Sound: Music Inspired by The Snow Goose was progressive rock band Camel's third studio album released. It was a concept album, based off (who would have guessed?) the novel "The Snow Goose" by Paul Gallico, and is probably one of Camel's most accessible works. The album is certainly not "heavy" by any means (flute solos anyone?), and is often quite soft and laid back.. Sorry, no brutal headbanging songs. The album is instrumental (with the exception of some background vocals here and there), and while that might initially turn people off the album, I personally think that album works much better without vocals and suits the feeling of the album better. Camel is not a very famous band, but it is an amazing band, and hopefully this review might bring a bit more light to an often overlooked band.
First of all, if you're expecting fifteen minute epic compositions, you'll quickly find out that this isn't the case. No song is longer than 6 minutes, and many of them are actually quite short. The album consists of 16 tracks and is around 45 minutes long, which is unfortunately quite short considering how good some of the songs are. Although the album has 16 tracks, it's more of one long song with shorter decent songs connecting the longer amazing songs. While there are a few songs you might listen to over and over again, the majority are too short to be listened to individually. The album does what it was intended to do, and feels like an adventure; moving, changing, but connected enough to seem like the same adventure all the way through the album.
For the most part, the songs themselves are quite good. A good portion of the songs are great and are filled with lots of amazing ideas and amazing melodies that are well brought out and full of interesting and always changing instrumentation that should be enjoyable to listen to. Although many of the songs are fantastic, a few of the shorter pieces sound like they were discarded ideas that couldn't be made into a longer song, and other ones sound like the deserve to be longer than two minutes long. Like I mentioned before, the album is fairly accessible and simple, and even when it's doing something like using a strange time signature, you won't even notice because it blends so flawlessly. Overall though, the songs themselves are great, and vary from orchestral to bluesy to rock to just chill, laid back songs.
The actual instrumentation is quite amazing too. Andrew Latimer's guitar playing is great. From the blues stuff he does later into "Rhayader Goes to Town" to the stuff he plays right from his heart in "The Snow Goose" to even just the stuff he does in the background, he is enjoyable to listen to and a very talented guitarist. His flute solos also highlight many songs and fit very well with the context of the album. Peter Barden's key playing is also amazing, and his usage of different sounds brings more variety to the album as well as making the songs more interesting. Doug Ferguson's bass is actually a fairly big part of the album and is almost always audible and moving, making the band's sound tighter as well as making the songs more interesting. Finally, Andy Ward is a great percussionist. His drumming is always interesting but never overwhelming, often sounding fairly simple but actually quite intricate. The musicians did a great job on this album and play amazingly together, giving the music a really tight sound.
Overall, many of the songs and ideas on this album are amazing. It's a very laid back accessible album that's great to listen to and full of emotion and talent. The length of some of the songs and the album itself is a bit disappointing, but mostly only because it's so good. There are a few problems here and there with the album, but for the most part it's a great album that any progressive rock fan should check out. // 8
Lyrics: There are no lyrics on this album, but rather the music itself tells the story through the style, dynamics, tempo, and other techniques. Although there is no literal story, as the album progresses so does the music. While there is no singing of lyrics, there is however some vocal work done by Andrew Latimer that is quite good and really adds another layer to the songs it is in, acting more like an instrument in the background then the focus of the album.
Because the lyrics are non-existent and the vocals are only background, I will give this category an eight out of ten as an average of the other two categories. // 8
Overall Impression: This album is a great, easygoing album that will probably stick with you for some time. If you're new to Camel (as most people are) or progressive rock in general and are looking for something to get you going, this album is great. Just to mention a couple of my favourite songs from the album, first there's "The Snow Goose". This is where the main theme of the album comes from, and you'll hear bits and pieces of this song recurring throughout the album in different ways. Full of emotion and simple but amazing guitar playing. I also recommend "Rhayader", "Rhayader Goes to Town", and "La Princesse Perdue". Although these songs are good on their own, I do NOT recommend listening to the album as individual songs. For the most part the songs are too closely linked and too short to mean anything by themselves. It'll take a while for you to get bored with this one, and a lot of the melodies will stick in your head for quite some time. The album has a few minor flaws, but overall it's great and I strongly recommend it to any musician. // 8