Camel - A Nod And A Wink


Year of Release: 2002
Label: Camel Productions
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:42:00

Camel's most recent release is last year's A Nod And A Wink, an album about looking back at ones youth. I won't exactly say the "innocence" of youth, but certainly there is that element to it as well. Not surprising for a band looking back upon 30 years existence, even if not all members have been a direct part of those past 30 years. This is a concept album in that it explores a particular theme. There's no narrative thread, but snippets of reflection are strung together from track to track.

It is a mainly a mellow and peaceful album, full of acoustic textures, lilting flute, and warm, soft vocals. That isn't to say that Andrew Latimer doesn't have the opportunity to play some beautiful guitar leads, because he does. One thing I noticed while listening was how detailed the album sounds, every bit of percussion from Denis Clement (and from Terry Carleton) is heard. The sound is very three dimensional, which alone earns this CD high marks. If anything, it might just be a little too overall mellow. But where it needs to be, the sound is rich thanks to Colin Bass on bass and Guy LeBlanc on keyboards.

But things aren't entirely mellow, as there is the energetic and humourous "Fox Hill" about a boy, his horse and a crafty fox that could be read a couple of ways ? as a remembered adventure of youth, or as a metaphor for our perpetual chase for something that remains elusive. Sung with a broad, maybe Cockney, accent ? I thought of the father figure in the British series Darling Buds Of May (a series, incidently, that featured Catherine Zeta-Jones as the eldest daughter). But, you might just think of what is a stereotypical English accent thought of the "regular folks" (e.g. not the upper crust, "bluebloods"). There is also the lively instrumental "Squigely Fair" (well, essentially intstrumental) to almost leaven things out.

"The Miller's Tale" - which has no relationship to the Chaucer tale (and you'll soon see why I say that) ? includes in the pallette of sounds French horns, here provided by keyboards (since none are otherwise credited).

In "A Nod And A Wink" a father sends his son off to sleep in a piece where more than just the title recalls the Dutch poem "Wynken, Blynken, And Nod," (Eugene Field, 1850-1895). It's a poem that I recall from my own childhood. While there is difference in the details between the Latimer/Hoover/LeBlanc (Hoover being Susan Hoover) penned tune and the Field poem, the underlying theme is quite similar (Though found many places on the web, here is a version of the Field poem at a site hosted by Amherst College). This 11-plus minute features some very nice moments for LeBlanc, and for Latimer, of course.

The theme is continued in "Simple Pleasures," where it is of his mother's perfume that the protagonist thinks (at least, that's my interpretation). It is a piece that, as elsewhere, goes from a mellow and sparse beginning to a more fully arranged section, include a nice solo from Latimer. It is a bit jazzy, but learning more toward smooth jazz territory than trad jazz ? but don't fret about that; I said "leaning," not "is." This same kind of acoustic to electric dynamic, and the theme, continues again in "A Boy's Life." It is an initially sparse track, consisting of voice and acoustic guitar, but for the latter half or so, is an instrumental where keyboards, electric guitar, bass and drums take over.

The album ends with "For Today," a song written in response to the events of September 11. This also ties in with the overall theme of looking back with the lyric "Time will say I told you so / If we look back in regret / Never give a day away. / It won't return the same again." There is, however, an even more moving and thought provoking lyric here that comes at the beginning of the track: "I saw a pearl of wisdom / in the spirit of a man, / as he saved / the day he lost." As the footnote indicates, this is in reference to those who jumped from the building? The band played this live at NEARFest, and as moving as it is here on CD (especially Latimer's emotional guitar solos), it is even more powerful and immediate live.

Overall, A Wink And A Nod, is very nice album and one I have enjoyed playing very much.


Tracklisting:
A Nod and a Wink (11:16) / Simple Pleasures (5:31) / A Boy's Life (7:20) / Fox Hill (9:19) / The Miller's Tale / (3:34) / Squigely Fair (8:02) / For Today (10:40)

Musicians:
Andy Latimer - guitars, flute, keyboards, vocals
Guy LeBlanc - keyboards, backing vocals
Colin Bass - bass, backing vocals
Denis Clement - drums
Terry Carleton - drums (2, 6), percussion, backing vocals
JR Johnston - backing vocals

Discography:
Camel (1973/2002)
Mirage (1974/2002)
The Snow Goose (1975/2002)
Moonmadness (1976/2002)
Rain Dances (1977)
A Live Record (1978/2002)
Breathless (1978)
I Can See Your House From Here (1979)
Nude (1981)
Chameleon - The Best Of Camel (1981)
The Single Factor (1982)
Stationary Traveller (1984)
Pressure Points - Live (1984)
Compact Compilition (1986)
Landscapes (1991, compilation)
Dust And Dreams (1991)
Echoes (1993, compilation)
On The Road '72 (1993)
On The Road '82 (1994)
Never Let Go (1994, live)
Harbour Of Tears (1996)
Rajaz (1999)
Coming Of Age (1999)
The Paris Collection (2001)
A Nod And A Wink (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 24th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.camelproductions.com
Hits: 654
Language: english

  

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