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Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.16 | 684 ratings

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5 stars Their masterpiece. I gave Waterloo Lily a 5, but that was rounded up from a 4.5 (they lost that half point mainly because of "Songs and Signs"). But this one is flawless. This, not In the Land of Grey and Pink, is the one which should be forever embedded in the site's Top 100.

Pye Hastings has mastered the art of songwriting by this time. He's the main writer on it and the only singer. Dave Sinclair is back in the band, but he doesn't make that much difference, and Richard Sinclair is gone to join Camel. I always found it funny that his departure from Caravan ended in their going more poppy, while his arrival in Camel resulted in the same change for that band. At any rate, Pye handles the duties on his own just fine (Richard Coughlan is still on board, of course, and his performance, as always, is outstanding).

The texture of the album is immediately pleasing. The electric guitar is used to craft hooks rather than rattle the walls, and the acoustic guitar bits are pensive and tasteful. Other tricks are employed with voice overdubbing and orchestration, and every experiment works (except, perhaps, for C'thulu Thulu). Each song is worth discussing.

The first, Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss is one of the funnest songs they ever did, featuring a great, catchy riff that eventually dissolves into a chaos with flutes and everything slurring around, then reemerges with a different, immediately as identifiable riff. Hoedown, which follows it, is essentially a waste, sticking to the same basic idea as the first song but speeding up the process. Still, it's not a bad song; it neither helps nor harms this album.

What DOES help this album is every single other song on it. The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again ought to register as the catchiest thing they ever did, and the ending, with the overdubbed vocals coming in and out of one another, each singing the melody but starting from different points to create a sonic collage, is one of their most cathartic moments. And this is also the song on which Dave Sinclair really shines - his solo is one of his best, maybe second only to Winter Wine.

Surprise, Surprise is in the same department, wildly catchy, and C'thulu Tulu, although it doesn't do so much for me personally, is certainly no bad song and might just as easily be your favorite on the album. Something about it just kind of irks me - the difference between the dark, ominous riff and the catchy chorus doesn't sit well, but the dark, ominous riff rules and so does the catchy chorus. Should've just kept them separated or eased from one into the other or something. Who am I kidding, that's a great song too, but nitpicking is possible even on masterpieces.

The last two songs are both longer epics, and they both rock. There's not a lot about them that registers as immediately memorable, but the reprise of "A Hunting We Shall Go" is incredible. I'd call that their most successful synthesis of hard rock and orchestration. Lots of Caravan records go out with a bang, but none bang as loudly or aggressively as this one. The horns are incredible.

If you have any interest in prog-pop, this ought to be your first purchase by anybody. I consider it the masterpiece of the genre. It is absolutely indispensable to my prog collection. When I bought it, I worked in an independent record store where most of the employees listened to artists inspired by Cat Stevens, but without that man's genius and grace. Nothing I played ever struck any bells with them, but this one they loved. And with good reason. Outstanding record by one of the most unlucky bands I ever heard - too prog to be pop, too pop to be prog (for some people). But on this one, the balance is perfect, and I don't see how anyone, from a Schubert fan to a Madonna fan, could disagree.

KyleSchmidlin | 5/5 |


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