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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Get the remaster version with the full concert, the first half being another standard (but good) concert and the second part consisting of the orchestra with the band. The two compositions (especially Virgin On The Ridiculous) made for this occasion were slightly sub-par but "For Richard" and "the love in your eye "are tremendous with the orchestra. The whole affair does have an under-rehearsed feeling to it as the orchestra sometimes seems lost and the group is waiting for them but it is nothing scandalous as this is still a very "professional" recording. Another gift from the remaster is the Auberge Du Sanglier suite with the orchestra.

Report this review (#21383)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars All hands to the pumps!

Make sure if you're buying this album you go for the remastered and expanded edition. Unlike most re-masters the additional tracks, rather than being tagged on at the end, have been placed in their correct positions as they originally were performed on the night, This transforms the album from a brief summary of the concert to over an hour of wonderful indulgence.

The preparations for the collaboration with the New Symphonia Orchestra had been troublesome, and are well documented in the accompanying sleeve-notes. The recorded results are however superb. "Virgin on the ridiculous" and "For Richard" particularly benefit from the orchestration, the former featuring a lilting strings introduction and an all hands to the pumps middle section. This has to be one of Caravan's most exciting and innovative pieces. The classic "For Richard" (performed at every Caravan concert ever?) builds to even more of a cacophony of sound than the many other live versions available. At times it sounds as if band and orchestra are veering towards chaos, but things always remain just within control and they all meet again at the end with perfect timing!

The additional tracks were mainly performed prior to the orchestra taking the stage, and thus have been inserted towards the start of the album. They are more conventional live Caravan, but do help to give the album the feel of being a complete concert.

With the commendable attention to detail on all the recent Caravan remasters, it is perhaps churlish to point out the discrepancy in the track numbering between the CD and the sleeve caused by the introduction being listed as a separate track, but it does make it somewhat irritating when selecting a track!

Report this review (#21384)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This Caravan record has a very good balance between electric guitars and electric viola: they are often played simultaneously. The electric guitar is really not timid here, and this contributes to give a very good sound to this record. The drums and bass are punchy and quite loud. The songs are recorded live. The main attraction is this omnipresent orchestration (horns and strings): it is absolutely delightful, very present and participating, reminding many orchestrated passages of the Renaissance band, circa "Scheherazade", "Novella" and "Song for all seasons". This is the best of the Caravan's albums I own! This formula of rock-orchestra really works. Do not forget the nice keyboards, having about the same style as on "For girls who grow plump in the night". Let us also mention the presence of saxes, flute and backing vocals, which complete the loaded ensemble. Very progressive, this record is a pleasure for your ears from the beginning to the end. There are 2 epic songs (12-13 minutes), which are really progressive. Unlike the other albums, this one is slightly less catchy, maybe because of the absence of Richard Sinclair's lead vocals. Definitely an underrated album, having ALL its songs at least excellent!! If you hate strings ensemble and violins, then this record is not for you!


Report this review (#21386)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It could be an attempt of emulating the early formula by Camel, in my opinion naturally (think of the "Snow Goose" for example), in order to make the style from Canterbury closer to the orchestral arrangements of a different "époque" (otherwise these latter typically belonging to the seventies anyway).I appreciate the new purpose of Caravan to abandon their old classic style, trying to explore something different, even though sometimes the output is simplistic. In this manner I prefer their light style of "In the Land of Grey and Pink" for instance, in spite of this latter being inferior (in my opinion) than the unique style by Camel inside "MoonMadness" and however regarding of the short music period concerning the school from Canterbury. Of course it's a question of personal tastes, but I think that the present work is worth to be collected if you're into the simple style by Caravan; otherwise you could prefer listening to "In the Snow Goose" by Camel, perhaps in the orchestral version of "A Live Record", in the place of the light symphonic Caravan. choose by yourself, according to your exigencies, but the re-mastered version earns a lot!!
Report this review (#46416)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Caravan&The New Symphonia" of CARAVAN released in 1974. The first live album is a work that co-stars with the orchestra for CARAVAN. The oneness of the orchestra and the band is wonderful. As live, it is an eminent work. This works are very few works that succeed in the album that the orchestra co-starred with the band.

Report this review (#53088)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Caravan decided after the success of their album, "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" to record a live concert consisting of an orchestra which was used throughout the "for Girls..." album. Does it succeed? Yes and no. If you have the original album, you'll have what now is half the album. The new remastered version has what transpired that night in October of 1973. The band came on stage and played a select few tracks from the new album minus the orchestra. It's a somewhat decently played set with the bass playing of John Perry low in the mix. Dave Sinclair's keyboards shine brightly on most tracks, (at least he dosen't copy exactly his play from the album). It's Coughlin's drumming that stands out during the pre-orchestra AND during the second half with orchestra. It's not until the orchestra takes the stage do I believe that things start to cook. Right from the start, "The Love In Your Eyes" is beauty incarnate. The strings play perfectly with Pye's delicate singing. And the horns! Heaven on earth. The following two songs were written literally that day, with the lyrics done just hours before the concert was to begin. Both songs harken back to their early days with "Virgin On The Ridiculous" harbouring more instrumental power, especially with Sinclair's mighty fuzz-backed keys. Yet, it's the umpteenth live rendition of "For Richard" that one should pluck down the cash for this disc. If it's not the most powerful version, you would have to prove it to me. As the mammoth songs progresses so can hear the orchestra vieing with the band for dominence. The volume and power gets so great that by the end of the song you'll gasp for air and expect a thunderous collision. It's what you want from such a meld of instruments and more! The disc ends with an encore with the orchestra that almost didn't happen, (union rules and all). But "A Hunting We Shall Go" is another extra track and worth it. Oh, and I must mention Richardson's violin playing. he's their secret weapon, no doubt. I'll end by saying, a very well done live disc with a version of "For Richard" that must be heard. Can't say it's a masterpiece, but at least one song is. 4 stars for my favorite Canterbury band. Good show lads!
Report this review (#93119)
Posted Monday, October 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is basically "For Girls Who Grow Plump" played live. However, I like my Caravan in the raw and spontaneous with limited "production". If you want the Caravan of old sound(first 4 albums) with electric violin and orchestra thrown in to boot, you can't go wrong with this live album. I'll stick my neck out and say this actually sounds better than "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night". For one thing, the cheesy sound effects of explosions are absent. This is all band and orchestra. THE Caravan masterpiece of the mid-period.
Report this review (#139192)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The combination of an orchestra and a rock band has never been a fave of mine. But I have to admit that in this case, not too many damages have been done. "Caravan" 's music is perfectly fitting the exercise.

Three numbers out of their excellent "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" are just as pleasant (if not great) than on the studio counterpart. I am even more disposed to mention this that I am not a die-hard fan of the band.

When you listen to "The Dog" there is no real option. You like it as such, because it IS beautiful. Fantastic vocal harmonies and exquisite backing band. A nervous middle part is shining as well but to be honest, the vocal parts are the real highlight. It is almost as if Pye is shy to announce the "Orchestra" while he is introducing "Hoedown" as being the last "Caravan" only song.

I wouldn' t say that the orchestra is of great added value but no harm is done during "The Love In Your Eye". The optimistic "Mirror For The Day" is so much linked with their roots that with or without orchestra; it really doesn't matter. But "Virgin On The Ridiculous" in this representation is not a great number.

And we'll get the "usual" Caravan ending number "For Richard" (as Pye introduces it). Very good, of course but not as great as during the excellent live album "Live At The Fairfield Halls". Even if the "hunt of the sanglier" is closing this live symphonic set.

Three stars for this good work.

Report this review (#161476)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the experience with an orchestra on the last song on For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night called L'auberge du Sanglier / A hunting we shall go / Pengola / Backwards / A hunting we shall go (reprise) Caravan decided they would record a live album with classical orchestra and went on to do just that.

The first half of the concert is without the orchestra though, and shows how great a band Caravan was in a live environment. I enjoy this part while I´m more biased towards the second half with the orchestra. One thing is that Caravan chose to use an orchestra on L'auberge du Sanglier / A hunting we shall go / Pengola / Backwards / A hunting we shall go (reprise) on For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night but using it to this extent is a bit too much IMO. I have a problem with this kind of mix. It almost always sounds like the orchestra is playing in one room while the band plays in another ( the worst example is probably S/M by Metallica) and while it works allright here on Caravan & The New Symphonia it never reaches excellent. I don´t like the gospel like backing singing either. It´s an aquired taste of course, but I dislike it.

The musicianship is great as always when we´re talking Caravan. They are such great musicians. Never showing of, but always playing exciting things anyway.

The production could have been better, but again it´s not bad either.

I´ll call this live album a tiny disappointment, even though it´s good. I would much rather have them playing their songs in the more conventional way, but I guess this is good for the diversity of their discography. 3 stars is all I´ll give for Caravan & The New Symphonia.

Report this review (#170880)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Virgin on the symphonic

I'm not a big fan of band-meets-orchestra performances. I'm also not a big fan of Caravan. However, this orchestral live album by Caravan is quite good with the band blending quite well with the orchestra. Several songs are new for the occasion and a few classics are thrown in as well.

While this is a nice Canterbury Scene 'virgin' on the symphonic, I don't think this is a good place to start if you are new to Caravan. Start instead with the studio albums For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night and In The Land Of Gray And Pink and if you want more after that, then go for Caravan & The New Symphonia.

Good, but non-essential.

Report this review (#223440)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars An essential live album from Caravan. Not only does it contain two great non-studio songs in their best forms but features a whole new side of Caravan that only reared it's proverbial head during live shows. I have never heard jamming this decisive or powerful done on any of Caravan's studio albums and these extremely tight but consistently impressive jams definitely match Yes's instrumental workouts. I don't even think it's the added orchestration that makes these songs so damn powerful; I think the band was simply a lot more talented than even I originally gave them credit for. I had simply written them off as "second rate" prog ('first rate" pop, however) in my head until I tuned into this album.

"The Love in your Eye" jam is significantly improved over the studio version on "Waterloo Lily". Now all of the subsequent parts after the incredible vocal melody (Now adorned with actually good female back-up singers who add to it's glorious splendor) are equally flooring. The main theme of "To Catch Me a Brother" (the section right after the vocal part) has now metamorphosised from what was a single note electric piano riff to a brass theme that would make Richard Wagner gape. This part also has a really compelling fast flute solo (but no where near Ian Anderson "fast".) by Pye's bro, Jimmy Hastings followed by some furious fuzz box organ. The following "Subsultus" and "Debouchement" sections have also been changed from stagnated mucks to stunning peaks and climaxes with Pye and Richardson playing their hearts out on guitar and violin. However, the most astonishing part is saved for the end. Right after another amazing vocal performance by Pye, he starts riffing like a madman on "Tilbury Kecks". I seriously have never heard Pye play with this much ballsy fury on any other Caravan release. The first time I heard this, yours truly was endlessly amazed. It's like they quickly swapped Pye out for Richie Blackmore or someone. Well, either that or Pye had quick backstage lessons from Eric Clapton. Heck, either of those are probable.

Prog fans should also be pleased with the great classical orchestration done on the new songs. "Virgins of the Ridiculous" is a luvly love song set to Bach like arrangements and "Mirror for a Day" is a happy short song with it's love related lyrics covering up an utterly complex arrangement. My favorite of the pair is the latter because of the moody opening and the couple of violin riffs this song possesses are dangerously infectious. Still, "Virgins" despite being the least energetic song on the album also contains some more fast, fuzzy fun courtesy of David Sinclair and his organ.

The closing number is "For Richard" which now also has a much tighter set of arrangement buttocks, massively improves over the original. The original suite simply had me bored right from the start but now the various memorable parts of it have been picked out and massively emphasized by the orchestra. Even the dull melody-less singing part has now been spruced up a notch with small 'lil harp pluckings, violin strummings, and a melodic bass solo as well as audible vocals. (Unlike the original's) However, the rest of the song can be completely mind blowing if you perchance enjoy masterfully played thirteen minute jams like I do.

Oh and the reissue gives us the other songs from the concert Caravan did with the Symphonia. That's kinda nice. None of the non-orchestra tracks are much different from their original forms on "Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night", however, (In fact, "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again" loses it's glorious vocal coda. Why? That part was so heavenly!) but the brand new orchestra track "A Hunting We Shall Go" also gains some more energy over its studio version. With the help of the orchestra the "Backwards" section is achingly pretty too.

Oddly enough, this album may just be Caravan's best and most consistently entertaining for me. This is definitely one of the first Caravan albums you should try in this guy's humble, inessential opinion. The jams on here have more direction and power than anything else by Caravan even "In the Land of Grey and Pink" and the energetic arrangements almost always guarantee you'll never be bored. Hot damn, if only they had this much enthusiasm in the studio...

Album grade: A-

Best Songs: Love in Your Eye, For Richard, Mirror for a Day (Reissue: A Hunting We Shall Go)

Worst Songs: None

Report this review (#292062)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Caravan celebrated the release of For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night with this special concert backed up by the New Symphonia orchestra. As others have pointed out, you really do want to get the remastered version that provides the whole show in the correct running order, because the first few songs - which include the band only, before the orchestra kick in - are absolutely smoking renditions of Plump In the Night material. The actual work with the orchestra took comparatively longer to warm on me, to be honest - the orchestra at points goes too saccharine, or too overdramatic in a Hollywood way, like this is what it'd sound like if Caravan scored a Bond movie or something, whilst Caravan seem to be thrown off their game slightly by having to accommodate the orchestra in their sound.

For a better live Caravan album from this era, the Fairfield Halls album is the way to go - but I think on balance I've been selling this release a little short simply because that one is so, so good. After all, Caravan had fairly successfully worked with the orchestra on Plump In the Night, and the orchestral arrangements of some earlier Caravan numbers are particularly interesting. Call it an average of four stars - four-and-a-bit if you're looking at a version that includes the restored tracks, three-and three-quarters if you're looking at a version with just the original five tracks.

Report this review (#510540)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A time capsule of brilliant live Canterbury.

The live Caravan is definitely a different beast than the studio Caravan. On the live stage the band tend to have fun with the audience and involve them in their tom foolery. The album really is quite humorous and the band are at the peak of their powers, with virtuoso musicianship and they play all of their best tracks up to this point. In this sense the album works as a type of best of Caravan, and in many cases the live versions here are better than the studio tracks. In any case this is a dynamic performance with energy and full on commitment.

The band are the classic lineup of Caravan, the incomparable prog hero Pye Hastings on vocals and guitar, Richard Coughlan on drums, Jimmy Hastings on flute and alto saxophone, John G. Perry on bass, Morris Pert on percussion, Geoff Richardson on electric viola and David Sinclair, a wizard on keyboards. The band are well backed up by the incredible New Symphonia orchestra. It was one of the first marriages of Canterbury and symphony orchestra. It worked well on this concert as the songs are really made for orchestra.

It begins with the unusual introduction by Alan Black who states matter of factly Caravan are about to enter. It is amusing how he says, "I'm not gonna preach to the converted because if you weren't Caravan freaks you wouldn't be here," and then he introduces the orchestra The New Symphonia and explains the band are going to perform a featurette of songs from their new album "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night." What a time capsule of music are these live performances.

As soon as the band hit the stage they power into 'Memory Lain, Hugh Headloss' for 11 minutes and it is an incredible piece of showmanship. Pye Hastings sounds so vibrant in these early days. The band are tight, the riffs are great and the keyboard work of Sinclair is exquisite. The violining of Richardson is incredible and the crowd can be heard at the end of each section cheering wildly.

Hastings introduces the next song about a dog who has a problem with his urges and so he goes to the doctor and is given "down boy pills". 'The Dog, the Dog, He's at It Again' is the song that follows the intro, which became a favourite from the new album over the years. It has a great lead break and the melody is memorable and has fun lyrics; "my mother said that I should stay out of bed but I know that I like it in there, legs and thighs, hello's and goodbyes and you're there". After this Hastings explains they had planned to do about 30 minutes of more "Plump" material but time is against them, what a tease, as that would have been priceless. It was made clear that the album was to be a live recording so this was all a concert designed for the recording and needed to fit on those pesky short vinyl records that could only have 25 minutes of material at best.

Also from the "Plump" album the band play 'A Hunting We shall Go', and the whimsical 'Hoedown' with amazing violin soloing. It is a shame they didn't play 'C'thlu Thlu' which is one of the darkest and best things they have done. The band leave the stage for a moment and then the orchestra enters and begins to strike up with a quiet melody. They add colour and drama to this as each instrument chimes in, the brass, the violins, woodwind, all are virtuosos and the sound is full and lush providing incredible music as a background to Caravan's Canterbury rock.

'The Love in Your Eye' clocks about 13 minutes and flys by quite well, with organic musicality and strong beats, very uplifting and pleasant. 'Virgin on the Ridiculous' is another highlight with sweeping violins and Pye gently storytelling. The gorgeous harp flourishes and emotional strings on this are superb. Pye introduces "the last evening of the number", (haha!) And he says it is "the usual Caravan number, but this time orchestrated". The quintessential Caravan song 'For Richard' never fails to get the crowd on their feet. They play a 14 minute version with amazing lead guitar solos and lengthy musicality.

'A Hunting We Shall Go', a 'new' track, closes the show on an encore with a 10 minute non stop barrage of virtuosity. The band exit the stage to rapturous applause. This is perhaps the best live album for the band and it really showcases all that is great about them; whimsical humour, virtuoso musicianship, infectious melodies and with an orchestra thrown in for good measure. It is an irresistible combination where everything worked perfectly making this a landmark album for the band and a prime example of Canterbury at its best.

Report this review (#615453)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was the first official live album that CARAVAN released back in 1974. I'm still scratching my head wondering why I would purchase this when i'm not into music that is complimented with an orchestra. Someone's been putting those brain-cell destroying pills in my Corn Flakes again. Anyway the songs that are chosen are fantastic, and just to hear these classics again makes this a worthwhile purchase. It's just that I much prefer "Live At Fairfield Halls-1974" or "The Show Of Our Lives : Caravan At The BBC 1968-1975".

Up first is the introduction of the band then "Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss" which is so freaking good. It reminds me why CARAVAN is one of my favourite bands. "The Dog,The Dog, He's At It Again" is first explained by Pip as to the lyrics then they perform it beautifully. Love the distorted organ 2 1/2 minutes in. "Hoedown" isn't one of my favs but it's okay. "Introduction" is where the orchestra comes to life. This will continue the rest of the way. "The Love In Your Eye" has an orchestral intro as reserved vocals and violin take over. It kicks in after a minute. Nice. "Mirror For The Day" opens with orchestra then the vocals come in as it builds. Themes are repeated. "Virgin On The Ridiculous" again has those orchestral sounds mixed into the music. It's okay. "For Richard" is my favourite. The bass and violin sound great before 4 minutes then it kicks in at 5 minutes. I really like the distorted organ. It picks up again and we get a big finish. "A Hunting We Shall Go" has some refreshing guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. An orchestral calm 5 minutes in then it kicks back in after 9 minutes.

If you like orchestral maneuvers in your Prog then chances are you'll dig this one.

Report this review (#644510)
Posted Friday, March 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A classic collection and some good performances.

Their first live album see Caravan in their 1974 lineup, including Geoff Richardson on violins, play twos set with much weight to tracks from their then-recent album "For Girls...". The performances are fairly good. The sound quality is decent too, good for the time although not quite up to contemporary Stephen Wilson standards. Here they play with an orchestra ('The New Symphonia') backing them on a number of tracks in the second set. The original album only featured the second half of the show, the part containing the orchestra, and that is the version of the album I had in my vinyl collection for years (still do), but the first half is pretty good too. The highlight of the album is the version of For Richard, which David Sinclair thankfully plays on - really excellent (indeed, I love all the live versions of this song). The 'Introduction' and 'Love in Your Eye' suite are also very good. These are the tracks making it worth it to pick this album up, but the other live tracks are also all decent and the whole experience is very positive. I give this 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1697051)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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