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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hate Camels

Death Comedy Jams...and One Piece of Life Metal

Review by Gary Hill

Hate Camels have produced an album here that is filled with fusion/RIO type instrumentals that (other than the last number) are designed to pay tribute to various funny guys who have passed on. Fans of RIO will definitely like this. So will fusion fanatics. Those who dig King Crimson are well advised to check this out. It should be noted that you can sample a couple songs from the disc in our members area. This is a great disc, although it turns a bit too free form for my tastes in a couple spots. Of course, that’s just personal preference.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mitch Hedberg
Percussion leads us in and holds the track for a while. Then a fast paced bass line joins. Other instruments enter in a free form jazz meets King Crimson motif. You’ll probably also make out bits of Frank Zappa in this. They move through a series of changes and alterations, but keep the format relatively unchanged for almost four minutes. Then it drops back to sedate percussion and they rise up from there gradually with more ambient tones. As this builds into a rather funky fusion jam we get some noisy (yet tasty) guitar soloing over the top. Eventually this gives way to a new jam that’s rather like a fusion King Crimson. The band’s CD Baby listing describes Hedberg as “A warm-spirited comedian w/ hilarious material that his fans are reminded of everyday (especially when at the grocery store) and shows that he lived from 1968 to 2005.
Richard Pryor
I’m guessing that Richard Pryor is probably a man who needs little introduction. At least to me, as one of my favorite comedians featured here, there is no introduction necessary. They start things with a killer funky musical element. This serves as the backdrop for another fusion excursion. This gives way to more free-form jamming in a RIO tradition. They work through a few sections this way, veering here and there. And then we get a Zappa-like guitar solo in a fusion vein. It turns out towards a dark and heavy King Crimson sort of sound – ala Red. This is presented in several varying sections and soundscapes. As the guitar veers off on another solo I’m again reminded of Frank Zappa. At around the five and a half minute mark they bring back the funk with another cool jam. After a few brief measures in more traditional fusion territory they end it.
Sam Kinison
I want my records back! Sorry, but you just can’t say “Sam Kinison” without thinking of that line. This pounds in with a noisy Red era King Crimson (or should I say King Kinison?) sound. It drops way back down to a killer funky motif. This is interrupted by a burst of noisy sounds. Undaunted it continues onward with a killer groove. We get another eruption of sound and then it’s back to the funk. This time they shift things out a bit towards a more free form sound, but the funk rhythm section still drives it. Another powerhouse Red type jam takes it before they work out into a new fast paced segment that’s quite cool. We get a cool lead theremin solo on this one – OK, theremin fan that I am I’ve always wanted to say that.
Lenny Bruce
Since Lenny Bruce died in 1966, I was too young to have heard him. The CD Baby listing says this about him, ” Broke doors down and blew doors down. Also known for having his spirit beaten senseless by ‘the man’.” Percussion (perhaps alluding to beat poetry) starts this. Then they turn it out into a dissonant, free form RIO styled jam. This is chaotic and a bit crazy. I’m not crazy about this style of music, so it loses me a bit. I know there are those out there who go nuts over this stuff, though. From the point of view of a reviewer, compositions like this, with seemingly random lines of disjointed, unconnected music is next to impossible to track. The second half of the piece is not like this, though. A cool, twisted dark section that’s much more coherent takes it mid-song. This works its way out to another Red-era Crimson-like jam. This motif continues and the ante is upped as the volume and power increase.  This soundscape eventually ends it.
Bill Hicks
At nearly fourteen minutes in length, this is the longest piece on show here. Fairly sedate, but challenging, sounds lead this off. Then the sounds of a street give way to a more jazz-like jam. This gets energized by fusion guitar (perhaps a bit Zappa-like) later in the piece. It turns more accessible and then crescendos to a false ending. Gentle, yet slightly disquieting sounds rise up and play through. Then we get another false stop. This time percussion brings us back. They launch out into a crunchy fusion meets King Crimson sound to carry it forward. This works through for a while and then gives way to a stuttering, bouncing sort of riff for the next fusion stylings. They turn this out from there into a more freeform RIO like sound. This crescendos and gives way to more tone poem like sounds.  A metallic Crimsonoid jam takes it after a time. This gives way to another Crimson like movement and then we get more seemingly random freeform jazz stylings. Piano leads this into more coherent patterns with an almost Vince Guaraldi sort of texture.  The CD Baby listing says that Bill Hicks (1962-1994) was, “honored as a legend in the UK but not known nearly enough in his native country the US. Maybe because the truths he told are so often supPRESSed.”
Andy Kaufman
Andy Kaufman was always a favorite of mine and was first immortalize in song by REM. Be sure to see the movie “Man in the Moon” to learn more about Kaufman.  Fast paced and funky, the fusion jam that starts this is pretty awesome. The first four and a half minutes of the track stay within this guide line. Instruments come in here and there lending their particular flavors and we get variants on the themes. There is a quick switch to a different musical pattern but then they move back into the main musical theme here. We get a couple theremin solos on this song – yeah! After a while this seems to end, but instead gives way to a bouncing countrified jam. They bring musical chaos into the mix in a short while though and the thing dissolves into RIO oriented noisy randomness. This takes it to a distorted, noise ending.
Peaceful Queen
This is the track referred to as “life metal.” Just so you know, this is not heavy metal. A lighter jazz structure starts it. This moves out into some great fusion territory. It twists and turns as it carries on. Then it turns out to King Crimson Red sort of sounds. I can see this as being called “metallic,” but not heavy metal. This is still full of fusion. About the mid-point of the track, after working through a number of variants on the theme, they drop it to ambient sound effects oriented territory to take it to its close.  It works out to a more structured section that’s along the lines of balladic rock. This eventually gives way to another fusion jam. After a time they crescendo and noisy sounds take it to its close.
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