Hamilton Camp

Paths of Victory

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The Paths of Victory album is most renowned for the inclusion of the original version of "Pride of Man," later covered in an electric folk-rock arrangement by Quicksilver Messenger Service, who made it a highlight of their first album. Hamilton Camp's acoustic version is good in its own right, and considering how moving the song's Biblical-toned lyrics and mournful tone are, it comes as something of a surprise to find that it's the only original composition on the LP. No less than seven of the thirteen tracks are Bob Dylan covers, and it's evident that the strategy was to find unfamiliar Dylan songs at that. Only one of the Dylan tunes, "Girl of the North Country," had been released on his Columbia albums when this Camp LP appeared; most of them remain damned obscure today. Even big Dylan fans may have never heard any version of "Guess I'm Doin' Fine" and "Long Time Gone," for instance, though "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," "Paths of Victory," and "Walkin' Down the Line" are among the better Dylan originals from the early '60s that he elected not to release at the time. What the heck -- if you're going to run with an idea, you might as well take it into the end zone, right? Whether this was a crass strategy or not really doesn't matter, since Camp did a good job with the covers and since the album as a whole is fairly good. The use of a bass and double-tracked vocals on some selections gives the material more force than many such folk albums of the period, and Camp is an earnest yet forceful vocalist and interpreter. If only in hindsight, it's something of a link between the cornier troubadour recordings of the early-'60s folk revival, and a more personal singer/songwriter style that would evolve in the late '60s among folk and folk-rock performers. Incidentally, this also includes one of the earlier covers of Dino Valenti's future folk-rock standard "Get Together," and was produced by Jim Dickson, shortly to become an important folk-rock architect as an early manager of the Byrds. In sum, a good album, definitely cuts above the average for such efforts from the time just preceding acoustic folk music's makeover by electric instruments and original material.

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