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Caravan - The Unauthorised Breakfast Item CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.27 | 113 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Caravan's best album in 30 years!

Exactly three decades after their peak with For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night in 1973, Caravan finally managed to make an album that was up to the standards of their best works; finally a return to form. 2003's The Unauthorised Breakfast Item has everything that that the foregoing handful of albums from the 90's, 80's, and the late 70's lacked: inspiration, energy, strong material, the right sound and the right feel.

The line-up here consists of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Jan Schelhaas, Doug Boyle, Geoffrey Richardson, and Jim Leverton, with Dave Sinclair and Jimmy Hastings appearing as guests. The album has all of the band's trademarks, yet at the same time it also has a strong Rock edge that is uncharacteristic of Caravan and that was completely missing from the previous, acoustically driven The Battle of Hastings. The opening track, for example, has an almost heavy Rock groove, but the chorus lines are still cheerful and catchy and the melodies are memorable this time around.

Another strong point about this album is that there is a good flow and a good balance between vocal and instrumental passages and between acoustic and electric instruments. There is a nice variety of tempos from upbeat to almost ambient, and the instrumental variety is here as well with tasteful uses of viola, banjo, flutes, and saxophone, among the "normal" (Prog) Rock setting of drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards. The influences include Jazz, Folk, Rock, and Pop music.

The whole album is very good, but the absolute highlight for me is the almost nine minute Nowhere To Hide which features excellent lead guitar and towards the end erupts in a synthesiser and violin dual that reminds me of Kansas! Some hardcore Caravan fans might perhaps complain that this track, as well as some of the other tracks here, don't sound enough like (classic) Caravan. But at the same time this album might appeal to people that normally are not overly keen on Caravan (like me, for example; I like the band, but am not a big fan). I actually enjoy this album more than almost any other Caravan album.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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