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Caravan - Cunning Stunts CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.12 | 312 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 3.5 really.

This album was Caravan's most commercially succesful, driven by the (relative) single sucess of the songs "Stuck in a Hole" and "The Show of Our Lives". Despite this, it earns a lot of derision on the part of die-hard fans, some unwarranted. This is the last good release from Caravan, and has many reasons to recommend it. (It sports a great cover, and Caravan had not lost their trademark Canterbury humour, with the title pun, "Cunning Stunts"). By this point the lineup consisted of band leader and guitarist Pye Hastings, the canterbury legend (and recently returned) David Sinclair on keys, Richard Coughlan on Drums, Geoff Richardson on Violin and Mike Wedgewood on Bass. A strong lineup, but the addition of Wedgewood does push them into much more conventional, rock-pop mould. The album opens with the stately Sinclair composition "The Show of Our Lives", which is the closest Caravan comes to symphonic prog. This slow and majestic track is a real gem, Pye's voice and guitar are both spot on, as well as Richardson as always fantastic violin/viola work. The next track, Pye Hasting's "Stuck in a Hole" was Caravan's biggest hit, and while it lacks the power and grandeur of "Show of our Lives" and their earlier work, it is nonetheless enjoyable and fun, (although not the sound Caravan fans had come to expect). The next three tracks are rather mediocre bordering on insufferable. Mike Wedgewood's "Lover" is one of the most hated tracks ever by Caravan fans, with good reason. It is syrupy trash with little substance. "Welcome the Day" and "no Backstage Pass" are a bit better, though instantly forgettable. With the eighteen minute "Dabsong Concerto", another Sinclair composition, Caravan return to their strong canterbury jazz roots, and they do it well. This is the last epic in the bands repertoire, and its memorable. It has a poppy begginning, similar to many of their songs, which fades into a great Jazz-Prog workout. While Caravan had no doubt drifted towards a more commercial sound of late, they showed they could still play, and play well on this track. Interestingly, this track not only draws its inspiration from folk, jazz and prog like many Caravan tracks, but their is a great deal of Funk in it as well! Overall a very enjoyable and lively track (minus the repetitive and annoying ending with random sound effects). The album closes with a short (1 minute) and pleasant piece called "the Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park Rag", a nice little acoustic guitarpiece and a great way to end the album. Overall a pleasant and enjoyable album, and the last of any importance from Caravan. Despite three weak middle tracks, it is a strong album, and any fan of the lighter, more structured side of Canterbury will love it - 3.5 stars.

NetsNJFan | 3/5 |


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