The Truth About Camel: The Middle East Wave Of Rock Music

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Camel‘s origins began when Andrew Latimer, Andy Ward, and Doug Ferguson started playing as a trio as The Brew. After recruiting keyboardist Peter Bardens, they settled on their eventual title, Camel. Starting with their first performance as Camel at Waltham Forest Technical College, London, in December 1971, the band officially began their professional career.

In the following years, they released their self-titled debut album and the following three records, ‘Mirage,’ ‘Snow Goose,’ and ‘Moonmadness,’ that carried them to further recognition in the music industry. However, they experienced lineup changes and experimented with various sounds throughout their career. Despite being of English origin, Camel has a sound representing the eastern culture thanks to a book.

The Beginning Of Camel’s Career

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Camel started gaining attraction with their three studio albums, ‘Mirage,’ ‘Snow Goose,’ and ‘Moonmadness.’ These three records allowed them to explore their sound further. However, Mel Collins later joined the band as the saxophonist and flute player was the first step to changing their sound drastically.

Before Peter Bardens left the band, they released two more albums, ‘Rain Dances’ and ‘Breathless.’ This period was challenging because his departure shook the band to its core. Although they released seven more studio albums with various lineup changes, their records were not as successful. Their last studio album ‘A Nod And a Wink‘ came out in 2002, the same year Bardens passed away.

The latest record completed an extensive discography of fourteen studio album releases, nine live albums, seven DVDs, and numerous box sets. Thanks to their extensive catalog, they were influential in the rock genre and were loved by many musicians, including Marillion, Opeth, and Steven Wilson. Although they haven’t released any new music since 2002, they started performing again in 2018.

Camel’s Middle East-Oriented Sound

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After getting to a point where they didn’t want to listen to record labels and be pressured, they decided to be more independent in their music and sound. Although their roots were English, they took inspiration from other cultures in their music, which started with a book. Latimer had a book called ‘World Music – A Rough Guide.’ In the chapter on Arabic music, Latimer focused on a form of musical poetry called ‘Rajaz.’

This form of poetry was sung in ancient times. ‘Rajaz’ was a composition inspired by the rhythm of Camels’ footsteps. This rhythm helped tired travelers reach their destination. Latimer took this idea metaphorically and came up with the idea that the rhythms of Camel’s sound would help people get to the end of their journey. After working on this idea, Latimer composed the new music on a guitar, and they released ‘Rajaz’ in October 1999, marking their Middle East-oriented style.