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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2779 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For whatever reason, Camel's second album doesn't strike me as especially symphonic. Perhaps my understanding of the "Canterbury Scene" subgenre of progressive rock is faulty, but if Caravan's In the Land of Grey and Pink is Canterbury, then Mirage strikes me as at least Canterbury-related. The aspect of In the Land of Grey and Pink that's missing here is an elfishness, or perhaps cheekiness, that seems common to many Canterbury acts. And as it turns out, Camel's from a town three hours away from Canterbury.

Mirage isn't quite at the level of In the Land of Grey and Pink, but it's very good. Its compositions aren't only good, they're consistently good from start to finish - - no duds here. Same with the performances. Camel's not going to blow listeners away with instrumental wizardry here, but perhaps that's because their goal is to work as an ensemble, and maybe that's why this group is classified as "symphonic prog." Anyway, the playing is solid on every track. And the sound is great (I'm listening to the 2002 Deram issue).

Interestingly, the songs on Mirage are almost sequenced from most to least accessible. Apparently none of these songs were released as singles, but album-opener "Freefall" seems like the obvious choice. This is followed by "Supertwister," an instrumental which, in effect, introduces the styles which will be used throughout the remaining half hour - - almost like a medley overture. Side One ends with a nine-minute suite related to The Lord of the Rings. The complexity increases on Side Two, which is indexed as two tracks: the instrumental "Earthrise" and the closing suite "Lady Fantasy," another three-part suite. The CD reissue adds three live tracks from 1974 and an alternate (and slightly longer) mix of "Lady Fantasy." 

Whether it's symphonic, Canterbury, or some (perhaps "eclectic") combination, Mirage is a very good album. Its quality is synergistic: I can't point to a single element which, taken independently, demands a four-star rating. But as a package Mirage is certainly an "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection."

patrickq | 4/5 |

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