This is actually not bad at all
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 04/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have to confess that this 1978 album is not nearly as bad as people have made it out to be - (the reviews of the album on ProgArchives are particularly merciless and vicious). In fact, while Breathless may not necessarily present the band at their finest hour (especially in contrast with albums like The Snow Goose (1975) and Moonmadness (1976)), there is some good material to be found. Then again, Camel was no different from the other English prog bands active at the time and suffered from the same confusion with respect to what musical direction they were supposed to head in. Furthermore,(without naming names) Breathless is certainly no worse than other albums floating around in 1978.
The lineup at this point included Andrew Latimer (acoustic and electric guitars, Yamaha CS80/50, Vocals); Peter Bardens (electric piano, acoustic piano, synthesizers, Hammond organ, Vocals); Mel Collins (Flute, Saxophones); Richard Sinclair (Bass guitar, Vocals); Andy Ward (Drums, Percussion); and Dave Sinclair (Keyboards (uncredited)). In general the playing by all members is very good, with Andy Latimer contributing some fine playing. I have always been a fan of Richard Sinclair's vocals and bass playing, so his presence on the album works for me. Following this album, Peter and Richard left the band. Apparently Peter and Andy Latimer were having problems (creative differences), which precipitated his leaving the band, and he was replaced by two keyboardists for the Breathless tour including Dave Sinclair and Jan Schelhaas. For the I Can See Your House from Here album (1979), the two keyboardist approach was maintained, yet with Jan and ex-Happy the Man player Kit Watkins.
The tracks on the album range in length from 2'59" to 7'17". In general the music on Breathless is considerably different from previous albums and includes a greater percentage of mainstream styles, including a sizeable chunk of disco (Summer Lightning, You Make me Smile). The inclusion of Richard's whimsical Canterbury track `Down on the Farm", while entirely appropriate for a Caravan album, seems a bit out of place on a Camel album - although his vocal part is very interesting. Wing and a Prayer is not completely awful, and is actually just a very nice and well-written pop song, with great woodwind parts.
Although this may all sound very unappealing, there are however some nice "Camel-ish" pieces on the album that are actually very good including the highly melodic title track, the vigorous progger Echoes, the delicate Starlight Ride, another atmospheric/proggy track The Sleeper, and the synthesizer heavy and gloomy closing track Rainbow's End. I am of the opinion that the album is worth picking up just for those five tracks alone, albeit at a "used copy" price.
Well there you have it. While Breathless may not represent Camel at their finest hour, there is still some good material here. For those of you that are new to the band, start out with any of these albums: Camel (1973); Mirage (1974); The Snow Goose (1975); Moonmadness (1976); and Rain Dances (1977). Of these albums, The Snow Goose is a fan favorite (mine too)."
Mr.Smith | West Chester, Ohio | 06/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Camel, like most progressive bands in the late 1970s, tried to gain a wider audience by going for a more commercial AOR sound. The result is an album with a couple of great tunes (Breathless; Echoes) and a half dozen mediocre ones. Having said that, mediocre Camel tunes were still far better than most of the music on the airwaves at the time (and today!).
Established fans will enjoy this album, but if you're new to Camel, try The Snow Goose or Moonmadness first."