PB 9858 Rain Dances
Produced by Rhett Davies and Camel
Released on September 1977
Find it at GEMM
PB 9858 cover
[high resolution photo]

R ain Dances is probably a concept album, since the passage of time is too well synchronized here to be accidental. However, the real idea behind the record seems to be a commercial smoothing over of Camel’s previously prickly progressive coat. Hiring bassist/vocalist Richard Sinclair (ex-Caravan) to replace Doug Ferguson and adding saxophonist Mel Collins (ex-King Crimson) to the proceedings would, on the surface, portend a more progressive direction. Collaborating with Brian Eno on the haunting instrumental “Elke” also suggests artistic intentions (Eno’s always served as the Good Housekeeping Seal of avant garde integrity in my book). But Camel writes actual songs this time, conventional structures that suggest Alan Parsons Project or Pink Floyd in their sleepy vision: “Metrognome,” “Tell Me,” “Highways of the Sun.” Sinclair takes most of the vocals, achieving the same humble state that seems to be a shared acquirement among all Camel members (I can rarely tell who’s singing a Camel song at the time). It’s not a radical departure from past excursions, with the usual soporific prog pixie dust scattered throughout in “First Light,” “Tell Me” (which suggests a cross between The Snow Goose and 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love”) and “Unevensong.” Yet Camel was clearly embarking on a path away from prog’s excesses, eschewing long instrumental passages for quirky pop songs (the same direction Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett were moving in) and light fusion. It was a path many prog groups would follow, from Gentle Giant to Genesis, and Camel manages to do it without trading in their original principles. Unfortunately, in the crossing the immortal state of grace is lost, and the albums that followed seemed human, imperfect. “Elke” is the only track that reaches back to the realms of Heaven, and even so it’s a different place than Camel alone would have conjured (the haunting tones of “Discreet Music” are the working reference point). Peter Bardens’ magnificent organ solos would no longer weave their old magic (only two tracks here feature organ), and another mystic queen or white rider wouldn’t be on the horizon. Before striking too elegiac a tone, it’s important to note that Rain Dances can’t be reckoned a disappointment, since Camel still seeks counsel from the old oracles for inspiration. Subsequent records would make plain just how much magic remained on Rain Dances.

PB 9858 back cover PB 9858 picture sleeve
PB 9858 back cover PB 9858 picture sleeve


  1. FIRST LIGHT    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens)    4:57
  2. METROGNOME    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens)    4:20
  3. TELL ME    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens)    4:06
  4. HIGHWAYS OF THE SUN    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens)    4:29
  5. UNEVENSONG    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens/Andy Ward)    5:34
  6. ONE OF THESE DAYS I'LL GET AN EARLY NIGHT    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens/Andy Ward/Richard Sinclair/Mel Collins)    5:52
  7. ELKE    (Andrew Latimer)    4:29
  8. SKYLINES    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens/Andy Ward)    4:20
  9. RAIN DANCES    (Andrew Latimer/Peter Bardens)    2:55

    CD reissue bonus track


PETER BARDENS -- mini moog, string synthesiser, electric piano, organ, acoustic piano, clavinet, car horns
MEL COLLINS -- alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, bass and concert flutes, soprano saxophone, umbrella, brass arrangement
ANDREW LATIMER -- 6 and 12 string guitars, pan pipes, fretless bass, backing vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, vocals, electric and acoustic piano, mini moog, string synthesiser, fuzz guitars, bass guitar, sore fingers, pizzicato guitars, glockenspiel, treated piano
RICHARD SINCLAIR -- bass, vocals, harmonies, wicket keeper, umbrella
ANDY WARD -- drums, nocarina, teeth, cheek, Turkish ring, money, percussion, liquid boo bams, rototoms, talking drum, smurd, swanee whistle, Tunisian clay drums, umbrella
Matrin Drover -- trumpet, flugel horn
Eno -- mini moog, electric and acoustic piano, random notes, bells (7)
Malcolm Griffiths -- trombone (6)
Fiona Hibbert -- harp (7)
Paul Henry -- sleeve design
Bob Searles -- illustration
Trevor Rogers -- photography
Bert Ford -- original idea for album concept

return to CAMEL discography

UK September 1977 Decca LP/CS TXS/KTXC-R124 picture sleeve
US September 1977 Janus LP/CS JXS-7035 picture sleeve
BRA 1977 London LP LLN 7349S  
CAN 1977 Janus LP 9098 7035  
GER 1977 Nova LP 623261 picture sleeve
NET 1977 Decca LP 6376 122 insert
SAF 1977 Decca LP ML-4136 lyric insert
US   Passport LP/CS PB/PBC 9858 picture sleeve
UK/GER August 26, 1991 Deram CD 820 725 w. bonus track


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