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Camel - The Single Factor CD (album) cover

THE SINGLE FACTOR

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

2.64 | 516 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 166

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

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

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

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

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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