Camel
Rajaz


4.0
excellent

Review

by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
February 7th, 2009 | 38 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Like David Gilmour? Like rich atmospheric music? Get this.

The late 70’s were a bad time for progressive rock music. After releasing a series of highly regarded prog albums (Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness), Camel suddenly found themselves struggling to evolve their suddenly outdated sound due to the punk movement. Moving between their prog style and a new more pop-influenced style Camel could never manage to reach the popularity or quality of their earlier albums, before breaking up in 1984.

The band would again resurface in 1991 with a different line-up, returning to their prog roots. However, by this time the damage had been done, and despite the consistently good quality of these later releases even many Camel fans ignore them and only listen to the 70’s albums. 1999’s Rajaz is arguably the best of these later albums.

The title of the album comes from the name of an ancient type of Arabic poetry that was sung when caravans travelled across the desert, and designed on a metre to follow the footsteps of the camels. As the title and cover (and band name…) suggest, Rajaz is heavily inspired by this and all of the songs are composed on the same metre. This gives the album a distinctive Eastern sound and atmosphere.

To help create this mood, most of the music has a slow pace and a loose structure that brings to mind images of vast desert landscapes. Most of the focus is placed on Andrew Latimer’s incredible David Gilmour-esque guitar playing which fit’s the desert theme perfectly, playing a perfect mixture of sweeping soundscapes and bluesy melodies. While Latimer could perhaps be dismissed as just a Gilmour rip-off, the guitar playing is so fantastic it really doesn’t matter at all, and could even be considered to be just as good. Latimer’s guitar work is always completely emotional, melodic and brilliantly composed. Some of the solos are incredibly beautiful and help create the epic feel needed. His acoustic guitar playing that appears in some of the songs, giving them a slightly folky feel, is also excellent.

Not only does Latimer play the guitar, he also adds to the Eastern atmosphere by occasionally playing flute and also plays keyboards that add another layer of depth to the sound, as well as adding extra melodies. The keyboards often stay in the background however and never sound at all cheesy or out of place, fitting in perfectly. Latimer also sings, but like much of Camel’s work a lot of the music is instrumental with little singing. Latimer has a good, if unspectacular, singing voice though and his melancholic vocals fit in with the music perfectly.

While being mainly instrumental allows the listener to focus on the atmosphere, it does mean that the album can drag at times and even get a bit boring if you don‘t get immersed in this atmosphere, especially as it’s quite a long album and played at quite a slow pace.

The other musicians are also excellent. Dave Stewart’s drumming is usually quite restrained and sparse but still effective in creating the vast desert effect and a cello also sometimes appears to add to the sombre acoustic folk songs. The bass playing is also good, balancing the soaring guitar perfectly.

Overall, Rajaz is an excellent album if you have the time to get lost in its atmosphere, but definitely struggles to remain interesting it’s entire running time. Most of the tracks don’t really work as stand-alone songs, and it really needs to be listened to in it’s entirety. If soaring guitars are your thing and you have time to get lost in the album though, Rajaz is highly recommended.



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user ratings (146)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
February 7th 2009


8315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Camel fans ignore them and only listen to the 70’s albums. 1999’s Rajaz is arguably the best of these.

Here I read that Rajaz is a 70's album, but good review apart from that.

Mendigo
February 7th 2009


2299 Comments


I never was interested at all in their late output, as I've had only bad experiences with the late albums of formerly amazing prog bands like Yes, Genesis or also Pink Floyd. but this one got me interested, I might give it a listen.

Mendigo
February 7th 2009


2299 Comments


oh, I forgot to mention that the review is a nice read, as always ;)
your description reminds me a lot of Santana's "Caravanserei" - which is a good thing.

username345
February 7th 2009


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Here I read that Rajaz is a 70's album, but good review apart from that.


Yeah, I changed it a bit.

And this is much better than late Yes or Genesis.

Nagrarok
February 7th 2009


8315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Then I might consider checking it out, although I might check out their earlier stuff first, as I've heard no Camel so far.

Mendigo
February 7th 2009


2299 Comments


Moonmadness is my favorite one.

jrowa001
February 7th 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rajaz and A Nod and A Wink are their only really good albums after the 70's. this is probably my third fav Camel album. excellent review, Camel ftw!!

TheGreatD17
February 7th 2009


1141 Comments


Hate to nit-pick, but it's Gilmour, not Gilmore. I haven't really listened to Camel much for some reason, maybe I'll check them out some more of their stuff.

username345
February 7th 2009


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rajaz and A Nod and A Wink are their only really good albums after the 70's. this is probably my third fav Camel album. excellent review, Camel ftw!!


What about 'Harbour of Tears'? That's great too.

Hate to nit-pick, but it's Gilmour, not Gilmore.


Damn. Of course it is, what am I thinking? I'll edit that now.

sba4life
February 7th 2009


363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking love Camel. Mirage>This
Good Review.
I should review this

jrowa001
February 7th 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my bad username, i should of said that those two albums are the only really really good albums after the 70's. Nude, Harbour of Tears, and Dust and Dreams are decent albums.

natey
February 7th 2009


4170 Comments


I like Camel Wides. Last sentence motivates me to get this.

Muikuli
February 22nd 2009


187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Indeed a great album. I was rather surprised that they were able to put themselves together after the 80s phase, but apparently it IS possible. After you've listened all the 70s Camel albums through, you should propably skip straight to the 90s albums.

jrowa001
June 16th 2010


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

listening to this again. Sahara is one of their best instrumental tracks

MO
January 24th 2012


19068 Comments


rules so hard

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2012


21578 Comments


Need to hear this one.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

MO
January 24th 2012


19068 Comments


I've made my way through their discog and this one was a breath of fresh air after all the filler between Moonmadness and the 90's albums, check out the title track.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2012


21578 Comments


Listening now, sounds really good.

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2012


1922 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a shame that Camel never really hit it off with the mainstream for long, because its albums like this and 'A Nod and a Wink' that suggest the band still have everything that made them the wonder they were in the 70's. Agreeing with the reviewer when they say that the album is a tad too long, but its not such a big problem when songs such as the title track and 'Sahara' really do invite you to step into their otherworldy atmospheres. Though not quite as exciting as its successor (though it may just be personal preference), 'Rajaz' still engages the listener with its beautiful qualities.

Digging: Execration (NOR) - Morbid Dimensions

KILL11
August 12th 2012


133 Comments


grown on me big time



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