Camel - "Camel Footage" (Camel Productions 82 min.)

"Camel Footage" seems to collect most or all of the film and footage that exists from Camel's career. Everything comes in chronological order, so the DVD naturally starts with the band's performance of "Never Let Go" from Guildford Civic Hall in 1973. However, what you hear is clearly the audio from the album, and I'm not sure if the band mimed or if the original sound of the film was replaced with the studio-version of the song later. It's very well done no matter how they did it, as everything is impressively in synch through the whole song. The band visits the Old Grey Whistle Test two years later to play some extracts from "The Snow Goose" in form of the title-track, "Friendship" and "Rhayader Goes to Town". They had even hired a small wind-section to get the short "Friendship" just right (those perfectionists!). Unfortunately, they obviously weren't able to erase the credits from the footage toward the end, although it's in a way funny and interesting to see what other artists appeared in the same program. Two more years we reach 1977 and Camel's appearance in "Sights and Sounds". This was around the release of "Rain Dances" so we naturally get several songs from that album, and also two new members in the band with Richard Sinclair and Mel Collins. Barden's keyboards are unfortunately drowned out a bit during the beautiful "First Light", but the part where he toys with lots of spacey sounds in the middle is actually louder than what it was on the album. "Metrognome" and "Unevensong" are both performed very good, and we also get a chance to see them perform "Lunar Sea" from "Moonmadness" before the set is ended with the title-track from "Rain Dances". After this we move four years forward in time to watch the "Nude" line-up of the band mime to "City Life" in a show from the Old Grey Whistle Test from 1981. Camel were obviously always featured last in these shows, as the credits for the program annoyingly again appears toward the end of the song! The last clip we're about to see before the band broke up is from 1984 at Hammersmith Odeon where the group plays an acceptable version of "Captured" from "Nude", although I miss Collins' saxophone on that one. And a quick look at the band revealed all too well that we now were far into the middle of the awful 80's. Fun to see live footage of Ton Scherpenzel though. I'm not much into the reunion period that started in 1991, and I don't think the amateur footage from Town & Country in 1992 will change that. The new keyboardist's posing over his tiny and crappy equipment is sure an embarrassing sight. The performance of "Preparation" and "Dunkirk" in USA in 1997 showed at least that Latimer & co. still could play their old and classic material properly, although I'm not exactly overcome with excitement. The DVD also features a rather unnecessary bonus in form of a clip from a reunion of Latimer, Ward and Ferguson (still chewing gum after 30 years!) where they play a deadly dull and unimaginative jam in the studio. But the DVD is well worth having for the 70's clips, and the highlight is probably the concert from Sights and Sounds in 1977.

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