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Camel - Rain Dances CD (album) cover

RAIN DANCES

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 1155 ratings

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Sidscrat
3 stars I was a big Camel fan starting with Mirage. Their instrumentals were tight and creative and complex. Camel were an odd man out band and highly underrated in their prime. While Andy Latimer was not a super fast guitarist he had his own style and it worked well with this unit. Bardens was a delight on the keys and also underrated. Decca who was their international record company had their local companies market the albums and they did little advertising or none at all which hurt the band in exposure and popularity. I had a lot of prog friends in the 70's who had never even heard of the band.

They were a tight 4 piece with Latimer & Bardens writing songs and the ever strong and solid Doug Ferguson on bass and the wild wizard of drumming, Andy Ward. From Mirage (1974) to Snow Goose (1975) to Moonmadness (1976) was the group's best 3 entries and the latter I feel was my favorite though the Goose was such an incredible work and is in a class by itself. Unfortunately like so many bands, they had to go in and mess up the system just when it was great. They would later admit that things were the best in the band during the Moonmadness sessions. After that tour Ward wanted to shift more into jazz territory and Ferguson was content where he was in his solid playing.

Ward threatened to leave the band if they didn't boot Ferguson and since Ward was such a great drummer, they agreed and broke up a friendship as well. Latimer and Bardens later said this was a big mistake and spelled the beginning of the end and from that point the band chemistry was lost. Doug was their anchor and did so much including resolve arguments between the 2 song writers. Ironically it would only be one more album after this before Bardens would split due to Latimer wanting to take the band to commercial pop land and himself threatened to leave if Peter didn't. Big mistake number 2. Breathless which was the last decent entry and I say decent only because of "Echoes", the instrumental.

I say all of this as it is important to understand the history to really explain this album. Sure it has more jazz influence but so what? Sinclair is a good bassist and definitely gave the album's rhythm section a new twist but was it really necessary? Not in my opinion. Mr Ward got what he wanted but Sinclair and he did not get on well. The change was tragic for more than one reason. Rain Dances has some good tracks on it but it leaves me wanting whereas Mirage through Moonmadness were full meals in themselves. This was a few courses shy of a full meal.

I am not a fan of adding horns to a prog band that never had them before. Mel Collins would become a full member for Breathless only.

Tracks loved: Metrognome, Unevensong, Skylines, Rain Dances. The rest of the tracks are lacking for me. Highways Of The Sun is their first venture into pop land. While Elke has a hypnotic trace to it, I see it as a wasted track and it could have been merged with another piece that had a faster tempo.

This album sounds in many ways like a band trying to reformat itself which in reality it did. The next album only has a few tracks on it that come close to resembling the prog chops of their earlier works. After that it became Latimer's baby and never again would it reach the greatness that Camel was. I look at this album as the one where the house of cards began coming down. A tragic album. They should have stuck with Doug..

Sidscrat | 3/5 |

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