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Camel - A Live Recording

Review: 124
Date: 18 Apr 03

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Andy Latimer, Guitars and vocals.
Peter Bardens, Keyboards and vocals.
Andy Ward, Drums.
Doug Ferguson, Bass and vocals
Richard Sinclair, Bass and vocals, first nine songs.
Mel Collins, Saxophone and Flute, first nine songs.

Tracks Listing:
First light
Metrognome
Unevensong
Skylines
A song within a song
Lunar sea (gettit?)
Raindances
Never let go
Chord change
Ligging at Louis
Lady Fantasy
'The Snow Goose:
'The great marsh, Rhayader, Rhayader goes to town, Sanctuary, Fritha, The snow goose, Friendship, Migration, Rhayader alone, Flight of the sow goose, Preparation, Dunkirk, Epitaph, Fritha alone, La Princesse Perdue, The great marsh.
The white rider
Another night.

 


Camel were formed in late 1971, when veteran Keyboard Wizard (previously with Rod Stewart in "Steampacket", Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood in " Peter B's Loonies", and Van Morrison in "Them"), Peter Bardens joined forces with power trio "The Brew". It was their third album 'The Snow Goose', which really established the band as a force to be reckoned with. Released in 1975, after the first two albums had been released to great critical acclaim but very weak sales, leaving the band scratching their proverbial heads wondering in which direction to go. Nobody would of put money on a forty minute instrumental covering both sides of the vinyl record based on Paul Gallico's short story 'Snow Goose'. But The 'Snow Goose' turned out to be The Golden Goose as it rocketed up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. By the end of 1975 Camel had been voted brightest hope by Britain's prestigious weekly Rock journal Melody Maker. There followed two equally successful follow-up albums. Only this time both albums had some vocals on them. ('Moonmadness' in 1976 and 'Raindances' in 1977).

It was on the 'Raindances' tour that most of this live album was recorded. Five of the first seven songs on this CD are from that album, and were not released at the time because of their similarity to their recently released studio versions. But with this digitally remastered double CD they have been faithfully restored, a wonderful addition they are too. By 1977 Camel had really got into their stride (don't get the hump - no pun intended). Original bass player Doug Ferguson had left the Band acrimoniously before the recording of 'Raindances' and been replaced by the musically superior Richard Sinclair, previously with Canterbury Prog Rockers 'Caravan'. With Sinclair's whimsical voice to go with the Camel songs, it was a match made in Rock 'n' Roll heaven. Legendary wind instrumentalist Mel Collins, who had joined the band in the studio for the recording of the last album, decided to join them on the road, augmenting the sound further with wonderful flourishes from his Saxophones and Flutes. Collins declined an offer to join the band full time as he preferred to keep his options open for his very lucrative session work. However, he satisfied his road dog emotions by touring with Camel right up until 1981.

Although all of the songs on this collection are recorded live, they are not all from the same concert. In fact, they are not even all from the same year or line-up. The songs kick off with nine from the 'Raindances' tour with Sinclair and Collins on board. Then we are whisked back to 1974 for two epics ('Lady Fantasy' is nearly fifteen minutes long) recorded at the Marquee in pre Snow Goose days. But the real feather behind this Camel's ear is on disc two, which includes the whole of 'Snow Goose' recorded by the Virgin mobile studio at a memorable concert with the London Symphony Orchestra at London's Royal Albert Hall on October 17th 1975, with David Bedford taking up the conductors baton in a version of Camel's Magnum opus that even exceeds the studio version. The music is then brought to a close by two fine numbers from 1976. In all nearly three hours of sumptuous music.

You can only marvel at the skill of all these musicians at work. You do not need words to explain the story of 'The Snow Goose' as you can literally hear the waves against the side of the little boat as it ploughs back and forth across the English channel, plucking the men from the beaches of Dunkirk as the 'Snow Goose' circles overhead.

So what happened? I hear you ask. Unfortunately this Camel does not really have a happy ending. Within one year Peter Bardens had left the Band, citing musical differences. (Tragically Peter Bardens died of cancer in January of 2002, following a distinguished solo career. ) After one more tour Richard Sinclair was asked to leave the band, and later Andy Ward would succumb to alcoholism being unable to cope with life on the road. Original bass player Doug Ferguson never re-joined the music industry, such was his disillusionment with the whole business side of things, while Andy Latimer still carries his guitar in the dromedary cause to this day leading his herd down the rocky road of Progressive Rock.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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