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Camel - The Snow Goose (Re-recording) CD (album) cover

THE SNOW GOOSE (RE-RECORDING)

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 578 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 326

'The Snow Goose' is the third studio album of Camel and was originally released in 1975. Camel's third work is a rather unique entry into their entire musical discography. Following the positive experience of the book 'Lord Of The Rings' of J. R. R. Tolkien that inspired 'White Rider', a musical suite that appeared on their previous second studio album 'Mirage', the band sought to further explore the creation of more conceptual storyteller on their next compositions.

When Latimer, Bardens, Ward and Ferguson retired to Devon to start working on their new studio album, they hadn't decided yet on what concept they would work. Until the last moment Bardens wanted to adapt Hesse's 'Steppenwolf' while Ferguson and Ward favoured 'The Snow Goose', a book by the American writer Paul Gallico. Latimer, who didn't have a clear favourite, managed to convince Bardens that Gallico's concept was better to their new piece of music.

Musically, 'The Snow Goose' is totally an instrumental album and is often regarded, by many people, as Camel's finest moment. The sound of the album was far more symphonic, polished and atmospheric than anything on their two first studio albums and featured some of their strongest melodies and themes ever. A few passages also included some orchestration, giving a very big and impressive sound. Many of the tracks on the album are rather short. There are sixteen pieces on it, but all of them float in one to another and that creates a forty five minutes constant flow of music.

Shortening the story, one day Rhayader, a lonely person who lived in the marshes, found a wounded Snow Goose and takes care of him. A little girl Fritha, also worried with him, became a friend of Rhayader. By the season's end the goose healed and was set free. Then, Rhayader stood alone again. Fritha doesn't come to visit him anymore. The story happened in the World War II when British troops retreat from Dunkirk and were under fire from the German army. Due to that, Rhayader decided to help, saving people on the battle of Dunkirk. During the battle, the Snow Goose came back to help him. Rhayader was killed in the battle. A German pilot destroyed Rhayader's lighthouse and all his work, except one portrait of Fritha painted by Rhayader. The painting showed a child with a wild snow goose in her arms. It was the way as Rhayader saw Fritha for the first time. After Rhayader's dead, the Goose was named 'La Princesse Perdue'.

'The Snow Goose (Re-Recording)' of 2013 draws upon the many strengths of the original album which was first released in 1975. In my point of view, the 2013 version at least matches the original in all departments. In many instances though, it's ultimately able to surpass the musical achievements of its illustrious predecessor. The more recent release is, in some places, arguably less mellow than the original. It has a greater overall energy. Some listeners might be attracted by its greater immediacy and drive. The crisply recorded and excellent sound gives many aspects of the piece a rawer spontaneous feel. As one might expect, Andrew Latimer's guitar parts are expressive and expansive throughout. His playing is graced with great skill, tone and control. In the newly recorded of the album, the quality inherent in his original playing is at least matched and, in my humble opinion, it's almost certainly improved upon. For the most part, the updated 'The Snow Goose' stays loyal to the overall composition of the original album, but a number of parts have been given revised with fresh arrangements. Some of the shorter pieces on the original album now have a longer running time and especially many of the positive facets of Camel's music can be found on its lengthiest parts.

This new version of the album has, almost, a new line up, with the exception of Andrew Latimer. These new players are able to build upon and positively enhance an already imperious piece of music. By the other hand, the superb production values present in the newer recording fully involve the listener and carry the music to an even higher level.

This new version was dedicated to the memory of the co-writer and keyboardist on the original album, Peter Bardens that sadly passed away in 2002, and acknowledging the input from their original bassist Doug Ferguson and their original drummer Andy Ward, for their contributions to the concept, development and recording of the original album.

Conclusion: As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Camel and I particularly love this album. 'The Snow Goose', 'Moonnadness' and 'Mirage' are my favourite albums of Camel and some of my favourite progressive albums of all time. So, it was with some expectations but also with some suspicions when I saw that Latimer decided re-recorded one of the Camel's classic albums. It would be a huge risk to Latimer. This new version could be a true deception. However and fortunately, my initial reserves fell completely. This new version of the classic 'The Snow Goose' is absolutely superb. It basically remains faithful to the original album, with some tracks slightly revisited. The tasty arrangements and enhancements made on the original album for the recent stage representation of 'The Snow Goose' are perfect. None of the charm of the original version lost in translation. So, despite this new version had nothing substantial new to offer, it's always a pleasure to revisit this fantastic album under the new light and vision of one of its great creators.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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