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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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5 stars I do award 5-stars sparingly, but this is one album that I believe deserves it.

The Canterbury Scene is / was the most quirkily English of all "prog's" sub-genres and seems - at least in my experience - to be the one least offensive to those rock writers who don't particularly like this genre. Caravan went through several line-up changes and barely survived the vicissitudes of punk, though they are now quite fondly regarded 'survivors'.

Out of the half dozen or so major studio releases they had in the 70s, I am not alone in rating "In The Land Of Grey & Pink" (a rather rude reference, as nearly all their album titles were) as their finest output. It's essentially an album of two distinct halves, much like Pink Floyd's "Meddle" only perhaps even more so. Side One (the first 4 songs on the CD) contains a mix of eccentric and very English songs, such as the title track ("In the land of grey and pink where only Boy Scouts stop to think" ... it's probably best I don't go into the salacious meaning of this!), all of which have a relatively light blend of folky/jazzy/rock, and lyrics the equal to Syd Barrett's on "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn". Take this from Golf Girl: -Standing on a golf course -Dressed in P.V.C. -I chanced upon a golf girl -Selling cups of tea -She asked me did I want one -Asked me with a grin -For three pence you can buy one -Full right to the brim. The melodies are bright and airy, and the instrumentation is reserved, with vocals and Hammond organ well to the fore.

Side Two however ('Nine Feet Underground'), is a different beast. Mostly instrumental, it's a single long piece of jazz/rock, in general much funkier than the songs on Side One. Like The Floyd's 'Atom Heart Mother' suite, it's a collection of (randomly named) sections that are linked together by a recurring theme.

If getting to know the album, then by all means listen to the whole thing in one go, but after a while you might find that listening to the first 4 songs requires a different mood to 'Nine Feet Underground', which tended to be the track I'd listen to after coming in from a night out.

To get to know the Canterbury Scene, you'd need to listen to at least 4 artists: Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Caravan. This album is not enough on its own for that purpose, but if you simply want one single album of melodic English quirkiness to accompany (for example) "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn", then this is it.

TiddK | 5/5 |


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