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Camel - Stationary Traveller CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 703 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 155

'Stationary Traveller' is the tenth studio album of Camel and was released in 1984. Like many of Camel's studio albums, this is another conceptual album. This time is about the Cold War and the story is centred on the trials of East German refugees attempting to cross the famous and shameful Berlin Wall who divided the city between East and West. I'm perfectly convinced this was a matter very nostalgic for Latimer that made him to release this album. The nostalgia is present all over the album, and the cover itself invokes a very desolate, desperate and despondent post war Germany, a solitary young woman amidst the aging architecture of a city scarred by the war and its numerous effects.

By this time, and as happened with their previous studio album 'The Single Factor', Camel was essentially an Andrew Latimer's band. The line up of this album is Andrew Latimer (lead vocals, electric, acoustic and 12 string guitars, bass, piano, flute and drum synthesizer), Ton Scherpenzeel (organ, grand piano, Prophet synthesizer, Yamaha CS80, Juno 60, Korg, PPg and accordion), Chris Rainbow (lead vocals), David Paton (backing vocals, bass and fretless bass), Paul Burgess (drums), Mel Collins (saxophone) and Haydn Bendall (Fairlight synthesizer and PPg synthesizer).

'Stationary Traveller' has ten tracks. The first track 'Pressure Points' written by Latimer is an instrumental short song that introduces us into the album and also establishes immediately the atmosphere of what will be the music on the album. This is a very beautiful way to open the album. The second track 'Refugee' written by Latimer and Susan Hoover is a good and melodious rock song. It's a very solid track with a modern sound with electronic drums but where the presence of Latimer's guitar is constant. So, the final result is a very well balanced track. The third track 'Vopos' written by Latimer and Hoover is a very good and interesting song. It's a very dark song where the lyrics are highly dramatic but very melodious too. This is, in my humble opinion, a song in the new wave style that sounds modern and where the electronic drumming gives the rhythm. The fourth track 'Cloak And Dagger Man' written by Latimer and Hoover is another electronic song that sounds in the new wave pop style with a very fast and frenetic rhythm. This is a song written in a more commercial style that reminds us so many other bands of those times. The fifth track 'Stationary Traveller' is the title track and was written by Latimer. This is another instrumental song that represents the return to the typical sound of Camel. Here we have the guitar sound that reminds me the sound of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, the beautiful sound of pan pipes and the typical and unique Latimer's sound, probably featuring one of the best guitar solos performed by him. Until now, this is the best song on the album where we can see Latimer at his best. This is without any doubt one of the high moments of this album too. The sixth track 'West Berlin' written by Latimer and Hoover is a very interesting song with a nice rhythm and also with good musical passages. This is another song clearly influenced by the new wave style, with fine textures and also very well produced. I think we can feel here the presence of Alan Parsons' hand. The seventh track 'Fingertips' written by Latimer and Hoover is a very beautiful, melodic and cool ballad. This is a love song, one of the most commercial songs of the album, and despite has the return of the nice sound of the saxophone of Collins, doesn't represent one of highest points of the album. The eighth track 'Missing' written by Latimer is another instrumental song based on electronic drumming. This is a very beautiful song with very satisfactory melodic changes that remains in our ears. I think this is a song more in the neo-prog vein. The ninth track 'After Words' written by Scherpenzeel is again an instrumental song, very short, and is a kind of an introduction to the last song on the album. This is one of the nice moments of the album, only performed by piano and accordion. The tenth and last track 'Long Goodbyes' written by Latimer and Hoover is a very epic and mellow ballad, probably too much mellow, but it's, in anyway, a very nice way to ending this curious and interesting musical work, from the 80's.

Conclusion: Like our colleague greenback, I also like Camel's sound of the 80's and I also agree with him when he says that Camel knew how to cope and introduce the new technology into their music. Probably only Camel and Genesis, of the greatest progressive bands of the 70's, were capable of doing that. 'Stationary Traveller' is an album with a very modern sound, for those times, clearly influenced by pop and new wave music with a touch of the traditional Camel's sound. So, this is a nice album of the 80's with some very good songs. 'Stationary Traveller' is undoubtedly their best second studio album from the 80's, after 'Nude'. 'Stationary Traveller' is also their last studio work of the 80's and we may say that Camel passed with certain elegance, by those terrible years for the progressive rock music. But fortunately, great things would happen in the following years, for Camel and for the progressive rock music in general. Their four next studio albums are all great and represent the returning of Camel to their classic musical roots.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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