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Caravan - If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.24 | 943 ratings

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3 stars Canterbury, as it's approached by Caravan, is a strange pleasure. Characteristic as the genre may sound, I still find it desperately lacking in identity. And that applies to this album as well. You can often label albums or song with emotional tags such as 'aggressive', 'pastoral' or 'joyful'. If I Could Do It All Over is all that, and none of the above. It's a safe ride between such 'dramatic' emotions as wistful melancholy and mild amusement. And underneath this polished surface: a bunch of musicians bubbling with sprightly energy and talent. What to make of this?

If I had the answer I'm sure I'd enjoy this album a lot more. There's no doubt that the album shows examples of great improvisations and that laid-back, mid-tempo and jazzy feeling that oozes Canterbury from start to finish. But being slightly impatient and restless in nature, the drawn out parts of the many long numbers here grow into one continuous blur after a while, in a hazy bar-like way that pleases some, but not me. On the other side, Caravan has a way of blending these floating free-form bits with something completely different. There are the solid, simple, almost angular riffs of organ, bass and guitar adding a poppier tone now and then, like in the title song. These have a way of annoying me as well, lumbering along in a sweet and sticky way. I want more of the middle-ground, like on the excellent Hello Hello. A relatively simple bass theme acts as the base of the song, lashing out in various discrete solos, strange percussion and effects in the style I want and expect from a Canterbury band. It's not the longest or the most varied tune, but it still it's one of those that reach out the most along with for example As I Feel I Die. It starts out mellow, with enchanting vocals, smooth keys and delicately applied, gradually building drums. The song kicks in with a surprisingly direct, almost sharp drum beat and a sprawling bass on which the obligatory 'Canterbury' organ delivers its trademark sounds. Another song that keeps me interested throughout its length.

One might say that the problem I have with the album is the battle between poppy, whimsical parts and the behemoths that are the very, very long improvisations. They are dense in a '70s way: fuzzy, far from crisp and delicate and almost overpowering as the solos kick in time after time. The solos are very good however, and especially the various flute parts can make me feel enormously pleased.

In comparison to In The Land Of Grey and Pink (which is the other Caravan album in my collection) this is a slightly darker, denser effort from the band. Where the whimsicality of songs like Golf Girl and Love To Love You feels very dominant on ITLOGAP, music is what matters here. It takes more time, as it's quite frankly a complex, multifaceted album. But I like it more than the supposed masterpiece. I find If I Could Do It All Over Again full of minor flaws and full of minor gems, and as such it's very hard to brake down. It's solid, but I can't say I find much more.

3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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