Review Summary: One of the two seminal Camel records and a hell of a ride.
Camel’s fourth LP Moonmadness
closely rivals their second one Mirage
: they are similar in the fact that they both feature some of the most energetic, original and awe-inspiring compositions the group ever created, and of course both appear in their classic era, which’ formation would be altered by the departure of bassist Doug Ferguson. Despite the obvious similarity in the overall vibe though, Moonmadness
is also quite different. Mirage
contained three vocal tracks, two of which were epics, woven around two instrumentals. This album is spread out a great deal more, the average song length being about five and a half minutes, and that makes it a smoother experience altogether.
The short Aristillus
will, as is the sworn duty of any good opener, grab your attention immediately. The bumpy tune is heavy on synthesizers, creating a spacey sound that works very well and shows a new side of Camel; one that shows throughout the rest of the album as well. Another feature that starkly contrasts Mirage
is the inclusion of several gorgeous melancholic tracks. The soothing flute and voice of the first part of Song Within a Song
; the short and mystical Spirit of the Water
; the floating atmosphere of Air Born
: Camel once again takes you places.
For those looking for the more vibrant type of progressive, however, worry not. Chord Change
is another classic Camel mood-changer (as its title already implies), and goes through some rockin’ passages. Another Night
is even better, featuring a main riff closely bordering on hard rock, some of the best vocals on the album, and, top really top things off, both a guitar and
organ solo near the end of the track. The best moment is however the instrumental closer Lunar Sea
(also known as Lunacy
), using whacky synthesizers, aggressive bass playing and the sound of blowing wind in its last minute to wrap things up in a truly unique manner.
Without a doubt, Moonmadness
is one hell of an essential progressive album, very closely rivalling Mirage
for Camel’s magnum opus. The group’s sound is not a bit outdated, still able to amaze the ears of new listeners today. The record has a strong sense of energy, melancholy, and a unique atmosphere that truly makes it stand out, not only amongst the band’s own other works, but the works of other artists in general. Sadly Camel’s heyday suffered a bit of a blow after their fist four superb LP’s, and even if they recovered in a few spots, those are still the absolute essentials, waiting for the devout proggie to pick them up and put them on.
Song Within a Song
Spirit of the Water
Moonmadness’ Camel was:
- Andrew Latimer ~ Lead Guitars, Flute, Vocals
- Peter Bardens (R.I.P.) ~ Keyboards, Vocals
- Douglas Ferguson ~ Bass Guitar, Vocals
- Andrew John Ward ~ Drums, Percussion, Vocals
TO BE (POSSIBLY) CONTINUED...