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Camel - Nude CD (album) cover

NUDE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.60 | 649 ratings

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VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 99

"Nude" is the eighth studio album of Camel and was released in 1981. Camel returned to conceptual albums with this new studio work. This was the first album of Camel to feature all the lyrics by the future Andrew Latimer's wife, Susan Hoover, except "Please Come Home", which has lyrics by Latimer. "Nude" was also the last Camel's album featuring the original drummer Andy Ward. In the mid of 1981 he stopped playing drums due to abuse of alcohol and drugs. Years later it emerged that Ward had attempted suicide. So, from "Nude", Latimer remained the only founding member of the group in activity as band's member. It was also the last album with this line up, and so, their next ninth studio album "The Single Factor" released in 1982 has a completely new line up where Latimer is the sole remaining member of the group. In a certain way, we can consider "The Single Factor" a solo Latimer's musical work. Perhaps the name isn't a coincidence. Curiously, it has the presence of their original keyboardist Peter Bardens, as a guest musician.

The line up on "Nude" is Andrew Latimer (lead vocals, guitars, flute, koto and various keyboards), Andy Ward (drums and percussion), Colin Bass (lead and backing vocals and bass), Mel Collins (flue, piccolo and saxophones), Duncan MacKay (keyboards), Kit Watkins (keyboards), Jan Schelhaas (piano), Chris Green (cello), Gasper Lawal (percussions) and Herbie Flowers (tuba). In fact, "Nude" has the participation of three keyboardists Duncan MacKay, Jan Schelhaas and Kit Watkins. However, Duncan MacKay provided most of the keyboards on the studio because Kit Watkins and Jan Schelhaas were involved in other musical projects, at time. However, they returned for the live tour of the album.

"Nude" is a more ambitious album than the preceding three studio albums, their fifth, sixth and seventh studio albums "Rain Dances", "Breathless" and "I Can See Your House From Here" released in 1977, 1978 and 1979, respectively. These albums aren't conceptual albums but only made by a group of songs. So, in a certain way "Nude" is a return to the concept of their third studio album "The Snow Goose". The concept of the album is based on a surrealist story, but true, about a Japanese soldier, Lt. Hiroo Onoda, stranded on a desert island since the World War II. "Nude" tell us the story of a Japanese soldier who is separated on a Pacific island of his unit during WW2, who survived alone during 29 years, on the Philippines island of Lubang until 1974, not knowing that the war had ended. However, finally he was persuaded that the war had over, after his former Japanese commanding officer fly over the island and talk with him, persuading him to surrender. After that, he has been received in his home as a hero. However, he no longer manages to get along in the daily life and thus he finally disappeared by boat, returning to his island, the place he knew so well.

Mostly instrumental, this is very much a Latimer's album, as he composed all of the music with the exception of "Docks" and "Captured" which were co-written by Kit Watkins and Schelhaas, respectively. The album opens with the generic "City Life" but the album never lets down. "Drafted" is stuffed with great melodies and guitar themes of classic Camel kind, and proved beyond any doubt that the band was back at their best. Then you're in for a series of lengthy and complex instrumental passages, about 70% of the album is instrumental, which perfectly captures the drama and atmosphere of the all conceptual story. It reminds me "The Snow Goose", the only other Camel's album that can rival with "Nude" when it comes to sweeping, symphonic and atmospheric soundscapes. There's lots of flute on the quiet parts, and there are even some ethnic rhythms on "Changing Places", to illustrate the jungle. "Reflection" represents Latimer at his most magic, and will make you think again of the most beautiful and relaxed parts from "The Snow Goose". "Lies" is a strong vocal track that somewhat resembles Pink Floyd, and Mackay delivered an organ solo to prove that he could understand what the kind of keyboards that a progressive rock band should use, even in the 80's.

Conclusion: "Nude" is an album that describes perfectly well the life of the Japanese soldier Onoda, before the war, his life in the army, his loss, his life in the island and how he was found, his feelings about his return to his country and finally, despite being very well received, his lack of adaptation after the war and his decision to return to the island where he spent so many years of his life. This incredible episode makes me think how our lives can be radically changed by a strange event and that we are animals of habits with difficult adaptation to new situations. In my humble opinion, "Nude" is somehow an underrated Camel's album. It's true that it isn't as spacey as their earlier albums. However, I think it's quite atmospheric and that it was able of creating its own musical ambient. "Nude" represents the return of the band to Camel's classic albums. It represents also one of the best progressive albums of the 80's in a very troubled musical period for the progressive rock music. For me, Camel passed thru the 80's with some elegance.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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