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Camel - Harbour Of Tears CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 682 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 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!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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