‘Nude’: Camel Remember Hiroo Onoda, Japan’s Last Soldier

The concept album was based on the remarkable story of the Japanese soldier who wouldn’t surrender.

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Camel 'Nude' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Camel 'Nude' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

By the early 1980s, the Top 20 placings that Camel achieved on the British album charts with Moon Madness and Rain Dances were something of a memory. But even if the new wave era had contributed to their brand of progressive rock becoming a more specialist taste, on January 31, 1981, the band had a new title on the UK charts with Nude.

Based largely on the songwriting of multi-instrumentalist and chief lead singer Andy Latimer, the album was a concept record based on the remarkable story of Hiroo Onoda. He was the officer in the Imperial Japanese Army who, famously, was unaware that World War II had come to an end and continued to hold out, in hiding, in the Philippines for nearly 30 further years, until his commanding officer travelled there to relieve him in 1974.

Featuring titles such as “Drafted,” “Please Come Home,” and “Captured,” the album is warmly remembered by Camel fans as one of their strongest. The band were a basic three-piece by this stage, with Colin Bass on bass guitar and two lead vocals, and Andy Ward on drums for the last time. Duncan Mackay was the new contributor on keyboards, and the album also featured contributions from such noted session players as saxophonist Mel Collins and Herbie Flowers on tuba.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Camel Best Of playlist.

After entering the UK chart, Nude climbed to its peak of No.34 in its second week, an improvement on the No.45 of its 1979 predecessor I Can See Your House From Here. It also showed more staying power, with a seven-week run. The LP missed the Billboard 200, on which Camel’s albums had enjoyed a modest presence through most of the 1970s, and was the band’s last Top 40 album in their own country. But further chart appearances ensued with The Single Factor in 1982 and 1984’s Stationary Traveller.

Buy or stream Nude.



  1. MisterE

    January 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    What, no mention of Kit Watkins or Happy the Man? I think filling Pete Barden’s shoes was a pretty big deal…

    • Kezermij

      April 13, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      MisterE….? I would swear that’s MYSELF but I don’t remember posting that or even seeing this article 4 years ago. Strange that Camel should pop up in my FB feed after I had just played Song Within A Song on the jukebox a few hours ago.

  2. Roy Clay

    September 29, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    What about Kit Watkins contribution “Docks” which was Mt St Helens on his solo album or the exceptional contribution by Jan Schelhaas “Captured” a live favourite? The band took this out secretly in a pre-Nude show at De Meshallen – Wijchen, Netherlands to gauge reaction in as Big Harry & Company. The band was not a three piece at all rather it was a one piece plus + as musicians left and came back due to writing contribution issues.Musicians were told they could write and contribute but the battle would not be worth the aggro in the end as to all intents and purposes Camel had become the Latimer & Hoover vehicle. Writing royalties was where the money was and no amouont of trying to rewrite history will change that reality. They came back to fulfill touring duties (A paying role) but royalty issues that were about to become the catalyst for the departure of Ward, it quite literally was the straw that broke the Camel’s back and triggered his health into a further decline that was ignored and resulted in the Andy Latimer solo album called The Single Factor (Pretty much as bad as it can get).

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