Reading Town Hall
December 18, 1975
Lineage: Unknown Generation
01. The White Rider 10:18
02. Supertwister 3:25
03. Introduction to the Snow Goose 0:33
04. The Great Marsh 1:51
05. Rhayader 3:00
06. Rhayader Goes to Town 5:14
07. Sanctuary 1:07
08. Fritha 1:22
09. The Snow Goose 3:00
10. Migration 3:39
11. Rhayader Alone 1:49
12. Flight of the Snow Goose 3:13
13. Preparation 4:31
14. Dunkirk 5:35
15. Epitaph 2:37
16. Fritha Alone 1:09
17. La Princesse Purdue 4:55
18. The Great Marsh (reprise) 3:20
Total Time 60:38
01. Hommage to the God of Light 17:40
02. Lady Fantasy 16:12
Total Time 43:52
1. Consistent speed error detected and corrected.
2. Gentle noise reduction applied.
3. Lots of clicks and a few pops repaired.
4. Dynamics adjusted.
5. Correct Channel imbalance.
6. Adjust Tonality.
7. Re-track using commercial references.
8. Friendship segment of Snow Goose not in recording. Not played?
The Story Cometh…
“…The Great Marsh lies on the Essex coast between the village of Chelmbury and the ancient Saxon oyster-fishing hamlet of Wickaeldroth”
So begins the short story, “The Snow Goose” written by Paul Gallico. This was the inspiration for the famous Camel suite of the same
name. A wonderful history of the band Camel describing the state of the band and how they came to write the music inspired by “The
Snow Goose” can be found in the liner notes for their remastered studio album. There, we learn that Pete Bardens suggested creating
a concept album based on Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha or his equally famous Steppenwolf; both of which were rejected by the band. It
was bassist Doug Ferguson who suggested Paul Gallico’s story of “The Snow Goose” which was eventually accepted. Paul Gallico is
most famous for writing “The Poseidon Adventure” but wrote “The Snow Goose” in 1941. As an American watching the development of
World War II, Mr. Gallico was inspired to write a short story about a man, a young girl and both the joy and sadness that could occur at
a time of war. Critically acclaimed, “The Snow Goose” became a story commonly read by many in England after the war. Obviously familiar
with the story, the members of Camel set out to write a single piece of music with many movements, each pertaining to a different part of the
book. For those unfamiliar with the story, the titles of the different movements of “The Snow Goose” suite will be meaningless. So, below is
a summary of the story with underlined phrases and words corresponding to the titles used by Camel for the different movements of the suite
The sequence of movements and their titles correspond to the progression of the story.
The Great March was the setting for the story. There, in 1930 a man named Rhayader came to live alone in a lighthouse. He was a crippled
man with a hunchback and a withered left arm. He spent most of his time painting and caring for the birds of the area. When
Rhayader goes to town for supplies he is usually mocked by villagers and seen as “…that queer painter chap who lives down to the lighthouse”.
Because fowling as a popular sport in the region, the birds quickly learned that they could avoid the deadly gunfire by seeking Sanctuary at the
lighthouse. One day a small girl named Fritha came to the lighthouse with an injured bird in her hands. It was The Snow Goose. Though initially
afraid of the strange looking man she knew that he would be able to help the creature and so she overcame her fear and went to his aid. As the
bird slowly recovered over the winter months the man and the young girl formed a Friendship. Though she lived in town, Fritha would come to
visit the lighthouse and the two new friends she had there. By June of the next year the snow goose was healthy again and took flight, going on
Migration with the other birds that stop each year at the lighthouse. The snow goose was indigenous to Canada but had come to Essex after a
bad storm had thrown it off course. Rhayader and Fritha assumed that it would return again to its homeland once healed, but that was not the
case as they would discover later. With the snow goose gone, Fritha no longer came to the lighthouse. This left Rhayader alone again, with no
friends or human companionship. Later that year, as fall arrived in October, Rhayader was greeted by the return of the snow goose. He quickly
sent word to Fritha who was overjoyed to be reunited with her two friends again. Summer would come and the snow goose would again leave
but would return again in the fall. So, the Flight of the Snow Goose was met with eager anticipation with each year’s changing of the seasons.
Eventually, the snow goose became a permanent resident of the lighthouse and a constant companion of Rhayader. But one day, upon a visit to
her two friends Fritha discovered that Rhayader was planning a trip. The Preparation involved securing the lighthouse and adding supplies to his
boat. He had heard men talking in the village. “He must go to Dunkirk; A hundred miles across the North Sea. A British army was trapped there
on the sands, awaiting destruction at the hands of the advancing Germans.” It was 1940 and England was in the midst of war. Rhayader felt he
needed to help in any way that he could. Unfit for normal duty, he reasoned that helping to save these men with his boat was his only way to help
the war effort. As he set off on his task, the snow goose followed, staying with him for the entire journey across the North Sea. Back and forth
he went, carrying soldiers to safety, all the while being chaperoned by his feathered friend. Sadly, in a cruel twist of the story, Rhayader dies from
German gunfire. A British destroyer comes upon the boat carrying his lifeless body noting the beautiful bird at his side. Eventually, he and his boat
are sunk by the explosion of a floating mine, left by the Germans. The snow goose was un-harmed and flew back to its home.
In an Epitaph, British soldiers recounted the story of this “little dark man wiv a beard, a claw for a ‘and an’ a ‘ump on ‘is back” accompanied by
“a bloomin goose”. They told of how they were saved by this man, for surely they would have died at the hands of the Germans if he had not come
to their rescue. Fritha was alone back at the lighthouse and sensed that Rhayader was dead, never to return. Not long afterwards, she heard the
familiar sound of the snow goose, that they named La Prince Perdue so many years ago, return for a final visit to the lighthouse. As the bird passed
by, she felt it was carrying Rhayader’s soul to Heaven on its final journey back to its original home. With the loss of her two friends Fritha decided
never to visit the lighthouse again. The story ends with a German attack plane mistaking the lighthouse for a military site and destroying it with a
single pass. The Great Marsh had been returned to its natural state with all evidence of Rhayader, his paintings, Fritha and the snow goose gone
Notes from the Re-Master
As Peter Bardens says during the show, this is the last performance of “The Snow Goose”, here, in December, 1975 in Reading, England. Fortunately,
someone was there to tape it. And tape it, they did. This is an outstanding recording for its time. The exact equipment used and lineage of the source are
unknown. We have to thank Andrew “Hogweeds” Skeoch for the torrented source of this show. It appears to be low generation and complete as the
setlist matches set lists for other shows on the tour. It consists of two songs from the album “Mirage” followed by a fade-out. It seems as if the taper
knew the set list and knew that he wanted a separate tape to be used for the Snow Goose suite. A fade in then captures Peter Bardens introducing
“The Snow Goose” and the fact that this will be it’s last performance. The whole suite is played with the exception of the section called Friendship.
This may have been at a tape flip but the whole movement is missing and Friendship is missing from other performances given during the tour as well.
The one noted exception is the performance at Royal Albert Hall in London with the Symphony Orchestra.
As good as this recording is, there were still a number of flaws that needed correcting. The speed of the recording was found to be in error and was fixed.
A gentle noise reduction was used to allow more subtle detail to be heard. Lots of tape clicks and pops were found and repaired. Because of the venue
acoustics, an adjustment to the tonality was made. Dynamics were adjusted and channel balance was corrected. Finally, the show was tracked using
standard live and studio references.