Mirage, Camel's second album, was released in 1974 and was the album that first got them some major recognition (their underrated self titled debut did very poorly). It contains a lot of eastern influences and odd time signarures. Two of the songs are instrumentals and two of them are medleys. There was also some criticism to the cover of it, where they used a Camel cigarette logo for fun. Anyhow, here is the review...
1) Freefall (5/5)
This song starts out with some happy guitar and riffs and thumping bass and drums. Then comes in the vocals, sort of quirky and weird and happy, which I think is done on purpose to make the song sort of light-hearted and humorous. The bass part is awesome. You can hear it very clearly and all of the instruments interact very well with each other. The song then meanders into sort of a funky jam and then back to the verse. But right before the verse, there is this one melody....whatever you call it...but it is one of the highlights of the song! Then comes the quirky verse again and the song ends with the riff played in the very beginning with some guitar soling stuff. Overall, a great, laid-back tune.
2) Supertwister (5/5)
This song is definitely a unique one. It is completely instrumental. It starts out slowly ith a flute playing over a background of guitar/bass/drums. Then it leads into an upbeat section and what sounds like an odd time signature and it sounds very interesting! The overall tone of the insturments is amazing. The flute comes back in and plays an middle-eastern sounding kind of thing. Then it sounds like the time signature again cahnges (with the flute still playing). Then comes a sort of spinning-around-in-circles keyboard part, gradually slowing down and leading into the next part of the song, which is very mellow and relaxed. The medlodies and trills here by the flute are very nice. Then the pace gets a bit faster again with some interesting dissonance here and there and finally the ending! With.....what sounds like a bottle being opened and something being poured out of it...
3) Nimrodel/The Procession/White Rider (4.5/5)
Starts out with a calm, eerie part which fades out. Then, what i assume to be the "procession" fades in, whcih is a marching band playing a melody with a large crowd in the back ground, eventually leading into a slow, melancholy? sounding musical part (I assume this is the beginnning of "White Rider"), with the verse coming in not long after. I dont really know any other way to describe it...excaept saying "melancholy"...but its not utterly sad and depressing or anything like that....just very minor and slow like something Pink Floyd might do. This part is very infecting and has gotten stuck in my head so much. Then the pace gets faster into sort of a groovy part with some sweet keyboard and guitar soloing. Then it slows down a bit into an acoustic part with another verse (different than the previous one) singing about wizards. The music then continues after the verse for a bit, until it reaches a neat atmospheric part with a low bass line with spacey-sounding guitar parts flying here and there. Then they sort of all join to play a slow melody over the bass line. However this is all i have heard because i got a version of the song that is only 8:21 long and it is supposed to be 9-something minutes, which is why i gave it a 4.5 cause i dont know how the rest goes.
4) Earthrise (5/5)
Another instrumental and my absolute favorite off this album. It starts off with a slow atmospheric pink floyd ish part and then the drums come in and the pace sort of inceases and goes into a jazzy sounding part with keyboards and then a nice part*** which sounds like it would do well in a sci-fi movie. Then it goes into a short variation of the jazzy part again (it sounds so good!!!). Then a sort of deceivingly slow descending part and it goes into the fast, upbeat, kickass intergalactic jam which most of the rest of the song is. There is some awesome keyboard soloing and then the guitar takes its turn soloing and then back to some even cooler keyboard parts, with some neat sounding counter-tempo parts and soaring melodies, and hell, theres even a little eastern sounding lick thrown in there. Then it goes harmonized into neat descending melodies and back into the intergalactic jam mode. The melody here by the keyboard is amazing. Then it goes back into the theme where i have mentioned before and put the *** by and then the sweet slow jazzy part and finally resolves and magnificently ends.
5) Lady Fantasy (4/5)
This is probably the song that this album is most famous for. I gave it a 4 because the subject matter was kind of cheesy but i'm just weird that way....but the music in this song is stunning! It starts off with a high spacey sounding part and then the rest of the band comes in. If you listen closely, you can hear the weird rhythms going against each other which sounds very cool. Then goes into a steady musical part with some great melodies (how the hell Camel makes such awesome melodies is beyond me). Then the verse with some very good singing but some awfully mushy lyrics...nevertheless, it is very good. It sounds almost like something by the Doors. This leads into a nice keyboard solo. Then a little bit of singing and it goes into a sort of heavy sounding part with an AWESOME soaring guitar part over it. Then it gets slow and mellow again and leads into a neat melody played by the keyboard, which sounds like something latin-ish...then back to a mellow part and then another part that sounds pink floyd-ish which is even more mellow...and then the singing. The tmosphere in this part is cloudy and awesome. Although the theme of the song is kind of cheesy, the singing here is awesome. It fits in so well and the rhyming sounds so great...Next is a heavy and sort of dissonant part which is like the polar opposite of the previous part. This is part is something where you can definitely hear how Camel has influenced Mike Akerfeldt of Opeth.It goes along for a while it some soloing and then settles down into a mellow part and finally ends.
This is a great album. I have been listening to it over and over for the past 2 months and just cant get enough of it. it has some outstanding musicianship. The intsruments and the singing parts work together very well with each other. There are some great melodies and soloing and when you listen to the songs they just grab you and throw you into this amazin musical realm. The long songs make you think "wtf?! i cant belive 8+ minutes just passed!"
The mood swings a lot yet somehow it makes sense and the songs stick togetehr and flow like water. I found the songs extremely catchy (yes, catchy prog music) and they never get old.
Overall you cant go wrong with this album. Highly recommended if you are a fan of prog, jazz, Opeth....actually i recommendend it to anyone. Don't let the fact that its prog repel you. There is something about Camel that makes the songs very easy to get into and love. So check this album out!