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Camel - Moondances CD (album) cover

MOONDANCES

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.90 | 54 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Unevensong

Moondances features footage from two separate live concerts, one from 1976 and one from 1977. As such it captures Camel in two different stages of the band's evolution - first right before and then right after the major transition that took place between the Moonmadness and Rain Dances albums (the albums to which the DVD title "Moondances" alludes). The change was both in musical terms and in terms of personell.

The earlier footage is from a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on April 14th 1976 and features the original line-up of Andy Latimer, Peter Bardens, Doug Fergusen, and Andy Ward. While the music is fantastic and the footage interesting, it is far from complete. Only six songs are included and we are missing out on about half the show. The whole set included Song Within a Song, The Great Marsh/Rhayader/Rhayader Goes to Town, Air Born, Chord Change, The White Rider, Lunar Sea, Preparation/Dunkirk, Another Night, and Lady Fantasy, while the programme featured here begins from The White Rider. Perhaps the previous songs were not filmed, but the whole show has been released in audio format as bonus tracks on the 2009 2CD "Deluxe" edition of Moonmadness. (The 2002 remastered CD that I own has only Song Within a Song, Lunar Sea, and Preparation/Dunkirk from the same show).

The other concert was filmed at the Hippodrome, Golders Green, London, on September 22nd 1977 and features the line-up including Richard Sinclair and Mel Collins in addition to Latimer, Bardens, and Ward. With Sinclair taking lead vocals and Collins adding sax, the sound of the band was very different during this time and altogether more jazzy. Most of the Rain Dances material is good, but I dislike how this line-up treated earlier material. The worst example is what they did to Never Let Go which sounds all wrong here. Not the right direction for Camel. This is fun to see, but it does not compare favourably with the classic Camel of the original line-up. At least this programme is complete.

The DVD also holds two bonus audio-only tracks from 1973 and 1974 respectively called Autumn and Riverman. These were previously unreleased and are not available elsewhere. The reason that they are here is not clear, but it is nice to have these rare tracks.

Overall, this is a good DVD, and probably the best source if you wish to see 1970's Camel in performance. However, for me the visual aspect is only interesting once or twice for historical reasons while the audio has timeless appeal. In the case of the 1976 recordings these are, as mentioned above, available in more complete form elsewhere. In terms of DVDs, I think that the more recently filmed Camel shows presented on Coming Of Age, The Opening Farewell, and In From the Cold are all much better than the present one.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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