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Camel - Stationary Traveller CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.43 | 700 ratings

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5 stars If "Nude" was Camel redoing "Snow Goose" for the 1980s, then "Stationary Traveller" was the "Moonmadness" for this decade. Even the opener, "Pressure Points" packs a similar punch to "Aristillus". Of course, times have changed, and the shorter songs of "Single Factor" have returned here, so that in fact the authentic similarities to classic era Camel are few. Yet this is as far removed from "Single Factor" as you can imagine, being a dark brooding affair at the crossroads of prog and new wave, with almost nothing that sounds overtly commercial.

The loose concept surrounding the Berlin wall and the iron curtain of the time is held tightly together by the subtle changes between and within tracks; this is an album where the sequencing of material was carefully thought out and impeccably ordained. Moreover, all the material is of uniformly high quality. While the instrumentals are special highlights, in particular the emotive title tune that features Latimer on pan flute and on stellar solo, the vocals are strong and diverse. Chris Rainbow and Dave Paton lend their talents to the Camel sound without overruling it, as was sometimes the case on "Single Factor". "Cloak and Dagger Man" is a genuine rocker and "Vopos" has a nightmarish quality that should appeal to those who like their prog at its most sinister. "West Berlin" and "Fingertips" represent the best of latter day Camel - strong melodies, a variety of well arranged breaks with sax, double bass, and synthesizers, and, in the case of "Fingertips", unabashed sensuality.

This album received a decent amount of play in its day, and "Long Goodbyes" was a highly regarded closer, again a real high point for Camel thanks to excellent songwriting, vocals and a closing lead guitar section that rung out this phase of the band in style. No more studio albums would appear for almost 7 years, and in the pre-internet age, this was an eternity. I know I am in the minority, but far from alone, in saying that "Stationary Traveller" is probably Camel's most fully realized project. Even though I wouldn't recommend it first to prog fans, for anyone who appreciates the efforts, risks, and rewards involved in moving out of a stationary orbit, this one, this band, is a winner, hands down.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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