13. The Hour Candle (A Song For My Father) - A masterpiece of a song, this is one of the better moments in the history of Camel: a heartwrenching solo of Andy Latimer, the orchestral intermezzo, electronic passages as if ripped from the flesh of late 70s, and an incredibly rocking blues theme lulling us into progressive moonwalking. The again, Mae McKenna silently hums to herself, somewhere just behind the border of consciousness, a dream of the past, of everything left behind. It ends with 20 minutes recording of the sound of waves crushing at the seashore. The journey is over. 5/5

Final Note: I am deliriously happy that Camel survived the 80s, a tough period for any progressive band of the 70s, and has a bright future ahead, as this 1996 album shows beyond any doubt. In any case one "Harbour OF Tears" is for me one of the best Prog albums of the 90's even if perhaps it's not the right place to start.

4,5+5+5+4,5+4,5+5+5+3,5+4,5+5+4,5+5+5= 61

61:13 = 4,6

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.

Curiosity: The concept for the album came to Andy after the death of his father in 1993. Andy searched for his lost family roots, retrieving very little, yet coming up with the concept for Camel's next album.

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Send comments to Marquęs_Prög (BETA) | Report this review (#54978)
Posted Sunday, November 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Possibly the most boring album ever made.Don't expect a "Snow Goose" - what you get here are tons of over-orchestrated symphonic filler (this is,regardless of quality, by far the most "symphonic" of all Camel albums I've heard) mixed with bland folk and hard rock . There's little emotion and hardly any creativity or complexity; some variation definitely wouldn't have hurt either . The album also concludes with almost 15 minutes of nothing but near-silent waves crashing, which made me suspect a wind-up with some message at the end along the lines of "You're a retard for listening this far" , which thankfully didn't come (although, having never fully listened to those 15 minutes, I might've missed it). Yawn...

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Send comments to Pafnutij (BETA) | Report this review (#56241)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Another concept album. This one has vocals in it.

Unfortunately, this album is not as strong as Nude and Snow Goose. The songs are fine, but they can get tedious if you are not in the mood.

The type of music here is symphonic soft rock with an orchestra. The orchestra works really well and amplifies the sound of the record. The problem I have with this album (besides the 15 minutes of nothing) is that most of the songs lack energy and hooks.

My favourite songs from this record are the energetic Running from Paradise, the pink Floyd-esque Watching the Bobbins, the opening irish melodies, and the brilliant instrumental section of "End of the Day".

My Grade : C-

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#57862)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
belz
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 2.7/5.0This is a slight improvement over the last album, but still, am I missing something? I don't understand the 4 or 5 stars some people gave on this album. Firstly, this is not a prog album, but a celtic music album with a light prog touch. Secondly, this is still closer to a pop album than to prog. And finally, as good or sad as the theme is (Irish people going to America) the music is not as emotional as it should be and feels more mechanical at some point. When listening to some songs (like "Coming of Age", as an example) I had the impression Latimer was trying to go for a Moonmadness II or a Snow Goose II; in other words I had the impression he was trying to copy what Camel once was instead of really creating something new.

That said, I do like "Coming of Age" and much of the album! This is a good album, but still, far from been an essential one! 2.7/5.0

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#76740)
Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Inspired by Latimer's study of the family history after the death of his father acted as the inspiration for yet another concept album. And yet another strong one it is. Very much instrumental work again, with some nice Irish flavor here and there. I can hear a hint of Floyd in some places. Again a very atmospheric album with some really beautiful moments as in the opening pair Irish Air and Eyes of Ireland. The drum sound is still a bit of a problem, but despite that, this is again a very strong collection of songs.

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Send comments to Pekka (BETA) | Report this review (#87408)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another in Andy Latimer's string of gentle neo-Floydian 90s albums, and as good as the rest. On this one he takes advantage of a concept theme of Irish immigration to explore Celtic melodies. Although there are a couple of upbeat pieces, mostly the airs are mournful, giving him room to stretch out on the guitar, which is after all, the primary appeal of late period Camel. Lovers of Celtic music will certainly enjoy this more than any other Camel CD. There are also some really nice keyboard textures, some choral parts and excellent female vocals. If you like mellow symphonic, I can't really see how you could dislike such a classy album. You always know what to expect from Camel, which ain't a bad thing at all as long as the quality's as high as this.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#88416)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excelent work of neoclassicism: bright musical effort of Camel in eighties, when almost all musicians with progressive approach have buried their musical past. There are some parts on album close being repetitive, but it still does not ruin musical idea of this piece of music. It clearly has a concept, and like most albums of Camel, this is not fulfilled with vocals, which makes it more melodically and lets listener to even feel it as an ambient work. I think that this work is much underrated, and not much popular, but it does not lack sensitivity, beauty, images, melodies, complexity. After all, I see it as quite complex music, and most of all emotive. I like meeting of Latimer with folk influences of Irish music, where his beautifully sounding flute meets emotive singing-like virtuoso guitar.

This music is very sensual, and sometimes it even makes me sad, somehow. This is not for any of you who get sleepy listening to some soft, atmospheric music, but, it is close being masterpiece, because of its beautiful orchestration and fluid, sensual guitar, fine concept, and lots of fresh ideas.

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Send comments to nisandzic (BETA) | Report this review (#93682)
Posted Saturday, October 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is such an emotional album about a family leaving Cork's Cobh Harbour in Ireland to go to America to find a better life.

There is a real Celtic flavour to this record and this is evident right away on the first song "Irish Air" where we have female vocals. I agree with Hibou, I also think of the movie "The Titanic" when I hear this song. The "Irish Air (instrumental Reprise)" is an instrumental that brings a smile to my face eveytime I hear the first notes of Latimer's guitar. "Harbour Of Tears" is a haunting song with piano and cello. You can feel the sadness of leaving ones country and family, and you can hear the seagulls in the harbour. "Send Home The Slates" features some killer guitar melodies, this is great !

"Under The Moon" features such an uplifting guitar melody. "Watching The Bobbins" features more awesome soaring guitar that reminds me of Gilmour. "Running From Paradise" is about missing home and features some excellent flute. "End Of The Day" is like an intro for "Coming Of Age" and both feature more great guitar and violin. "The Hour Candle" features incredible soaring guitar melodies, i'm like a broken record I know but this is partly why this is such a good album, Andy simply shines on this release. The record ends as it began with the woman singing and the waves of the sea.

If you like that Celtic flavour you will probably enjoy this one. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#99743)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
4 stars A quite enjoyable Camel album, and another concept. This time based on the potato famine in Ireland and the mass exodus out of the country, primarily to the USA.

There is a Celtic flavor to the album, for obvious reasons, which I think is done very well. We get excellent guitar playing from Latimer and finally get to hear his flute playing a more prominent role. Not quite like in the old days, but it's nice to hear again none the less. The Pink Floyd ambiance and somewhat somber mood remains from the last album, but the writing is far more interesting with more lyrics and vocal numbers. Of these the best are the introductory female vocals, Watching The Bobbins, and Eyes Of Ireland. Still, there is plenty of instrumental space, and loads of fine guitar work from Latimer. The standout track for me of the whole album is Coming Of Age, probably the most "prog" track Camel had done in years. The final instrumental is nice as well, if more subdued, but like most here I didn't really see the point of 15 minutes of sea sounds (about 2 or 3 would have been sufficient to make the point, along with the reprise of the female vocals singing Irish Air). Aside from that, there is not much I fault this album for, except perhaps a certain "coldness" in the production that was not there in the early days of Camel. But perhaps that can be attributed to the time it was recorded?

Overall, a 3.5 star album. I will round up to 4 though, as I think this was (along with Dust and Dreams) part of a gradual build up in quality for Camel that had plummeted back in the early 80's.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#110860)
Posted Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Five years. Yes, five years between the last Camel studio effort and this one. Of course, in the meantime Camel released the wonderful live album "Never Let Go" (their best so far IMO).

"Dust & Dreams" showed significant improvement with earlier production (from "Rain Dances" till "The Single Factor"). So, will the story be repeated ?

This other concept album about the Irish immigration to the US is a great come back. Cobh, the port of embarkment to the US was called the harbour of tears (hence the title ...).This album is really on par with the best of their early work. It is also an homage to Andrew's father who passed away in 1993. In 1994, Andrew went back to the studio to find a bit of consolation in music.

Therefore, he puts all his heart, feelings and love into this effort, and one can definitely feel it. Emotion sits around every corner of it. Great melodies, very inspired and emotional guitar playing from Latimer. IMO, it is the best Camel album so far (even topping "Moonmadness").

As far as emotion is concerned, listen to "Harbour Of Tears", "Send Home The Slates" or "Watching The Bobbins" which is a pure beauty. Even a short number like "Under The Moon" is vibrant.

Actually most of the album transmits a very high intensity and a gorgeous feeling. I guess this is called : love. In that sense "Eyes Of Ireland" and "Running From Paradise" (obviously dedicated to Andrew's father) and "Coming Of Age" are a fantastic example. Great tracks. On the latter, we'll get some great fluting (one must think that the time machine is heading backwards - what a great feeling) !

Latimer's guitar is magic. It can only be compared to Carlos Santana in terms of emotion and feeling. The similarity will even be more obvious in "Rajaz", but this is another story.

Although vocals have never been a strong points for Camel (as for Santana), the fact that there are more lyrics than usual on this album makes it more interesting and easier to follow.

When I saw the track list, I was eager to listen to the closing track. Gosh ! Twenty three minutes. Is this the greatest epic Camel song ? Well, not really.

Latimer is absolutely fabulous in the first "classic" part of the song (which lasts for about six minutes and a half). The charming voice of the intro coming back as an "Au Revoir". Then we get about sixteen (16) minutes of the sound of ocean waves... It is wonderful at night, when you're going to fall asleep but it is not the type of track you listen to in its entirety very frequently. Of course, the sea was an important factor for these Irish immigrants, but one would have expected such an interlude from Tangerine Dream than from Camel.

Since the current technology allows to do this pretty easily, I have just edited it and make it a nine minute song. Sorry Andrew... I will rate this album four stars. Great work. But the best is still to come ...

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#112175)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Probably Camel´s best studio work since the magnificent first four albums. I never thought that I´d ever even be interested in Camel´s music after their hideous string of 80´s albums that followed Breathless (which was quite weak itself). But it seems that Andrew latimer has found his inspiring muse after all. A truly poingnant album, Harbour Of Tears is also the only CD I know that blends celtic music with prog rock and totally succeeds. That is no small feat.

All the tracks follow a kind of story line and there are absolute no fillers anywhere. It´s a great pleasure to listen to this album. Very emotional and well crafted, Latimer proves that music is the expression of feelings and emotions. His vocals are a bit limited but he sings with passion and conviction, which moves the listener almost as much as his music. Certainly all his trademarks guitar solos are here. Many today´s prog guitarrists were influenced by his clean, emotional style and listening to this album you understand why.

Harbour Of Tears is not really too close to Camel´s style when they started in the 70´s, but it also has some similarities. A highly emotional album mixing progressive music and celtic (specially Irish) music that bears all the trademarks of a truly great work. A must have for any proghead or music lover in general. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#123344)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Harbour of Tears" is a much better album than the previous "Dust and Dreams", and it's a very good CAMEL album indeed, in years!

Again, it is a topical (I almost hate the word "conceptual") musical work, this time composed around the theme of Irish refugees and their settlement in the New World. Nothing new or original for that matter, but it is fairly decent to hear. The Irish themes were sort of "trend" in the 1990s, not only in music but in global culture in general, so why not take advantage from the situation? Music is well composed and performed, it is very pleasant to listen. A cross between "symphonic" and "neo prog" sort of style, borrowing bits from Mike Oldfield or PINK FLOYD ("Watching the Bobbins" intro is way too reminiscent of "Another Brick in the Wall").

A good album, but - I am not too impressed. I can't really pick up a thing and say what's wrong, but it's all too "deja vu" kind of stuff. Still, it does not surpass early 4 albums. For my taste CAMEL's best album of the 1990s will be the next "Rajaz" - this one is a fine work but not essential.

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#138997)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars In the past I collected most of the CAMEL records. After reading the reviews of Harbour I bought their CD. Unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. The CD is not bad either. But it is not the old CAMEL stuff nor is it the NUDE style which I liked most. My impression is that they produced a TOO-smooth kind of a LETS-do-it-again album. But still it is not a bad CD, with some pretty good melodies. 3 stars

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Send comments to Aleph0 (BETA) | Report this review (#149531)
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Frankly I can't remember why I bought it at the time it was released. Must have been something like: hey, an album by good old Camel, that's been quite a while. Let's take it. But if I would have listened to it in the store (the entire album I mean) I probably would have left it there.

And this is not to be disrespectful because it's a meaningful album with a true story to tell (one that I'm not familiar with I'm afraid and even if I would have been: lyrics have never been a main factor for me, composition and melody is what I'm after). And by the music you can tell it's a melancholic story. On the other hand, not every track is dark and depressing I have to say. And another thing I can remember from the time I played it a couple of times: there were two or three tracks on it with outstanding guitar performances by Andy Latimer and the rest was more or less wasted on me.

So with Watching the Bobbins, Coming of Age and partly the final track The Hour Candle were worthwhile to me. And the closing track only partly because it's one of those senseless hidden tracks with 14! wasted minutes. For that alone I would like to punish Camel here because instead of being treated with some great epic you get nothing and I hate that. I also punished other bands for this as they deserve so.

So in the end it can never get more than 3 stars, some very good moments, but those moments are all there is for me and I will leave the meaningfullness to others.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#158896)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A companion piece to "Dust and Dreams", "Harbour of Tears" is also a tale of migration, in this case from Ireland to parts unknown. This type of "leaving home" theme is so common to folk music of the British Isles that it has become a genre unto itself. Rare is the progressive rock group that tackles the concept, but Camel does so with typical grace and the heart of a gifted storyteller.

While the albums starts off with a couple of very traditional Irish sounding tunes, including Latimer on flute and Mae McKenna on vocals, this seems more by way of setting the mood than out of a desire to turn Camel into a celtic rock band. The folkie influence dissipates through the balance of the work, and we are left with a heady blend of aspects of both Camel's 80s works and the aforementioned "Dust and Dreams". Several strong songs stand out as highlights - the mysterious and somber title cut, the quasi orchestral "Send Home the Slates", the Floydian "Watching the Bobbins" with its irresistible Latimer lead guitars, the acoustically haunting "Eyes of Ireland". As in the previous album, the songs are separated by atmospheric highly symphonic interludes, with one of the more substantial being "Running from Paradise", but the material here is somewhat stronger, as Latimer is improving at the whole symphonic prog opera approach. There is a bit of a fall off in quality for the last two lengthy instrumentals. The 15 minutes of wave sounds at the end might work in a narrative but I can't sit through it on a regular basis.

While story albums are not unheard of in progressive rock, Camel's comeback pair of albums breathed new life into the category, presenting a more tasteful, understated version of the bloated 70s classics, in tune with the times yet with the benefit of decades of experience. Camel has explored a number of harbours during this time, but perhaps none so poignantly.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#171307)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars After releasing 'The single factor' I thought that we lost Camel forever. That album was poor, with actually nothing reminiscent of the old Camel in terms of melodic, symphonic, sometimes bombastic but always well crafted music. But with 'Dust and dreams' Andy Latimer surprised us all in an extremely pleasant way. And for me he even surpassed the quality of that album with the release of 'Harbour of tears' as this album has so many different spheres, ranging from traditional folk to melancholic ballads to sharp guitar driven concise songs. Too bad the album closes with the much too long 'Song for my father', no matter how sympathetic it was meant to be. 'Harbour of tears' features Camel at its most folkish. The album opens with two versions of the more than beautiful 'Irish air', one with haunting vocals and a superb instrumental rendition. The following title track is splendid in picking up the atmosphere that is set by the album openers and takes us into an album that is in every way a consistent set of songs. Or actually, a consistent collection of melodies, flowing over into each other, sometimes mellow, sometimes soft, sometimes harder edged ('Watching the bobbins'). As a whole it is a splendid hommage to a dark period in Irish history. Apart from writing songs in the traditional folk style, it is remarkable that Latimer uses female vocals on this album. A more than good choice, in my opinion; he should have done that more often! It adds enormously to Latimers rather dull and low expressive voice, that sticks good to the music but can easily be augmented with vocals like these, rendered by Mae MacKenna.

All in all this is one of my favourite Camel albums, apart from the more than 20 minutes rolling sea noises. So a five star, without hesitation

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Send comments to Theo Verstrael (BETA) | Report this review (#182332)
Posted Saturday, September 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars Irish air

I first heard this album recorded live in its entirety on the Coming Of Age live DVD. I was living in Ireland at the time (for the summer only) and little did I know beforehand that Harbour Of Tears was a concept album with a very strong connection to Ireland. This turned out to be a very moving experience for me, walking around the Irish country side during the day and listening to the Harbour Of Tears performance in the evenings. Much later on I finally got to hear the studio version of this great concept album.

Dust And Dreams had been the best Camel album for a very, very long time (even if Stationary Traveller is not bad at all!) and Harbour Of Tears continues this new direction for the band. Indeed, I think that Harbour Of Tears even betters Dust And Dreams and is thus, for me, the best Camel album since Mirage, released more than 20 years earlier!

As I said, Harbour Of Tears is a concept album about Ireland, or rather about the Irish people leaving the emerald island for the United States during the great famine. Given the subject matter it is easy to understand that this album is a somewhat mellow affair. However, there are many different moods and tempos during the course of the album. This music really evokes images of the beautiful Irish country side, the coast line, the busy harbour, and many other interesting places.

Harbour Of Tears is also the most folky album Camel ever made. Acoustic guitars are more prominent than on other Camel albums and you can even hear traditional instruments such as penny whistles, harmonium and violins as well as some female vocals. This is almost what you would expect from an album about Ireland isn't it? Would I say that this album is Prog Folk? Well, yes some parts are Prog Folk, but most of the album is Symphonic Prog and sometimes it even comes close to sounding like Neo Prog, but all the time it is the classic Camel we all know and love. And I would say that the mix between Celtic influences and Symphonic Prog is unique. And achieving this balance while at the same time retaining the classic Camel sound is truly impressive.

Coming Of Age is the track on the album that rocks the hardest, and probably the track that appeals the most to fans of classic Symphonic Prog. Overall the album is quite soft and mellow with only occasional outbursts of harder edged Rock. For example, at the end of Coming Of Age. Latimer's exceptional electric guitar work is absolutely stunning on the whole album! His guitar sound is so distinctive and special. He is one of those few guitar players with an identity all of his own. He is such an underrated guitar player and he is up there with Steve Hackett and David Gilmour in terms of holding long sustained notes that keeps the listener simply mesmerized.

In my opinion, having at least one version of Harbour Of Tears is an absolute must. I would opt for the live version, simply because there you get some older Camel classics in addition to a great full performance of this amazing piece of music. But this studio version is a masterpiece in its own right! This is not only my favourite Camel album (together with Mirage), but one of my favourite albums of all time!

Extremely recommended!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#182399)
Posted Sunday, September 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The album opens with a superb Celtic type female singing, followed up by some Celtic music. The tone is set for the next seventy-one minutes. Plenty of Irish music here, the CAMEL way. The vocals of Andy Latimer takes over on the superb title track. It is then followed by a mix of good old CAMEL and Celtic music. The lyrics is about leaving Ireland for the new world. Which is a tragic story. But they left the famined Ireland and a certain death in the potato famine for a bright new world in USA. Yes, I have lived in Northern Ireland so I know Irish history pretty well. I also know the landscape there pretty well. I therefore immerse myself in this album.

The music is a bit one dimensional. That is my only gripe with this album. This album is also more or less one seventy-one minutes long symphony. I personally regard it as one symphony and not thirteen single tracks. The guitar work from Andy Latimer is superb. The flutes is superb. All the Celtic instruments is superb. The mood in this album is somber, as it should be. It is a true concept album and one of the better ones. Although a bit one dimensional. I think it is a superb album which ebbs and flows throughout with it's mix of Celtic music and CAMEL. I regard it as one of the best albums from CAMEL.

4 stars.

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#202077)
Posted Sunday, February 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars After the excellent but strongly dated to the 80s "Stationary Traveller" and the quite poor live "Pressure Points" I had lost the pointers to Camel and I missed Dust and Dreams, so Harbour of Tears was for me the Return of the Camel.

In that period I was deeply into celtic and British folk music ov various kinds with bands like Clannad and Pentangle, but also De Danaan, Dexys and Pogues. This means that the voice of Mae McKenna singing "In this quite place I stand alone..." touched me immediately. Just one minute and Latimer's guitar was there to remind me which band I was listening to.

It was a new Camel album, full of Latimer's guitar and with a strong concept. The 80s flavour of Stationary Traveller and its fairlight were gone. It was clear just after 3 minutes.

"I am one of seven brothers...." The title track is where the story begins. Another "long goodbye". A short sad song with a nice choir over a keyboard/piano base. Then Latimer's guitar cries its solo which leads to a change in the melody introducing the short interlude of "Cobh". One could think that it's a filler, but it's essential in leading without solution of continuity into "Send Home The Slates", a great song based on "electronic" violins. The one closer to Stationary Traveller. Another great guitar performance, here. A slow Celtic coda is the transition to "Under The Moon". A short instrumental based on guitar at the levels of Snow Goose.

"Watching The Bobbins" is I think the most famous track of this album. The essence of the album is in this song. I have the impression to hear a touch of Roger Waters in the vocals. Latimer at his best on guitar.

After another short instrumental, "Generations", another touch of Ireland, "The Last Eyes" I effectively. "When you sail from the harbour is your last eyes of Ireland".... In this 3 minutes song there's room also for a great guitar solo.

"Running From Paradise" is a complex instrumental that despite to its 5 minutes contains several parts, one of them reminds to early Genesis.

"End Of The Day" is slow and sad, with a guitar harping over a cello. The solo in the instrumental part is performed by oboe and French horn. Very nice.

The closer instrumental is a typical Camel's (or Latimer's) composition, more optimistic in the sounds than the rest of the album. I still don't understand the 15 minutes of sea noises at the end of this track. Filling a CD in this way has really no sense.

There are several ways to listen to this album: follow the lyrics, concentrate on the guitar solos or take care of each single sound wearing headphones. Each time I listen to it I discover something new. Not a masterpiece like the following Rajaz, but an excellent addition with no doubts. And skip the last 14 minutes.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#377515)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I did not like this album at all, Bait and switch, I wish i had read in detail more of the reviews on this, the 24 minute track is really about 8 minutes with low level ocean noises for 16 minutes, a complete let down, and rip off in my opinion. this music wasn't cheap, paid 15 bucks for a used copy, this music sounds nothing like vintage camel, or even anything remotely resembling it. and the Irish sound of the music doesn't even sound authentic, The next 2 albums are much better ,especially rajaz., which is my favorite, a nod and a wink overrated too. These later albums taken on their own terms are I suppose worthy listens, But only Rajaz is a real keeper, and does at time remind me of classic came. But Harbour of Tears was a major Dissapointment. Andy sounds way to sentimental, and the songs just seem like pseudo-folk music . Rajaz though, very nice.

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Send comments to darkprinceofjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#418630)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The followup to Dust and Dreams chugs along in more or less the same format - more progressive than The Single Factor and Stationary Traveller, not as interesting as the band's classic work - but adds some Irish folk influence here and there to spice things up a little. Don't get too excited looking at the running time of The Hour Candle - it's not a 23-minute epic, it's a reasonably longish song followed by a quarter of an hour of very quiet sea noises. This is rather needless, since without the ocean sounds the album would have a perfectly reasonable length, but since it's right at the end of the album I won't mark it down. Though I was very irritated the first time I listened to it, expecting a bonus track to emerge after the sea noises, to find no such thing was forthcoming...

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#624657)
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another unique Camel album, full of a nostalgic Irish spirit by lyrics, and brilliantly reflected in the music. About the artistic quality of Latimer as a guitarist, I have no words to tell. Every sound that comes out of his guitar is appropriate, never sounds shrill or out of time or place. The same applies to the parts of flute, though brief here.

It is a quiet work, mostly smooth, but never dull or simplistic. As always highlights the work of Colin Bass in bass guitar, and vocals. Mickey Simmonds also makes a strong collaboration. And orchestrated parts are timely, and add feeling and strength to the pieces.

The strongest songs are Watching the Bobbins and Coming of Age. Are also excellent Harbour of Tears, Send Home the Slates, and the beautiful Eyes of Ireland; mostly acoustic songs. Running From Paradise and The Hour Candle are also recommended.

Nothing is out of place in this masterpiece.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#937183)
Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars In 1991, after a seven year hiatus, Camel regrouped and returned with a fine comeback album, "Dust And Dreams", based on the joyful and happy escapades of tenant farmers of the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression, as depicted in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes Of Wrath". In 1995, Andrew Latimer followed that up with the equally uplifting "Harbour Of Tears", loosely based, I think on the Tom Cruise movie, "Coming To America", where Cruise and Eddie Murphy escape from 1890s Ireland, to become fighters and employees in a fast food restaurant, while Nicole Kidman and Arsenio Hall watch..

I am no big fan of Irish music, despite a fair amount of Celtic heritage. However, Latimer and his crew do a nice job of blending traditional Irish folk motifs into the well known Camel light symphonic style. While none of the music will blow you away, it is still far and away (see what I did there?) better that the majority of the pop drivel this band had been releasing before their break.

The absolute best moment is Coming Of Age, that let's you know in no uncertain terms that Camel is still a prog rock force. The low point is the long, unnecessary surf noises tacked on to the last track the same statement could have been made with only about a minute of the sound effects.

In all, this is a good album, about 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#1213458)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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