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Camel - The Paris Collection CD (album) cover

THE PARIS COLLECTION

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 70 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Slow yourself down

Camel has a very impressive collection of live albums to their credit both in terms of quantity and quality. Indeed, with the Official Camel Bootleg series, every major Camel tour since 1981 has a live album to represent it (including a live DVD yet to be released from their most recent tour)! The tour in support of Nude is represented by Camel On The Road 1981, the tour in support of The Single Factor is represented by Camel On The Road 1982, The tour in support of Stationary Traveller is represented by the Pressure Points live album as well as the Total Pressure DVD, the tour in support of Dust And Dreams is represented by the Never Let Go double live album, the tour in support of Harbour Of Tears is represented by the Coming Of Age DVD and double CD and the tour in support of Rajaz is represented by the present album (and as I mentioned above, the farewell tour following the most recent Camel album A Nod And A Wink will soon be represented by a new DVD release announced to be called The Opening Farewell).

Some of these live albums are better than others and the present one falls somewhere in the middle. While the brilliant Never Let Go and Coming Of Age releases included performances of the Dust And Dreams and Harbour Of Tears albums in their respective entirety, The Paris Collection only holds a single track from Rajaz in Sahara. The rest of the tracks are taken from Dust And Dreams, Stationary Traveller, I Can See Your House From Here, Moonmadness, Mirage and the self-titled debut. Almost all of these songs have been featured on several previous live albums. Apart from Sahara, the most interesting selection is Slow Yourself Down originally from the debut album performed here in an acoustic version. What makes this live album unique, however, is that all lead vocals are handled, not by Andy Latimer as usual, but by keyboard player Guy LeBlanc. The reason is that Andy had been advised by doctors to rest his voice. This fact makes this release special, but at the same time it takes away a very important aspect of Camel's trademark sound.

Bass duties are handled by Colin Bass as usual and drums by one Denis Clement. Keyboards are, as I said, played by Guy LeBlanc, and as he speaks French, it is he that handles most of the communication with the Paris audience (but I don't understand most of what he is saying to them). Andy is in fine form as far as his guitar playing goes and he is, as always, fantastic. Too bad about his vocals though. LeBlanc is not a bad singer, but he is not the voice of Camel, after all. Camel is indeed a fantastic live band also in this incarnation though, but among so many live albums, several of which are excellent, it is hard for The Paris Collection to stand out. Camel fans will certainly be delighted by the presence of such classics as Ice, Chord Change and the eternal Lady Fantasy, but we have all heard these songs elsewhere. Three songs are played from Dust And Dreams, and even if I consider this album a masterpiece, I find it doubtful that we needed these live versions given that the Never Let Go live album already held a complete and magnificent live performance of that album.

The conclusion must be that The Paris Collection is absolutely not the best Camel live album and though certainly a good one in its own right, it adds very little to what was already on the market at the time. With Andy's vocals and a few more tracks from Rajaz, this could have been a more interesting release. It is still a worthy addition but I strongly recommend to go for Never Let Go and Coming Of Age first - they are both truly outstanding live releases!

There is a bonus track on this album which is a studio version of the acoustic version of Slow Yourself Down with Andy on vocals. Very interesting and very different from the original version. Beautiful!

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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