Martin Cooper checks out the style of melodic prog player Andrew Latimer of Camel.
Progressive rock band Camel were formed in 1971 by guitarist Andrew Latimer, and also featured Andy Ward on drums and bassist Doug Ferguson. A little while later they were also joined by keyboard player Peter Bardens. The band signed to MCA Records in 1972, but after their eponymous debut failed to sell they left the label and signed to Deram Records, which was part of the Decca group. Latimer also played flute on the band’s albums, as they pushed the boundaries of progressive rock, even though they failed to have much commercial success in the UK. Their second album, however, was a hit in the US and this led to a tour that lasted several months in America.
One of Camel’s best-known albums was their third release, 1975’s The Snow Goose, which was a progressive instrumental affair that gave the band far greater commercial success and also led to a headline gig at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra. Camel pushed the door of more easily accessible commercial songwriting as the 70s continued, but still retained their progressive foundation and always showcased Latimer’s melodic guitar. Many line-up changes have occurred throughout Camel’s career, but Latimer has been at the helm for the duration. The band disappeared from the music scene after their contract with Decca Records ended in the mid 80s, and they couldn’t find interest from other labels. But, as with many bands they came back from hiatus, reforming in the 90s with Latimer touring as recently as 2016. He says he has enough new material to fill several albums, so who knows what might be in the offing.
Latimer’s playing is generally very melodic and he always plays for the song, even though many of the arrangements are complex and lengthy. His lead playing in particular is very high in melodic content. Latimer has also influenced a number of other progressive guitarists, such as Marillion’s Steve Rothery.
The track this month is in D and is focused around D Mixolydian (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C), with a C Major chord reinforcing that Mixolydian sound. The lead parts use notes
(F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E), and chords from F Major
Eb with an extra Major chord and melodic lines. The main challenge is going to be moving between time signatures, because the track starts in 7/4, moves to 4/4 for the solo and then switches to 6/4 for the end section. This may take a little while to get used to, but it really is as simple as counting up to 7, 4 or 6 and being aware of where in the bar any specific chords or lines appear.
ANDREw LATImER’s LEAD pLAYING IN pARTICuLAR Is vERY hIGh IN mELODIC CONTENT
Andrew Latimer here no doubt creating another memorable solo