I awoke a few mornings ago to find an email waiting for me. It had come from half way around the world, to California from the UK. The contents of the attachment had me giggling like a schoolgirl.
It was an audio file… a guitar solo to be specific… a long, very special guitar solo. I immediately played it. The sound was unmistakable. Even without the benefit of hearing it with the rest of the instruments, I knew it was perfect.
I then quickly booted up another computer in my studio which held the Pro Tools tracks I had been working on since June and transferred the solo to its appropriate spot nestled among the swirling keyboards, strings, woodwinds, and drums. I hit play… and held my breath…
The opening track from my new album had reached a whole new level. The song, a classically-tinged progressive rock tour-de-force, was turning out far better than I ever could have anticipated. Featuring piano, harpsichord, mellotron (strings and choir), cello, oboe, classical guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, the track was now highlighted by a powerful, passionate, and melodically stunning extended lead guitar solo from the fingers, mind, and heart of Andrew Latimer, legendary guitarist for the band Camel. Is it as good as Ice or something off Rajaz? Maybe, but I might be biased. You’ll have to be the judge.
I wrote back to Andy saying that I couldn’t thank him enough for contributing to my album. Knowing all that he’s been through in the past few years, I simply could not fathom that he would take the time to record this for me. But he did, and for that I will always be grateful.
But it didn’t end there. Over the next few days I continued to receive more files of additional guitars and even vocals. I was stunned. The song was being transformed into a true epic right in front of me.
I had met Andy and his wife and lyricist Susan Hoover back in 1997 when I was asked to produce and direct Camel’s concert DVD Coming of Age. Since then I have produced an additional six DVD’s for Camel Productions including Curriculum Vitae, Footage I, Footage II, Total Pressure, Moondances, and the as yet unreleased Opening Farewell, an epic concert extravaganza recorded in Santa Cruz, CA during Camel’s Farewell Tour in 2003.
For those who may not know my background, I began classical piano training at the age of five. Later, after hearing the track Land of Make Believe from the Moody Blues on the radio, I became interested in progressive music and began my discovery of bands such as Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Renaissance, Barclay James Harvest, Strawbs, and of course Camel.
In 1978, after deciding to give the music biz a go myself, I began writing and recording demos. But alas, my timing was off. Record companies in LA at that time simply didn’t want prog. So I successfully pursued my other passion – filmmaking. In my spare time, I went ahead and independently recorded the album Tales of Heroes and Lovers. It eventually got released in 1984 and was accompanied by a self-directed music video which actually got MTV airplay.
An ill-fated attempt at recording a pop album for CBS (with ex-Yes and Moody Blues keyboardist Patrick Moraz slotted to produce no less!) in 1986 was nearly completed, then shelved. The 1990’s saw an additional album being recorded with limited release along with a song being placed in a Kris Kristofferson film, and this kept the musical flame flickering… barely.
Finally in June of 2009, with Andy's encouragement, I decided to go ahead with plans to record a new album and was more than delighted when he kindly offered to contribute to the track Masquerade.
I hope to complete the album, titled Random Acts of Beauty, by the end of the year with a release date set for sometime in early 2010. It will include mostly brand new material, and even one or two pieces I wrote back in the pre Tales days!
Here's hoping that the lush, symphonic, melancholic, melodic, classically–tinged progressive rock we create will find a home in some of your hearts. Check...
for more details in the coming weeks and months.