Thursday, August 3, 2017

Camel - 1985 "A Compact Compilation"

A Compact Compilation is a compilation album of the British progressive rock band Camel released in 1985.

I have many of the Camel releases, and this is a great introduction to this band. Probably the complaints of the other reviewers have to do with the fact that the cd only pulls songs from 4 of their releases and they have alot of good stuff. This release is probably 90% instrumental. I would have to concur the sequencing isn't ideal. The first 2 cuts are from Mirage (a great album) but are much harder rocking than the rest of the stuff. Once you hit the Snow Goose era stuff it's a nice smooth ride. Camel are especially strong in terms of creating great melodies. But what is equally impressive is the interplay of the musicians. Just when the keyboards or guitar are presenting a really strong melody, each member of the rest of the band is playing an interesting part that just adds to, rather than detracting from, the main theme. The interplay of the band members is exceptional.

This can be a very therapeutic and uplifting listen. One which will take you through many moods. Seems it would be good for a long road trip. I also really love Rajaz off from the cd of the same name. Also, there are some incredible tunes on Dust and Dreams.

I can understand that some reviewers might say that this compilation doesn't really do justice to the band. The reason for that is that they painted from such a wide musical palette that it would be very hard to create a representative compilation.

If I had never heard of Camel and wanted to check them out, I would buy this in a heart beat.

I bought this CD because I wanted to familiarize myself with Camel's music and I really got my money's worth. Excellent CD from start to finish. "Lady Fantasy" and "Rhayander" really stand out. Most of the CD is instrumental, but when there are vocal parts they're done well. If you're looking to get into Camel this is a great place to start. I just wish the band had a better name! It's hard to take a band called Camel seriously, but they deserve more credit and attention than they've received.

Rhino's come a long way in terms of album packaging, that much is for certain.  Thankfully, the music on this one is killer, so the lack of liners or detailed information is excusable.  I'm certain there are better retrospectives on this unfortunately oft-overlooked band, but this is the only one I own, the first one I ran across, so this is not only my introduction to Camel, but all I've ever heard.  All opinions converge on the fact that the earliest Camel albums (the ones that these tracks are taken from) represent many of the high points of the band's catalog, so this one is literally the best of the best.  Epic early prog, somewhere between Genesis' musical theatre, Yes' symphonics, Floyd's space-rock (especially on the selections from Moonmadness), and the Canterbury boys' jazz-fusion leanings, Camel released some great music in their day, making them (along with Caravan and Gentle Giant) one of the golden age of prog-rock's longlost secrets...  Song highlights include the multi-part epic Lady Fantasy, which rides some Yes-esque instrumental sections through a Floydian refrain and then back into a pseudo-Fripp guitar freak-out...  Bear in mind, as well, that these comparisons are in no way to mean that Camel is derivative of their peers, more that they existed in their own place, somewhere between the places of many of their contemporaries.

A selection of songs from 4 of their most acclaimed albums:

Mirage - (Released 1974) tracks: 1 to 2
The Snow Goose - (Released 1975) tracks: 3 to 8
Moonmadness - (Released 1976) tracks: 9 to 10
Rain Dances - (Released 1977) tracks: 11 to 13.

 Tracks Listing:

1. Freefall (5:49)
2. Lady Fantasy (12:42)
3. The Great Marsh (1:45)
4. Rhayader (3:08)
5. Rhayader Goes To Town (5:21)
6. The Snow Goose (3:17)
7. Flight Of The Snow Goose (2:45)
8. Dunkirk (5:29)
9. Song Within A Song (7:10)
10. Lunar Sea (9:06)
11. First Light (5:05)
12. Metrognome (4:09)
13. Rain Dances (2:38)

Total Time: 68:24

Line-up / Musicians

Bass – Richard Sinclair (tracks: 11 to 13)
Bass, Vocals – Doug Ferguson (tracks: 1 to 10)
Compilation Producer – Bob Say
Drums, Percussion – Andy Ward (2)
Guitar, Vocals – Andrew Latimer
Keyboards, Vocals – Pete Bardens*



  2. Thanks C420
    Never really listened to this band...By 1974 I was into jazz-fusion and never heard a rock band up to Cream-Led-Jimi - So thanks for the oppurtunity to give these guys some listening time
    BTW if you're into classic jazz-funk...Here is my rip of Harvey Mason - Marching In The Street (1975) :

  3. Great comp, thanks for sharing this! Camel's been one of my favourite bands for a while now, love their early stuff specially.

    As a sidenote, they could have switched those both Mirage songs for Supertwister/Earthrise, and Song Within a Song+Metrognome for Arisitullus/Chord Change/One of These Days, and made an instrumental-only 5/5 comp.