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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

4.27 | 1149 ratings

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Raff
Prog Reviewer
5 stars A pure, unadulterated prog masterpiece - there's no other way about it. Although some reviewers were somehow disappointed by this album, for me it was love at first listen. However, it's true that Caravan's highly individual take on prog may be an acquired taste for some. For one thing, their sound (particularly on this album) is profoundly, quintessentially English, down to the often nonsensical lyrics and quirky cover art - and, last but certainly not least, Richard Sinclair's soothing but haunting voice, which made me think at first of a gentler, more cultivated version of Greg Lake's inimitably English tones (this before I realised what a magnificent singer he is, truly one of the best in prog and elsewhere). In fact, Sinclair stamps his presence over this album, both as a singer and a composer: it is no coincidence that the weakest track, the poppy "Love to Love You", is the only one to feature Pye Hasting's higher-pitcher vocals (really not my cup of tea, though Pye's not a bad singer by any means). A couple of numbers on this record (notably the initial "Golf Girl" and the aforementioned "Love to Love You") are definitely easier listening than your average 20-minute-long prog epic. All these factors together can lead to disappointed reactions on the part of those who only think of prog along the lines of Genesis, Yes and ELP. Caravan are different, and the sound of Canterbury bands is clearly not for everyone: nevertheless, this album is undeniably a landmark of progressive rock music.

In my opinion, the album's highlights are the mostly instrumental, five-part suite "Nine Feet Underground" and the absolutely gorgeous, wistful "Winter Wine", with stunning vocals by Richard Sinclair and a middle section featuring some great lyrics about dreams being over all too soon. The title-track covers instead a sort of middle ground between the "serious" and the "poppier" vein of the band. The remastered version of the album, besides the five original songs, also features a new mix of "Disassociation 100% Proof" and four previously unreleased tracks. These include the quirky "Aristocracy", the melancholy "I Don't Know Its Name" (aka "Frozen Rose") and early versions of "Golf Girl" and "Winter Wine", the former having different lyrics and telling the story of Richard Sinclair's first meeting with his future wife, the latter having no words at all (and even no title, as it's called "It's Likely to Have a Name Next Week").

A final word about the cover, which obviously features the colours mentioned in the album's title (a very tasteful combination, I have to say). Many critics have defined it as "Tolkienesque": being a Tolkien fan and scholar, I think Tolkien would probably have found it a bit too weird for his taste - though it definitely adds to the overall feel of this magnificent album.

Raff | 5/5 |

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