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Camel

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Camel - The Snow Goose [Janus JSX-7016] (1975)

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ITEM# SR-JAJXS7016
Ratings: C=VG-; LP=VG

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Artist:

Camel

Title:

The Snow Goose

Released: 1975
Label: Janus
Catalog: JSX-7016
Genre: Rock, Prog Rock


T R A C K L I S T:
01 The Great Marsh
02 Rhayader
03 Rhayader Goes To Town
04 Sanctuary /Fritha
05 The Snow Goose
06 Friendship / Migration / Rhayader Alone
07 Flight Of The Snow Goose
08 Preparation
09 Dunkirk
10 Epitaph / Fritha Alone
11 La Princesse Perdue
12 The Great Marsh
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Album Review

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Camel's classic period started with The Snow Goose, an instrumental concept album based on a novella by Paul Gallico. Although there are no lyrics on the album -- two songs feature wordless vocals -- the music follows the emotional arc of the novella's story, which is about a lonely man named Rhayader who helps nurse a wounded snow goose back to health with the help of a young girl called Fritha he recently befriended. Once the goose is healed, it is set free, but Fritha no longer visits the man because the goose is gone. Later, Rhayader is killed in battle during the evacuation of Dunkirk. The goose returned during the battle, and it is then named La Princesse Perdue, symbolizing the hopes that can still survive even during the evils of war. With such a complex fable to tell, it is no surprise that Camel keep their improvisational tendencies reined in, deciding to concentrate on surging, intricate soundscapes that telegraph the emotion of the piece without a single word. And even though The Snow Goose is an instrumental album, it is far more accessible than some of Camel's later work, since it relies on beautiful sonic textures instead of musical experimentation.

Camel's Biography

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Camel never achieved the mass popularity of fellow British progressive rock bands like the Alan Parsons Project, but they cultivated a dedicated cult following. Over the course of their career, Camel experienced numerous changes, but throughout the years, Andrew Latimer remained the leader of the band.

Formed in 1972 in Surrey, Camel originally consisted of Latimer (guitar, flute, vocals), Andy Ward (drums), Doug Ferguson (bass), and keyboardist Peter Bardens, previously of Them. By the end of 1973, the group signed with MCA and released their eponymous debut. In 1974, the band switched record labels, signing with Decca's Gama subsidiary, and released Mirage. In 1975, Camel released their breakthrough album The Snow Goose, which climbed into the British Top 30. The band's English audience declined with 1976's Moonmadness, but the album was more successful in America, reaching number 118 -- the highest chart position the band ever attained in the U.S. Following the release of Moonmadness, Ferguson left the band and was replaced by Richard Sinclair (ex-Caravan); at the same time, the group added saxophonist Mel Collins. Latimer and Bardens conflicted during the recording of 1977's Rain Dances and those tensions would come to a head during the making of 1978's Breathless. After Breathless was completed, Bardens left the band. Before recording their next album, Camel replaced Bardens with two keyboardists -- Kit Watkins (Happy the Man) and Jim Schelhaas (Caravan) -- and replaced Sinclair with Colin Bass.

By the time Camel released their 1979 album, I Can See Your House From Here, rock & roll had been changed by the emergence of punk rock, which resulted in less press coverage for progressive rock, as well as decreased record sales. Camel suffered from this shift in popular taste -- I Can See Your House from Here received less attention than any of the band's releases since their debut. Latimer returned to writing concept albums with 1981's Nude. In 1982, drummer Andy Ward was forced to leave the band after suffering a severe hand injury. Camel's 1982 album, The Single Factor, was a slicker, more accessible affair than previous Camel records, but it failed to chart. Stationary Traveller (1984) was another concept album.

After the release of the 1984 live album, Pressure Points, Camel entered a long period of hibernation that lasted until the early '90s. In 1985, Decca dropped Camel from its roster. Latimer wasn't able to find a new label because he was embroiled in a difficult legal battle with Camel's former manager Geoff Jukes; Camel eventually won the lawsuit in the late '80s. Throughout this period, Camel produced no new music. In 1988, Latimer sold his home in England and moved to California, where he founded the independent label Camel Productions. By the time Camel recorded their follow-up to Stationary Traveller in the early '90s, the band was, for most intents and purposes, simply Andrew Latimer and a handful of session musicians. Dust and Dreams (1991) was the first release on Camel Productions. In 1993, PolyGram released a double-disc Camel retrospective, Echoes. In early 1996, Camel released Harbour of Tears.
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