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Harbour of Tears

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Album Review

Strap yourself in for another dire journey with Camel. This time it's the Irish immigration to America, a fitting travel companion for Dust and Dreams or Nude. The Celtic overtones are largely dispensed with by the second track, and what emerges is a finely conceived concept album filled with rich, saturated arrangements and guitar leads that cut through the surrounding music like a beacon. More so than Dust and Dreams, Harbour of Tears feels like it was intended for the stage. The instrumentals are oftentimes simple bridges to the next phase of storytelling; the music is streamlined (even with strings and winds) to advance a linear progression in the listener's mind. If some of this seems familiar, remember that Camel have been likely to retrace the occasional familiar footprint during 20 years of traveling (e.g., "Eyes of Ireland" has been heard before). During the interim, Andrew Latimer has become a remarkable conjurer of conjoined sound and imagery; the way in which he uses different sounds to suggest scenes and action is imagistic music in the best sense of the word. The rest of the cast is equally accomplished, drawing on the estimable skills of Mae McKenna, Mickey Simmonds, lyricist Susan Hoover, and others to create a full-bodied presentation. Harbour of Tears isn't a sad tale; it's simply bittersweet, and sometimes heroic. Camel are careful to walk a balance between hope and hardship, to convey the hushed (if barren) beauty of Ireland against the coarse reality of immigrant life in America. Again, it's a marvel that the band continue to invest so much skill and vision into their music at this late juncture in their journey, but that's the advantage of choosing your own path. Drawing out individual tracks is antithetical to Harbour's design. The disc should be heard in its entirety, by Camel fans old and new. And if you're vacillating between this and Dust, dream another day and buy Harbour of Tears first. Just be mindful of the last track, as Camel take their time waving goodbye.


Formed: 1972 in Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Camel never achieved the mass popularity of fellow British progressive rock bands like the Alan Parsons Project, but they cultivated a dedicated cult following. Over the course of their career, Camel experienced numerous changes, but throughout the years, Andrew Latimer remained the leader of the band. Formed in 1972 in Surrey, Camel originally consisted of Latimer (guitar, flute, vocals), Andy Ward (drums), Doug Ferguson (bass), and keyboardist Peter Bardens, previously of Them. By the end of...
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Harbour of Tears, Camel
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