Monday, October 22, 2012

THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA: C (Part.1)



                                                                   CAMEL

                                                   
   Camel is one of my favorite bands, and therefore I will make this post enough detailed. Not only for that, but also because I believe that this band deserved more success that it gained.
   Andrew Latimer (Guitar, flute, vocals) Andy Ward (Drums) and Doug Ferguson (Bass) had been playing as a trio called ‘The Brew’ in the late ‘60’s, around Surrey UK.
On 1971 they recruited Peter Bardens (Keyboards), and changed their name to ‘Camel’.
Their first live show was in London on 4th of December 1971 as an opening act for Wishbone Ash.
   On the summer of 1972 they signed a contract with MCA records, and 6 months later they released their eponymous debut album. The record was not a success, and they moved to Deram records, which was a part of the famous Decca records.
   In 1974 they released one of their most known records under the name ‘Mirage’. Although it failed to climb the charts in England, it gained fame and success in USA, and the band moved there for a 3 months tour.
   The next year Camel released the album ‘The Snow Goose’ that was inspired by Paul Gallico’s short story with the same name. This album was Camel’s breakthrough  for a wider attention, but at the same time they had problems with the writer of the book who was threatening to take them to the court because he thought that the band stole his idea, and also they were related to the famous cigarette company. Camel acted fast and solved the problem by adding the: ‘Music inspired by…’ to the album cover. The album’s success led to a sold out concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London, with The London Symphony Orchestra in October 1975.
   Their 4th album ‘Moonmadness’ was released in 1976 and it was the last album featuring the original line-up. Andy Ward was pushing for a more Jazz direction, and this led to Ferguson’s departure on early 1977. They replaced him with Richard Sinclair from Caravan, and with this line-up they released ‘Rain Dances’ in 1977 and ‘Breathless’ in 1978. Breathless was the last album featuring Peter Bardens. He announced his departure after the release of the album, and before the supporting tour.
He was replaced by 2 keyboard players, both from Caravan. Dave Sinclair (the cousin of Richard), and Jan  Schellaas. The 2 Sinclair cousins left the band after the tour of Breathless, and were replaced by Kit Watkins and Colin Bass. With this line-up Camel recorded the more commercial ‘I can see your house from here’ (1979), an album which caused problems because of its cover. It was displaying a crucified astronaut looking at the Earth.
   In the early ‘80’s Camel released the concept album ‘Nude’. The story of this album is based on the true story of a Japanese soldier (Hiroo Onoda) that had been found on an island, many years after the World War II had ended and he had no idea about it.
   In the mid 1981 Andy Ward stopped playing drums because of his alcohol and drugs problem, and Camel was disbanded. Years later it became known that he also had attempted suicide.
From this point and on, Andrew Latimer released a couple of records under the name Camel  with different musicians each time, until 1985 when Camel dissapeared from the face of the Earth.
   In the ‘90’s Latimer revived the name Camel, releasing in 1991 the album ‘Dust and Dreams’, that was largely instrumental and inspired by John Stainbeck’s classic book ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
In 1996 Latimer emotionally moved by his father’s death, released a new album under the Camel name again, with the title ‘Harbour of Tears’. (Harbour of Tears was the nickname for Cobh, a port in Ireland from which many ships sailed off to USA between 1845 and 1952 during the potato famine).
In 1999 Camel released ‘Rajaz’, a beautiful and melodic album that its sound resembles the sound of Camel’s records of the ‘70’s.
   In 2002 another album is being released with the title ‘A Nod and a Wink’, a rather mellow album that was dedicated to Peter Bardens who died on January 2002.
In 2007 Latimer’s wife announced that her husband was suffering from a progressive blood disorder, and therefore he needed heavy treatment such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
On September 2008 she reported that Latimer was gaining his strength, and he was thinking of releasing a new album in the following years.
In the first video you can watch parts of "The Snow Goose" performed live in BBC with a small orchestra, and in the second one you can listen to the beautiful "Air Born" from the album "Moonmadness"
 Enjoy!