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Camel - Lunar Sea - An Anthology 1973-1985 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 42 ratings

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4 stars Camel banged the gavel down to make a statement of prog like no other band.

This anthology covering their career from 1973 to 1985 is as good as it gets if you want to dip your toes into the water to paddle through the repertoire of this important symphonic prog band of virtuoso musicians. Barden's keyboards are inspirational but the real star is Latimer on vocals and guitar. The spirit of Camel resides in these artists, though it can never be underestimated the power of Ward's accomplished drumming and Ferguson's pounding basslines. Together they were untouchable, pure magic and there was never a lineup like them in early symphonic prog.

It is in chronological order beginning with tracks from the debut such as the creative 'Never Let Go' and my favourite 'Feefall' with dominant keyboards and odd time sigs. Short blasts of drums and keys merge with melodic verses to create an atmosphere of immense tension, that surprises as it twists and turns in various musical directions. Latimer's guitar is ever present and he rips out some searing lead breaks. The time sig changes are ubiquitous on each track and the innovation and creativity on this debut is astounding.

On 'Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider' Latimer's guitars are upbeat and his flute is cheerful and charming. These talents are balanced by orchestra sections giving the work an overall epic majestic quality. The juxtaposition of orchestra and rock instruments works perfectly. At times there are subliminal vocals, no actual words, but more sounds that compliment the tracks.

'Rhayader Goes To Town' is definitely a highlight, featuring on many Camel compilations, and includes enormous keyboard motifs that stab in stoccato riffs, and all is augmented by the blazing guitar solos from Latimer. "The Snow Goose" is one of the best Camel albums make no mistake.

The main drawcard of this compilation are the live tracks, namely the epic multi-movement suite 'Lady Fantasy' featuring Latimer's vocals and scorching guitar solos. The melodies are compelling and the epic flows from section to section seamlessly, bookended by Latimer's main lead guitar motif. Ferguson's bass and Barden's shimmering keyboards throughout each track are accomplished musicianship. A tri-part work of genius that never fails to be compelling and astounding.

'A Song Within A Song' is a 7 minute exploration of time sig changes and incredible musicianship; one of my favourites. Others from "Moonmadness" are 'Spirit Of The Water' and 'Air Born'.

'Lunar Sea (Live Version)' is a 9 minute well performed quintessential Camel that ends the first CD on a high note. It has become a staple of the Camel live concert and always sounds perfectly and innovatively performed. The best of Camel is right here on this CD.

CD 2 is interesting as this is some of the lesser known Camel material from their 80s albums such as "Breathless" and "rain Dances". The changes in their approach to music are quite remarkable. It is not a good change as there is nothing here of classic recognition rather it is solid prog, with nothing standing out to me. It is enjoyable music and the highlights are 'Echoes', 'The Sleeper', 'Ice' and 'Stationary Traveller'. There is a live version of 'West Berlin' and it ends with 'Long Goodbyes'.

I still think it is good to hear the journey of Camel from 70s legends to 80s survivors. The booklet is replete with interesting information on the history of the band and lots of photos. An informative read giving an insight into the longevity of the group. Overall the anthology is a fairly good replacement for buying every album of the band especially following their classic albums, but I must admit even if you do get these songs you are well advised to still get their first 4 albums as an example of some of the best symphonic prog on the planet.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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