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Caravan - Caravan CD (album) cover

CARAVAN

Caravan

 

Canterbury Scene

3.67 | 355 ratings

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Hailemon
4 stars A lovely debut album from the zany Canterbury pop brigade. Despite being a Canterbury band, Caravan had never strayed too far into jazz-rock territory; the reluctant leader Pye Hastings has always made sure that the pop sensibility was always there. The band's humour and lightness is like a breath of fresh air in the often too serious world of prog. This LP isn't as talked about as the next two masterpieces by the classic lineup of Hastings/Sinclair/Sinclair/Coughlan (+ Brother Jim), but for me it's almost as great. The quirky melodies and funny lyrics are already there, although the guys would polish up their songwriting skills consideralby by 1970's "If I Could Do It...".

Consisting mostly of Pye's compositions Caravan's first is still drenched in psychedelic atmosphere - this is one of those 68/69 albums where you can clearly hear how psychedelia morphed into prog. The echoey production hasn't aged too well, I'm afraid, but the songs themselves are nothing short of great. Be it the catchy opener "Place of My Own", the lovely "Love song with Flute", or the two Richard Sinclair contributions, where his carrollian whimsy comes to the fore. (On a sidenote: his voice is nothing short of angelic! clearly the best vocalist in British prog! and one more thing, the Hastings/Sinclair high/low vocal interplay does remind one of the similar Wyatt/Ayers combination on Soft Machines first LP, doesn't it?) As many other bands of the time, the guys leave the best for last: the long closer "Where but for Caravan Would I?" is up there with Caravan's other classic long tunes. At first listen it may not be as striking as "For Richard" or "Nine Feet Underground", but the lazy, pastoral atmosphere is simply wonderful. Really makes you want to go out and lie in the grass, looking at sunlight pouring in from between the tree branches (Sorry, got a bit carried away, it's cherry blossom season here in Japan). The apocaliptic ending is great too.

The start of the Caravan journey was really promising, things would only get better from here (until 1972 at least).

Hailemon | 4/5 |

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