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Caravan - If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.24 | 930 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars In a way, this is an even better effort than the band's most celebrated work, its follow-up "In the Land of Grey and Pink". However, unlike the latter, it's less immediate and more of a steady grower. Then, when it's truly and well grown on you, you'll be hopelessly addicted. The remastered version (featuring the stunning, unreleased "A Day in the Life of Maurice Haylett") sounds as fresh as it had been recorded last year and not almost 36 years ago. This is prog at its best, impeccably sung and played, complex and challenging, yet at the same time witty and light- hearted, without the pretentiousness typical of some of the better-known bands.

The best way to listen to this album is to put on your headphones and wallow in the beautiful vocal harmonies, intricate bass lines and magnificent keyboard work. The opening title-track is an infectious, '60s-style ditty sung by both vocalists, the deeper-voiced Richard Sinclair repeating the line "Who do you think you are?" while the higher, graceful voice of guitarist Pye Hastings sings the verse. Most of the following tracks, though varying in length, are structured as mini-suites, with at least two movements (and accordingly long titles, which I will never be able to remember in spite of my passably good memory). "And I Wish I Were Stoned" starts off as a wistful melody, then becomes increasingly brisk and jazzy. "As I Feel I Die", one of the highpoints of the album, has much the same structure, with a slow intro featuring great vocals from Hastings (who is not my favourite Caravan vocalist, though I have to give him his due), then culminating in a rousing instrumental duel between the two Sinclair cousins, Dave's incendiary keyboards and Richard's complex, fluid bass. "With an Ear to the Ground", the second longest track on the album, sees more spectacular work from David S. (a keyboard unsung hero if ever there was one), backed by one of the tightest rythm sections ever.

"Hello Hello" is a lesson in how to write a song that's both hummable and intelligent, with the added bonus of one of the strangest percussive accompaniments ever (eat your heart out, Jamie Muir!), a pair of hedge clippers wielded by none other than Richard Sinclair himself, who also sings lead vocals. In fact, if I were to name one flaw of this otherwise flawless album, is that Sinclair sings too little... There are two versions of this song on the remastered CD, and on the second (an unreleased demo version) Richard's vocals are so forceful and intense that I get even stronger shivers down my spine than usual. The short, delightful "Asforteri" leads the way for the album's pièce de resistance, the 14-minute-plus "For Richard" (which of the two, I wonder?), where David S. gives a stunning demonstration of his impressive skills as an organ player, while Richard S. (while unfortunately remaining silent) provides a solid yet intricate rythmic background. The track ends with a rare, short yet tasteful guitar solo by Pye Hastings - an unlikely guitar hero, perhaps, but an excellent player indeed.

What else can I say? An utterly magnificent album by one of the truly great bands, too often forgotten in "best of" polls. Go and get it - you won't regret it for a minute.

Raff | 5/5 |


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