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Camel Rajaz album cover
4.10 | 986 ratings | 59 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Three Wishes (6:58)
2. Lost And Found (5:38)
3. The Final Encore (8:07)
4. Rajaz (8:15)
5. Shout (5:15)
6. Straight To My Heart (6:23)
7. Sahara (6:44)
8. Lawrence (10:46)

Total Time: 58:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Latimer / vocals, guitars, flute, keyboards, percussion, producer
- Ton Scherpenzeel / keyboards
- Colin Bass / bass
- Dave Stewart / drums, percussion

- Barry Phillips / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Greg Welsh Design

CD Camel Productions ‎- CP-009CD (1999, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CAMEL Rajaz ratings distribution

(986 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAMEL Rajaz reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Not just because of the cover , this one makes me think more oftheir debut or Mirage because there was a long time that there had not been so much energy in one of their albums. This is the first record in years that Camel had not done a full concept album , and it suited me well as I was never a great fans of those .
Review by loserboy
5 stars For those who love the music of classic era CAMEL will unequivocally love "Rajaz" with their vintage swooping symphonic tendencies and excellent song writing. This version of CAMEL put Andy Latimer (guitars, vocals) up with Colin Bass (bass), Tom Scherpenzeel (FOCUS), Barry Phillips (cello) and Dave Stewart on the drum kit. "Rajaz" blends the sharp arabic sounding guitar fretting of Latimer with the symphonic keys of Scherpenzeel all encased with the soft caressing vocals of Andy. Songs are exceptionally well written and offer a great mix of themes and moods. "Rajaz" was also recording in HDCD so the sound is quite lovely with great deep tones from Colin Bass and the cello strokes of Phillips. Overall "Rajaz" is equally as good as early CAMEL and I am sure will become a fav of yours... gets better ever listen.
Review by lor68
3 stars This is a typical "CAMEL mood", with a few defects and a lot of interesting breaks through, within the "song-format"...despite of deserving actually a 3 stars score whenever I like to compare it to some Andy Latimer's early works, finally I find that's a natural and coherent effort too, a sort of return to their roots !! (listen to the splendid - but a bit forced and unnatural - work of "Harbour of Tears", in order to understand what I mean)... well honestly not the whole stuff here is much inspiring, because there are a few sad songs, sung by Andy in a tepid manner (unlike his vocal interpretation in "A Nod and a Wink", this latter being very brilliant and poetical as well, in comparison to his standard), which make this album a bit boring and formulaic in a few moments... The first track "Three Wishes" is splendid, despite of the "Floydian" citation at the beginning, because the prosecution is stunning, by means of a monumental guitar solo and a tasteful interplay with the Moog/Hammond as well (a true " Camel imprinting"!!). Besides the track "Sahara" and the last one "Lawrence" too are fine tasteful gems, sometimes resembling the style of "Ice"... instead the other sad songs being anyway very close to the typical "CAMEL's style" aren't so brilliant in comparison to those ones belonging to their classics e.g. "Echoes", "Nimrodel", "Lady Fantasy", etc....), but it never minds!!

Recommended, even though it's not completely essential ...

Review by Marcelo
5 stars Let me tell you something: I had bought a set including "Breathless", "Rain Dances" and "Stationary Traveller" several years ago, and it was a deception, even when those were not bad stuffs, because -except a couple of tracks in each album- I didn't find there the real CAMEL progressive sound. So, I put CAMEL in my "ex-prog-bands" list. But when "Rajaz" appeared, I bought it (with lots of reserves) and when music started... what a wonderful surprise! CAMEL was CAMEL yet! Truly progressive, some Arabian flavour and exquisite melodies in almost one hour of one of the best '90s albums, with Latimer and co. in their best form. There aren't weak points, and all songs (specially "The Last Encore", the third track), conform one of the most brilliant CAMEL works I'd listened in a long time.
Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is an interesting concept album that successfully manages to evoke the solitude of the desert and its mysteries. If you find 'Dust and Dreams' or 'Harbour of Tears' a little too moody for your taste, you'll probably like "Rajaz". Among my favourite tracks are "Three Wishes", a tune in 5/8 with some memorable musical phrases. "Lost and Found" is an energetic, minor-key piece in 7/8. "The Final Encore" is a mid-tempo tune with a heavy, throbbing beat reminiscent of a camel's footsteps in the desert. "Straight to my Heart" contains the inevitable bluesy guitar solo without which the fans would feel cheated - how true! "Sahara" starts off as a mid-tempo jazzy instrumental that takes flight half way through, showcasing a most interesting blend of Arabian-like sounds and an energetic display of all that CAMEL can muster when they're truly inspired. The final track, the epic "Lawrence", is a perfect closer; it builds up ever so slowly, until soaring keyboards and ANDY's weepy, flowing guitar flights totally dominate.

A highly evocative album indeed. However, there is one fault with this album: I find it a bit monotonous. "Dust and Dreams" and "Harbour of Tears" had every reason to be sad, yet their music was not so; it was moving. "Rajaz" lacks that dimension, hence the 3 stars. Had I had the option, I gladly would have given it 3 1/2 stars.

Review by The Prognaut
5 stars First of all, I have to admit that I'm a little bit confused with this album, sometimes it seems to me that it deserves the endorsement of best CAMEL album, but then pictures come to my mind in assorted images such as "Snow Goose", "Mirage", "Harbour of Tears" and so on. and then is when I hesitate about such considerations. I also have to say that this very recording brings my sensitivity out in such incomparable ways, it gets me in the right kind of mood by awakening my romantic yet almost unknown spirit every time I play this album on my stereo.

What's pretty much clear to me though, is that this is the CAMEL album where LATIMER plays exquisite, well educated, hypnotizing guitar. I don't really know what is the real purpose of this album, but the air clears itself perfectly when you listen to extremely polished pieces of the size of "Lawrence" and "Rajaz" and everything becomes simpler. Maybe some CAMEL fans will not rely on what I'm saying in here by setting a counterpoint among a controversy created to distinguish and point out a better CAMEL album apart from this one, but at the time you think of that you have to realize that you will be leaving out important prog ways to a perfect composition and production, and due the circumstances surrounding the band, "Rajaz" happens to be the album that had no need to struggle with all that. I just don't know how far I can go complementing this album, but what I do know is that it'll never be enough. "Rajaz" is that gem lost in the desert, this is the sort of recording that you'll get to consider as top favorite upon your prog rock listing, this is the unforgettable CAMEL époque album, this is "Rajaz".

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rajaz was Camel returning to their best. Every track on this album is of the highest quality and Latimer proves just what a brilliant guitarist he really is.There are similarities to Gilmour but delivered with versatile directness. Latimer has captured the mood of the desert and the climactic ' Lawrence' is one of my all time favourite songs from the Camel archive.
Review by Eclipse
5 stars Much better and more consistent than the also great "Mirage" and "Moonmadness", this album has a more mellow and relaxing rhythm than any other Camel release i've listened to. Vocalist and guitar man Andy Latimer looks like the Mark Knopfler of prog world, but what makes him distinct from DIRE STRAIT's mastermind is his guitar playing. Very bluesy and a la Gilmour sometimes, one could say that he is one of the best guitarrists our ears ever had the pleasure to listen to. The best example is the opening track "Three Wishes", where the name David Gilmour will instantly come to your mind after the first notes come from Andy's fingers. He doesn't actually do this in every song here, so there are some others that he plays more creatively and so we can't say that he is ripping Gilmour off. The album's flow is its best characteristic. It needs to be listened in full to be enjoyed, since each song leads to another in perfect shape. My particular favorite here is the beautiful and melancholic title track, one of the most touching songs that this band could make. "The Final Encore" is the most prog here, and progheads will probably claim this as their favorite. I'm a proghead too, but i personally prefer "Rajaz" despite being less complex than the third track, since this song moves me so much inside that in this case i prefer using the "beautiful song" criteria than the "how prog it is" one.
Review by daveconn
3 stars Another humid travelogue with Camel's rider-in-residence, Andy Latimer. The opening "Three Wishes" is everything a Camel fan could wish for: an instrumental that at various times evokes Steve Hackett, Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons Project with Latimer's familiar, leaping guitar leading it on. (Some of the guitar leads invite comparison to Robert Fripp. Nice to see he's still being invited places.) But like their previous tales (Dust, Harbour), Camel settles a little too comfortably in their chair for the rest of the telling. These latter-day Camel discs seem to be more about creating a mood and a movie than writing self-standing, memorable songs. Other bands (Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd) likewise grew adept at sounding good even when they didn't have a whole lot to say, and with Camel I'm beginning to think these concept albums are a crutch to get the creative juices flowing. Listening to a song like "The Final Encore" lumber along makes me wonder if it's central to the mood, the plot, or just filler dressed in filigree. (I know, you can't really "dress" something in filigree, but I was going for a picture there. A picture of a lousy writer, apparently.) I'll confess, my ears prick up every time Andy Latimer's guitar enters the action, if only because there's so little to look at in this landscape. (A mixed metaphor, I know. Come to think of it, I really am a terrible writer. Or at least a terribly lazy one.) Then the mind begins to wander, and you wonder if you put those fifteen dollars to the best of all possible uses. If you enjoyed Dust and Harbour (and a lot of people did, including me as I recall), you'll enjoy Rajaz as much for its similarities as its differences. (The difference, since I know you're wondering, being the climatic adjustments in the music, though still within the frothy family of dust and a soft rain.) Jazzed over it? I wasn't. I listened to this, satisfied myself that Camel continues to make better late-period music than most, then filed it back into my collection in favor of Moonmadness, etc. Honestly, the music since Nude has been a little dour for my tastes. Which is why they should get rid of the metric system.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album represents the return of legendary Camel sound like those were the early days of the band like "Mirage" album. Andy Latimer seems to be getting better and better over the years. When my I heard this album the first time it blew me away because it's reminiscent of true Camel sound. An excellent and moving, loaded with mood songs. For any early Camel fans, when you listen to Rajaz' for the first time you will immediately get a sense of true Camel. Andy does all the vocals on this album with drums are as good as you would expect from Dave Stewart. Ton Scherpenzeel of KAYAK contributes here but is not as out front as you would expect. All songs are excellently composed with ambient textures accentuated with long sustain - mostly - guitar work that sometimes reminds me to the like of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Gone are the days when Camel emulated the music of The Alan Parsons Project.

Yeah, I can sense the moving nature of this album especially in lifting the mood of its listener. There are some silent parts with ambient style and provide guitar sounds to enter gently with the music.

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' .!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by belz
3 stars 3.3/5.0 Still getting better! I feel like I am repeating myself, but this one is still an improvement on the previous album (which was an improvement on the previous one, which was an improvement on the previous one... all the way to the deep prog dead zone of the 80s). Exit the boring new age sound! Exit the overwhelming pop sound! Exit the meaningless concept themes which are better than the music itself. This one is about music, and really I think this is the first album in years on which Latimer does not try to reproduce the old Camel sound but try to create something new. This is a paradox: it is 'because' Latimer does not try to reproduce Camel old sound that it sounds more like what Camel used to be: an imaginative band which CREATED something.

This is the band tenth album and I feel as it goes to its roots of creation and finally it seems like Camel freed itself from its 70s masterpiece and can create freely without any limitation. That said, this is a good album, but not an essential one. 3.3/5.0

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hm, the last CAMEL album I bothered to listen in entirety was "I can see your house from here" in 1979, and being very boring and lame at the time, I gave up from following subsequent releases. So, my memories are stuck with their first four albums with original line-up. Then, "Rajaz" came as a big surprise and I can say that it is an excellent, melodic, emotional and perfectly produced "concept" album that I keep enjoying. Latimer shows again that he is a great guitarist and composer, if not a vocalist, but even his deep whispering singing style nicely matches the overall "Sahara feeling". "Straight to My Heart" is a nice sort of auto-bio memory that amazes me finding out that not only the poor kids of Eastern Europe (such as Yugoslavia) in the 1960s had listened to the famous Radio Luxembourg! Very good album that I can recommend to all prog fans and even to old-time CAMEL afficionados. Thumbs up!!!
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars To quote Rob LaDuca, Rajaz is "A form of poetry chanted in time with the camel's hooves on long desert voyages". So a band named CAMEL is making music about the rhythm of the camel, seems like a logical thing doesn't it ? And this really is the key to appreciating and understanding this record. Listening to it with desert travel in mind. Just imagine travelling in the desert in a caravan, there are no sights to see, and the heat is unbearible, your whole focus is on arriving at your destination. And to survive the journey you chant to the rhythm of the camels. I know i'm going on a lot about this but I felt a lot of the songs were like this in places, tough going, yet that is the brilliance of this record. And if you look at this record this way as a whole, then the final act, at the end of "Lawrence" is arriving at the destination.You can feel the joy, the relief, that is felt through the guitar solo that rivals "Ice" as one of the most emotional and amazing solos that Andy Latimer has done.

The first song is an instrumental called "Three Wishes", it features the same melody throughout, taken up first by the keyboard while the guitar pierces the soundscape.The guitar then takes up the melody.The pastoral passages remind me of "Dust And Dreams". "Lost And Found" is a mellow tune with cello. "The Final Encore" has an Arabic feel to the guitar and keyboard intro, actually the rhythm to follow sounds like what it might be like riding on a camel. "Rajaz" begins slowly with acoustic guitar and cello that picks up in pace part way through. "Shout" is an ok , mellow tune.

"Straight To My Heart" is a personal look at Andy's childhood, a cool song that ends with some excellent guitar. "Sahara" features some nice gentle guitar that increases in intensity. This whole album filled with many guitar moments, none greater than on "Lawrence" (of Arabia) that is rather melancholic to begin with, then the guitar simply builds to an emotional conclusion. This is another mature release that won't necessarily appeal to you right away, but is certainly worth taking the long journey for, until you realize the journey is as good as the destination.

I originally gave this 4 stars but felt I was talking myself into that rating as I honestly didn't like this enough to offer up the 4 stars. Here I am close to 4 years later and not feeling any better about this album. Nineties CAMEL reminds me somewhat of PINK FLOYD minus Roger Waters.They both have that Adult Contempoary sound to them. I much prefer the earlier albums of both of these bands.

Review by evenless
5 stars The music of poets once carried caravans across great deserts. Sung to a simple metre of the animal's footsteps, it transfixed weary travellers on their sole objective. journey's end. This poetry is called 'rajaz'. It is the rhythm of the camel.

And this is exactly the way you feel while listening to this album; like you are riding on the back of a camel in a caravan from one point in the deserted Saudi-Arabian desert to another, far far away.

Andrew Latimer plays most instruments on this album and they all have an "Arabian touch" to them, just as Ton Scherpenzeel's keyboards. It really makes you feel like being on an Arabian journey on the back of a camel yourself. Camel singing about the rhythm of the camel. Makes sense doesn't it? In a way one might also see this figurative. After some 25 years, Camel's highlights were the early seventies, Camel goes back to their roots. I even think "rajaz" is my all time favourite Camel album, even better than "Mirage", "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness", because 25 years of playing and song writing definitely made the band grow and the sound as solid as a. err. Camel !

"Rajaz" probably being my favourite Camel album it's impossible to rate it less than the full 5 stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars Very surprisingly, the last two studio albums from Camel have been amongst the best one of their whole carreer (IMO). I thought that it would be very difficult to produce a better album than "Harbour Of Tears" but I was wrong. I have already mentioned the similarities in the guitar play between Andrew and Carlos (Santana, of course) in terms of feeling and emotions.

This is probably the album in which it is the most significant. Starting from the cover, and its desert look. Definitely a feeling of "Caravanseraï". This is not the only one : the way Andrew caresses his guitar in some tracks ("Three Wishes", "Rajaz" and even more in "Lawrence") turns me always to this gorgeous album from Santana (five star rating in my review).

Colin Bass (already Camel's ...bass player on "I Can See..." in 1979), had given Latimer a book entitled 'World Music - A Rough Guide'. In the section on Arabic music, Latimer read about a form of musical poetry called 'rajaz'. Sung in ancient times, 'rajaz' was a spontaneous composition inspired by the rhythm of the camels footsteps to help the weary travelers reach their destination. Latimer was very enthusiast about the idea that the rhythm of the camel would help people reach their journey's end.

The only average track on "Rajaz" is "Shout". But when we think of Camel in the eighties, this one would have been a highlight on any of these poor releases.

"Straight To My Heart" is a very personal song : "I was born in '49, in a family of four. Father had his own band just after the war. My brother and I had a radio and every night we'd share, waves from Luxembourg that came though the air. Days were full of music and nights were the same. And though the songs are different now some things never change... I can't explain the way I feel. Why, even to this day, I still love the sound of that red guitar. It takes my breath away and goes my heart".

The track ends again with a fabulous guitar break. If heaven is like this : I would like to go to heaven. If this is hell, then let's go to hell !

Most of the tracks are also quite lenghty for which I cannot complain about. The whole album is pure magic, melody, tranquility and emotion. I just love this album since the very first time I spun it. This is by far the most guitar-oriented album from Camel. It is just great.

"Lawrence" is my favorite (remininscent of "Ice") and closes the album superbly. It is one of the longest Camel's studio number. ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS.

So for me it was a love at first sight and still remains so. I hope it will be the same for you. I would highly recommend this album to newcomers to Camel.

One could only have hoped that Camel would also release a live album from their "Rajaz" tour. Some semi-official (or semi-boot) ones were available for review some time ago but have disapeared from the list. Those were "Camelitis-Live In Chile" and "Live In Saõ Paulo".

Tracklist for Chile was : "Three Wishes - Echoes" (14'35"), "Rhayader - Rhayader Goes to Town" (8'), "Ice" (9'02") this version being the best one of this great song, "Chord Change" (7'51"), "Watching The Bobbins" (7'04"), "Fingertips" (5'49"), "Rajaz" (9'28") just superb, "Sahara" (6'58"), "Mother Road - Little Rivers" (16'17") and "Lady Fantasy" (18'09").

This will be partially featured on "The Paris Collection". But tracklist is better and numbers more emotionally played in Live In Chile (the interaction with the audience is really nice and very natural. Andrew attempting some Spanish which is always nice for the audience, it demonstrates that you CARE about them). It was recorded on April 1st, 2001 in Santiago de Chile.

Anyway, five stars for Rajaz.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars A trip through the desert.

Camel's most middle eastern influenced record, Rajaz is not as powerful as some of their early 70's material, but the songwriting and spirit are still there. Latimer's playing is just as good as it was in the 'good ole days' and the symphonic structures are still here. That being said, none of the tracks really mesmerize you the way tracks on Mirage and Moonmadness captured our attention.

The playing is soft, elegant, and the instruments seem to really do weep. The biggest detractor is the vocals, which haven't gotten much better. The whole album is a vacation though. A vacation from the stresses of every day life, a laid back simple set of songs that are challenging enough to prevent dozing off. Camel has the spirit of the 70's back, and captures us with their spirit.

As I said, it's not any Mirage, but it still delivers. Nothing particularly stands out, but if you are looking for a modern record with a solid lineup that reminds you of the great prog of the past, Camel's Rajaz is a good bet.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars For many years I though Camel was through, at least with me, and that their only great works had been the four first albums. Fortunatly I happen to hear the Harbour fo Tears CD and it made me change my mind. That record was a perfect blend of celtic and prog music that many tried to do and never fully succeeded. It was a beautiful work and restore much of my lost faith in Camel´s name.

Then came Rajaz. it is very inspired and almost as good as its precedor. Of course Camel is not the same as it was in the 70´s, but Andrew Latimer, the sole original member left, avoided all the trappings and temptations to make a solo career under the disguise of his famous band. The sound is truly a band sound, rich and full of energy. His guitar solos are simply amazing, but the songwriting did not diminished either. Even his vocals are more mature. His range may be not that great but he compensates everything with a sincerity and emotion that makes it sounds perfect for Camel´s new music. Much of the old spirit is here.

I hope he does more albums like those two. If you like Camel´s first four albums and miss the magic, try Rajaz and Harbour Of Tears. You´ll not be disapointed. Music from the heart and soul. 4 solid stars.

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars r-AJA-z

Rajaz brings a completely fresh sound never heard before in Camel's repertoire, adding eastern influences ala Roots to Branches by Jethro Tull, but Rajaz, as much is post-80's Camel, is much calmer and moody that may remind you to the mood of The Division Bell by Gilmour & Co, however Rajaz having a pretty high prog quotient compared to the lack of it in the aforementioned album. However, The Division Bell and Rajaz share another thing in common, that is the focus on the sentimental and energetic guitar, while the keyboards are not a key-role anymore in any of the two cases.

Anyways, Rajaz, as I already said is also more focused in the Prog aspects. Already since the blasting drums of the intro song, you really can't stop the album running. The intro being really good, describing the moodier sound they are into. The instrumental tune changes of mood quite a few times, from the fast intro of the drums to the slightly keys and guitar effects. An interesting instrumental which makes a solid and intriguing opening to this album.

Then comes Lost and Found. Here we have Andy's new voice, really soft and low-timbre, the voice maybe here is well recieved, not being bad as many say, neither fascinating, but fits the music, IMO perfect. The song changes of mood from softy passages to a more violent one, with the synths present. Here you can already feel the oriental influences. A well performed synth solo, with a good bass following it. Lovely how the music gentenly slows down with Andy's guitar. Lovely it is the final section.

Then follows the Final Encore. Surely not a fave of mine, this one being too much influenced by oriental music. Not totally bad, but the oriental feel overall is ugly. Way too Egyptian... The keys sound too 80's and Andy's voice seems like from a mummy.

After a dissapointing one, you can feel the gentle acoustic guitar from Andy correcting his mistake. Rajaz, being totally great, another song that full fills the album's unique carachter. Andy's voice is nice and moody, very dreamy. After a while you soon feel the bass beating as yor heart, and an echoed key sound is heard. Yeah there's where a short and gentle guitar solo comes and Andy's voice is somewhat more intense. The final solo is really relaxing, and really good.

Then follows up Shout.. A simple song, really. Quite as a filler. Boring, nothing in it. A stupid moog in it, not doing nothing. Another mistake. They could have done a simple song but with the same atmosphere the album is trying to reach.

Straight to my Heart has a similar guitar from Rajaz, being quite misleading but still the song flaws very good. Then seems like a slide guitar enters, and breaks the soft mood as the keys and bass did in Rajaz. Still being soft, there's more activity. In the middle part you listen a very Dire Straits solo, IMO. Very good. Could have been called Rajaz: part 2.

Sahara. A masterpiece of a song, I should say. As I said the album tries to reach an atmosphere, well this song reaches it, as Rajaz and Lost and Found do as well. Somewhat jazzy the intro, very relaxing. Andy's guitar after a while it breaks the habit! Thunderous guitar it is. Masterful work. The drums and bass fill the rythm section very well. The guitar solo is very 90's I should say, as Gilmour's. Fascinating is when the keys slow up the music to an un-reached zone, and the oriental influences take lead on Andy's guitar in a great way, this time. The song continues with this masterful guitarist, reaching more and more to a greater solo from what it was at the begining. It finishes as it started.

Reaching the end, we got a 10 min song, Lawrence...Good? Bad?... Begining somewhat like Lunar Sea, at cause of the keys, it then moves into a repetitive slow and boring pattern, in which the main focus is on Andy's exceptional, though a bit too long, guitar solo. As a 10 minutes song, you really can't expect that, I mean, the guitar solo is fantastic like always, but 10 minutes!? Great solo, bad song.

This album ends up being a excellent return to their Prog roots, even if the mood and influences are quite different than from those from their 70's classics. Anyone who gave up Camel long ago, should check this and the following one out, they shouldn't dissapoint at all. One of the few 70's Prog bands, that still progress'.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Increasingly, Camel's most captivating material is that which contains vocals, whereas the opposite tended to be true in the 1970s. While the instrumentals of Rajaz chiefly display an admirable tightness that one would expect from a full fledged band rather than a supporting cast for Andy Latimer, they generally sound too similar and too much like what has been heard before, long before, while lacking that entrancing quality for which Camel is famous.

In contrast, Susan Hoover and Andy have matured greatly as songwriters, both lyrically and musically, and this is proudly exhibited on "Lost and Found", "Rajaz", "Shout" and "Straight to the Heart". In particular, the title cut is a full meal in a desert, with an irresistible beat. "Shout" is the most accessible song, but is also appealingly stripped down. Everywhere are Latimer's expressive guitars, acoustic strums, near Hawaiian tones, blistering bluesy leads, Frippian perversions and Glmouresque wailings, and so much more. "Straight to my Heart" is Latimer's most autobiographical song, and one can feel the shared intimacy of his experiences in the 1950s together with his brother, listening to tunes on the wireless.

The best instrumental is "Sahara", another brilliant fulfillment of the arid motif. It's really about time that Camel pay proper homage to its namesake habitat. "Lawrence" is one of Camel's longest tracks but is somewhat overreaching, and even the unusual vocal arrangement and thematic consistency cannot render more than passing interest. It is important that Camels know how to break out of their plod on occasion and gallop, but such is not the case here, some gorgeous leads notwithstanding.

With "Rajaz", Camel continued their remarkable journey in the 1990s. Even if it is a slight step down from the previous story albums, I cannot help but round up in acknowledgement of their adventurousness and sense of play.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Camels walk too slow in the too cold dessert

I am somewhat surprised that so many people refer to this album as 'a return to form' for Camel when it came after two such brilliant albums as Dust And Dreams and Harbour Of Tears (both masterpieces for me!). Personally, I consider Rajaz to be a large step down from the creative peak that brought us those two truly excellent concept albums. Indeed, I think that Rajaz was the least good Camel album since Stationary Traveller from 1984 to which is also has some similarities. Don't get me wrong though, both Rajaz and Stationary Traveller are very good albums indeed, but Camel has made even better in my opinion!

Rajaz abandons the "organic" and "warm" sound of Harbour Of Tears in favour of a more "cold" sound similar to the sound on Stationary Traveller and to some of Pink Floyd's music. The electric guitar work is amazing as usual from the great Andy Latimer and it is the guitars that work best on Rajaz. Andy's guitar sound is very much his own distinctive one (even if it often reminds of David Gilmour). But you could not mistake Andy for someone else playing and singing. Those are the marks of a great artist!

The other strong point of this album are the vocals. Andy Latimer has never been a great vocalist in the technical sense, but he has really found his own distinctive singing voice. Having a distinctive voice, something that makes you stand out from the crowd is actually always much more important than range and overall technical ability. However, I must add that I miss the harmony vocals from previous Camel albums that are totally absent here.

Further, all songs have basically the same instrumentation. The keyboards are not very varied and there are not many instruments involved apart from guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. There are some sparse flute and cello parts and I think I can detect an acoustic bass somewhere in the mix on some track(s). The drums are often quite simple and structured; are they using a drum machine here? The drums could clearly have been more "alive". Also, (and this is probably the biggest problem I have with this album) all of the songs are in a similar tempo and mood; generally very slow and mellow. The album's songs have been composed on the camel's walking metre! And I will have to conclude that Camels walk to slow to make music out of it! Rajaz is, on the other hand, exceptionally well produced, but the sound is slightly sterile.

The part I like the most on this whole album is when, half way through the track Sahara, an unexpected Middle-Eastern sounding guitar melody kicks in, in a somewhat different tempo and mood compared to the rest of the song. This is a great reward for sitting through the earlier parts of that song. Overall, the Eastern influences (that can be found on a few of the songs here) are very refreshing, but they could easily have taken this further and added more of those Middle-Eastern moods. Perhaps, also having some Middle-Eastern instruments?

This last part of Sahara is one of the very few passages on Rajaz that actually rocks. There is another such passage in the instrumental opening track Three Wishes as well. This opening track is followed immediately by the second track in a somewhat sudden and slightly unexpected manner which is another place on the album that holds interest. This album would have needed more of those sudden, surprising changes. Overall, this album feels somewhat predictable. Several songs take a little bit too long to get off the ground. It takes too long to get to the interesting parts.

To sum up: Rajaz is a very good album that feels somewhat predictable and it is too far between the great bits for this to be really excellent. I have to say that Rajaz is actually the least good Camel album of the 90's/2000's. If you want to hear Camel's true return to form, try the aforementioned masterpieces Harbour Of Tears and Dust And Dreams!

Rajaz is very good indeed and definitely recommended, but I'm sticking with three (strong) stars for this one

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Whether one likes Camel or not is really irrelevant in any Progressive discussion, the band having fully established its credentials, as few groups can boast of a nearly 40 year successful career in any genre. They have released some classic records that are prog monuments, tossing in a few rather shoddy affairs as well as some that are in between (I for one love "Stationary Traveler", more for context than content really, as the German Democratic Republic was one of history's strangest anachronisms). In recent times, the eloquence of the Dust & Dreams/Harbor of Tears and Rajaz trilogy deserves some recognition, once and for all. The lads certainly proved the nay-sayers wrong, fruitfully creating music at a time when prog was in its death throes. Of the three, this is the masterpiece Camel album, a glorious voyage that fully encapsulates the Latimer vision; set in awe-inspiring serene artwork (the entire package is perfect) and seasoned with spirited playing that manages to convey the harsh desolation of the desert , the glorious stamina of the dromedary and the essential quest for oasis. "Three Wishes" conjures up impressions of finding a lamp that needs a rub and the apparition of the proverbial genie that grants three wishes (Interestingly, the parallel with the Irish Leprechaun who also grants 3 whims). Latimer is one of very few guitar masters who can squeeze multiple emotions with a minimum of notes and do so convincingly and he does so here with unrestricted aplomb. If you are a melody enthusiast like me, you will appreciate the spellbinding pursuit of melancholia that Latimer seems to invoke at will. "Lost & Found" bravely showcases what many perceive as Camel's Achilles heel: somewhat bland vocals from the leader himself but it's a small and picky caveat as he is no Steve Howe! In fact, the storyline is rather gloomy, highlighted by the spooky guitar insinuations that weave nicely with doomy cello runs, fitting nicely into the caravan of songs. "The Final Encore" is another extensive sonic platform for Latimer to make his guitar swoon, while returning keyman Ton Scherpenzeel (who has a fear of flying disorder) colors the arrangements with sultry synths, tumbling organ rolls and occasional Arabic motifs in the percussion. Both bassist Colin Bass and athletic drummer Dave Stewart complement the songs brilliantly, easily one of the most dynamic rhythm section in prog. The title cut is an extravagant piece of temperamental music, cello way upfront and Latimer's profound vocal lament leading by example, delicate flute interventions, acoustic guitar along for the ride. When the main guitar-bred melody enters, marshaled through by expressive drums, the goose bumps appear by some enchantment, revealing a precious prog moment that soars avidly when the extended and seductive guitar solo undulates majestically. This is really sexy prog music, ideal for a loving encounter where body fluids are exchanged with passionate zeal. Kind of explains why Camel has so many female fans! "Shout" is the archetypal accessible song, sweet and simple almost to the point of fragility. There are no saccharine moments here though, as the maturity comes shining through with great ease. "Straight to my Heart" has a bluesy tune with a slow slide guitar intro that is closer to Eric Clapton that David Gilmour, the haggard vocals recalling some past heartache, the ravishingly painful solo hits the gut hard. There is no fretman that can equal the emotion Latimer instills in his notes! "Sahara" is another patented dreamy Latimer instrumental with palatable virtuosic panache, exuding exotic musical distillations in a somewhat arid symphonic landscape, expressing vacillating emotion and timeless expanse. Some may say that this will put you asleep, I guess then they have never felt the hypnotic stupor of the desert, lulling you into the unexpected! When the searing solo slashes through the dense storm, the mirage of sameness vanishes in an instant, revealing the immense granular universe. "Lawrence" is a fitting closer, a resourceful piece garnished with sumptuous sensation, a musical nod and wink to that famed adventurous fool so magnificently portrayed by Peter O'Toole, again proving how "soundtrack-ish" Camel's music really can be. The minimalistic orchestral dynamics are somehow richly symphonic, sonically illustrating a rather complex story about a prophet in the wind, swallowed by the ruthless sand. The hallowed Fender Strat cast a spell that is grandiose, majestic and legendary, the definition of good prog and Rajaz certainly delivers in spades. 4.5 silky dunes
Review by Negoba
3 stars Soothing Ethnic Guitar Clinic

Camel's Rajaz is an album I put on more often than many in my growing prog collection. However, the part of me fed by this album is very different than the part that enjoys Yes or Frank Zappa or even the classic Camel albums. This is an almost ambient piece of chillout music featuring some of the tastiest guitar ever recorded. The closest approximation I can think to this mood is Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms." This is NOT a Camel record in the mold of their 70's prog works, it is its own entity.

Superficially, this sounds like an Andy Latimer solo record. While the guitars are singular, up front, and beautiful, many of the other instruments are strictly supportive. In fact, many sound as if the guitarist himself had programmed base tracks for his solo instrument in a home studio. Many of the drum beats, especially, are almost electronically stiff, and I suspect Latimer's credits in percussion are actually programming. Certain tracks (notably the great lead track "Three Wishes") employ obviously live drumming, and have a much more energetic feel as a result. Similarly, contrasting the balance found in early Camel, here the keyboards clearly take a back seat to the guitar.

Even in the beginning, Camel was a pretty mellow rock and roll act, but this album is more like a Mike Oldfield outing for much of the listening experience. Latimer does, however, have many subtle tricks up his sleeve to keep the interest going and keeping this album from becoming a snooze fest. This includes middle eastern tonalities, which find their way into many of the tracks. Some times this is quite obvious and sometimes subtle, but they allow a broader note choice that keeps at least this ear attentive. The vocals break up the long instrumental sections nicely, and Latimer's skills have improved somewhat over the years. Similarly, subtle prog elements including meter changes, keyboard soloing, and non- standard chord progressions all find their way into the album in small doses. Rather than defining the music, however, the prog gives what could have been another guitar solo album a much needed boost in musicality.

The lead guitar is clearly what deserves the most attention. Latimer's touch on the fretboard is among the best in rock. He's often compared to Gilmour, but other than touch and subtlety being their signature charateristics, the two players have fairly distinct voices. Latimer's palette is a fair bit wider, his tone a little more uniform, his technique flawless. Though he uses almost no flash, Latimer's playing hints at a more complex dexterity that simply isn't appropriate for this collection of music. Any guitarist looking for a lesson in expression, musical choice, and articulation would find a great resource in this album.

I recommend this album to guitar players, fans of ambient flavored rock, and anyone who needs a musically skilled piece of chillout music. I would rate it at 3+ stars but not enough to reach the classification of "excellent prog."

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After two albums with soulless midi sounds, Camel returned to the sound of Mirage. In fact, this would be the first time ever that Camel returned to visited territories and tried to recapture some of the old magic and glory. While this usually sets of all my formulaic music alerts, this album has luckily turned out to be quite successful.

The opener Three Wishes isn't entirely convincing me yet. It start of really well but around minute 3, it changes key from minor to major, a formula that gives a 100% guarantee on cheesiness. Luckily, Latimer proves to have enough chops in the sack this time and steers the camel gracefully through the dangerous neo-prog pitfalls here.

From then on it's a smooth ride, Lost and Found is a beautiful song, again it's very close to what Camel did on Stationary Traveler, but the sound here is more acoustic and organic, the songs also leave a bit more room for instrumental sections and solos. Consequently it sits better with the prog fans.

The Final Encore is probably a tad too long but it's a captivating piece again. Camel is often criticized for the vocals but while I can agree to this to some extent for the 70's albums, I have always thought Latimer gradually found the subdued but emotive strength in his voice in the 80's. On this album it reaches its full potential as also the title track Rajaz gives evidence of.

I think it's needless to point out how great the guitars are throughout this album. After all this is a Camel album and Latimer's guitar has always been the focal point in their sound. Shout doesn't really work for me, but Straight to My Heart is entirely deserving of its title. Sahara is a sweeping instrumental piece and Lawrence ends in style with a moody song and a great long solo.

This album has plenty of material that would fit on a 5 star album but all tracks stay too much in the same mood really. Nevertheless, one of the best Camel albums and one that is sure to please you if you liked the first four.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars After the folk excursion of Harbour of Tears 1999 brought what can be considered one of the last masterpieces of the 20th century. Of course, having a 1-to-5 rating don't allow distinctions with other more celebrated masterpieces, but this is one.

Andy Latimer returned to the desert of Mirage, without the spacey-psych tendence of its long time predecessor but with a more mature approach. The good is that all the tracks are at the same (high) level, the bad is that it doesn't have epics like Lady Fantasy or Nimrodel that I consider a sort of "short epic".

This is quite a supergroup, too. Ton Scherpenzeel, the Kayak keyboardist and composerwho was already in Stationary Traveller, Colin Bass (at bass of course) former Alan Parker and onboard since the Single factor and with a very good solo debut, Dave Stewart from Arzachel, a drummer with an incredibly long career.

I will not go track-by-track. Even if not formally a concept, each track is full of heat and sand. It's a follow-up to Mirage 25 years after, like a celebration. It's surprising. Mirage started a journey, Rajaz is probably the homecoming. This may be the reason why there's a subtle layer of sadness behind all the tracks. It's the best place for Latimer's "crying" guitar.

A masterpiece of symphonic Prog and a must for whoever likes Camel, even if I assume that whoever likes Camel has already this album and doesn't need to read any review of it.

Review by Sagichim
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars well i wasn't expecting this... absolutly superb stuff from camel, it took a little time to grow on me i don't really know why , but i can't stop playing it now.. i have their 70's albums but never took the chance of hearing any of their 80's or 90's stuff.. this is the first album i tried because of the high praises and i must say i'm blown away to say the least . andrew latimer certainly kept the spirit of camel alive and rocking , music is in the same symphonic style like their 70's albums but defintely is fresh very mature and interesting.

i'll be brief about the songs and just say what i like.. three wishes starts like a pink floyd song, "shine on you crazy diamond " like, but this is still andy, great sound, the song melody is just fantastic it is well crafted and of course what a solo from andy, it all falls right in the second song , this one is on the mellow side great guitar and guitar sound throughout...what a stunning start of an album. the final encore and rajaz demonstrates how interesting they can be , great arrangements and atmosphere - they are masters!! shout is nice laid back kind of suits the flow of the album , not every song has to be an epic or change every minute or have killer solo...bravo i like it. straight to my heart is a typical great camel song with its guitar melody that stays in your head. sahara is one of the highlights here with mellow start with great guitar , it then slowly buids and ends calmly , nice... lawrence ends this album with another killer song fantastic atmosphere with great keys , they definitely know how to do it .

in conclusion camel really out did them selves this time and managed to create an album with no mistakes !! full of beautiful melodies stunning guitars and well crafted songs this is a must have for every camel fan and non camel of course, all you guitar fans will dig this. i must say the songs really suits the album cover , i can really feel the desert and sand , or is it just me?! i'll rate it 4.75 rounded to 5 , it deserves it...

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 20 years after the release of I Can See Your House From Here, the duo of Andrew Latimer and Colin Bass were still at it releasing one of Camel's most popular late career albums.

Rajaz was the first of the two highly acclaimed albums by Andrew Latimer, who was the last of the original band members still trying to uphold the Camel legacy into the new millennium. Since I haven't heard a single Camel album since 1981's Nude, it's difficult for me to say how Rajaz compares to the music that Andrew Latimer's Camel have released during those 18 years. Compared to the band's 70's material, this release sounds like a return to the space escapades of Mirage but with a stripped-down arrangements without the prominent keyboard work by Peter Bardens.

All of these songs have are very slow build and lack the spontaneous spark of Latimer's early work. Still, there is a definite appeal in this new sound since it makes the band sound like an experienced group of musicians who have already been there and just want to make the music that they feel like performing. From this point of view Rajaz does indeed make more sense to me. Unfortunately, I just can't appreciate it on a more personal level since none of these compositions truly reach me with their stripped-down and moody approach. Having said that, it's hard not to get into the groove with Andrew Latimer and Colin Bass whenever they decide to go into an instrumental section, reminding us all of the past days of glory.

To summarize, Rajaz is a highly competent release from Camel that reminds us of the band's glory days of the past without sounding like a complete rehash of the music that we've previously heard from Andrew Latimer. Of course it's not without its flaws since the minimal changes in style and mood do make a tiresome experience towards the end of the album. I'm sure that fans of the early Camel albums who were around during the '70s might enjoy this music more than me since this music just doesn't speak to me.

**** star songs: Three Wishes (6:59) Lost And Found (5:38) The Final Encore (8:07) Sahara (6:42) Lawrence (10:47) Rajaz (8:15)

*** star songs: Shout (5:16) Straight To My Heart (6:24)

Review by Hercules
5 stars Whereas some 70s bands limp on, producing dated mediocrity, Andy Latimer has resurrected Camel and produced this absolute masterpiece. Dust and Dreams failed to convince me fully, but Harbour of Tears was a clear indication that he was returning to form; Rajaz is the culmination of the process and has some of the best music the band has ever recorded. Sahara, Rajaz, Three Wishes and The Final Encore all contain some astonishing and beautiful music and every other track is interesting, but Lawrence is the peak, with an elegant guitar solo that he would have struggled to beat 30 years before. The whole album has a coherence and economy that is very impressive and even the vocals, for so long Camel's Achilles heel, are fine; Latimer's voice has become deeper, more mellow and more tuneful over the years. The backing musicians are fine players and contribute well, but Latimer is the shining star with excellent compositions and stunning playing. In short, he's the best musician prog has ever produced.

5* without question and one of the 3 best albums of the 1990s.

Review by Warthur
3 stars More than most Camel albums, Rajaz is built around Andy Latimer's guitar playing; the compositions and the mix and production on the album all seem to be set up so that the other instruments create a space in which Andy can solo away to his little heart's content. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, Rajaz probably has a lot to offer, with its brand of mellow, laid back, neo-tinged symphonic prog. For my part, I find that the album lacks complexity and vitality compared to the band's classic albums from the 1970s, though it is one of the most relaxing and tranquil albums in the Camel discography.
Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars CAMEL is one of those bands that I really dig the classic period but kind of gave up after "Moonmadness" simply because there are so many more exciting progressive rock acts to be found. After spotting RAJAZ at my local used music store I was memorized like a desert chimera since the album cover is ever so appealing and it is after all the highest rated album from this band since their classic period. OK I hadda check em out. So I did.

What surprises me about this album is that it doesn't really sound anything like classic CAMEL. This is in no way a symphonic progressive album that has a continuous feel from beginning to end. These tracks are all independent from each other and despite the name of the album and imagery of the artwork there is not really a Saharan desert feel or anything even close to an Arab or Middle Eastern feel to this album.

In fact I would say that this Andrew Latimer guitar oriented album falls into the camp of influence worship. To me I hear an obvious Floydian guitar frenzy dominating the soundscape but also some of the tracks are more of a Moody Blues song structure especially of their classic album "Days Of Future Passed." There is also an air of a Roger Waters or David Gilmour solo album going on here. It also borders on the ever so relaxing genre of elevator music. There is just enough going on here to warrant a 3 star rating. I find certain parts of this album quite satisfying but overall it gets dragged down a bit by the incessant need to relax and copy rather than innovating. CAMEL has always been a chill prog band and this takes that to a new level and that is certainly not the problem here. It's just that there seems to be more influence than creativity. A decent listen nonetheless.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Camel closed out the 20th century with this very good, and even sometimes great album. At this point the band was, of course, Andy Latimer, with ling time members Ton Scherpenzeel on keyboards and Colin Bass on himself, er... I mean bass, and Dave Stewart (no... not that guy... or that one either) on drums, along with a few extras.

The album starts on a high note. Three Wishes, an instrumental, comes of as a light fusion/symphonic piece, that stands up with some of Camel's best instrumentals. Lost And Found and The Final Encore follow. Both of these are fine symphonic pieces, that only suffer from a little too much borrowing from classic Genesis in instrumental arrangement.

The tone then gets mellower with the fine title piece, but stumbles on the banal Shout. Straight To My Heart is somewhat better, a folky tune with a low groove, similar to what Jethro Tull was doing around that time. Sahara is a gem, starting out like a Jeff Beck ballad, and building into a great showpiece.

Lawrence is a mostly disappointing closing track, but does build nicely by the end.

A solid three star album, but how many bands have produced better albums after over 20 years of recording?

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Andy Latimer just keeps finding ways to release his continuous flow of musical ideas, no matter who's around him. Sometimes it surprises me that he just doesn't use his own name as the artist behind each album as it is obvious that he is the force/genius behind them all.

1. "Three Wishes" (6:58) building off of a famous 1970s riff (either from JETHRO TULL or SANTANA) Andy creates a jazz fabric over which to tender away on his "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"-like bluesy electric lead. At firs the background is fairly quiet and benign, but then at the 3:00 all that potential energy is released from the support staff to push Andy into some more creative playing. The drum and bass rhythm section in the fifth minutes sounds very GENESIS/BRAND X-like as Andy continues to explore variations on dynamics and textures for his play on the Tullish riff. Solid song with impressive support from his sidemen even if it is all built around one guitar riff. (13.5/15)

2. "Lost And Found" (5:38) a cello-supported Steve Hackett-sounding song with Andy's mundane voice supplying vocals before making way for the main event: the axe play--this time over some GENESIS-like chord and rhythm play (think "Back in N.Y.C" "as I cuddled the porcupine?"). Nice synth solo from Kayak's own Ton Scherpenseel before Andy takes over. The solo section over 12-string arpeggi and bass pedal thrums that finishes the song also conjures up plenty of Genesis for me. Luckily, imitation is the highest form of flattery. (8.75/10)

3. "The Final Encore" (8:07) part Rhyader, part Allan Holdsworth (guitar sound). (Great guitar playing.) There's a bit of Downer Jim Morrison in Andy's tone of voice. Interesting sound engineering choices. I've never really enjoyed the way Andy has the rest of the band "clear out" while he solos: it reminds me of NBA basketball when the team creates a lopsided congestion on one side of the basket/key while Alan Iverson or James Harden takes the ball to the hoop virtually unopposed. (13/15)

4. "Rajaz" (8:15) acoustic guitars are nice. Vocals are nice. Cello is nice. Flute is nice. It's a nice song ? but nothing extraordinary--even at the halfway point when the motif switches and the dobro enters over the organ and vibrating bass notes. In fact, that's when the re-entering vocals take on an even more pronounced Jim Morrison feel/sound. Still, nice melodic solos in the fifth and sixth minutes. ("Clear out!") There's more than a little ROY BUCHANAN in his bluesy style (though there are also very familiar DAVID GILMOUR tones and touches). (17.5/20)

5. "Shout" (5:15) More strummed acoustic guitar with very stripped down, spacious, simple bass and drum support while Andy delivers one of the poorer vocals on the album. ("He's got a voice like you and me" Don McLean said of Bob Dylan in his song "American Pie.") A little room for some adventuring from Keyboardist Ton Scherpenseel despite Andy's spacious Chris Isaak/Mark Knopfler guitar playing. Nice for its many subtleties--lack of bombast. (8.5/10)

6. "Straight To My Heart" (6:23) more slow, spacious music for a depressing late-night listen. I never thought of Camel music as being this bluesy, this slow and depressing, this simple and spacious, nor this Mark Knopfler/David Gilmour-like. Not a bad song--there's some very good guitar play and admirable subtleties in it--it's just one fails to engage me--one that I don't care if I ever hear again. (8.75/10)

7. "Sahara" (6:44) sparse "strings" foundation over which Andy plays electric blues guitar with the sensitivity of Roy Buchanan, Jan Akkerman, Robert Cray, or perhaps Robben Ford. As a matter of fact, it sounds very much like Roy's "Fly Night Bird"--even when the band kicks in with power and pace at the three-minute mark. I can see now why guitarists and lovers of guitar-centered music love this album. (8.75/10)

8. "Lawrence" (10:46) a truly cinematic ballad about the British hero of the Arabian campaign during World War I. Andy's plaintive voice sounds like a cross between Irish ambient folk rocker PERRY BLAKE and BLUE NILE's Paul Buchanan. Also, there is a very stong Supertramp feel to this song (especially to its keyboard "orchestration"--think "Fool's Overture" and "Even in the Quietest Moments") with some nuances of a "Battle of Epping Forest" as well. It definitely pulls at your heart strings as Andy wails on his guitar during the song's ending solo over the final three minutes. Definitely the highlight of the album. As fine as anything Dave Gilmour has ever recorded. (19/20)

Total Time: 58:06

In my opinion, this is a truly unremarkable and largely forgettable album. It's an album of diverse yet bluesy songs that remind me of the way Steve Hackett likes to construct his albums. In fact, with vocals being his weak spot (though not as bad as they used to be), the similarities to Mr. Hackett's career discography and stylistic choices are somewhat similar. But more, it's an album for fans of slow, depressing Mark Knopfler or Doors music. Therefore, I'd say this is an album appropriately left for either supreme guitar-player lovers or Camel fans/completionists only.

B/four stars; an excellent addition of guitar-based bluesy prog for any music lover.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 115

'Rajaz' is the thirteenth studio album of Camel and was released in 1999. The album was considered by both, fans and critics, the return of the band to their original form of music, their original roots, the return to the good old days.

'Rajaz' is a kind of poetry that was sung on caravans during the desert crossing to the rhythm of the camel steps to keep the travellers awake. In contrast to their two predecessors albums, 'Dust And Dreams' and 'Harbour Of Tears', 'Rajaz' isn't a conceptual album. Except in the title track, the theme is only taken up in two other songs, 'Sahara' and 'Lawrence'. Correspondingly, the songs here are more separated, instead of flowing into one another, as happen with the conceptual albums. Musically, 'Rajaz' is nevertheless coherent. The songs aren't really overly complex, and instead, the emphasis is placed on the atmosphere. This was particularly successful on the title track, which in its slow and uniform rhythm, allows the loneliness and strains of the travellers in the desert to be comprehended. Contrary to the earlier Camel's albums, the songs are dominating on 'Rajaz', because only two tracks are instrumental pieces.

The line up of the album is Andrew Latimer (vocals, flute, guitars, keyboards and percussion), Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards), Colin Bass (bass guitar), Dave Stewart (drums and percussion) and Barry Phillips (cello).

'Rajaz' has eight tracks. All tracks were written by Latimer except 'Three Wishes', 'Lost And Found' and 'Lawrence' which were written by Latimer and Susan Hoover. The first track 'Three Wishes' is an instrumental piece, very solid, very intriguing and exotic, which make of it a brilliant opener for the album. The song is very good and the instrumental tune changes for several times all over the song. It's very well performed and has one of the most beautiful guitar works made by Latimer. The second track 'Lost And Found' is another great song. It's a song with a good rhythm and with great combination between guitar and bass which makes an effect on the song pretty good. The song is full of great guitar work and it has also a fantastic keyboard work. This song has good vocal work too. The voice of Latimer is soft and with low timbre. It seems a new Latimer singing. The third track 'The Final Encore' is another captivating piece. It's another song very well sung and it has clearly the influence of the oriental music, making of it a song with an exotic sound. It reminds me the historical time of the Ancient Egypt. It has also interesting organ and guitar works. The fourth track is the title track 'Rajaz'. This is another great song of the album, very temperamental and full of feelings, what gives to this album a certain extravagant ambience and a unique character. It's a very calm song with a very beautiful beginning performed by Latimer's acoustic guitar and Phillips' cello. Latimer's voice is really good, nice, and dreamy and is very relaxing, too. The fifth track 'Shout' is a nice ballad, once more very well sung. It's a song quite different from the other songs on the album. The song is pretty good but it hasn't anything special or fantastic to listen on it. It's perhaps the weaker point on the album, and I may say, the only one. The sixth track 'Straight To My Heart' is a song with a bluesy tune with a slow slide guitar in the style of David Gilmour, which isn't so surprising because Latimer is often compared with him. This is another song with a nice and calm starting, with great singing and beautiful acoustic guitar work. The performance of all musicians is very competent and the song has also a beautiful instrumental ending. The seventh track 'Sahara' is another instrumental piece and represents one of the highest moments on the album and is also the best instrumental track on it. It has wonderful guitar work with some great Arabic musical tones, what can be considered a tribute to the band's own name. This is another song that reaches completely the very special and exotic atmosphere of the all album, like 'Rajaz' and 'Lost And Found' do as well. The eighth track 'Lawrence' is a great ending to the album. This is a song with great and beautiful musical moments and nice guitar solos. Once more we have a song very close to the style of Gilmour with great feeling and good instrumental work. I really enjoy this song.

Conclusion: 'Rajaz' is a very special album for Camel and for Latimer. Twenty three years have passed since Camel released their last great masterpiece, their fourth studio album 'Moonmadness'. So, this can be considered a historic achievement, because it's unusual a band from the 70's release a masterpiece so many years later. 'Rajaz' is a great album, very melancholic and that sounds with influences of the eastern music. It has great musical parts, especially the instrumental parts, and it has unexpected vocal parts too. We may say that Camel pays homage to their natural environment, the deserts and camels. This is perhaps their musical work in which the guitar of Latimer is more close to the sound of the guitar of Gilmour. 'Rajaz' is one of the best Camel's albums and is absolutely an essential piece. The sound is quite different from the 70's, but this is progressivity, and Camel is one of the few 70's progressive bands that still progresses in these days. Buy it, because this is pure Camel's music on its highest peak. It's highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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3 stars I'll just say it: Camel has not been Camel since Peter Bardens left the group. He was the second half of the songwriting and solos. His keyboards are as much a Camel sound as Andy Latimer's guitars and flute are. In his and Bardens words the beginning of the end of the core four (Latimer, Barden ... (read more)

Report this review (#2929237) | Posted by Sidscrat | Tuesday, May 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars REVIEW #14 - "Rajaz" by Camel, (1999) After the disappointingly bland offerings of "Dust and Dreams" and "Harbour of Tears", it really would have not been far fetched for one to assume that the glory days of Camel releasing truly engaging music was over, and that, like many other prog bands, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2492279) | Posted by PacificProghead | Saturday, January 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Rajaz is not only the best post Moonmadness album from Camel, but its simply one of the best prog albums of the 90s. Dust and Dreams and Harbour of Tears, were just confused sounding, weakly produced middle of the road albums that surely would have made me lose interest as a Camel fan in the 90s. Bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#2218783) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, June 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A different, but very interesting Camel album. Different, because there's a lot more vocals than usual, with only a couple of instrumental tracks; and the overall pace of the music is slower, and the tone, mellower. Interesting, because it is not what I expected. Instead of a Middle Eastern s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2153884) | Posted by judahbenkenobi | Saturday, March 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Imbued with a deep melancholy, either transmitted by the guitar and voice of Latimer. Not easy to acquire a taste quickly without understanding the sensitivity of the songs they want to convey. The musical spectrum is broad, but can look drab or monotonous if not given due attention to the mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#950782) | Posted by sinslice | Saturday, April 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Though Rajaz is long past the essential period of Camel, the songwriting and style still seems to be strong as ever. The core sound of the band is still the same, as Latimer is the main songwriter. But the album is definitely missing Bardens, whose contribution on keys was equally important. Nonethe ... (read more)

Report this review (#846055) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Saturday, October 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hello everyone, this my first comment/rating in PA, i have visited and made use of this great page since 5 or 6 years ago, but this is the first time that i really feel the urge to post my opinion. I must say that just recently i had time to really hear the entire "Rajaz" album, and i was blown ... (read more)

Report this review (#576533) | Posted by AléxandrosDemos | Sunday, November 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A return more than welcome to the good phase, "Rajaz" is considered by many as the best album of Came since 70´s years.And ican see why Although that so far "Nude" and "Rain Dances" have been the only album the band's 1977-1996 period, I venture to say that "Rajaz" surpasses all the albums of that p ... (read more)

Report this review (#409860) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, March 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is very guitar oriented and the atmosphere is pervaded with sadness like most of camel releases, my only regret is about keyboards sounds, i mean TON is a good instrumentalist but not that good for searching sounds. Track 1 Great instrumental opening part with LATIMER guitar flying ... (read more)

Report this review (#300205) | Posted by jean-marie | Thursday, September 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I just LOVE this! This is the only album I have ever heard where I look forward to every new song while listening. There is just no weakness! We have "I know what I like" or "More fool me" within Genesis' Selling England, for example, or "Timetable" and , yes, "Watcher of the skyes" on Foxtro ... (read more)

Report this review (#284653) | Posted by herrkaiser | Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Surprisingly a very good album which has to be among Camel's greatest. Great guitars and good singing and lyrics through the album - though a little to much of moody landscapes and keyboard-solos. The record lacks of rythm changes and that bluesy and rock'n'roll-touches from early days and tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#207829) | Posted by JackDaniel | Friday, March 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Lots of good (but not stellar) guitar work by Latimer on this album. Unfortunately, the entire package suffers quite a bit under Latimer's limited vocal range, vocal delivery and songwriting. Musical concepts are a bit underdeveloped in a number of places, but nevertheless, the overall package ... (read more)

Report this review (#191813) | Posted by LARKSTONGUE | Thursday, December 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After great Harbour of Tears I did not expect from Andy Latimer anything that could be even close to this music. And then surprise or rather shock. Rajaz is without doubts the best record from Camel. It is difficult to find anything better for prog fan not only in Camel's music. I can find onl ... (read more)

Report this review (#191097) | Posted by MSKrzys | Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Latimer continues to write all the songs himself (with occasional help on the lyrics by Susan Hoover), and plays a lot of the instruments himself. The first four tracks are the best of the eight. A variety of instruments including cello and flute are used to create more depth to the songs, it ... (read more)

Report this review (#91074) | Posted by jimpetrie2000 | Friday, September 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After a long string of concept albums Camel set their sight again on individual songs on their 13th studio album, and the results are mighty fine. Eight songs in a tad less than an hour, only two of which are instrumental. On some of their previous albums instrumental tracks had been a clear majorit ... (read more)

Report this review (#87407) | Posted by Pekka | Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you are new to Camel, "Rajaz" is a good place to start, along with "Snow Goose", This album is a concept album rich in melodies carrying along with it cool time signatures and great production. Andy Lattimerr just rips it up in good taste, his concise style of guitar playing really shines o ... (read more)

Report this review (#81520) | Posted by zeeman198421 | Monday, June 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is Camel's 13th studio album. The music sung by poets to the rhythm of the camel's footsteps, during caravans across the great deserts. Not in vain does it convey that sort of atmosphere throughout .Ton Sherpenzeel, a founding member of Kayak, is back playing keyboards, Latimer sings on a ... (read more)

Report this review (#54988) | Posted by Marquês_Prög | Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Work announced in autumn of 1999 "Rajaz". The former work was a heavy concept album over the theme of own root. It is a work that queues up the music of a free idea based on the key word of "Farewell" this time. It is a content to be able to do various hows to enjoy it. And, a throb feeling an ... (read more)

Report this review (#43760) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A masterpiece. Musically astounding, the compositions, instrumental or vocal appear as a rebirth of Latimer's inspiration after the more lyrical Harbour of Tears. Three wishes and Sahara have the appeal of good old Camel songs blended with surprising new and fresh inspirations. Camel has even ... (read more)

Report this review (#40753) | Posted by | Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the second album by Camel I have listened to and it isn't similar to the extraordinary Mirage at all, however, I am not disappointed. This record is just different. It has more cameral atmosphere, it should be listened at home in the evening. You can also hear that the texts are writte ... (read more)

Report this review (#2518) | Posted by | Thursday, April 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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