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

IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK

Caravan

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1821 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 395

No name of the musical scene developed in the British city of Canterbury can be seen with as much force as Caravan, although many bands and artists have appeared and that even gave the name of one of the movements and variations of the progressive rock in the early 70's. Along with Soft Machine, Caravan is perhaps the definitive Canterbury scene progressive rock act. Less jazzy than their more famous neighbours, Caravan wasn't as heavy handed as their more critically lauded peers. But, what they did have was a much firmer grasp of pop dynamics and nowhere was this more obvious than their 1971 album, "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" which is, for many, Caravan's definitive masterpiece.

"In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is also perhaps, the best album of the Canterbury scene and is probably the very first Canterbury album you should check out. This is a true English musical strangeness tempered with a little whimsy, just what the strand asks for, with a lot of prog rock, jazz and psychedelic music. With "In The Land Of Grey And Pink", Caravan reached artistic maturity, succeeding for the first time in blending romantic melody and progressive innovation with extreme simplicity. With this third episode the band manages to find the right formula that perfects progressive solutions by accentuating the melodic component in an elegant and precise style, with curated arrangements that have preserved its charm over the years. The album contains an undeniable and decidedly sense of humor and charm, really.

Also interesting is the cover art of the album, which over time has become one of the icons of the English progressive rock scene, with its vaguely Tolkenian setting entirely played on "grey and pink" tones, according with the album's title.

The third studio album of Caravan, "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" which was released in 1971, would mark the end of the band's premiere line up. Co-founder David Sinclair would leave Caravan to form Matching Mole with Soft Machine drummer and vocalist Robert Wyatt in August of 1971. So, the line up on the album is Pye Hastings (vocals and electric and acoustic guitars), Dave Sinclair (vocals, organ, piano, mellotron and harmony), Richard Sinclair (vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar) and Richard Coughlan (drums and percussion). The album had also the collaboration of Jimmy Hastings (flute, tenor saxophone and piccolo), Dave Grinsted (cannon, bell and wind) and John Beecham (trombone).

"In The Land Of Grey And Pink" has five tracks. The first track "Golf Girl" is a typically British song with fun lyrics and a commercial hit with the face of songs made in the post psychedelic era. The highlight is an organ performed in a very creative way giving the tone through a beautiful melodic bed for the music. The second track "Winter Wine" has a vocal line that it's hard not to remind me a kind of premonition of what it would take in his passage through Camel at the end of the 70's. It carries an instrumental with a simple guitar section, but it's extremely pleasant and a great song. The third track "Love To Love (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly)" is a song that I define as extremely misleading in several ways, and which can be seen as just a pop song, which it isn't. It has here a progressive feature even, but almost camouflaged. The lyrics sung about an apparently sweet and innocent arrangement, goes far from having this result when analyzed in more depth, being possible to be noticed even very obscure touches. This is a song that sounds simple, but it has its peculiarities. The fourth track is the title track. This is simple song and very well cadenced by bass, drums and acoustic guitar, of course, not to mention the beautiful piano solo that falls like a glove in the middle of the song. It all sounds as it has to sound. The fifth track "Nine Feet Underground" is the best part of the album. It's an almost 23-minute epic divided into 8 chapters. The track is a great mix of progressive and psychedelic symphonic music, with numerous pieces of soil spreading through. But what makes this song such a meaningful work for me is that it remains interesting in its entirety, regardless of the large amount of time that it releases. All instruments interact all the time to provide this adventurous result that is abundant in creativity and melody. It's one of the greatest suites produced in the fruitful first half of the 70's for progressive rock. This incredible piece of art is simply one of the best progressive rock tracks ever.

Conclusion: "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is quite simply, a perfect album from Caravan. It has clever lyrics, great musicianship and excellent vocals. This is a great blend of prog and a clever album that delivers solidly from start to finish and every track is just that good. It's really a prog rock classic album and is simply one of the finest and most elegant progressive rock albums ever made. "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is the greatest example of one of the great musical movements of that time, the Canterbury scene. This is a real jewel and that served as a mirror for so many other firecrackers that came next. It's a playful period piece that has endured while so many bigger selling albums from that period have aged terribly. Perhaps a lot of this is down to the fact that it isn't as over familiar as a lot of music from the early 70's. But whatever the case, it's an album that continues shining out in an era not short of great albums, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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