Review Summary: Camel's attempt at radio-access leaves band denied.Camel
’s fifth studio excursion, 1977’s Rain Dances
, is a record often hailed by critics as a reformation of the band’s early sound, with a more commercially accepted tinge. Not long into the album’s opener, First Light
, the jazzy, free-flowing compositions of the band’s first pair of releases can be heard. It’s unfortunate that the prog-rockers didn’t let the spirits of music past dominate the overall scope of the recording - the addition of Caravan
bassist Richard Sinclair and former King Crimson
saxophonist Mel Collins could’ve seen limitless potential. Instead, while striving for radio acceptance, Camel seems to lack elements of their classic sound, further forgoing a progressive jazzy sound for prog-tinged rock numbers. In a sad twist for the unit, Rain Dances
did little for Camel’s commercial appeal, and continued the band down a path of alienation of their early fan-base.
Beginning the disc with a pair of instrumental tracks isn’t the best way to help a band receive more air-play; though these songs are probably the most reminiscent of Camel’s past, they don’t do much in terms of kicking off the record. The songs are fun to listen to and littered with little bits of trademark Camel, but the lack of cohesion between them makes for a scattered listen. This trend continues with the third track, similarly instrumentally rooted, with minimal vocals added. By this point, however, the meandering tendencies of Rain Dances
start to grow a little frustrating. The record does have a handful of good songs – hear Highways of the Sun
and Uneven Song
. These are probably the most reminiscent of the band’s early work, as well as crafting themselves with radio-playability. It’s a shame that the lack of focus on the rest of Rain Dances
clouds the disc’s potential. Songs like Elke
throw off any bid at accessibility, while the disc’s title-track is a decent throwback, but a little too short to come off as memorable. The closer feels a little bit like a rip-off, taking the form of a single-version of Highways of the Sun
. While the band tried to capitalise off the tracks hooks, the revamped version comes up stale in comparison to the original.
Camel’s attempt at a commercial record unfortunately fall pretty flat with Rain Dances
, continuing a string of albums that seem to lie short of the output of Camel
. The wandering ways of the album make for a confusing feel for radio-play, leaving front-man Andrew Latimer’s motives a little unclear. There are definitely good tracks here, but the album yields nothing special enough to leave a lasting impression on the listener. Considering the band’s past and future output, a few hiccups in their discography is forgivable, and Rain Dances
can undoubtedly still find praise amongst Camel’s fan-base.