Friday, July 25, 2014

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 16

                             CAMEL: Moonmadness (1976)
   Camel were formed in 1971 by Andrew Latimer, Doug Ferguson, Andy Ward and Peter Bardens.
   Their first 3 albums are considered as "classics" in the Progressive Rock circles and all of them are really excellent works. Just for the record I should mention here the names of these albums, which are: 'Camel' (1973), 'Mirage' (1974) and 'The Snow Goose' (1975). The last of these 3 albums was the one which make them rather famous, although it did cause them lots of troubles. (But that's another story).
So, the band "stepped" on the sucess of 'The Snow Goose', and the next year they released the album 'Moonmadness', which unlike 'The Snow Goose' wasn't an instrumental one.
   'Moonmadness' is another really excellent piece of work, but it's also the album on which the original line-up is together for the last time. Doug Ferguson left the band after the 'Moonmadness tour' and it was replaced by Richard Sinclair (ex-Caravan). For the recordings of the album and the tour which followed, Camel recruited the saxophone/flute player Mel Collins who continued working with the band for a few more years.
  The album can be concidered as a 'concept' one, because it has an overall main theme (like 'The Snow Goose' did as well), but does not follow a storyline, and it's mostly based on stories of the band members themselves.
  In the original version the album includes 7 songs, and has a total running time of almost 40 minutes. (In 2002 a remastered edition was released with 5 more songs, which were demo and live versions).
 The album opens with the intro-like instrumental 'Aristilus', followed by the very good "classic-Camel" 'Song within a Song'. Next comes the 7-minute long instrumental 'Chord Change', which is also a very interesting piece of music. The first side (in the vinyl version) closes with the really beautiful 'Spirit of the Water', which is one of those songs which are proving that Progressive Rock songs can be short and wonderful at the same time. The B-side includes 3 songs, all of them over 5 minutes long, and wonderful! 'Another Night', 'Air Born' and 'Lunar Sea'.
  In my opinion the highlights of the album are the really magnificent 'Air Born', followed by 'Song withing a Song'. But the whole album has such a quality and such a tight structure, which can be listened from the start 'till the end without having to skip any of the songs, because all of them are remarkable compositions.
 This was maybe the last really brilliant album 'Camel' ever recorded, because after that they started going downhill.
 For all those who might be interested in Camel's music and need a starting point, I would suggest to start with 'Mirage' and 'Moonmadness'. Both albums are really great!
(A couple of years ago I wrote a post about 'Mirage' in this blog, and if you are interested you can take a look here:
 I hope you'll found this post interesting and informative.
Thank you for reading. :)
 For the needs of this post I just uploaded on my channel in YouTube the song 'Air Born', and I'm posting it here for you to listen to it if you want.