When keyboardist Peter Bardens deserted Camel following the release of 1978’s Breathless, he inherited that band’s tendency to perpetuate no end of unthreatening, cruise-controlled instrumentals. However, the proggy high-mindedness had been subsumed – along with the “r” in Bardens’ forename, oddly – by the time he recorded Heart To Heart in 1979. Here instead, devoid of conceptual coatpegs, was smooth, seamless and polite AOR – of the kind which compels the musicians involved to nod warmly at each other while engaged in The Good Groove.
Accordingly, we’re hardly looking at a zeitgeist-seizer: but while Numanoids, 2-Toneiacs and greatcoated Joy Division industrialists milled around among the piled-high bin bags on 1979’s streets, it’s salutary to remember that the likes of Supertramp and Foreigner were still doing a roaring trade. With stronger singing and songwriting, Bardens could have split some of that action. A stalwart studio ensemble (including saxist Mel Collins) puts in a flawless performance, even if you rather wish someone would break ranks and go for the throat, but the likes of Jinxed and After Dark are makeweight confections at best. Slipstream, a disco fusion instrumental with come-with-me-to-the-casbah modalities and a percussion solo – courtesy of the great Chris Karan, from the Dudley Moore Trio – is a sinuous standout.