Camel are an English progressive rock band formed in 1971. Led by founding the one remaining founding member, Andrew Latimer, they have produced 14 original studio albums, 14 singles plus numerous other compilation and live albums. They have been my hands down favorite band since I first heard them in 1976.
The first time I heard them was on Houston’s KLOL late night program hosted by Dennis “Crash” Collins. I heard the song “Another Night”, mistakenly referred to as “Lunar Sea” by the DJ, and I was awestruck. It so happened that they had been around for some time and that song was from their fourth album entitled “Moonmadness”. Needless to say that it was not too easy to find progressive rock in Houston record stores in the mid ’70’s so I was extremely disappointed in my efforts to buy their records.
As luck would have it my buddy picked up their second album, “Mirage”, totally unaware of my fascination of the band. He said he grabbed it because of the album cover. That particular album contains their most iconic song – “Lady Fantasy” – a mainstay of their live shows to this day. Soon everyone in our clique was enjoying the sounds of Camel. Unfortunately we still could not readily find their albums in our local record stores and Al Gore had yet to invent the internet.
Flash forward to 1979 and I am in the US Air Force stationed on a little island off the coast of Okinawa. I had to go to Kadena Air Base on the main island for something or other and during some down time I strolled Gate Two Street, a notorious retail and entertainment area right outside the base. I found a record store and went inside. Let me tell you that the Okinawans, and Japanese in general, really like their music. Some bands make albums that are only released in Japan, probably the origin of the phrase “Big in Japan”. As I looked through records I came across a Camel album. I was floored when I realized that they had all of the albums by the band to that date. I bought them all.