Released: 29 October 1979
Recorded: 1979 at Farmyard Studios, Little Chalfont, England
Producer: Rupert Hine
I Can See Your House From Here is the seventh studio album by English progressive rock band Camel. Released in 1979, a new line up was introduced with founding members Andrew Latimer (guitar) and Andy Ward (drums) joined by bassist Colin Bass (to replace Richard Sinclair) and keyboardists Jan Schelhaas (who joined in 1978 for the Breathless tour) and Kit Watkins (ex-Happy The Man) who replaced Dave Sinclair. At one point, the album was going to be called ‘Endangered Species’.
Throughout the summer of ’79 this new quintet set about penning the contents of another long-player, continuing the new-broom-sweeps-clean philosophy by seeking additionally a fresh face to occupy the producer’s role. Rupert Hine received the thumbs-up, a top-notcher whose curriculum vitae already boasted the satisfied client signatures of such as Kevin Ayers (Confessions of Dr. Dream, 1972); Yvonne Elliman (Food of Love, 1973); Dave Greenslade (Cactus Choir, 1976); Quantum Jump (Quantum Jump, 1976; Barracuda, 1977) and Café Jacques (Round the Back, 1977; International, 1978). On top of this he’d also recorded as a writer/artist himself, notably in 1976 coming up with a marvellously innovative and unjustifiably neglected vocal 45 entitled Snakes Don’t Dance Fast (Electric), on which he supplied all the instrumental accompaniment – reputedly with just his mouth. He was a man with a commercial pedigree, and Camel had made an interesting choice. Through a process of elimination after each participant had exercised his quill for the common good, nine numbers were shortlisted for recording, each the solo endeavour or in collaboration via various permutations, of the individuals named hereafter: Messrs. Andy Latimer, Andy Ward, Jan Schelhaas, Colin Bass, Kit Watkins, John McBurnie and Viv McAuliffe . But what to call the harmonic portrait overall? There was a rather long-winded joke doing the rounds in England at the time concerning crucifixion, the punchline of which had the poor unfortunate nailed to a cross stating to his beckoned observer, “I can see your house from here.” Obviously this jape made an impression on our heroes sufficiently to be adopted and, plumbing for an outer space theme adaption for sleeve graphics, found itself registered as the billing for Taped and mixed at the Farmyard Studios in Little Chalfont, in the buildings and grounds of an Elizabethan country house. It was a residential recording studio and seemed to suit the band well. With orchestral overdubs added at London’s celebrated AIR Studios establishment, old friend Mel Collins – a sessioneer for Caravan also – added his saxophone contributions, while Genesis’ legendary drummer/vocalist Phil Collins – totally unrelated – also dropped by to rattle some traps. Andy Latimer was delighted with the end product, as he made emphatically obvious: “Rupert was great fun to work with, he was really up and zappy. I enjoyed making that record. We did it rather quickly and it wasn’t a lengthy production.”
Rupert Hine thereon commented: “…extraordinary moment for me was Andy Latimer’s improvised solo on “Ice.” I hadn’t realised just how passionate a player he was. As I recall the solo was just one take, not as was already typical by that time – a composite of ‘best bits’ of a number of different takes. This was a fine example of consciousness-flow through musical expression that only a player entirely comfortable with his instrument can achieve. Unlike so many guitarists of his era bent on illustrating how many notes could be crammed into a solo or how much overall noise could be produced from one instrument, Andy’s approach seem to be born out of less is more with each note having both flow and feel”.
The master tapes were delivered to ‘The Supreme Record Company’, and a release date scheduled at home for mid-October 1979 as Decca TXS-R 137. On the 27th of the month it bounced into the charts, lodging twenty-one days and peaking at No. 45. It was decided by the powers-that-be to issue a supporting seven incher to boost media interest, and it appears that the first choice item was allocated a catalogue number and then shelved temporarily to make way for what was felt to be a stronger maxi-single. From the new spectacle Andy Latimer and Kit Watkins ‘ Remote Romance was edited to form the ‘A’ side of Decca F-R 13879 (Rel.: 26 October, UK only), while its lower deck consisted of single version of Rainbow’s End from Breathless (TXS-R 132, 22 September 1978) and a Camel / Mick Glossop production of Tell Me, a number first heard on Rain Dances (TXS-R 124, September 1977). Sadly, like all such Camel offerings, it failed to trouble compilers of the weekly best-sellers, but encouraged the radio play for which it was primarily intended. On 29 February 1980 that which had originally been intended as an inaugural single surfaced, when F-R 13871 called to admirers everywhere, this time cementing the latest set’s Your Love is Stranger than Mine and Neon Magic back-to-back. While not breaking the mould of that which had gone before, sales figures were respectable. By their own admission, however, Camel set out to create anything with the singles market in mind, but unlike many of their album-orientated contemporaries, readily accepted their disc outlets’ attempts worldwide to broaden band appeal through the media mainstream as they wished.
The world tour began on 8 October at The Dome, Brighton, England, following France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Spain and ended on 29 January 1980 in Koseinenkin Hall of Tokyo, Japan.
- “Wait” (Andrew Latimer, John McBurnie) – 5:02
- “Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine” (Colin Bass, Latimer, Jan Schelhaas, Andy Ward) – 3:26
- “Eye of the Storm” (Kit Watkins) – 3:52
- “Who We Are” (Latimer) – 7:52
- “Survival” (Latimer) – 1:12
- “Hymn to Her” (Latimer, Schelhaas) – 5:37
- “Neon Magic” (Latimer, Viv McAuliffe, Schelhaas) – 4:39
- “Remote Romance” (Latimer, Watkins) – 4:07
- “Ice” (Latimer) – 10:17
2009 Expanded & Remastered Edition
“Remote Romance” (Single version)
“Ice” (Live 1981) – 7:15
- Andrew Latimer – guitars, flute, autoharp on “Who We Are”, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Who We Are”, “Hymn to Her” and “Neon Magic”
- Colin Bass – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Wait” and “Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine”
- Kit Watkins – Hammond C3 organ, Solina synthesizer, Yamaha electric grand piano, Rhodes piano, Moog synthesizer, Minimoog, Clavinet, Prophet-5, Yamaha CS80, EMS Sequencer, flute
- Jan Schelhaas – Yamaha CS80, Yamaha electric grand piano, grand piano, Prophet-5, Moog synthesizer, Minimoog, EMS Sequencer
- Andy Ward – drums, percussion
- Mel Collins – alto saxophone on “Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine”
- Phil Collins – percussion
- Rupert Hine – backing vocals
- Simon Jeffes – orchestral arrangements on “Who We Are” and “Survival”