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3 stars A good, but not spectacular, start. This album sounds very different than other Caravan albums - the voices are mixed differently and tons of reverb is used. The last track ("where but for Caravan...") is the best.
Report this review (#21273)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars At the time of its release a newspaper has commented, "Neither the sleeve picture nor the notes help the group's image, but on its own merits the album deserves high Top 40 ratings." Caravan were not the first to arrive on the Canterbury scene, Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (keyboards) and Pye Hastings (guitar/vocals) had all arrived from the Canterbury pioneer, Wilde Flowers. They were hard-pressed to establish a name among the likes of Soft Machine and Delivery, but nevertheless their first album was a promising start to what would become a band producing the most consistently interesting music of the period.

An overall echoing sound, perhaps more distinctive on the mono recording is the work of Tony Cox who as Hastings recalls, "[Tony] wouldn't let us attend the mixing on the grounds that if there were five people in the control room it would take five times as long to mix. I think he wanted total control." However, in stereo, the album is still quite a crisp and clean sound.

Opening with "Place of My Own", Pye's creation was impressive enough to establish their music contract and provides a good opener for the album. Caravan frequently indulge in light-hearted lyrically content, often with dreamy guitar/keyboard interludes. "Ride" and "Policeman" are good examples of this whimsical style that Caravan enjoyed. "Love song with Flute" had Pye's brother Jimmy appear on the flute. "Jimmy had never heard "Love song with Flute" before and came up with the solo out of thin air on the first take." recalls Pye.

The psychedelic influence is present on "Cecil Rons", "Magic Man" and "Grandma's Lawn" while "Where but for Caravan would I?" is their first at a longer and more complex piece with ex-Wilde Flowers colleague Brian Hopper. Whatever influenced the album is quite well hidden beneath the layers of sound, well-constructed tunes and clear desire to ascertain their own music.

With the CD comes the mono and stereo recordings and a bonus track ("Hello Hello") along with the rewarding sound that belongs exclusively to Caravan.

Report this review (#21274)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars This is a prime example of the links between psychedelic rock and its progressive younger brother. All of the qualities present in the following albums are present and this is no bias towards what is one of my favorite artists. A Place Of My Own and Love Song With A Flute and Where But For A Caravan are typical delightful numbers but listen to Grandma's Lawn or Cecil Rons to realize of progressive this Psychadelia is. The sound is quite different than the next albums but then again this is a different label and producer.
Report this review (#21275)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have always held a certain spot in my heart for the music of CARAVAN and none come so finer as their debut album. Opening Cantebury classic "Place Of My Own" remains to this day one of my most beloved tracks. Tragically CARAVAN's first album is far too oft overlooked in their discography and in most cases forgotten completely. Songs on this album carry an early Cantebury-psychedelic edge to them with some great organ sweeps , guitar, bass and drumming. Richard Sinclair's vocals are choice with some great vocal harmonies and pure sounding voice.
Report this review (#21276)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The sound quality of this album absolutely suck! The recording sounds like it was made in a trash can, with bad mixing (where you hear Richard Sinclair's voice in one speaker, and the instruments in the other). Despite the crap sound quality, this an incredible debut from one of the Canterbury greats, full of great psychedelic pop prog goodies such as "A Place of My Own", "Ride", "Love Song with Flute" (in which Jimmy Hastings makes his first appearance, on flute, on a CARAVAN album), and the most progressive number, "Where But For Caravan Would I". Great stuff, would be made even greater if they had better equipment to record on.
Report this review (#21277)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hard to criticize this album much considering it was their important debut. All tracks are strong particularly ' Love song with flue'. the opener ' A Place of my Own' and the brilliant' Where but for Caravan would I be' To think they went on from here from strength to strength and they were already great songwriters.Four stars plus a half :-)
Report this review (#21279)
Posted Friday, July 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being a lover of the Canterbury sound, I give this the obligatory 5 stars. While most critics point to In The Land Of Grey And Pink or For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night as the group's best recordings, this debut has a helluva lot going for it. The first two tunes, "Place Of My Own" and "Ride" are classic psych-pop songs and set the tone for the rest of the album. I had many opportunities to purchase Caravan albums during my tour in Germany in the early/mid eighties (I looked at their albums repeatedly but always ended up purchasing something else) and am sorry it took almost twenty more years to finally hear this classic music. Caravan is another prog rock group inexplicably passed over by America in their heyday. If you love the music of the late 60's, get some of this and don't let them pass you by again!
Report this review (#21281)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars As other reviewers here have noted, this debut album suffers from unorthodox mixing and production techniques (apparently, even the band members themselves were not too keen on seeing this released on CD). However, there are some good tracks, and as a whole it's a very interesting document that hints at the great albums that followed. Try to find a copy for under $15, and you've got a pretty good deal.
Report this review (#21282)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars At Sunday, 13th of March 2005 there was a Caravan's concert at The Bajka Theater and Cinema in Warsaw, Poland. Audience was very happy ( estimated 400 ) because it was first time when that progressive rock legend visited us in Poland. Contert started from "Headloss", there were also "Nine Feet Underground" and "For Richard", of course, in pittoresque versions. Shame that Pye's microphone wasn't regulated good. Frankly,we are happy that Caravan played 2 hours of fantastic music, but we are disappointed that the encore was so short, because audience wanted more than 2 songs...
Report this review (#21283)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first work of CARAVAN announced in 1968 "Caravan". Goods of initial British rock with which fantasy and deep lyricism are filled. As a romantic organ rock, it might be an eminent work in my opinion."Love Song With Flute", "Cecil Rons", and "Where But For Caravan Would I" are masterpieces.
Report this review (#52379)
Posted Thursday, October 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Amazingly mature debut from CARAVAN is among the best British psychedelia albums of the era. Sound mixing is bad, with that "primitive" stereo effect division between vocals and instruments, but there is a hell of a good songs on it! Outstanding numbers are "Place of My Own", "Love Song with Flute", "Cecil Rons" and a proto-epic suite "Where But For Caravan Would I Be". There is some wonderful organ playing and one would wonder how David Sinclair is not often mentioned as a great organist. Now, this may sound as sacrilege, but this album is much better and more interesting for my ears than the highly overrated "In the Land of Grey and Pink", despite its weak production. A gem of early Canterbury style!
Report this review (#53891)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A definate product of the times. Caravan's first album is pysch all the way, but their whimsical Canterbury sound is just under the surface. The first song, 'Place of My Own' is catchy as hell, and their first single. The following songs are very Pink Floydish, ala Syd Barret, especially 'Cecil Rons' an absolute crazy pysch song. 'Love Song With Flute' has Pye Hastings brother Jimmy playing the flute, it's one of the most beautiful flute solos I've ever heard and to think it was done on the spot without practice! Being a HUGE fan of David Sinclair's keyboards, his playing is the highlight for me. Being sinister sounding, 'Cecil Rons', or whimsical, 'Policeman' or downright ornery, the album closer and epic 'Where But For Caravan Would I?' you hear the seeds planted for the groundbreaking and classic Canterbury albums to follow. But be warned, this is psych/prog. For those looking for that classic Caravan sound you may be disappointed. But if you are adventurous, and want to hear how they sounded way back when, give it a try. BTW, if you buy the re-mastered version, you get both stereo and mono. The mono, to me, sounds better. The stereo versions need to be cranked up a bit. Parts of the songs seemed to get washed out at low volume.
Report this review (#63184)
Posted Thursday, January 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Don't expect anything resembling the classic Caravan sound on this, their debut album. What you get here is much more closely related to Pink Floyd's debut, the legendary "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", than to the monumental second and third albums of the Canterbury band. This is quite evident in the remastered version, which includes the delightful "Hello Hello" from "If I Could Do It All Over Again..." - the differences in style and sound between the latter and the rest of the album couldn't be more obvious. That said, however, Caravan's debut is much more interesting that it is usually credited for. Their take on psychedelia is highly original and entertaining, and the members of the band, in spite of their youth, are more than capable as musicians and songwriters.

The album's opener, "A Place of My Own", released as a single, attracted quite a lot of attention at the time. It's an endearing ditty, sung by Pye Hastings in a slightly more uncertain voice than usual, with great organ work by Dave Sinclair. The keyboardist is possibly the real star of this album, as his trademark organ makes the overall sound fuller and richer, as well as adding complexity and interest to the compositions. His contribution to the closing track, the 9-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?", the album's most convincing stab at fully-fledged prog, is outstanding, the sinuous sound of the organ weaving in and out of the vocal interludes sung by Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair. The latter's presence is more restrained than in the two following albums, which of course is a pity. He sings lead in the Beatles-flavoured "Policeman" and the distinctly Syd Barrett-ish "Grandma's Lawn", backed up by cousin Dave's haunting organ - a slightly disturbing song with weird lyrics, further enhanced by Richard's smooth delivery. His best vocal performance, though, comes towards the end of "Where but for Caravan Would I", where his voice achieves that velvety tone that I find so irresistible.

The sinister, almost discordant "Cecil Rons", another track haunted by the ghost of Syd Barrett (both vocalists, especially the usually soft, mild-mannered Hastings, are utterly unrecognizable!) is probably the most uncharacteristic of the band's output. On the other hand, the romantic "Love Song with Flute" (the latter superbly played by Jimmy Hastings) is almost classic Caravan, beautifully sung by Pye - possibly his best vocal performance on the album.

In spite of the very poor production and sound quality, "Caravan" shows quite clearly that the band had potential in spades. Things could only get better, as they did. The follow-up album was a rather giant leap forward in terms of songwriting and overall sound; but this endearingly homespun album, for all its shortcomings, deserves recognition of its own for being a gem of late '60s psychedelic prog. You could do much worse than add this to your collection.

Report this review (#78000)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Wizard
4 stars There's something about the innocence and naive beauty of this album that tells me it couldn't have been made in any other time period. This is the 60's in Britain put into the form of a collection of poppy, mildly jazzy, psychedelic songs. Whenever I listen to it, I feel plain happy. I feel like I can do anything, I want to go be friends with the Policeman, lay in Grandmas Lawn and stare at the sky, make love in the park, or just sit around and waste my time looking at the beauty of the world. Few albums make me feel exactly like this.

All of the songs are about simple subject matter and are not very ambitious. 'A Place of My Own' is about getting a new flat. 'Policeman' is exactly what it's title states. 'Ride' is about finding a place in your mind where your comfortable. The song of the band may not be groundbreaking but it's definitely original. The focus in on the funky wah organ, with undistorted jazzy guitar, walking bass-lines, and powerful rhythmic drumming. There are melodies everywhere and Pye Hastings voice is so innocent and full of glee that you'll want to sing along with him the whole time through.

'Where but for Caravan would I' probably sounds the most like the Caravan of the future which is jazzier and more complex. The instrumental sections of the song definitely forecast the more complex elements of the bands music in the future. There's also some dissonance features in the song, giving it a darker edge in some parts. Another thing to note is that every song on the album features an incredible organ solo. David Sinclair is definetly master at his instrument.

Sure the music on here is outdated, but that's part of what makes it great. It's a celebration of the simplicity of life and all the joys to be seen. It's not a masterpiece. It's not perfect. The production is far from perfect. But all of that thrown aside this album makes me feel great. Therefore it's a great album.

Report this review (#115447)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars.

Surprisingly good debut from my personal favorite Canterbury band Caravan. In my opinion this is an unfortunately underrated masterpiece, though not entirely of progressive music.

This was my second album (after Grey and Pink) from this great band, and what let me know that Caravan is indeed a special band. The sound is completely different from everything they would do in the future, which gives it along with many other Caravan albums a unique edge.

At first I didn't think this was a great album, the below-par sound quality put me off at the beginning. But when I think about it now, it is one of those factors that is necessary to the overall sound and atmosphere of the album.

The other distinguishing factor of this album is the same feature that makes so many other early Caravan albums unique, Dave Sinclair's keyboard playing. However on this album, he creates a completely different atmosphere by using an organ almost exclusively to create dark textures that echo through the songs.

Love Song with Flute, Cecil Rons, and Where but For Caravan Would I? are superb progressive songs. The other stuff is a bit less on the progressive side. Though not to detract from Place of My Own, Magic Man, and Grandma's Lawn; which among others are still very good songs that just aren't quite as progressive.

A great album for anyone into Canterbury, as well as most of the other accessible sub-genres listed here. If you can appreciate atmosphere the way I can, I'm sure you'll find this album rewarding.

Report this review (#124015)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is among the most influential and important albums in the progressive rock canon, but more than that, it is just a damn good album. It is the confident, fully-assured work of a band that had already figured everything out and was primed to break new ground while still retaining enough of a psychedelic pop/rock influence to remain thoroughly listenable and enjoyable. As such, it stands as one of the greatest debut records in the history of prog, alongside Court and Gentle Giant (among others).

As this was released in 1968 it should surprise no one that the atmospheres here are quite psychedelic, and delightfully so. The record leads off with the band's first single, "Place Of My Own," penned by band leader and main creative force Pye Hastings. It has "classic" written all over it and rocks with powerful, paranoid vocals from Pye and some great keyboard work from my favorite keyboardist by far, David Sinclair. "Ride" is another superb psychedelic tune, featuring backing vocals with an echo effect that enhances the trippy-ness of the experience. According to Pye, this was a song written along the lines of contemporary works from the band Traffic, which he admired (as I do!).

Richard Sinclair's first song with Caravan, "Policeman," follows, and it is rather nice, with excellent backing vocals from Pye. Evidently Richard had not yet fully worked out his songwriting or vocals by this point, as the song is slightly underdeveloped (though superior to his other effort on this album, "Grandma's Lawn") and he sounds rather rough in tone. Pye follows this with the best, most memorable tune on the album, the absolutely gorgeous "Love Song With Flute." His vocals are achingly beautiful (as are the backing vocals which meld together perfectly) and the lyrics, like most on this album, are mystical while still remaining thoroughly understandable and heartfelt. The song's structure is also impeccable, with great keyboard breaks and a superb closing flute solo from Caravan's ever-valuable extra, Pye's older brother Jimmy.

"Cecil Rons" is among the most atypical Caravan creations ever, but there's a method to this madness and Pye balances the chaotic dissonance and wild screams (excellent use of his vocal chords for freak-out effect here) with a boisterous, involving chorus. Dave's freaky organ work towards the end is absolutely breathtaking. "Magic Man," the B-side to Caravan's first single, follows and is a simply gorgeous psychedelic ballad. Pye's highly distinctive vocals carry the tune but, as Richard Sinclair has remarked, the tune is truly elevated by Dave's inspired keyboard work elaborating on the chord progression. The harmony arrangements on the chorus are also superb.

"Grandma's Lawn, " as I mentioned earlier, is likely the only true weak point on the album although it does feature more of Dave's excellent work and a very nice ending with an unexpected melodic vocal passage. This brings us to "Where But For Caravan Would I," the band's first true prog epic and one of its greatest works. Co-written by Pye and former Wilde Flowers comrade Brian Hopper, it begins with a dreamy, wonderful first section with very fitting vocals and evocative lyrics, along with the first of two epic choruses. A powerhouse, mood-heightening,high energy jam follows with Dave leading the way, until some acoustic guitar chords slice in and give way to a verse sung wonderfully by Richard this time in his best vocal performance on the album. Pye comes in on the utterly involving chorus, and the two voices meld effortlessly as usual, each enhancing the beauty of the other. A couple wild roars later and the album ends with another memorable jam with a repeated minor chord from Dave to conclude matters in excellent fashion.

I have the 2002 remastered version of this album with both mono and stereo versions of every song, and although the sound of the original record may have been terrible the original recording was evidently just fine as this remaster from the original master tapes produces an excellent sounding album. In terms of whether the stereo or mono versions sound better, I'd say it differs track by track. "Place Of My Own" and "Magic Man" appear to sound better in mono, particularly the latter as the stereo version results in the echo effects drowning out the lead vocals. Almost all of the other songs sound a bit better in stereo in my opinion, as their trippy qualities are enhanced without overcoming the tunes. But opinions will doubtless vary.

Regardless, this is a must-have for anyone interested in the foundations of progressive rock, and for anyone interested in Caravan or good music in general! Though Caravan would better this effort in the years to come, this 1968 debut still presents quite clearly all the merits of this great band.

Report this review (#129497)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Song number One:::Place Of My One is one out of eight reasons why this album is a perfect example of the Canterbury Scene, a delightful pop song with a strong psychedelic jazz to it.

#2 (Ride) Nice Intro. Soft Percussion. Soft mellow lyrics lead us through. BOOM. Here comes the warm sound. Canterbury Keyboards, I can't get enough of them...PAUSE...Vocals that are very meditative..."I'll try anf find...a place in my mind, where you know you can go and leave all behind."

#3 Policeman: This SOng reminds me of how nosie the police are and how they can really spoing your fun know what I meen?... I hear organ, intense fantastic drumming, base, and creeping vocals that seem to get better wither every secound of the song.

#4. Love song with Flute: Is a semi-ballad, semi-psychedelia that sounds very good, very mellow, very 60's. "Who cares if I'm lost in my mind, my dreams are over-due...

I don't want to spend to much time writing/typing about this great album, mainly because I need to write/type something up about Hatfield & The North's Hatfield & The North album, but an over-all view of this album is very positive, creative, and down right enjoyable.

Report this review (#134377)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very similar to the first Soft Machine album, although not quite as experimental. Sort of a groovier "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"(Pink Floyd). Worth it alone for "Where but for Caravan would I" and "Love Song For Flute". Some fine rustic sounding keyboards familiar to Canterbury bands. With the band Caravan, it all starts here. The "Caravan sound" is firmly in place from the get go. Also, think of an entire album where the pop/psychedelic songs have a Procol Harum "Repent Walpurgis" feel to them. Recommended.
Report this review (#139196)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where but for caravan would I be? Well, I for one would be in a much less satisfying musical status :)

Caravan is one of the first Canterbury bands I listened too and as a habbit I usually start with a bands debut album and work it out chronologically.

As a debut, Caravan's "Caravan" is surely to impress anyone, especially considering it was released in 1968 and clearly features more then 'psychedelic pop', the album already exhibits Caravan's skillful songwriting and David Sinclair's majestic eerie distorted pleasuring keyboards and ofcourse the ever so whismical lyrics and themes of the future Caravan, althought I find some songs to be very serious too (A Place Of My Own, Ride).

For me, this debut falls no less then Caravan's later releases who I also absoulutely adore (If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You, In The Land Of Grey And Pink (the highlights for me along with this album)). Perhaps a bit more song oriented and with a more basic structure but nevertheless amazingly put! Sure some may say the production may seem a bit lacky (when I listen to "A Place Of My Own" in my car there's a keyboard part that just kills the ears being so high pitched) but to me it makes no less of the album... still sounds terrific and beautiful!

Lastly, I would mention "Where But For Caravan Would I Be?" as an indication to the future epics which we love so much and "Cecil Rons" (what the hell does that mean anyway?) as being quite an experimental piece of work, dissonant but amazing!

p.s. A confession, I had to review this album after looking at the top albums from 1968 and seeing where this one stood, to me it just looks very unfair I would put it all the way up there..

9.9999/10 in my book, here definitely a 5!

Report this review (#139543)
Posted Friday, September 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Caravans debute album and what a debute then, this is no doubt one of the best debute albums ever by any prog band, yes its maybe not 100% prog its pretty similar to Pink Floyds masterpice debute psycadelic pop songs but this one have more of a prog sound then piper hade and its a bit more serius sounding, thers no weakpoints everysong is totaly memorable and real gems ofc the first song Place of my own is the real winner what a way to start the album yust incredibly good prog pop song i always think for my self what if they played stuff like this on the radio, i whuld lisen to the radio all the time, songs this good simply never make it to the radio sadly, anyway the other songs are in the same style exept for the ending masterwork Where but for Caravan whuld i be and i gues its the real highpoint of the album simply a perfect mini epic, i got the new remaster of the album with both mono and stereo versions of the album and Hello Hello (single version) wich im pretty happy with and i always lisen to the whoel album caus its so good i dont mind lisening to it twice its one of thos albums where everyting runs perfectly and before you know it its over great and short like most good things are. Well one of my favorite Caravan and Canterbury albums for sure and highly recomended dont yust expect a fullblown prog masterpice its more like a psycaldial / prog masterpice in the same style as Sgt peper and piper at the gates of dawn yust a litle more prog then thos 2 and in my opinion beter. A canterbury classic you shuld get simply. 5 star in my book.
Report this review (#156966)
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I guess that it won't surprise anybody if I say that the debut album of Caravan sounds psychedelic. Don't forget that this album was released in 68, a year during which most of the prominent bands were playng this type of music (even if it started already in 66- 67 with Airplane, Floyd, The Beatles, The Who, The Doors, Vanilla Fudge, etc.).

One will think of "Piper" while listening to this work. But a more softer one. More "Caravan". Don't expect any wild or disjoined songs; this album is a collection of tranquil psyche but not only. One of my fave is the sweet and melodic "Love Song With Flute". You can imagine that the flute sounds outstanding. Really brilliant.

Several songs are on the mellowish side and not really appealing like "Magic Man" for instance. Of course "Grandma's Lawn" is more upbeat. It features great organ sounds ("The Doors" have been listened to). Another highlight of this album.

This debut album has this typical sound of the mid late sixties. At times childish, innocent. It is a snapshot of an era. And Where But For Caravan Would I is another great example. It is my absolute fave of this recording. Switching between peaceful and rockier passages. Vocal harmonies are excellent and again David Sinclair's work on the keys is superb.

This album sells for very cheap (just over 4 ?+shipment on Amazon Marketplace for the remastered version). So it wouldn't hurt too much your wallet to get it.

A good debut album. Three stars.

Report this review (#158268)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Beginnings are hard, is what I would like to begin this review by saying. Caravan who with their second and especially their third album made some of the best Canterbury prog rock albums ever, started out a bit more humbly. Not to say that this debut album isn´t good, but it´s not excellent by any means.

First of all the production is really bad, even for the time. The drums are noisy and I can´t make out what´s happening all the time. Fortunately the charm in Caravan´s music makes up for this. Songs like Place of My Own, Policeman and Love Song with Flute are good examples of the early Caravan sound. Caravan don´t master the long songs yet as I feel WHERE BUT FOR CARAVAN WOULD I BE isn´t that well composed.

Caravan are great musicians and of course it shows even under these not optimal circumstanses. Listen to David Sinclair´s organ play in Place of My own and there should be no doubt that this band can play.

All in all this is an ok start to a brilliant career, but to be honest I only think this is for the fans really, therefore only 2 stars.

Report this review (#162204)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It may be only a Caravan, but it's a place of my own

As with the remastered version of Hawkwind's first album, the remastered CD of Caravan's first album includes the whole album twice on a single disc. Both the mono and stereo mixes are included in full, the actual original recordings used for both being identical.

Formed in the mid-late 1960's from the Canterbury scene band The Wilde Flowers (which also included Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers in its ever changing line up), Caravan recorded this self titled debut in late 1968. Most of the songs here had been rehearsed and performed live by the band for some time before they got around to recording them and indeed some of them had been instrumental in helping to secure a recording contract. As was customary at the time, the band were forbidden from being involved in the mixing of the album, which focused primarily on the more lucrative mono version, (since stereo was still in its infancy at the time, and stereo albums were actually dearer!). The band were not entirely satisfied with the results, as they felt producer Tony Cox had not captured their sound well.

The album starts with a song which even today is a Caravan favourite. The balance between the band's whimsical interludes, strong melodies and progressive inclinations is captured perfectly in "Place of my own". The distinctive keyboards of David Sinclair, which for many represent the band's signature, are a feature of this wonderful song. The track was subsequently released as the band's first single.

In general, while many of the tracks here fall short of the standards attained by Caravan on subsequent albums, especially those recorded during their period with Decca records, they show the promising glimpses of what was to come. Tracks such as "Policeman" and "Cecil Rons" are rooted in the psychedelic sounds of the period, with strong nods to the Barrett era Pink Floyd and the likes. Tony Cox's production emphasises such leanings more strongly than perhaps was necessary.

"Love song with flute" is interesting, as it features future band member Jimmy Hastings playing the wonderful flute solo. The song is a soft reflective piece with decent vocal harmonies, which develops into a faster more pop orientated number. The latter part of this track indicates far more clearly how the band would mature.

The focus of most of the attention for prog fans is the 9 minute closing song "Where but for Caravan would I?". This mid-paced organ based number may pre-date many of the Caravan classics, but it is an early product of the same mould. In the context of the greats such as "For Richard" and "Nine foot underground" it is a little clumsy and naive, but when we bear in mind that this is a 1968 recording, it shines brightly.

In all, a fine first album from Caravan. It may sound a bit of its time now, largely due to the production; but the quality of the songs, the proficiency of the performances, and most of all the promise of what is to come, is clear for all to see.

In general, the sound quality of the mono recordings, even in remastered form, is at best adequate. The stereo mixes have brushed up far better though, and are the ones to head for on the 2002 CD. That release includes a single version of "Hello hello", a track on the following "If I could do it all over again.." album. It was originally intended that the single version be added to the remaster of that album, but the master tapes were only located after it had been released. As the remastering of the debut album was carried out later, the opportunity was taken to include it here.

Report this review (#177180)
Posted Friday, July 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this is a great 60's British psych classic. I don't understand why fans of the band seem to look down on it so much. Surely the sound quality is that of the sixties, and obviously won't stand next to an album such as In the Land of Grey and Pink ( In sound quality at least, what the hell people, a lot of sound quality improvement was done from the sixties til 1971), but compared to the heavy left/right panning of many sixties albums it seems fine to me.

Starting with Place of My Own, this album kicks off with good work from the whole band. Not only is it catchy, but it's well written, well composed, it's pretty solid.

Then there's Ride. This song is personally one of my favorite Caravan songs of all time, the beginning is just absolutely perfect, as are the vocals that come in afterwards and the first appearance of the wah- organ.

I could go on and on. I heavily enjoy all the songs on this album (Love Song With Flute and Where But for Caravan Would I Be are absolutely beautiful, as is Magic Man.)

It seems to me that the only reason a lot of people look down on this album on this site is because this site consists of more fans of 70's prog that 60's psych. I listen to a lot of both and would definitely consider this one of the greatest albums of all time (along with other Caravan albums.)

Report this review (#199977)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Place Of My Own - a nice up and down flow to the opening track with excellent keyboard work, simple yet effective lyrics, and lovely singing

Ride - Coughlan's drumming sets the pace as lyrics are more narrated than sung with the distorted guitar and other instruments breaking around the minute and a half mark only to decend back down and repeat the process. Not a spectacular track but well paced and enjoyable.

Policeman - a very good track that gives us a bit of a glimpse at what to expect from this band in the years ahead. Policeman reminds me a bit of Golf Girl but with much more well written lyrics, frankly.

Love Song With Flute - the straight forward title sells this song short. Fourty years later this is still a very fresh sounding love song with some fine flute playing provided by Mr. Jimmy Hastings.

Cecil Runs - compairs favorably to most any Syd Barrett song

Magic Man - a very mellow, very pleasant listen that bids you come along and join them, and Soft Machines, and Lonely Hearts Clubs for a lazy afternoon float around the clouds.

Grandma's Lawn - now, I ask you, could you make cutting Grandma's lawn into such an intriguing song?

Where But For Caravan Would I Be - after a soft build this song hits the keys and percussion pretty hard, which is not that interesting, but at the five and a half minute mark this comes around and forms an excellent piece. The lyrics remain light and airy while the instruments build and eventually take over the track which does end rather abruptly. Would have liked a clearer close to this song.

Syd Barrett's rise to legend status in the music world may make it hard for many to accept that he was not the only one, at this time, who could write a string of great psych/prog songs, the lawfirm of Sinclair, Hastings, Coughlan & Sinclair were mighty capable themselves. The lyrical quality of Caravan, I would argue, is just as good as that of Piper but the production value falls woefully short. By all rights this album should be held in the similar esteem to Pink Floyd's Piper but again, the production holds it back. Actually, I think fans of the more mellow sound for which Pink Floyd would later come to be known might actually enjoy this album a little more than Piper, given a remastered copy and a good system to play it on. Interesting no nonsense song writing with sweet singing and an overall mellow feeling only lacking in recording quality. The music is more than worthy of 4 whole stars.

Report this review (#199991)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Caravan's debut studio album shows the first seeds of the band's unique sound, but is equally rooted in tranquil mid-1960s pop. In this sense, the atmosphere of tracks such as "Place of My Own" is reminiscent of the tracks on sister band The Soft Machine's "Jet Propelled Photographs" demo from 1967, suggesting that both bands had been soaking in similar influences since their founder members had been working together in the Wilde Flowers, but by this point in time the Soft Machine had developed their own distinctive voice, whereas Caravan are still working towards theirs. That said, there's plenty of pointers towards what's to come: in particular, "Cecil Runs" reminds me of all the more foreboding parts of "Nine Feet Underground" or "C'thlu Thlu". If you are a Caravan fan who has already collected their classic albums (from If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You to For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night), I think their debut is definitely worth checking out before any of their later works, but I wouldn't call it a major priority.
Report this review (#221784)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The second half of Wilde Flowers finally debuted under the name Caravan. The other half of Wilde Flowers called themselves Soft Machine. I just want to start this review with this piece of fact so you, the reader, understand where I come from and where this review is going.

My first impression was that this was pretty similar to Soft Machine's debut album. A back to back comparison revealed that the Wilde Flowers split must have been a friendly one with a lot of mutual feelings. The overflow of ideas between those two albums proves my point. This album can also be compared to the Wilde Flowers compilation album (their only studio output). The music is psychedelia, the 1960s pop (The Beatles) and jazz mixed together. This album is therefore not representative for Caravan's total studio output at all. The same can be said about Soft Machine's debut album too.....

We have now established that this, their debut album is an oddball in Caravan's studio output. The quality is pretty good all over this album. From the opening song Place of my own to the closing track Where but for Caravan would I be. Inbetween, we are treated to an album full of small details and contrasts. From naive melodic pop to avant-garde jazz. I find this album pretty amazing, although I do not fall in love with it. I think it has a lot of durability. The album is also as charming as a kitten. Does that makes it a fantastic album ? No. But I have a lot of fun with it. I guess I will have a lot of fun with it as long as I live - and beyond.

My favorite track is the strange Cecil Runs with it's total weirdo melody and rhythm patterns. The rest of the album is good too. It is an oddball album, but a rather good one. Three stars is in my book a good score and I may add one more star in twenty years time. I will keep you updated.

3 stars

Report this review (#225128)
Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like Soft Machine, Caravan came about as the result of the split of Canterbury band The Wilde Flowers, the band that spawned the so called Canterbury scene, a scene which most of the musicians playing in that area at the time deny even existed.

Caravan's eponymous debut while showing promise doesn't bear much resemblance to the quirky progressive style they would become better known for in the near future. It's an album of the time, that being 1968 and the blend of psychedelic pop/rock like many albums of the era does sound somewhat dated. Nevertheless it's enjoyable enough the 2 best tracks book ending the album at start and finish. Place Of My Own is an instantly accessible and melodic organ driven rock song but it's closing track Where But For Caravan Would I? that shows promise of what was to come. Starting off somewhat restrained it develops over its 9 minutes into a psychedelic fuelled mini epic with David Sinclair's organ taking centre stage.

Overall then Caravan debut is far from essential but a pleasant enough way to pass 40 minutes and an album that anyone who's already investigated their better known work will want to come too eventually.

Report this review (#227223)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars Naive, mature or both?

This debut self-titled album of Caravan is my second experience with the band, after the widely-acclaimed ''In the Land of Grey and Pink'' (considered to be their masterpiece). Someone who has heard the latter, and bearing in mind that this is the debut, would have possibly expected a not so mature album - this is only partly true.

Released in 1968, Caravan's debut is strongly influenced by the 60's psychedelia sounds and the ''flower-power'' movement (but only to an extent). The hammond-like sounds are dominant and the percussion reflects a feeling of freedom. However, with a strong touch of melancholy, obscurity and well-structured melodies, Caravan leave their own personal stigma in the late 60's that differentiates them from most of the bands at the time. Along with psychedelia and strong rock influences, the level of complexity is relatively high for its time.

The album generally flows in slow-tempos, without diverting from this path in only but very few exceptions (i.e. Cecil Rons, Grandma's Lawn) where mid-tempos are more likely. Examples of their ''musical maturity'' can be found in tracks like Live Song with Flute (impressive use of flute!) and Magic Man where the exceptional vocal melodies remind of URIAH HEEP's later releases. The term ''naive'' might be a bit too harsh to describe some of the musical approaches in this effort, but may apply to tracks like Policeman (although it might just be an intentional ''ironic'' reference).

Special mention should be credited to the opening and closing tracks with the former being the most lively and energetic one with lots of guitar and keyboard work supporting it. Probably the most impressive and most diverse song in the album is the closing Where but for Caravan Would I? - which is also the longest track and Caravan's first long composition. Multiple variations in mood, speed and structure comprise this ultimately progressive track. Percussion and basswork are the strongest points in this impressive composition which starts off at a slow melodic mood and evolves to a highly creative musical piece.

Overall, a pleasant and very promising debut from Caravan which at that time would have created lots of expectations to their fans. Being simultaneously naive and mature (at least to my ears), this would definitely be an interesting addition to your collection, especially if you are a fan of the genre.

Report this review (#227863)
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars It's funny to hear this proto-Caravan sound. Half elements of later albums, half psychedelic sound and also partly The Beatles (Policeman). Magical, hallucinating, drugs were involved "fer" sure, but it's playful, nice little album that stands as predecessor to our beloved following albums "If I Could" and "In the Land". I mean, this is not major Canterbury release, there are just some parts that sounds like "something more". The rest is just psychedelic, which from some reason is not "just" for me, but "fortunately" Psychedelic. I love it that way. But we should draw a line here, there is Psychedelic normal and there is this Psychedelic Caravan. There's not as much repeating as in some other Psych projects, there is also more of interesting ideas that makes their music interesting even in terms of 80's - 90's releases. It's this undefined flavor that made them interesting for us.

And it is here, for your to find it out, even the dosage is not as big as in next years.

4(-), proto is the word.

Report this review (#267239)
Posted Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars WILDE FLOWERS were a mid-sixties band that originally consisted of Wyatt, Ayers, the Hopper brothers and Richard Sinclair. This lineup would change over the coming years and the first big band to come out of it was SOFT MACHINE who were having some success along with PINK FLOYD playing at the UFO Club and Middle Earth Club in London. The last incarnation of the WILDE FLOWERS were Richard and Dave Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan.They actually were playing Soul music at that time until they realized that Psychedelic music was becoming very popular. So they changed their name to CARAVAN and this is their first album released the same year (1968) as SOFT MACHINE's "Volume One". What a great year for music ! Many consider CARAVAN's debut as the first true Canterbury Scene album.

"Place Of My Own" was one of the first songs that Pye had ever written. Drums build as the vocals come in quickly. Both stand out on this track. It's the organ's turn after 1 1/2 minutes as we get an instrumental interlude. Vocals are back after 3 minutes. "Ride" opens with percussion as gentle guitar joins in and builds. Reserved vocals join in as well. This is very mystical sounding. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes including organ. Contrasts continue. "Policeman" is a Richard Sinclair tune so he both sings and plays lead guitar (Pye's usual roles) while Pye takes over on bass.This also happens on Richard's other song "Grandma's Lawn". The song "Policeman" is part Psych and part Canterbury. Great tune. It also reminds me of Barrett's compositional style on "Pipers...". The lyrics poke some fun at the paranoia many drug users have.

"Love Song With Flute" features a guest appearance from Jimmy Hastings on flute. It's laid back with vocals. Vocal harmonies on this one too. It picks up before 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. Flute before 3 minutes. Amazing tune. "Cecil Rons" is experimental to start followed by vocals, drums and organ. This is fairly aggressive at times. "Magic Man" is such a feel good song with lots of organ. "Grandma's Lawn" is very 60's sounding. Love this one. Some nice organ work 2 minutes in. "Where But For Caravan Would I ?" is the bands longest track at 9 minutes. It was originally a song from the WILDE FLOWER's days co-written by Brian Hopper and Pye Hastings. It was re-worked here. Strummed guitar to open before a full sound comes in quickly but it's still fairly laid back until after 2 1/2 minutes when it kicks in. Great sound ! It settles back and vocals return 5 1/2 minutes in before kicking in again at 7 1/2 minutes.

A very important album just like SOFT MACHINE's "Volume One".

Report this review (#273610)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I had to wait for the CD reprint to hear how the Caravan's debut was. I have the vinyls of If I Could Do and In The Land of Grey and Pink and I've been very curious for years about this debut that was impossible to find in its original form (I think it's a valuable collector's item).

I have to say that for me it's better selling a 35 minutes CD instead of filling it with everything you can find just to give it a CD length. Quantity is not always quality and in this case putting the mono and stereo versions of the same album on CD to make it stick to about 70 minutes is an useless operation. Just a bit more interesting is the original version of Hello Hello as bonus track. This song was, if I'm not wrong, the Caravan's first hit single and re- releasing this version it has a bit of sense.

Now the album itself: the songs are more or less as I was expecting (and hoping for). Pure Caravan style with the typical vocals and the instrumental parts that I loved on the two following albums. The athmospheres are a little more psychedelic respect to the pastoral ambient of If I Could Do... and the gnomes, fairies and elves of In The Land Of Grey and Pink, but the trademark is clear.

I want to underline "Policeman", an instrumental that sounds very psych and makes me think to Steve Hillage's Arzachel. For this reason I see this album as a bridge between psych and Canterbury as well as that band was.

Another interesting track is "Cecil Rons". A dark and crazy song quite unusual for Caravan. The choral parts can be compared to Hello Hello, but the instrumentals, specially the keyboards have a connection with Syd Barrett. With the chorus they come back to more familiar territories, but this song represents a path that they abandoned quickly. Also "Where but for Caravan would I be" is quite Floydian.

In brief, it's not very different in the genre from the two following albums that I consider masterpieces, but it doesn't have heights like "For Richard" or "Nine Feet Underground". It's just a good album and an excellent debut for a band that could have been one of the greatest but we have gradually lost down the road and wasn't able to resurrect.

Report this review (#414427)
Posted Friday, March 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Bear in mind, this album was released in 1968, the very dawn of prog.

All of the tracks on this record lie around the four minute mark, with just one notable exception being the nine-minute epic closing track (I'll come to that later). The other tracks on this record are understandably psychedelic in nature, though to varying degrees. Even though it's the same classic line-up of Caravan (Hastings, Sinclair, Sinclair and Coughlan) there's very little similarity between the music here and the music they would release on subsequent records. However, this album is still worth checking out.

For one thing, there's hardly a bad track on here. Out of all the tracks, I'd say Magic Man is my least favourite, as it's quite dull, but at just 4:03, it's hardly offensive. Talking of being offensive, some tracks on here are quite... naughty shall I say. Cecil Rons is a nightmarish experimental song, with childlike lyrics: 'So we all go to wee in the garden'. Grandma's Lawn contains some of the weirdest lyrics and bizarrest imagery in any Caravan song.

On the lighter side, Place Of My Own is a fun radio-friendly number with a good melody, and Love Song With Flute does exactly what it says on the tin (although the Jimmy Hastings' classic flute sound only comes in at 2:43, and carries the song to the finish. Ride is a quieter piece, but theres some good moments in there, and Policeman is another track with amusing lyrics.

The highlight of the record however, is surely the nine minute opus Where But For Caravan Would I?. This track is essentially two songs stuck together, with an epic instrumental section joining them. The first section and the instrumental are entirely in 11/8, adding to the already very progressive nature of this song. The first song is a mysterious track with mystical progressive lyrics, and the second song is more uplifting. This song is the earliest sign of where Caravan's sound would go in later years.

One thing that is worth mentioning is the sound quality. One does have to admit, listening to this record sounds a bit like listening to the band if they were in another room. This being their debut, it's easy to forgive this, and it adds to the naive nature of some of the tracks.

This isn't the best place to start listening to Caravan, but this is a lovely little record that's well worth picking up if you're a fan of the band or of the Canterbury Scene in general. It would only get better from here!

Report this review (#442251)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 13/15P.: The Piper at the gates of Canterbury, so to say. It's perhaps the most underrated and most groundbreaking album by this band and worthwile alone for David Sinclair's impassionate organ playing. This guy enriches the whole album with wooly organ carpets and breathtaking counterpoints, components which were sadly reduced significantly on the subsequent Caravan albums.

I don't know Caravan for too long. Still spending my time in school at the moment, I unfortunately wasn't allowed to enjoy this music when it first appeared, so I had to investigate the so-called Canterbury Scene 40 years after it was in its full blossom. The first record I bought was Camel's "Mirage", then came Soft Machine's "Third" in 2008, Khan's "Space Shanty" in late 2010 and the third one was Caravan's debut album in early 2011. Soon, some later Caravan albums found their way into my shelf, actually all from 1970 to 1974 - but my striking conclusion is, especially regarding the big mass of reviews in the WWW: none of these albums is as consistently good as this one. In The Land of Grey and Pink has good compositions, but a thin sound due to David Sinclair playing more solos and less chord textures.

Of course - it's 1968, and there's plenty of dated 60s psychedelia which is assimilated here, but - as I've just said - Caravan really assimilate the spirit of the time and thus create a piece of music which stands the test of time. It is as mindblowing today as it most probably was in 1968. And the huge advantage is that Caravan are more concise than on all their later records. The organ solos start where they have to start and are followed by the next stanza or by a new part just before they run the risk of becoming overlong. The songwriting is top-notch, too - less hooks

Place of My Own, the opener, already points out where the journey shall go: a distant drum roll, then a melange of floating organ loops, restrained rhythm guitar (a Rickenbacker, by the way - the Fender XII guitar with the golf-club headstock for which Pye Hastings would become famous isn't used here yet) and high-pitched lead vocals which can't deny that the singer grew up with R&B and soul. It's Pye Hastings, who played with Robert Wyatt in the band Wilde Flowers before and whose voice interestingly sounds just like Robert's (and Robert certainly doesn't have a most common voice!). The chord progression actually isn't too difficult, but Pye's melody isn't really the one you would expect, and that's what good songwriting is all about. The creepy stanzas are followed by quite up-beat choruses, and inbetween there is an awesome Hammond organ solo. It's just one minute long, and there's neither a Leslie nor a Wah Wah pedal used, but it cast a spell on me the first time I listened to it. It's just a Hammond L100 the organ with a loud key-click played through a guitar amp, and it grows and floats on top of a groovy rhythm until a breakdown around 2.30. Organ and guitar enter again, with organist Dave Sinclair trying out his typical wah-organ sound the first time. The last chorus, played twice this time, and the song ends after a short organ outro.

Ride is the typical psychedelic thing, albeit without any sitars: the whole piece stays on a minimal drum beat (think Steeleye Span's Boys of Bedlam) and one drone while guitar and voice wind around each other, based on a really successful melody. The introspective verses (I try and find a place in my mind, where I know I can go and leave all behind) find relief in the upbeat instrumental interludes which already sound quite like Canterbury music, complete with rising Hammond organ chords and a fairly simple bluesy chord progression. But the more 'scalic' approach in the stanzas, i.e. moving the scales up and down, and the steady Hammond sound (without the usual swirling of the Leslie) - both factors are present on most of the pieces - actually make me feel reminded of Medieval church music, Gothic sounds in the truest sense of the word, conjoint with early 70s rock music. The plethora of reverb, limiting and compression effects enhances this mood furthermore. Actually I have rarely heard a late 60s record which makes such a sombre impression on me without sounding like a stoned-out experiment. Perhaps this is the point which the band takes up in the liner notes: they complain that the sound is quite fat and compressed, but not exactly what the band was aiming at when recording it.

I don't know if it's meant this way, but Policeman makes me think of late-60s drug razzias, such as the infamous Rolling Stones incident in 1967. forty people more locked behind the door In the bathroom, Hope you don't go in for at least an hour. However - with less than 3 minutes it's the shortest track in the album, and one of the two pieces which Richard Sinclair composed. Everybody who knows Richard Sinclair's later compositions knows that his songs are always full of strange chord changes (Golf Girl), and this piece makes no difference. Again, the production stands out; Pye Hastings is on bass guitar this time and has a really chunky sound while the drums sound as if they were recorded in a church.

Magic Man is as simple as a late 60s piece can be, perhaps The Tremeloes' Call Me Number One is even more complex, both in composition and in arrangement. But in a way both pieces are quite alike. Of course Magic Man is more hymnic, based on a slow 6/8 metre with atmospheric harmony vocals, but both pieces are examples of what I mentioned in the first lines of this review. There's no denying that this is music from the 1960s, but it still sounds impressive and fresh. Richard Sinclair's and Pye Hastings' voices blend wonderfully in the chorus, there's quiet 12-string-electric guitar strumming all the way through and Sinclair's organ loops provide the 'cerebral' component with the dreamy wah wah effects. Yes, it's not only an ok track, I really do approve of it very much!

Love Song With Flute is the album's torch song, a slow soul number, a tasteful British love song with an awesome jazzy melody and the full dynamic bandwidth: soft vocals, quiet guitar picking and a few hi-hat strokes in the first stanza, reverberated harmony vocals and Hammond organ in the chorus and a wonderful bossa nova rhythm in double speed in the second stanza. A slightly weird jazz vamp (at 1:24, for instance) keeps it all together, dominated by Sinclair's tight organ playing. Pretty much going on here in terms of arrangement! Jimmy Hastings, Pye Hastings' cousin, also has his first Caravan performance in this song and delivers an absolutely fantastic flute solo in the end of the song. Interestingly, this is take 1 of the flute solo, and Jimmy didn't listen to the track before - it's spontaneous jazz and a breeze to listen to. Caravan also performed this piece live for the BBC in 1971 as Love Song Without Flute (honestly - Caravan's song titles are dead cool in their own special way!). Buy the new re-issue of "In The Land Of Grey and Pink" and enjoy this BBC version with upfront electric piano and Hammond organ replacing the flute.

The two pieces left unreviewed are Cecil Rons and Grandma's Lawn, and both sound as if the musicians were totally out of their minds. Cecil Rons starts off with a totally crackbrained electric guitar drone with an even more crackbrained organ backing until a steady acid rock drum/bass rhythm (think The Nice's Rondo in half speed) enters. The rest of the piece consists of nursery-rhyme-like melodies, church-organ-like sounds which seem to be taken straight from a horror film and bloodcurdling screams inbetween. Except for the Beatles-like chorus and the majestic ending (yes, "The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" is a definite influence) the band does not care about beautiful - or at least memorable - melodies at all; this piece is complete madness, but performed really well.

Grandma's Lawn is not as mad, but completely uncatchy - and that's why I don't give this album the full rating. This is the second Richard Sinclair song on the debut album and the combinations of completely unintellegible lyrics (I don't know if I should recommend you to read them or to not read them) with Sinclair's baritone voice and loads of organs somehow resemble the sound of Pink Floyd's "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". But the things which it lacks is a good melody and a bit of structure, it sounds as if the band was trying hard to run through the lyrics.

To me, Where But For Caravan Would I? is the greatest song the band has ever recorded. Basically, this song is motored by a really strong riff which relies on the 11/8-metre in which the whole piece is written. Seemingly Brian Hopper, Hugh Hopper's brother who played saxophone in the Canterbury scene of the early 1960s, contributed to the composition and maybe it's to him one has to owe this clever idea. The song begins really mellow and pastoral with the jangly 12-string electric guitar chords, a creeping drum rhythm and atmospheric organ work before Pye Hastings' soulful vocal part begins. The first two stanzas are followed by a more enthusiastic middle 8 before it goes back to the stanza again: awesome song-writing which the band are yet able to force up. An aggressively dissonant scale heralds the piece's extended organ solo at 2:35. From now on you may enjoy 3 minutes of David Sinclair's improvisation towering on the aforementioned riff, including wah-wah pedal, rapid organ runs and moments of complete escalation. Every tone color of this instrument is at least hinted at during the course of this solo, But instead of savoring the whole 9 minutes in order to jam the band enters a second, 2-minute vocal part, this time sung by Richard Sinclair in his baritone voice - it's a different piece, or rather a fragment of a song which is written in the more accessible 6/8 metre, but it has found its perfect place here. Actually when listening to this song it feels like a trip or a hike: slow rising from the ground in the beginning, then gaining height and momentum in the first instrumental part in order to drift and fly for some minutes in the second vocal part. A pulsation of guitar and organ (I love those sounds from 8:40 onto the end) finishes the album, but not before reprising the organ solo with increased power; indeed, the 80 seconds of the second organ solo are really welcome since they give this piece the finale it deserves to get.

In a way, For Richard and Where But For Caravan Would I? seem to be quite similar: a vocal part in the beginning, an instrumental part following and extended organ melodies inbetween. But this earlier piece has two vocal parts and it really goes somewhere, the organ parts aren't only there, but also home on a specific point and are twice as concise than in For Richard. I do get the point that Caravan are one of the bands that invite the listener to a journey on a meandering river of music, similarly to what modern minimal/techno musicians do (I thoroughly recommend Deadmau5's Bored of Canada!), and I like the album In The Land Of Grey And Pink for what it does and what it conveys, but a free improvisation becomes much more inspired when it's framed by composed parts and moves freely in a fixed scope.

Unfortunately, the album is merely half an hour long (34 minutes or so). Yes, okay - thanks to this short length the CD features both the mono and the stereo version of the album (although I like the mono version more), but why didn't they include the 1968 BBC recordings (Place of My Own/Ride/Feelin Reelin Squealin/Green Bottles for Marjorie) instead? Contractual obligations? Anyway, we get the single version of Hello Hello as an additional bonus track. It actually belongs to the reissue of the following album, but the responsible persons couldn't find the master tapes of the single when "If I Could..." was reissued. It's a damn fine song, with a good percussion backing (hedgeclippers, tambourine, zils, shaker, +whatever...), a groovy 7/4 metre and a great melody - a nice easter egg which enhances the de-facto-length of the album to scarcely 38 minutes.

However, this album is plain awesome. The last piece is spectacular, many more pieces are utterly great (Place of My Own, Ride, Love Song Without Flute, Magic Man, Hello Hello[#]) and the other pieces (Policeman, Cecil Rons and Grandma's Lawn) are less convincing, but also no fillers by any means. Perhaps I'm emotionally biassed, but until now this is my favorite Caravan album and - also regarding its age and the impact it must have made then - it deserves a 4 star rating which really is situated close to the 5 star realms. (I even gave it 5 stars when I first wrote this review.) Highly recommendable, in any case.

Report this review (#505332)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Dave Sinclair, Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlin, and Richard Sinclair are wonderful progenitors of the Canterbury scene and have produced masterpiece albums. This debut is no masterpiece but features some of the indelible sound that became their trademark. Hammond organ that shimmers and quivers, distant reflective vocals, strong time sigs, and melodic phrases with extended jamming.

A Place of My Own encapsulates the late 60s where people were seeking respite from the crazy world. There was a harmless theme of searching for peace that permeates and it is refreshing to hear.

Ride has a great rhythm and some psych musicianship, with strong Eastern melodies and lyrics; "here I am alone in your sky, with my mind passing by the thoughts in your mind, if I were you and you were me could you feel how unreal your world seems to be." The phrases are in perfect melody and rhythm to the music and work as very psychedelic sounds capturing the spirit of the dreamscape of hallucigenic acid and hash that must have been fuel for the inspiration.

Love Song With flute is dreamy escapist lush and once again is just a hippies reflection on wanting to escape though "my mind draws a blind" and "look into my eyes tell me what you see". There are shades of psychedelia throughout of course but it is accessible and nowhere near as freaky as what was coming out of the scene. The flute solo is chillingly beautiful, rising and soaring on waves of organ phrases.

Magic Man spaces out with slow grinding organ and some acoustic flourishes. The slow pace reflects the lazy adolescent doing nothing but lying in the flowers and dreaming of a better world of freedom and love; the flower power scene is unmistakeable with tracks like this.

Where But For Caravan Would I? reminds me of the type of music the band would create in subsequent albums. A lengthy dreamy piece with an extended instrumental break. It builds gradually to the strong Hammond crunching break. This is Caravan at their best typifying the greatness to come on such masterpieces as "In The Land Of Grey And Pink".

The album is more of a monument to the time it was created but it is an archival source of great worth thanks to some delightful melodic tracks and lashings of trippy lyrical whimsy and staccato 60s organ hammering. A great start to a brilliant band.

Report this review (#602102)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"Caravan" is a wonderful little gem that will contribute in launching the band towards future fame and inspiration.

Some debate that Psychedelic Rock is really just a passage between Rock & Roll and Progressive Rock, but others believe that it is the golden age of music. In this period, other than all the greats like Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, the Doors, there were also an infinitude of smaller, very young bands that started their career with embracing the typical sound of Psychedelia and afterwards became part of the so called Prog Rock movement. Caravan, one of the greatest Canterbury bands, are one of these -at first- humble musicians, struggling to find some room for themselves. Their debut album was released in what was one of the greatest years for music, 1968, and relatively few people recognized this band's potential at the time.

Caravan was not a typical Psych band, even from the start: the atmospheres they created were, yes, a bit na've sounding, just like many bands at the time, but they never had that cheerfulness incorporated in the music: instead, they focused on being either dramatic, romantic, melancholic, or simply relaxing, for the quieter moments. From the start, Caravan incorporated sounds that were very similar to the future Canterbury Scene movement, for which the band played an essential role. Also from the start Caravan had more Prog than Psych within them, because of the massive use of the organ and more elaborate song structures. This seriousness of the overall sound makes the music's na've tone much less evident, but there is still a great dose of immaturity within Caravan's first album. However, the songwriting of the LP is at considerably high levels, and whether it is na've sounding or not, it becomes completely irrelevant.

Already with this first album Caravan deliver some of what will become classics of the band, especially the final track of the album, the nine minute long 'Where But For Caravan Would I?', a clever premonition of the Canterbury Scene. But some of the best songs are the more straight-forward ones, such as the dramatic and dragging 'Place of My Own', the quieter and more mysterious 'Ride', or the memorable 'Love Song For Flute'.

Overall an album that, even though showing some immaturity, is unquestionably entertaining from start to finish, a wonderful little gem that will be sure to launch Caravan to success and inspiration.

Report this review (#635052)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
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. 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).

Report this review (#933749)
Posted Friday, March 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Caravan - st (1968)

Perhaps Caravan is the progband that allows us to be a child again, just for a short moment.

The transitional period, as a prog 'nd psych collector a man's got to love it. Canterbury classic Caravan emerged from the 'Wilde Flowers', whereas other members from that band went on to form the Soft Machine. Both bands recorded a debut in '68 that was dwelled in the sixties echo- psych sound, pre-Canterbury style organsounds, gentle yet dopey vocals and extremely catchy songwriting.

Actually, I was suprised how much fun this record turned out to be. Don't come here seeking your developed and technical prog, it's just the sheer vibe and feel that make this a great records to listen to. Songs like 'Place of my Own', 'Ride' and 'Magic Man' just make you feel like a happy sensitive child. 'Cecil Runs' was a bit hard to understand at first, but this song has a great construction and some nice heavy psychedelic screams. 'Where but for Caravan would I be' is a longer and slightly more darker track and is perhaps the most progressive effort. The organ themes mght have inspired the not yet recording VdGG a bit here.

The only thing the record does not have is a totally unproblemetic recording. Whilst it sounds brilliantlly bright and warm during small arangements (got to love the vocals on 'Ride'), it sounds like a garage take during heavier parts. This normally puts me a bit off, but I can't help to fall in love with the songs here.

Conclusion. Here the birth of a progressive movement, yet it is like the other sixties debuts (think of Soft Machine, VdGG and Procol Harum) a record that has its roots deep in the psychedelic rock scene. Perhaps a bit of Frank Zappa if you will. If you like me happen to find psych really nice and like the development of the progressive genre, this is safe buy. Four happy children.

Report this review (#934074)
Posted Friday, March 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#959961)
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Better than Genesis!

At least if we are talking about debut records. In that case Caravan is better than most rock bands. Beatles debut wasn't fantastic, not Genesis and Yes' was good but not as good as this. Sure even Caravan developed but their original sound was almost precised.

The disc Caravan has a cover showing the members looking sacred with minds devoted to god(or music?) and an emply dusk background in yellow and orange. Caravan (Richard Couchlan, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Jimmy Hastings) does a very good record here. Back in 1968 the sound has more psychedelic influences than later and what makes this so pleasent is that it's like joyful pop melodic performed in a sophisticated progressive way. The vocals are magnificent here. I think they work better than on next record. Every song is great and worth enjoying but my favourite track is the longest(as it use to) "Where but for Caravan would I" which is a angelic composition with beauty and power. "Love song with flute" is also one of the best, perhaps by matter of the flute and you can't escape this feeling of genuineness. On many tracks, like "Grandma's lawn" you want to dive into the rich organ orgies which are so cleverly played. The drums are also amazing and make this so powerful as a unit.

Caravan's music is nice, and it was nice from the very beginning. Just its niceness makes it the perfect music to introduce someone to prog rock with. It's no way a matter of crossover stuff or something like that, just very nice, that's it. I won't say it's a masterpiece or perfect, not today after a first listening, but it was an impressing start of this wonderful band.

Four stars with opportunity to be raised even higher!

Report this review (#980600)
Posted Monday, June 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I honestly can't see why this album is so lowly rated. For me, it's undoubtedly a 5-star album - one of my Canterbury favourites and right up there with their magnum opus "In The Land Of Grey And Pink", "Caravan" is where it all began for the band. An excellent psychedelic rock album, with flavours of progressive rock to come. Very ahead of its time for 1968!

The album begins with "Place Of My Own", probably my favourite song on here. The lyrics and vocals performed by Pye Hastings just captivate you immediately along with those hypnotic keyboard textures that continue throughout the album. "Ride" is probably the most psychedelic song on the album. Very trance-like with arabic percussion by Richard Coughlan and confusing lyrics teamed with droning, echoey backing harmonies. Another brilliant track, only hindered by the production (the loudness of the organ solo overloading the rest of the track in particular). "Policeman" is a great little song you could imagine a maturing band jamming out in a "smoky" room, but this song has some great quality to it. The instruments all complement each other splendidly and the piece contains sophisticated chord progressions that work beautifully - amazing for a group their age.

"Love Song With Flute" is yet another Caravan classic for me. Love the melodies, lyrics and laid-back chords, and as always Pye's vocal delivery. Great harmonies on the line "I'm needing you" leading into a flute solo overshadowed by their later piccolo solo on "Golf Girl" but still more than creditable. Essential to the album. "Cecil Rons" is a delicious contrast to the melodic "Love Song", introduces more harmonic minor, dissonant, and off-beat lines, with all of the instruments played much harsher for the better, showing their versatility on this short work. Just incredible, and I'd love to have heard another one like it in Caravan's repertoire. "Magic Man" is one of the hits on the album (if you could call it that) and so relaxing. The atmosphere constructed by the gentle electric guitar strums, Coughlan's rim shots, and David's wah-wah organ, with more spectacular melodies.

"Grandma's Lawn" is another great song, but perhaps sonically weaker, although it proves to be one of the best on paper. Comparable to "Policeman", but with slightly worse lyrics (or in the least trying to fulfil a different purpose). Still keeps the album's consistency and ends on a very low resonant vocal note. The final song "Where But For Caravan Would I?" is obviously one of the best tracks on the album, and the most progressive. Spanning almost 10 minutes and predominantly played in the hypnotic, rocking 11/8 metre, a very important precursor to progressive music. The great chord progressions and alluring melodies are still very much present in here, with devastating climaxes and organ solos. The track develops after a long trance into a more suitable 12/8 to fit the excellent harmonies. The youthfulness yet sophistication on here is just electric and glorious! The best closing track to any Canterbury album in my opinion too.

A: A very ahead of its time work by the (relatively) new band "Caravan", showing their experimentations with music, but still managing to produce a signature style on each instrument. Very impressive at 20 or so years old and some of the greatest music I have ever heard! :P

Place Of My Own: ***** Ride: ***** Policeman: ***** Love Song With Flute: ***** Magic Man: ***** Grandma's Lawn: **** Where But For Caravan Would I?: *****

Report this review (#1016973)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great debut from the best band in Canterbury!

Highlights include Place of my Own, Where But For Caravan Would I Be?, Love Song with Flute and Magic Man. Is no doubt that there is still some degree of immaturity and in the following steps of the band would see clarity and decisiveness in their innovative ideas. Still, it´s a transcendent work taking into account the time it was produced.

Distinctive experimentation in the final track. A distorted organ and bold. Fortunately, Caravan deepen beautifully in this type of sound and arrangements. Psychedelic, jazzy, symphonic, melodic. In addition to the outstanding organ performance by Dave Sinclair, Recently deceased Richard Coughlan stands in Drums. There eloquent progressive tendencies, but can not qualify as a masterpiece in the genre.

Report this review (#1158006)
Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Born out of the implosion of the Wilde Flowers which was pretty much the big bang of everything Canterbury Scene, CARAVAN took the opposite approach of their other band mates who became The Soft Machine and steered their approach more into the realms of the psychedelic pop rock world of the 60s rather than retreating into the free-for-all jazz fusion world. The band was started by Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals), Richards Coughlan (drums), Richard Sinclair (bass) and David Sinclair (keyboards). The two bands stayed amicable after the split. The Soft Machine was gracious enough to lend the band all the necessary equipment to record this album while on tour with Jimi Hendrix and the result was this eponymous debut album which was released in 1968 and really sounds like it belongs to that era.

While not reaching any particular progressive heights like they would venture into on their second album, album number one is an interesting mix of Barrett era Floydian psychedelic pop songwriting sensibilities glossed over with Procol Harum sounding keyboards and nice jazzy psychedelic jazz guitar leanings. The songs are all well crafted and this has become one of my favorite albums of the era. It blows away other strictly blues rock bands of the era like Jefferson Airplane by adding mild progressive touches such as slightly off time sigs, nice wah- wah guitar action and contemplative vocals. There is also a slight The Doors feel in some of the jamming methodology without sounding like them. This album has a slightly spacey psychedelic feel, a touch folky with the Tullish flute and a heavy psych feel in the drum department which is pretty technical for the era.

I have always considered CARAVAN to be one of the least Canterbury sounding of all the bands that are categorized under that banner but they are clearly in that camp with their humor albeit more subtle than say Hatfield And The North or Quiet Sun. There is an overall feel that connects the dots. I am rotating on an opposite spin than most CARAVAN fans in finding that their magnum opus "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is overrated while finding this debut to be woefully underrated. I actually choose to listen to this over that one any day of the week. There is a sophistication of the sound heard here that is above and beyond the contemporaries of the day with possibly only the exception of the other half to the Wilde Flowers, The Soft Machine. Personally i find this to be a great melodic moment of the late 60s that shows a band carving out its distinct path in the progressive rock world that was in its infancy.

Report this review (#1411570)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars The roots of Caravan can be traced back to a Canterbury-based group The Wilde Flowers, which played art rock with strong influences of hard-bop. Most of future Caravan members had been in the band at one point or another. The drummer Richard Coughlan, bassist Richard Sinclair, and keyboardist David Sinclair (Richard Sinclair's cousin) founded a new band in 1968 and called it Caravan. The band's initial plan was to follow footsteps of Soft Machine. It is said that the four often sought suggestions from the more established Soft Machine and borrowed their gear, while they were busy touring United States with Jimi Hendrix. In October of the same year, they were signed to Verve records to record their self-titled debut album, released in January of 1969.

The style of Caravan's debut owes a great deal to psychedelic rock. The genre may have lost most of its freshness and piquancy by then, but its influence was very much present. Elements of jazz are expressed in rhythmical feel on most of the tracks, as well as modality. However, the album is really song-oriented. Phenomenal songwriting is what really sets this apart from the more improvisation-based Soft Machine debut. The pieces are emotion-filled and give the impression of being written with great care. Rarely does this album approach fast, lively or loud territories. The moods are rather soft and mellow, but kept in a psychedelic fashion, a little stoned and "cooked". Lyrically, the album explores some peaceful hippie themes, which correspond well with the smooth sound of the band.

The song-oriented approach that Caravan has partly chosen becomes clear since the very first note coming from Pye Hastings' 12-string electric guitar. Although he rarely finds himself playing "epic" guitar solos, he sounds to be incredibly proficient in a role of a rhythm guitarist, laying down simple patterns. Hastings takes the lead vocals on the first half of the album. His voice is very gentle and delicate. It pairs incredibly well with Richard Sinclair's vocals, who sings primarily on the other half of the album. His now legendary vocals are a bit goofy and wacky, but play a prominent role in Caravan's sound. Sinclair also handles bass guitar parts, quite competently I might add! His cousin, Dave Sinclair is the group's keyboardist. His Hammond organ provides a lush, dreamy sound, perfectly suited for the band's sound. His style owes a great deal to American soul music as well as Anglican music traditions. The great late Richard Coughlan is a fantastic drummer, finding himself comfortable in odd time signatures as well as use of multiple percussion instruments. A flautist Jimmy Hasting guests on one of the tracks.

The album consists of eight tracks. These have a good diversity between them, but are kept in a rather similar feel. This creates an impression of a logical, consistent whole. One track such as "Ride" can have a little bit of an Indian influence, reminiscent of psychedelia, while the next piece, "Policeman", has more of a pop ballad-oriented sound to it, but in a very good taste. The album opener, "Place Of My Own", one of Caravan's classics takes a simple theme and enriches it with sparkling jazz bits. "Magic Man" is another favorite from the band with Dave Sinclair's characteristic organ play. "Love Song With A Flute" is probably the jazziest of the tracks with a strong hard-bop influence. It also is the only track to feature a flautist, Jimmy Hastings.

While numerous debuts of many of our favorite progressive rock bands might lack consistency, self-assurance or just plain skill, Caravan's self-titled debut is definitely the opposite. With a post-hippie escapist vision, this is a wonderful experience. Obviously, it is not flawless, but let's not forget that this is one of the albums pioneering the Canterbury sound. All in all, a very solid effort. Recommended!

Report this review (#1564818)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Where but for Caravan...

This album is, to my mind, very similar in many ways to the first Genesis album. Like that album, it is rooted in a 1960s lower-fi sound, with shorter arrangements and a more poppy orientation. Also, like that album, it is clear both that the main songwriters are hugely talented, but also that they have not yet lived up to their promise. And same for the singing (Pye Hastings sounds pretty well the same on this one, but Richard Sinclair's signature sound is few and far between). But there are some key hints at what would come. The highlight of this album, and the only track that might compare with those on their follow-up second album ('If I could do it all over again...'), is the nine-minute multi-part closing tune "Where But for Caravan Would I?". This is a real showstopper, and makes the listener wish the rest of the album had been so adventurous and musical. The other tunes hold back though. The best of the rest are probably the first four (particularly "A Place of My Own" and "Love Song with Flute"). Of course, this album has important historical gravitas, being one of the first (along with the first Soft Machine album) to lay out what would become known as the Canterbury sound, and indeed, the traits are already established here (higher-pitch singing, jazzy arrangements in syncopated 6/8 time, fuzzy organ solos), albeit in much more muted ways that evidenced on the first Soft Machine album. But generally this is not the Caravan album one will be putting on all the time. The last track merely makes one want to reach for the follow-ups. I given this album 6.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1697045)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Out of the ashes The DAEVID ALLEN TRIO and THE WILDE FLOWERS comes this debut album from one of the three most important contributors to the Canterbury legacy. Daevid Allen has moved to France, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and the Hopper brothers are moving all over the place (Soft Machine to Matching Mole, et al.) which leaves the Hastings, Sinclair, and Coughlan families to sort out their own directions and desires.

1. "Place of my own" (4:01) nice vocal melodies for this organ-based tune. (8/10)

2. "Ride" (3:42) rather bland and ordinary with Pye singing the lead up close and personal. (7/10)

3. "Policeman" (2:44) Richard Sinclair taking a turn at the lead--he's more conservative than we'll hear in a year or two. Quite a little similarity to THE BEATLE's "I am the Walrus" without the crazed, surreal lyrics. (8/10)

4. "Love song with flute" (4:10) a very catchy and almost perfectly polished prog pop song (using melodic themes that they would return to over the course of the next few years). (9.5/10)

5. "Cecil runs" (4:07) opens with experimental guitar chords, spaciousness and a new synth to play with. Chorale harmony vocals enter to announce the telling of a story. Animated organ play provides the action here. I love the beat to this one. And the theatric vocal displays. My favorite song on the album due to both it's experimental play and its unbound theatric storytelling. (9.5/10)

6. "Magic man" (4:03) serves notice to the fact that the boys are struggling to find the voice of their own, instead they are talented singer/musicians taking on sounds and styles others have had success with. This one is more of a combination of PROCUL HARUM's now-classic "Whiter Shade of Pale" and ELP's recent monster "underground" hit, "Lucky Man" (bass and guitar). Not bad! (9/10)

7. "Grandma's lawn" (3:25) Richard in lead again, organ and guitar are quite a bit looser here and the MOODY BLUES-like lyrics and vocal flow more extemporaneously. (8.5/10)

8. "Where but for Caravan would I be" (9:01) their first prog epic--containing a lot of elements reminiscent of contemporary bands like THE BEATLES, THE DOORS, THE ZOMBIES, and even THE MOODY BLUES, this organ-based blues-rock song is musically quite rudimentary yet contains some very interesting vocal and lyrical choices. The final 90 seconds is the best. Tidings of things to come. (8/10)

The best is yet to come.

Report this review (#1841676)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

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