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Caravan - In the Land of Grey and Pink CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1819 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is a bit of a weird one. While this album often gets held up as the quintessential Caravan album, I personally think that the sound of the album is too schizophrenic to really be compared to the two excellent albums that bookend it in Caravan's discography. Where "If I Could Do It All Over Again?" and "Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" successfully merged Canterbury jazz and pop to create a satisfying and extremely accessible (while still very unique) sound, "In the Land of Grey and Pink" seems more or less content to have a pop half and a prog half.

Some may call that claim a little too harsh; there are still instrumental breaks in the shorter songs that keep them from coming across as pure bubblegum, but of the first four songs, "Golf Girl," "Love To Love You," and "In The Land of Grey and Pink" fall firmly on the pop side of the spectrum. "Winter Wine" straddles the divide a little more, but it's still a far cry from the excellent genre-crossing of, say, "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again" off of "Girls Who Grow Plump?"

That's merely my opinion, of course. And don't get me wrong, they're good songs (especially the title track). The sense of whimsy and cheeriness that flows throughout is an extremely welcome sound in the often dark-and-doom-laden progressive landscape, and all three of the primarily pop tracks are undoubtedly catchy as all get-out. The playing is still excellent on them and there are still some really awesome instrumental bits. My problem is just that this album doesn't flow nearly as well for me as the other two I've mentioned. "Love To Love You" especially is a fun little track, but it just can't stand up to the rest of the tracks and as a result the album feels unbalanced (this is the same problem I have with a lot of ELP).

So that's the first half. What about the second? Well, there's no question that "Nine Feet Underground" is an absolute monster. There are a lot of excellent sections, and there's wonderful thematic balance throughout, but at a whopping 22 minutes it's still a bit underwhelming, in my opinion, compared to other Caravan epics. Compare the 20+ minues of "Nine Feet Underground" to what Caravan was able to do in 14 on the "For Richard Suite" or in only 9 on "L'Auberge Du Sanglier" and, to my ears, "Nine Feet Underground" is going to come up short (long?) every time.

Of course, if you're a big Caravan fan, (or even if you're not) you'll still probably enjoy this album. I just don't think it's the place to start if you're new to the Canterbury scene or to Caravan in particular. In this reviewer's humble opinion, both "If I Could Do It Again?" and "Girls Who Grow Plump?" offer far better primers into the genre and the band, presenting far more balanced composition and flow. Check those out first, and if you're starved for more Caravan after that, come back to this one. It's a worthy addition even if it's not a great foundation.


VanVanVan | 3/5 |


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