Camel in session at Electric Ladyland Studios – November 19, 1974 – Camel was one of the first of the Progressive bands to become a bigger hit in the U.S. than they were in their native UK. By 1974, the band had already released their second album, Mirage via their new label Decca/Deram. It became a staple in the diet of many FM stations programming around the country. It didn’t do well in the UK, but established the band in the U.S., and subsequently they spent a lot of time on this side of the Atlantic touring and building an audience. This 1974 studio session, part of a radio promotion, coincided with an extensive three month tour of the U.S.
Never considered an “arena band”, they took advantage of the critical acclaim Mirage had brought and played a string of smaller venues and clubs all over the U.S.,gaining considerable popularity in the process. Ironically, one of the influences they cited was another progressive band, the Dutch group Supersister, whose music bears a striking resemblance here and there.
Camel was initially started by Andrew Latimer in 1971 with drummer Andy Ward and bass player Doug Ferguson as a trip called The Brew and were a backup band for singer Philip Goodhand-Tait. The relationship lasted for only album before The Brew found themselves without a label or a singer. By luck, they came across keyboard player Peter Bardens and became Camel.
Their first album (on MCA) didn’t do particularly well and this prompted the switch over to Decca/Deram. It was then, and with the release of Mirage that their fortunes changed and Camel helped put ProgRock on the map in America. This lineup would stay intact until 1977 when changes in personnel and direction saw most of the founding members leave for other pastures.
Peter Bardens sadly died in 2002. Camel is still together, though only founding member Andrew Latimer is left of the original lineup.
This gig features Camel right as they are hitting their initial success in America – the tape sounds a little rough in spots (due to it being an FM broadcast, with not a strong signal to rely on), but the energy is undeniable.
No doubt fans of Prog and Camel know about this concert – but if you aren’t familiar with them, or have only heard about them in their recent incarnation, you might want to check out this earlier material.
They were a good band – and a great bunch of guys to boot.
Play reasonably loud and ignore the rough spots.