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Caravan - Ether Way: BBC Sessions 1975-77 CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.59 | 16 ratings

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4 stars Late 1970s Caravan has had a bad press, but it will do you no harm, provided you take it in small doses. ETHER WAY is a first-rate live compilation of almost ALL of the best material from CUNNING STUNTS, BLIND DOG AT ST DUNSTAN'S and BETTER BY FAR.

Admittedly, "Dabsong Conshirto", the one mini-epic included here, is not on quite the same level of inspiration as earlier (and even more ambitious) Caravan material like "For Richard" and "Nine Feet Underground". Furthermore, I must admit I positively dislike the rather glib "Oik" sequence of songs.

But that whole "Oik" thing takes no more than ten minutes, and take a look at all other riches you'll find here. "The Show of our Lives", "All the Way" and "Better by Far" are romantic ballads which must be counted among the loveliest Pye Hastings has ever sung. No self-respecting Caravan freak should be without them, and these performances are impeccable. Similarly, both "Stuck in a Hole" and "Behind You" are superior pop-prog which would have graced any of Caravan's early (and more legendary) studio albums.

Finally, let me point out that "Nightmare" and "The Last Unicorn" (the latter is a dreamy instrumental, with a leading role for viola) are among the most haunting tunes in the entire Caravan canon, easily on the same level as anything on GREY AND PINK or GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP. If you've never heard these, do yourself a favour and get a copy of ETHER WAY. The live versions will take your breath away - as other reviewers have pointed out, they're actually superior to the original studio performances. Strongly recommended!

fuxi | 4/5 |


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