1981 had geralded a definite mixture of fortunes for Camel: January witnessed the unveiling of Nude , a return to the 'concept' album arena which The Snow Goose had so admirably led them to back in 1975, and, fittingly, to celebrate the official tenth anniversary of the band's existence,a 'Best Of' compilation, Chameleon, had followed in September. However...
Founder member and drummer Andy Ward had sustained a seriously debilitating inhjury to his left hand in May, and it was obvious that this bedrock of the rhythm section would be unable to record or perform live with his colleagues in the foreseeable future. The entiere onus of form and direction for Camel therefore now lay with the sole surviving original incumbent, guitarist/vocalist Andrew Latimer.
This latter decided a more direct approach would be adopted, and with lyricist Susan Hoover spent the final months of '81 writing the material which would form Camel's eleventh venture into long-player racks the world over.
When the time came to co commit this handiwork to tape, excepted, a completely new line-up of musicians from those who'd particapated on Nude prepared for its creations, although the location and production team endured, and several friends - most notably members of the Alan Parsons Project - who'd been working elsewhere at Abbey Road during Nude's recording now found themselves adding Camel to the historical notations that were their c.v.'s.
With a battery of singers at his disposal, Latimer inclined his latest masterwork towards vocals probably more then ever before, and whilst he took most of the leads himself, there were now larynx-airers of the calibre of ex-Pilot frontman and basist David Paton and sometime solo act Chris Rainbow to share the load or provide backing harmonies. A winning combination, exactly who did what on what is listed elsewhere within this publication, but the return of another Camel original, keyboarder Peter Bardens on the instrumental track Sasquatch - an affectionate reference to Andrew Latimer's feet - was sure to please Camel's vast army of diehard supporters.
The finished collection of numbers was regaled with the overall billing The Single Factor - a reference to Andrew's status vis-a-vis Camel - and his face alone, drawn up via a series of vertical lines, adorned both back and front of the album's jacket. Issued in Britain wearing Decca label reference SKL 5328, it saw light of day on 7th May 1982 and duly entered this nation's L.P. chart eight days later to begin a 5 week showing that bested at No. 57.
Just twenty-four hours after Factor announced its arrival on the best-sellers in Blighty, the group kicked-off its obligatory support tour at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, at which time its official personnel read: Latimer(Guitar,Vocals); Paton(Bass,Vocals); Rainbow(Vocals); Andy Dalby(Guitar); Kit Watkins(Keyboards) and Stuart Tosh(Drums).
To coincide with this, a special limited edition twelve-inch promotion-only four-track single was manufactured, SKL (DJ) 5328, offering strait versions of No Easy Answer , Heroes and Sasquatch , but including also an otherwise-unavailable edit of You Are The One which would quickly make it a prized item among fans.
For all those who have never managed to obtain one, we now happily present the next best thing: those 3 minutes and 41 seconds of magic are duly suffixed to the established running order on this latest 1994 Compact Disc transfer, although pioneer purchasers of C.D.'s may well own an earlier, long-discontinued, 'straight' incarnation of The Single Factor; it was one of Decca/Deram's earliest ventures on this format and appeared in March 1983.
April '84 would arrive before Stationary Traveller (SKL 5334), performed by faces old and new, added another chapter to the ongoing history of Camel, and in the process also simultaneously yielded their last fresh studio album for what would turn out to be seven years. An in-concert set, the superb Pressure Points (SKL 5338), fulfilled their obligations to Decca/Deram in November, and it was 1991 before Dust And Dreams (CP 001), on their own Camel Productions label, surfaced.
Now based Stateside in California, Andrew Latimer's musical dream-unit continues to flourish. Long may it do so. Here though we back-track once more to savor the glories of Camel's illustrious past. Cue The Single Factor...
© John Tracy London, 1994