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Caravan - In the Land of Grey and Pink CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1818 ratings

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2 stars Over-rated but nice

Summary (so you don't have to read the hatchet job on the tracks ;0):

A harmless collection of 4 quaint and quirky light English folk-flavoured songs (it's hard to avoid the term "whimsical"), with details that only serve to make you think of other bands that did it better, and a sprawling monstrosity of a jam that qualifies for Prog Rock only because of its length and tidiness.

Safe to ignore for the "serious" Prog Rock collector - but nice enough to warrant a listen, and a collectable item for hardcore Camel fans - particularly the Sinclair-era material.

The Hatchet Job

See, when I listen to Prog Rock, I expect certain things; An avoidance of common song structure, avoidance of basic pop drum beats, and composition rather than jamming.

All of those three things are present here in abundance - and while they may also be found in magnificent albums like Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates of Dawn", the latter at least journeys into unchartered territory on a regular basis and displays precocious mastery of compositional forms that are new as far as rock is concerned.

Golf Girl

A reasonably catchy slice of verse/chorus pop with the distinctive "10 pence, 10 pence, 50 pence, 1" pop beat and archetypal late 1960s/early 1970s instrumental section - a jam around 2 chords - albeit with some tasty flute playing. Warning - the intro is rank cheese.

Winter Wine

A charming folk-like tune with essence of Roy Harper, that launches into a laid-back if somewhat insignificant feeling 1970s flavoured rock song that really lacks the power to deliver the lyrics. The melodies are premonitions of Camel even before Sinclair's arrival, underscored by the occasional soft-sixth harmonies, and appear to be rooted in the Moody Blues. The instrumental section is another jam around two chords and is very pleasant indeed with some imaginative guitar playing that is laced with hints of what Andy Latimer was to achieve, but with the notable absence of Pete Bardens organ interplay - the keyboards here being fully relegated to the rhythm section.

Love to Love You

A really horrible pop song based on "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen - maybe it's a parody, but even the 7/4 time signature, outrageous lyrics and flute don't save this atrocity.

In the land of grey and pink

Completing the pop side is this jaunty little tune - back comes the "10 pence, 10 pence, 50 pence, 1" beat with incessant 8ths. The most interesting thing about this song is Sinclair excercising his surprisingly wide vocal range and wibbly Daevid Allen-alike vocals, and the pretty tinkly piano interlude. Oh, and the instrumental break cleverly utilises a 3rd chord...

Nine Feet Underground

A collection of 8 short pieces - so not really a 20+ minute epic at all.

We kick off with, yes, a jam around 2 chords, entitled "Nigel Blows a Tune". I wouldn't go as far as to say it blows, but it's not very exciting or energetic, sitting safely around scales and the established tonal base in a pleasant but non-stimulating manner.

Around 5:42 (presumably the "Love's a Friend" section) the music changes to something you can swing your pants to - some archetypal 1970s dancey rock based around, no - not 2, but one single chord for the verse, with a change to a short progression for the chorus, and the predictable jammed instrumental.

At 9:02, and smacking heavily of a drop-in, is the next section - a new instrumental piece based around a short falling riff. Very funky, with strong flavours of Santana... what's next?

Everything grinds practically to a halt at 10:46 for a nice ambient section - the closest thing we've had to Prog Rock thus far. A minute and 10 seconds later, there's new music based around the falling riff motif, with a shuffling Latin-flavoured disco beat and that non-stop pentatonic noodling guitar - which is getting a bit annoying by now.

Another section begins rudely at 14:13 - a complete and utter change into a simple 2 chord jam that lasts two minutes but feels like 10.

This gives way to a song section with the falling riff pattern - and this is a really lovely song, with poignant flute and keyboard decorations that begins to feel more like Prog - but for the repetition. There's a nice Floyd-like instrumental break, which is, alas, far too short.

Another painful drop-in around 19:30 reveals a nice rocking section that appears to be heavily based on "Sunshine of Your Love" with little bits of "You Really Got Me" thrown in for good measure - before dropping into a single-chord jam with the same old pentatonic licks raising a real yawn.

At least they tidied up the ending.

If you got this far, then it only remains for me to re-iterate: An interesting relic of the early 1970s, and worth a listen - but there's plenty of real Prog around for you to spend your money on. If you like psychedelia and jam-bands, then this comes highly recommended - the jamming is, at least, tidy, organised and not a completely wasted drug-fest.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |


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