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




Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1855 ratings

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4 stars This reviewer is decidedly disadvantaged by not having had the opportunity to listen to this band or to this great recording in the context of the time of this recording's initial release in 1971. It may or may not be fair to compare this recording against other progressive styles which were developing in 1971, but it is frankly inconceivable and impossible to evaluate any recording in a vacuum. In this respect, therefore, it is necessary to consider what other bands were doing in 1971 in the evaluation of this recording. 1971 was the year of Yes' Fragile LP, King Crimson's Lizard, ELP's Tarkus and Genesis' Nursery Cryme. Is it really fair to review the "progressiveness" of this Canterbury recording against symphonic and eclectic prog? I'm not sure. What I can say with certainty is that one must have some basis of comparison. Quite clearly, each of the Canterbury bands themselves had a distinctive style. Is it fair to compare a Caravan recording to Soft Machine, Gong, Egg or any of the others? I think the same argument applies as it does to comparing this recording across "subgenres" because of the tremendous diversity that exists even within the alleged "Canterbury Sound" . Be that as it may, this recording features beautiful singing, excellent musicianship by all, and in my opinion, a sense of cohesiveness lacking from other Canterbury releases of the period. I do not think the music is as progressive as period Yes, King Crimson, ELP or Genesis. In fact, there is at times a decidedlly "retro" feel in terms of some of the psychedelic instrumental and vocal motifs that pervade this recording and some drug references are present in the lyrics. But then again, the late 60's and early 70's were a transitional period and this recording is a sign of the times. "Golf Girl" is a charming little ditty about flirtation with a guy who buys three cups of tea from a young lady on a golf course. I'm not sure if the lyrics after he buys his tea are "later on the golf course.... she protected me" or a subtle word play of "layed her on the golf course... she protected me" (either makes sense) as might be typical of the free sprit of the times. "April Wine" is the first of two true early progressive pieces on the recording but with a fine thread of psychedelia lingering on from the 1960s. " Love to Love You" is a poppish period song with a catchy beat, but nothing really progressive going on here. Interestingly, the title track is probably the weakest link on the record, but progressive as well as psychedelic elements are present. The epic 22+ minute "Nine Feet Underground" is a great piece of earlier progressive rock. David Sinclair's keyboard play is a highlight of the entire recording. Pye Hastings' guitar work is tasteful and refreshingly restrained as compared with the self-indulgent offerings of many others of the day. Contributions by the other band members are solid. I can understand why there are so many accolades for this recording- it is well put together musically and it still sounds great. There isn't, however, a lot of virtuosic play, and, there is a substantial carry-over of late 1960s psychedelia in the music along with some poppish elements that raise some questions about just how progressive some of the material is. Certainly, a lot of new musical territory was not charted on this recording as compared with what Yes, King Crimson, ELP, Genesis or even what Soft Machine and Gong were doing around this time. There is, despite this, a unique charm to this recording that is absent from much of the work of the other bands mentioned, and it remains, to this day, a representative of the "Canterbury Sound" (whatever that was or is remains debatable). I don't know that this recording make quite the impact of the recordings cited above and in that regard, I don't view it as essential. It is, however, an excellent effort altogether that rates no less than four stars, and, probably a fraction more.


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