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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2779 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Isn't it strange how opinions change over the years? I remember in the mid seventies, when Camel was just coming to prominence. They were considered by many prog fans as distinctly 2nd division, when compared to the 'big boys' such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, and even ELP. That is how I used to feel about them myself when I listened to my mate's albums. He had this one, and Moonmadness. Last year I decided to give them another go and bought the remastered versions of both albums. Now I can only comment on these two albums as I don't possess any others, (Although I have heard the odd track, such as Ice,and a couple of things off "Harbour Of Tears"), but these two are considered amongst their best, so... I have to say that my opinion hasn't changed one little bit! Camel produce pleasant, professional music and are a consistent, hard-working band, but their music doesn't do anything for me. I think the cause of that is simply they are not distinctive in any way, lots of bands formed around that time sounded similar. The music doesn't stick in one's mind for long, and even the titles confuse me sometimes! Peter Bardens' keyboards are very good, and Andy Latimer's flute is distinctive, and adds a nice touch to it. But compositionally there is nothing to prevent me considering this as background music. For instance, the opener here, "Freefall", tries to be aggressive, but ends up sounding amateurish and disjointed to me. The second track is far better. "Supertwister" has the nice flute and is far more gentle. Likewise the third track is well enough played and presented, but the last two are very ordinary and mundane to me. Latimer's guitar, whilst well played, doesn't have a distinctive personality, and it could be a number of seventies guitarists playing when I listen to it. He is technically precise, but hardly inventive, and even sounds quite dated now, as opposed to his peers, such as Howe and Gilmour. I apologise if this review goes against the views of most Camel fans, and I know their following is loyal, but they just don't stand out to me. Vocally they are suspect too, something like an inferior version of Floyd. On the remastered version I possess, there are 4 bonus tracks, three of them live, but these neither add, nor subtract from the enjoyment of the disc. In fact, they go on a tad too long and one can find oneself waiting for the end to come. Don't get me wrong, as I said at the start, this band is a decent, hard working act with a good following, who produce pleasant and technically efficient music. For me, where they fall down is in the bland and unmemorable compositions, and the weak, almost apologetic vocals. Of the two discs, Moonmadness is distinctly better, having stronger songs, but this one is worth a listen as well. Nice, but not essential. Fans of the 'big' prog bands will probably smile and dust these off once in a while for a nostalgic listen.
chessman | 3/5 |


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