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Camel - The Single Factor CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.65 | 536 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Camelogue

The best comparison I can come up with for this album is Steve Hackett's Cured that was released only a couple of years before Camel's The Single Factor. Many people hate Hackett's Cured, and I am quite certain that those are the very same people that would hate The Single Factor. There are actually many similarities between these two albums and the respective musical careers of Andy Latimer and Steve Hackett. Both Andy Latimer and Steve Hackett are, of course, incredible guitarists both playing in legendary Symphonic Prog bands of the 70's. But I mean to make a somewhat "deeper" comparison here concerning their respective situations in the early 80's when they both ventured towards Pop territory while still retaining their respective amazing guitar work and progressive touch and writing some very good and emotional songs in the process.

Steve Hackett had formed a band around himself in the late 70's, but by 1981 he was basically alone with only keyboardist Nick Magnus and his brother John still by his side. Hackett handled all the lead vocals by himself for the first time on Cured and he grew a lot as a singer during the 80's and 90's just like Andy Latimer would do. Latimer was actually in a similar situation at this point being basically alone with some guests in creating this album (hence the title The Single Factor). The guests include founding member Peter Bardens, original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips, Francis Monkman from Curved Air, Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention and Chris Rainbow from Alan Parsons Project (who would later contribute even more to the Stationary Traveller album).

There are mostly shorter tunes on The Single Factor and it is a diverse album with several different styles being explored. Another similarity with Hackett's Cured is the presence of some poppy songs as well as some more progressive instrumentals. The instrumental Sasquatch, for example, became a live favourite that was often played live by the band during the 80's and 90's. Selva features great and emotional guitar work, in the vein of the wonderful Ice from I Can See Your House From Here. However, this is not quite as nice as Ice. For me personally both Cured and The Single Factor are actually more than decent albums (though Cured is the better of the two)!

Fans of progressive Rock usually fear the very word 'Pop', and for good reasons I hasten to add, but The Single Factor should not be put together with Invisible Touch or 90125. This album is not a "sell out" by those standards. Even if the songs are shorter here, these are hardly potential chart toppers. This is still very much a Camel album in the vein of I Can See Your House From Here and Stationary Traveller even if it is not as good as those albums. As a follow up to Nude, it is, of course, very disappointing indeed. But Nude was, after all, great!

Overall, this album is quite soft, but Manic, with its dramatic organ, sounds almost like it could have been the soundtrack for some film! Lullaby is a very short but beautiful piano ballad with a very good vocal performance by Andy. The song A Heart's Desire is very nice but completely out of place here, I think. It does not have a Camel feeling. This is largely due to Andy Latimer not singing it.

This is certainly not a bad album even if it is one of Camel's least good ones. Recommended for fans

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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