on 11 June 2004
Moon madness is one of the few albums that I can not fault at all, for any reason. I like most of Camels work very much, but like any band its hard to produce an entire album of blinding classics. This album, however, proves it is possible. There is not even an 'average' track on here they are all fantastic. Its difficult to pick a favourite, but if pushed I would still be torn between 'Chord change' and 'Lunar sea' The playing is fluid and intricate, the production clear and perfect for showing off the rich playing ability of the band. Skillfully, Latimer & co combine rock with jazz in a way that cunningly avoids cliche, and tedious self indulgence, and leaves us with some of the most sublime music to be recorded in the 70's.
on 23 February 2007
"Moonmadness" is a wonderful piece of music. It's not a concept album but manages to do what all the very best albums achieve - creates a soundscape into which all of the songs fit easily, such that the synergy of the whole album is very much greater than you might think from listening to an individual song out of context.
This was Camel's fourth album and featured the original line-up of Andy Latimer, Pete Bardens, Doug Ferguson and Andy Ward: the musicianship is excellent, Doug's bass playing and Andy's drumming providing musicality of their own to add to Andy and Pete's wizardry.
The music is generally at a slow tempo, Pete Bardens's keyboards and piano not only providing a symphonic backdrop but sharing the melodic work with Andy's guitar and flute. The flute passages are beautiful, as they were on the previous album "Snow Goose", and more melodic than you might hear in Jethro Tull's music. There are lengthy instrumental passages, never dull, including two complete instrumental numbers. The vocals, sparse as they are, are delivered in laconic fashion and given an ethereal mix in the production, blending in perfectly with the wash of the music.
It really is a gorgeous album - Latimer and Bardens's "Song Within a Song" is one of my all time favourite top ten tracks and the others are not far behind: "Chord Change", "Air Born" and "Another Night" being the others that I would highlight from the album's seven tracks.
For those of you who are lovers of English humour, you will also enjoy the band's wonderful play on words with the final closing number, the instrumental "Lunar Sea". "Lunar Sea" - "Moonmadness" - !!
The 2002 re-issue includes live recordings of "Song Within a Song", "Lunar Sea" and "Preparation/Dunkirk" (from "Snow Goose"), the single version of "Another Night" and the demo version of "Spirit on the Water. Frankly, you would be better off listening to these at a different time to the original 7 tracks that make up the album - these bonus tracks do not have the same character or feel that makes "Moonmadness" the brilliant album that it is and listening to them after the original album will diminish the feeling of utter pleasure that you will have experienced!
on 18 February 2002
I have this on Vinyl which is getting worn thin and on CD. It is definitive of the Camel sound, demonstrating the skill of these musicians. Incorporating the trademark Camel beat changes and unique melodies the music takes you to a whole new world. This is a good wind-down CD which while maintaining a cheerful summer feel, relaxes. A definite MUST HAVE for any Camel fan and a great introduction to Canterbury music and the Progressive Rock Genre
on 31 July 2005
Now - here we go back to the time when bands could actually play their instruments and knew what they were doing. Buoyed by the success of their previous opus - (music inspired by) The Snow Goose, all the elements came together on Moon Madness and it sounds as fresh today as it did all those years ago.
"Chord Change" and "Song within a song" are sit back and admire-type numbers. Such musicianship! "Spirit of the water" and "Lunar Sea" (hence Moon Madness!)compliment each other perfectly. "Air Born" is a perfect representation of what Andy Latimer (who has carried Camel into the nineties and the twenty-first century) is all about, at once soaring, yet earthy.
Doug Ferguson must have been surprised to find "Another night" lifted as the single from the original release - it belongs here on the album, nestling nicely in the midst of the disc. I haven't mentioned "Aristillus" - well, I should because not only is it the kick-off track but there is certainly no dip in standard here.
Nowadays, when one thinks of classic Camel, it tends to be "Snow Goose" that is referenced. Don't know why because good though that release is (and it is), Moon madness was surely Camel's defining platter. Go buy.
on 7 December 2002
This is Camel at their best. Comprising of the four original members, Andrew Latimer, Peter Bardens, Doug Ferguson and Andy Ward, the initial idea was for each memebr to write a song that reflected themselves (e.g. Lunar Sea ("Lunacy") for Andy Ward) - that didn't happen. As with most of the Camel repertoire, it's Latimer and Bardens, both individually and collectively who are the creative cornerstones. It is difficult to find the words that accurately and deservedly describe the music on this album. From quiet keyboard, flute and acoustic guitar to pulsating (but controlled) 70's rock with just a hint or touch of soft jazz/blues. The 2002 reissue has an exquisite instrumental demo of Peter Bardens "Spirit of the Water" showing just how good a tunesmith and under rated piano player he was.
'The Snow Goose' may have been the album that broke Camel for most of their fans, but I much prefer this collection of largely exhilarating instrumental excursions. Of course, there are songs with eloquent lyrics and tidy melodies, but vocals are not the strong point of this album. The brief, romping 'Aristillus' jolts you into paying attention, before the beguiling 'Song Within A Song'. I first heard this and 'Lunar Sea' on 'A Live Record', which is another great album. 'Another Night' is wonderfully strident and 'Lunar Sea', one of my favourite Camel tracks, full of atmospherics, great rhythms and guitar runs, closes the album proper. The remaining three tracks are all good value, relatively mild, but this is one of those albums that fizzes with enthusiasm and leaves you wanting more.
Like the CD release of The Snow Goose, this is a fine collection including the original recording of Moon Madness, plus a variety of bonus tracks, live recordings and demos, all highly desirable for the Camel completist collector and newcomer alike.
While this album is unmistakably by the same band, this is less themed and more conventional. For all that, there are some beautifully crafted pop songs that undoubtedly stand the test of time and sound remarkably fresh to this day - Another Night for example was always a favourite and deserves wider appreciation; Spirit of the Water is as haunting now as it's ever been; and Lunar Sea (Moon Madness, geddit?) Shame there are only 7 original songs here, but they're pretty darn good.
If I had to criticise, it would be that Camel are really about the music and not the vocals. Andy Latimer did his best on the early albums but was never a singer of any description (no surprise that Richard Sinclair later took over vocal duties.) But then, that hardly harmed the careers of Bob Dylan or John Lydon, did it?!
An excellent album. Buy and enjoy.
on 29 March 2009
If I could pick one fault with the rock scene of the early seventies it would be that there were so many talented bands on the scene that inevitably the odd one would slip through the net. Sadly for me, I confused Camel (Andy Latimer, Pete Bardens et al) with Pete Framptons group of the same name, thus thirty years on I am now experiencing (and that is the correct word for it) the wonderous sounds of a band who were woefully undervalued at the time. This their fourth album is nothing less than breathtaking, the melodic haunting keyboards interacting with some fine guitarwork displays a band at or at least near their peak.
The original seven tracks provide a wide range musically both in tempo and style. Aristillus, a short punchy instrumental opens the album, followed by Song within a song which as it's title suggests follows more than one path, starting slowly with a mixture of keyboard and flute leading to some dreamy vocals before finishing in a more uptempo mode with a wonderful wah wah guitar effect supporting the keyboard lead, a truly marvellous song. Chord change is another instrumental again featuring various tempo's with both keys and guitar sharing lead duties. Spirit of the water features Pete Barden playing more or less solo on piano, Occasional flute backing from Andy. Another night rocks along at a good pace, the heaviest track on the album. Air born opens with flute and piano followed by lush mellotron, guitar and vocal passages, very relaxing. The album closes with another instrumental, Lunar sea at nine minutes enables the band to explore a variety of tempo's and soundscapes with astounding effect.
Bonus tracks are a single edit, demo and three 'live' recordings and are quite enjoyable which means you can sit back and chill out for longer.
It's great to be able to return to albums like this after so long away and re-appraise them.
I must admit, I tend to prefer the more flowing style of "Snow Goose". This one returns to a selection of tracks, impeccably conceived and played as always, but tending to leave me a little cold, apart from "Lunar Sea", which is superbly done.
The production, once again, is clean, but a little light in the bass department [edit 2013 - it's fine :-)]. The (re) mastering has been done to a very high standard indeed, leaving the original (?) sound intact as heard in the control room on huge playback monitors. The additional tracks are interesting too, the live ones showing just how good these guys were "on the road".
My own feeling would be to get "Snow Goose" first. If you like that, then get this next, followed by "Mirage". Of their later work, "Nude" comes very high on the list - I need to dig out the others, which I still have on LP and listen to those again...
on 30 June 2010
Not to buy this CD actually if you are a lover of 70 Prog Rock - or just good old fashioned Melodic/Symphonic Rock.
This is the best Camel CD bar none. I originally purchased this shortly after its release having already having fallen in love (it's that good) with the Snow Goose and having seen them perform it at the City Hall Newcastle... The four original members - Andrew Latimer, Peter Bardens, Doug Ferguson and Andy Ward are all at their best here and that best is phenomenal. I listened to this last night (29 June 2010) - for the eighth trillion time and was stunned at how fresh and vibrant it is - Doug's Bass playing is incredible and makes me wish he had never left .. for me they were still a great band but never better than this - their crowning glory ... Andy well as ever his drumming is amassing and more amassing is the fact that he is never cited on the greatest drummer ever listings ... Andrew Latimers guitar playing and flute on occasion (I know there should be no place for the flute in a rock band - but hey it works) is truly inspiring ... Oh to be able to play like that ... His solo in Chord Change has to be heard to be believed - so heartfelt and bluesy. Wonderful stuff this. A truly superb CD that I have worn out on several occasions (including several LPs) purchased only less than Selling England. Madness not to buy, madness to avoid ...