PB 9855 Mirage
Produced by David Hitchcock
Released on March 1, 1974
US CHART POSITION #149
Find it at GEMM
PB 9855 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

T his is the Camelshair smoking jacket I slip into most often, well worn over the ages and sculpted to my musical temperament like a certain pair of jeans in need of a patch. The band had obviously settled on what sort of music they wanted to make with Mirage, and it’s palpably progressive at every turn, shrouded in a magical mist that falls and rises with the needle. The sleepy vocals, carried on the winds of a magnificent mellotron and buttressed by the bass and drums, conjure a waking dreamstate that few albums can match. This Mirage first takes the form of “Freefall,” whose seductive siren’s call simply smokes, followed by the instrumental “Supertwister,” featuring Andy Latimer’s heretofore unheard (and otherworldly) flute playing. It’s all leading up to the two-part “Nimrodel,” a transcendent retelling of Gandalf’s reappearance as the white wizard that remains my favorite journey in all of Camelogue. For this heroic feat alone, Camel could count itself minstrel-kissed through the ages. “Earthrise” shakes off some of that sleepy, far-off land with a sweaty workout that finds Pete Bardens’ brilliant organ working overtime while Andy Ward attacks his kit with unrelenting energy. The three-part “Lady Fantasy” would seem to continue in this vein, but soon slides effortlessly into a mesmerizing melody spiced with keyboard commentary from Bardens that beats down The Doors’ hallowed path. If I were assembling the Gods in order, a task best left to presumptive chess players, Mirage would appear near the head of the receiving line for progressive initiates. The entire album bespeaks what’s best about the genre: a self-sustaining musical world where fantasy is the reality and the strings of man remain unseen. Camel provides a different ride than the great carriages of the immortals (Yes, Genesis), using softer strokes in lieu of striking genius, but Mirage is no mere illusion of prog heaven, it’s the genuine article. So climb aboard and strap yourself in for a ride you won’t soon forget.

PB 9855 back cover
PB 9855 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. FREEFALL    (Pete Bardens)    5:50
  2. SUPERTWISTER    (Pete Bardens)    3:19
  3. NIMRODEL: THE PROCESSION / THE WHITE RIDER    (Andy Latimer)    9:15
  4. EARTHRISE    (Pete Bardens/Andy Latimer)    6:40
  5. LADY FANTASY: ENCOUNTER / SMILES FOR YOU / LADY FANTASY    (Pete Bardens/Andy Latimer/Andy Ward/Doug Ferguson)    12:44

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  6. SUPERTWISTER (LIVE)
  7. MYSTIC QUEEN (LIVE)
  8. ARUBALUBA (LIVE)
  9. LADY FANTASY (UNRELEASED MIX)

CREDITS

PETE BARDENS --
DOUG FERGUSON --
ANDY LATIMER --
ANDY WARD --

return to CAMEL discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1974 Deram/Gama LP SML-1107 unique cover, lyric insert
US March 1, 1974 Janus LP JXS 7009  
CAN 1974 Janus LP 9098 7009  
JPN 1974 Deram LP GP-1089  
SPA   Decca 2LP 15100/1 repackaged w. THE SNOW GOOSE
US   Passport LP/CS PB/PBC 9855 reissue
GER 1989 Deram CD 820 613  
WW June 24, 2002 Deram/Universal CDX 882929 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN 2002 Deram CDX UICY-9205 digital remaster w. bonus tracks


SUGGESTED READING

The song "Nimrodel" includes a reference to Gandalf in "The White Rider," who (as we readers know) returns in the forest as the white wizard. This of course happens in Tolkien's The Two Towers, the second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can find a used copy of The Two Towers by clicking on this link to GEMMbooks.

 

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