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Caravan - Waterloo Lily CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.77 | 613 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars While critics and fans alike praised the unique concoction of jazz, folk and rock on CARAVAN's third album "The Land Of The Grey And Pink," despite it all the record company and management refused to put any money into promoting the album or the band in any way which led to incredible inner tensions and ultimately resulted in the departure of David Sinclair who was seduced away by Robert Wyatt to join the ranks of Matching Mole. While dumbfounded that they had lost such a vital ingredient to their unique piano, organ and mellotron driven sound, they avoiding a complete breakup by finding one of the few musicians in Sinclair's league in the form of Steve Miller who had played with Carol Crimes & Delivery prior.

Miller was a gifted jazz musician and after finding it impossible to adapt to Sinclair's unique style of playing, the band finally settled on placing Miller's style as the focus of the band's sound and thus CARAVAN was forced to jettison their digestible psychedelic pop sound of the previous album and create a more sophisticated collection of tracks that resulted in perhaps one of the most progressive albums of their career with some of the most bold and daring instrumental deliveries of their canon.

The album was titled WATERLOO LILY and found Steve Miller pushing Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair and Richard Coughlan into more challenging musical arenas and thus stands as one of CARAVAN's most diverse sounding albums. The beautifully performed title track which opens, really presages a future supergroup event called Hatfield And The North which finds Richard Sinclair's sole vocal performance on the album sounding like something that could have been on "The Rotter's Club." The track which exudes a bouncy bass driven swing type of groove tells the tale of a large lady of questionable reputation while the musical drive simultaneously juggles a more ambitious construct with the expected Canterbury whimsy.

The album sports two lengthy multi-suite tracks surrounded by shorter ones with vocals. The first of these spirited displays of musical playfulness is the instrumental "Nothing At All / It's A Coming Soon / Nothing At All" which delivers a beefy bass line that ties the entire track together as the guitar solos trade off with keyboards and sizzling jazzy sax runs. The groovy rhythm ties the band's previous digestible pop hooks with a more jazz-laden speakeasy swinging sort of vibe which despite the length is quite easy on the ears. The three suites linked by the bass groove are quite distinct but somehow transition with ease.

The second of these is a medley of catchy vocal oriented jazz rock with extra emphasis on symphonic backings. The track breaks into an the most outstanding instrumental performances on the album with a flute solo that sounds like it's on speed! This track is easily the most ambitious thing CARAVAN ever laid down to tape and one of my top dog favorites of their career. The remaining tracks are pop gems finding Pye Hastings in excellent vocal form with brilliant songwriting and if you are lucky enough to have newer versions there are extra bonus tracks well worth the time.

Although the Canterbury jazz-fusionists had a dedicated audience, none of these bands managed to garner success at a substantial level but for those fans CARAVAN did attain in the past, many were not too keen on the new musical style that was thrust upon them. While "The Land Of The Grey And Pink" sold poorly, WATERLOO LILY literally almost caused the band to call it quits entirely. However after some internal reflection and the decision to sack Steve Miller, luckily Hastings, Sinclair and Coughlan found that the public was beginning to catch up to their musical style and by the time they regrouped with a new team to produce "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night," as CARAVAN was finding slightly more enthusiastic public support.

Personally i may be one of the few who finds WATERLOO LILY to be one of CARAVAN's crowning achievements musically speaking. I find this album infinitely more interesting than the more uniform and toned-down "In The Land Of The Grey And Pink." WATERLOO LILY simply adds a new gusto to the classic CARAVAN sound with beautifully performed vocal tracks side by side with sophisticated jam band instrumentals that tackle multiple suites of true progressive rock brilliance. In my world WATERLOO LILY plays second fiddle to the only album of theirs that i consider a true masterpiece "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You."

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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