Camel
Camel


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
August 6th, 2010 | 378 replies | 17,367 views


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Overlooked and underrated, Camel's debut is one of their best albums and a fantastic start to their career.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Formed by Andrew Latimer, Doug Ferguson, Andy Ward and Peter Bardens in 1971, Camel was an essential part of the 70’s progressive movement, although not one of its more famous components. Overshadowed by the likes of Genesis, King Crimson and Yes, the group was nevertheless extraordinarily talented and most definitely unique in the genre. With their first and finest formation, they would release a streak of four outstanding albums before moving on with different line-ups and creating mostly inferior works. The latter three of these albums, Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness, are regarded as the real Camel classics, but their ’73 debut is almost as compelling.

What makes Camel stand out next to their contemporaries is their style of playing and composing. Latimer leads the band with his distinctive guitar sound: choosing mood and emotion over showmanship, his very melodic riffs are as powerful as they are meaningful. This also had a direct influence of the band’s manner of writing. Despite composing songs that could range up to 12 minutes in length, Camel was never as stubbornly avant-garde as King Crimson, overambitious as Yes, or strongly theatrical like Genesis. While keeping the ground rules of progressive rock intact, the songs that this group produced were far more focused, which also makes them far more accessible. Latimer and his company really tell a story with their music, and such is Camel’s greatest strength.

Though underdeveloped as many debuts are, the band’s first album gives a strong hint of what’s to come with 7 very worthy tracks. If you compare it to Camel’s three classics, something immediately notable is how confident the boys became from Mirage onwards. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing for the album, which sound positively laid-back and welcoming; don’t expect anything of the Freefall calibre (if you’ve heard Mirage). The hard-rocking closer Arubaluba is the only real moment you’ll find to the band going all out, more of these energetic moments being spread throughout the record in only a modest sense.

Slow Yourself Down is pretty indicative of the album’s main sound. Going through several mood changes, it first welcomes you with Latimer’s relaxed vocals (he’s a far better guitar player than he is a singer, but luckily seemed aware of this and used his voice little but effectively), but progresses into a brilliant instrumental display that leaves no doubt to the talents of the musicians that stand behind Latimer. Especially Bardens proves his mastery of the organ, bearing no shame to the Jon Lords of his generation, and Ferguson’s bass and Ward’s drums have absolutely no intention of going by unheard either.

Separation and Curiosity feature similar moments of such energetic virtuosity, but Mystic Queen and Six Ate float along like a pleasant dream. The real highlight of the album comes with Never Let Go, which’ acoustic opening was actually the basis for Opeth’s Benighted (Camel being one of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s major influences). Latimer’s vocals are at his strongest here, the instrumentation is beautifully moody, and the song concludes with an excellent guitar solo. A track that best shows the enormous potential Camel had in 1973.

Because yes, in the three years that followed, the band would release their three most acclaimed albums, realizing that potential they had going. This debut is not just another example of a stepping stone, but an accomplished work in its own right. While not as good as the group’s later albums, it is a most excellent start and an essential Camel release, as well as a very good starting point to get into their wonderful music.

Camel Classics:

Slow Yourself Down
Never Let Go
Curiosity
Arubaluba


Camel’s Camel was:

- Andrew Latimer ~ Lead Guitar, Vocals
- Peter Bardens (R.I.P.) ~ Organ, Mellotron, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
- Douglas Ferguson ~ Bass Guitar, Vocals
- Andrew John Ward ~ Drums, Percussion


TO BE CONTINUED...



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
August 6th 2010



8192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm going up to Moonmadness. Enjoy.

shindip
August 6th 2010



3536 Comments


Great review! I need more from this band

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
August 6th 2010



16135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review. Hell of an ambitious project to do their first four albums, but I'm glad you are.

Nagrarok
August 6th 2010



8192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, I've done far more amibitious projects. *cough* Judas Priest *cough*

shindip
August 6th 2010



3536 Comments


yeah your review output is ridiculous

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
August 6th 2010



16135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmm, suppose you have a point there lol.

Lakes.
August 6th 2010



26822 Comments


Nag, I love you.


pos.

Digging: BABYMETAL - Babymetal

Romulus
August 6th 2010



8423 Comments


Great review, pos'd. And what an album cover.

Deceptioneer
August 6th 2010



509 Comments


looks like a snake lol

EVedder27
August 6th 2010



6088 Comments


Been recced to me several times, and haven't gotten around to listening. I think I might just do that now.

vanderb0b
August 6th 2010



3473 Comments


Pos. Camel is awesome, as is the review.

Jethro42
August 6th 2010



12391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been recced to me several times, and haven't gotten around to listening. I think I might just do that now.


I think I'm the first one who told you about these fellas ; )

Good work Nag, buddy. Love me some Camel. I own almost their whole discog on vinyl. Never let go is one of my all time fav prog song.


Nagrarok
August 6th 2010



8192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks all, and yes Mike, you should definitely give them a listen. Their first four albums are all wonderful.

KILL
August 6th 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so good

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

KILL
August 6th 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

get mirage first

vanderb0b
August 6th 2010



3473 Comments


Moonmadness, The Snow Goose, and Mirage are essential.

KILL
August 6th 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thats the spirit

KILL
August 6th 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if i did it would have to be as long as mm8's master of puppets review and we all know how that review is

Nagrarok
August 6th 2010



8192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you gotta gimme some review tips


I mean, I spend like 12 minutes on every review


That...is why you fail.

KILL
August 6th 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

maybe if i can be fucked one day too busy listening to sadas atm



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