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Caravan - Caravan CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.68 | 478 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The year 1968 unknowingly ushered in a new style of British psych-pop later to be dubbed ''Cantebury''. The Soft Machine and Caravan both emerged from the demise of the obscure Wilde Flowers to have critical acclaim in the progressive rock world. Neither got off to the greatest of starts, but thankfully for both bands, they still had the best left in them.

If you are discovering the album CARAVAN as I am, you have likely heard other Caravan albums before this one, so the review has a more retroactive approach. Those of us that have are quick to point out that the production isn't as stellar as what the future has to offer. It's often fuzzy and thin, usually resulting in unintelligible vocals. That's disappointing considering that Caravan often employs whimsical English humour, particularly on the tracks in which bassist Richard Sinclair sings lead (''Policeman'' and ''Grandma's Lawn''). And to add, the bonus edition has a mono version of the album as well as stereo, which makes me ask the question, ''Why would I want to listen to mono when the stereo option is right there?''.

There are some delightfully fun psych-pop tracks on the first half, notably ''Love Song With Flute'' and ''Place of My Own''. ''Cecil Rons'' is a bit different as it goes more angry and heavy (for the band), yet still pulls off that joy that one expects from Caravan knowing the future. The rest of the poppier songs (particularly the first two tracks on the second side) sound muddled and struggle through lightweight and tiring melodies.

Then the track that might set the course for the band's future progress comes at the end of the album, well in time for the listener to breathe a sigh of relief. ''Where but for Caravan Would I'' brings the band's sound into full focus, mostly swelling the organ into tightly constructed solos. The vocal melodies are quite perfect, especially Sinclair's that comes halfway into the track. I actually think the best part of the song is Pye Hastings's guitar; the jangly chords under all that heavy organ and drums provide a stable foundation for the solo section and makes the song that much better. I don't think Hastings gets enough credit for his guitar playing.

Caravan would go on to record better produced albums, so this is pretty non-essential. But it is still a good Caravan album, and if you're a fan, if you like the Hammond organ, CARAVAN is ecstasy. And watch out for the ferocious drum pounding of Richard Coughlin.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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