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Caravan - Waterloo Lily CD (album) cover

WATERLOO LILY

Caravan

 

Canterbury Scene

3.76 | 368 ratings

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thehallway
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This album should sound brilliant; all the ingredients are there. On my first listen, I found it difficult to detect that any of the band members had even changed since the previous albums. It seemed like classic Caravan, only with a funky electric piano, one of my favourite instruments. But I don't find myself wanting to spin this album anywhere near as much as '...Grey and Pink'. Something about it just isn't quite "there". Although many reviewers might tell you it's because Steve Miller took the band in too much of a jazz direction, I don't really hear Waterloo Lily as being any more or less jazzy than its predecessors. It does, I think, suffer from some less inspired composition (on a general level, not because there is too much/little of the Canterbury sound).

The title track IS up there with the likes of Golf Girl, Hello Hello and all the other quirky rockers Caravan produced. It's probably the best song on Waterloo Lily, the downside of that being that it is then very easy to lose interest once track one is over. 'Nothing At All' is a pleasant enough jam, but the group used to include such noodling as part of their longer suites, not as songs in their own right. I sense that the piece is stretched out and a little aimless. 'Songs and Signs' is another of the band's decent ordinary-length songs and it was written by Miller, despite echoing Pie's compositional style, so I honestly don't think the problem with this album lies with him. 'Aristocracy' is okay as well, but at this point I find myself hungry for something big.

Lucky, then, that we're treated to another one of Caravan's lengthy suites with many titles? Well, this one starts off really strongly, with an uncharacteristic but very well-suited string section. By the time we've done the first two sections though, things meander into a dull mess, where jazz and rock seem at odds with each other rather than working together. It's such a shame, because I really looked forward to something along the lines of the psychedelic 'For Richard' or explosive 'Nine Feet Underground'. 'The Love In Your Eye' is like a lazy man's attempt to make another masterpiece by stringing together bland sections of not-very-groovy jamming. This is hard to take, because few white bands were better at jamming than Caravan, and nobody had more groove this side of the Atlantic.

Overall, this album is disappointing, but only compared to the previous Caravan albums, where they seemed so naturally good at creating fun, proggy, funky songs. By normal standards, this is still an album worth hearing, and it has maybe 20 minutes of excellent material. It might be Richard's laziness after Dave left, or some lack of group creativity, because they could still play very well, but the tunes just aren't there. I feel terrible giving this three stars, but the spark had (momentarily) disappeared.

thehallway | 3/5 |

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