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Camel - Dust And Dreams CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 472 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Camel returned to the fray in the 1990's, after an extended hiatus owing to legal wrangles, with this, the first on their own record label, and what a return it was.

Dust & Dreams is a concept album based upon John Steinbeck's classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. It is very much the case that if, like me, you were moved to tears by reading the calamities inflicted upon the main characters in that novel, you will appreciate just what a fine job Andy Latimer, ably assisted by his wife Susan Hoover, put in attempting to set the piece to music. For example, the short instrumental, Dusted Out is barren in its beauty, and closing your eyes, you can visualise the scenes that Joad returned to from a spell in prison. The understated emotion, and fine female/male vocal interplay, on the delicate Rose Of Sharon is superb, and Latimer plays a lovely solo midway through and towards the denouement. Listening to tracks such as these, and, indeed, the whole trilogy of albums in that decade, makes one wonder just why on earth the band did not enjoy the huge commercial success that they so thoroughly deserved.

The best symphonic prog has often, rightly, been described as latter day classical music set to modern instrumentation. Not many better examples can be found than in this and other Camel works. Milk N' Honey, for example, is a superb instrumental piece that describes, in pure orchestration, the promise of a better life out West. Lyrics are not needed. The keyboards by Scherpenzeel and Harriss are easily the equal of anything that the likes of Banks & Wakeman were putting out at this time. The shorter Whispers is quite simply a lovely piece of woodwind led classical interlude.

All of the band play exceptionally well, and Latimer, rightly, steals the show with both his guitar work and a very fine vocal performance. The End Of The Line highlights these multi talents in a nutshell. Nearly seven minutes of symphonic, thoughtful, rock heaven. Meanwhile, his crying guitar more than adequately pictures for us the shock of Cotton Camp. Better still is to come on the haunting Little Rivers And Little Rose, a gorgeous two minute pastiche that leads onto the heavier, angry, well titled Hopeless Anger.

The early, "classic" era, Camel albums, rightly, have a special place in the hearts of reviewers on Prog Archives. However, judging by the relatively few numbers of reviews for this and subsequent albums, I guess that many people had simply lost track of them by this time.

Well, from me, here is a very strong recommendation to go back and complete your collections. This is an excellent album from an excellent band, with sound and production values very much dragged beautifully into the modern era. This work stands up very strongly amongst their finest albums, and just goes to show what heights can be achieved given superb writing, playing, and thoughtful, intelligent interpretation.

Four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

lazland | 4/5 |


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