‘Camel’: Camel’s Confident Album Debut

In August 1972, Camel signed to MCA Records and headed into Morgan Sound Studios to record their debut album, which was released on February 28, 1973.

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Camel debut album

Following their stint as Phillip Goodhand-Tait’s backing band and the recruitment of veteran R&B keyboard player Peter Bardens in 1971, Camel set about establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with. The band toured the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland playing support gigs to the likes of Barclay James Harvest, Gong, Hawkwind, and the Pink Fairies.

On August 2, 1972, Camel signed to MCA Records and on August 15 they were at Morgan Sound Studios where they spent a little over a week recording their self-titled debut album. It’s a collection of road-honed songs with four written by guitarist Andy Latimer, one co-written with drummer Andy Ward, and the other three songs from the pen of Peter Bardens.

The opening song “Slow Yourself Down” is trademark Camel, with Bardens’ intricate keyboard work and Latimer’s dynamic guitar playing. The first of Barden’s compositions is “Mystic Queen,” so redolent of the time and so very indicative of what would make Camel so popular. The two songs that make up the rest of Side One are “Six Ate” and “Separation,” both show Latimer’s love of jazz, another facet of Camel’s progressive credentials.

Never Let Go (Live At Hammersmith Odeon)

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Side two opens with “Never Let Go,” another Latimer song that also became the band’s first single when it was released in November 1972. Featuring Barden’s vocals, it developed into one of the band’s best-loved songs. The second track, “Curiosity,” is another Bardens original. Also the B-side of their debut single, it’s a trademark Bardens song which features his evocative keyboard work. “Arubaluba,” another of his compositions, is the album closer and the kind of number that makes a prog fan go weak at the knees – all ascending riffs, time changes, and of course instrumental dexterity.

Camel was finally released on February 28, 1973. But despite being such a very good record it met with limited commercial success. That didn’t bother Camel, as they carried on touring and gigging hard despite being dropped by MCA. The band got new managers in Geoff Jukes and Max Hole of Gemini Artists and moved to Decca Records, where they would remain for the next ten years to immense acclaim.

Camel can be bought here.



  1. Roy Clay

    June 23, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Andy Latimer never wrote Never Let Go. Listen to it for Gods sake. Pete Bardens gave Latimer the writing credit in exchange for a van.This is from Peters own mouth and also actually from Andy Ward too just to name 2 people in the know. You can tell it is a Pete Bardens song from the Keyboard hook. It may well be that little tweaks appeared to the song by Latimers hand but the core song is a Bardens song. They are classic Bardens lyrics and also he sings the lead vocal, as well as the classic keyboard hook throughout. This is why when Pete did his Mirage tours he played this song because he absolutely considered it his song at its root and regretted giving it up. This is so like nothing Latimer would write it is ridiculous. Infact for much of the track there is little Guitar in it until the Guitar solo of Latimer other than rhythm guitar and the intro. There are so many give aways as to who wrote the song it is ridiculous. The guitar solo obviously is Latimers addition and completion of the track. This can be seen even more with Latimer singing the next track and the obvious lead guitar elements throughout because of course he wrote it. Please don’t be a specialist site unless you are going to us something we don’t know.

  2. Roy Clay

    June 23, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Sorry the next track is curiosity however that was the other issue and reason for the credit being allocated to Latimer too much of the album would be Bardens as opposed to Latimer. Even Pete used to say it was murky who wrote what at that time if you know what I mean? As Andy Ward used to point out most tracks really were jam developments of an idea initially proffered by someone. He used have input on most songs and it was just accepted and being young back then you didn’t always think about asking for credit unless you made what you personally considered a major contribution. What I orginally meant to say was was compare Six Ate and Never Let Go they really are chalk and cheese. Bardens musically at this stage was far more daring you only have to listen to Arubaluba to notice that.

    All of that said it is a much underated album with some great material.
    Everyone came up trumps on this album and I absolutely love Dougs solid bass throughout.

    There is energy in abundance on this album. A great cover. Someone please do a Green T-Shirt with that Camel on it. Its great 🙂

    Anyway Fraught day today so apologies I just miss poor old Pete big time.

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