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CAMEL Breathless Esoteric (2009)


Progressive rock has enjoyed a credentials boost of late but its founding fathers took a kicking when the genre outgrew its throne by 1977.

Post-punk Camel is a mixed bag but 1979's 'Breathless' is one of their better efforts when it has every reason not to be, with pressure from label Decca to come up with a hit single while keyboardist Peter Bardens worked the sessions in the knowledge he was shortly leaving the band.

Poppier, more song-based, it reveals the continued influence of bassist/vocalist Richard Sinclair: a fellow Canterbury scene mainstay, his time with Hatfield & the North and more pertinently Caravan bears fruit here, notably on the plaintive title track and album opener (with pretty wind instrumentation from Crimson's Mel Collins) and Sinclair's own whimsically British ‘Down on the Farm' while guitarist Andrew Latimer, drummer Andy Ward and Bardens' lengthy ‘Echoes' would have a found a fit on any of their band's heyday glories.

That said, the album drifts in places with hints of dating '80's synth tinkle and the single B side bonus cut of closer ‘Rainbows End' is superfluous. Sinclair himself would be on the move shortly but for now - as Caramel - all benefitted from the sweet Canterbury coupling.


Review by Peter Muir

Peter Muir presents "Progressive Rock Fusion" on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 19:00, Monday 19:00

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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