C1-48967 Speed of Light
Produced by Pete Bardens
Released on 1988
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
C1-48967 cover  

I reached here by way of Camel, looking for gold of a different sort. Speed of Light appears to be a concept album about the gold rush, at least on the surface, and I haven’t had the inclination to dig much deeper. My initial reaction was one of disappointment, since Speed moves in a different direction than vintage Camel. But the more I listened to it, the more I saw the light, or the merit of it anyway. Camel’s later albums dealt with migrations themselves (Dust And Dreams, Harbour of Tears), and the music really isn’t that far from the atmospheric and melodic music one might expect from Camel’s vital organist. The old Hammond stays hidden, unfortunately, and what appears in its stead is the usual lineup of new age and pop sounds. It seems to me, though, that I’ve cut Tony Banks and Patrick Moraz more slack for producing albums of similar merit, so I’m here to say that Speed of Light is fast approaching the middle pack of serviceable pop synth albums from prog keyboardists in my mind. The lack of a consistently commanding vocalist is a little costly in a setting like this, but Neil Lockwood does a fine job on the title track and Honey Hylton is equally effective on “Black Elk.” The rest of the time, the songs build mood, reveal mildly pleasant melodies (“Westward Ho!,” “Afterthought”) and avail themselves of modern studio production (“Whisper in the Wind”). However, I won’t suggest that there’s a big audience for an album like this. It’s too commercial and timid to please prog fans, too soft-spoken to woo anyway away from the dancefloor, and too pop-oriented for new age audiences to get any serious crystal tuning in. If, however, you came here on Camelback like me to see what the old boy was up to, it’s enough that Pete Bardens is keeping busy with a worthwhile project. If you want to read the earlier, harsher review that I submitted to All Music Guide some time ago, you can click here. I still stand by that review, but it’s from a different place in the journey, say after half a dozen listens. I’ve logged in some miles with Speed of Light since then.

C1-48967 back cover C1-48967 picture sleeve
C1-48967 back cover C1-48967 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. WESTWARD HO!    4:19
  2. BLACK ELK    5:09
  3. GOLD    4:04
  4. THIS COULD BE PARADISE    4:40
  5. AFTERTHOUGHT    2:03
  6. SPEED OF LIGHT    5:02
  7. WHISPER IN THE WIND    5:28
  8. HEARTLAND    4:27
  9. COLUMBINE    5:11
  10. GOLD (REPRISE)    1:42

    All songs written by Pete Bardens

CREDITS

PETE BARDENS -- keyboards
NEALE HEYWOOD -- guitar
HONEY HYLTON -- vocals
NEIL LOCKWOOD -- vocals
Mick Fleetwood -- drums 7)
Dave Foster -- bass (3)
Russell Gilbrook -- drums (3,8)
Neil Nicholas -- vocals (4)
Phil Da Costa -- programming, engineering
Denny Somach -- project coordinator
Quick on the Draw -- art direction
Orin Cozier -- photography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1988 Cinema LP/CD/CS C1/C2/C4-48967 picture sleeve
GER 1988 Cinema LP 064 7 48967 1  

 

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