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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars this is from the original line-up and although better than its predecessor still a disappointment but the times would not allow them greater freedom. It seems the band enjoyed enough Videos , that this popped-up regularly in the 90's concert. Really a bunch of uninspired songs , but still one can hear somehow , how this was still Caravan. The opener and the final number are the better numbers on this album but the rest is rather unexciting.

This album had already been released on Cd but got a remastering (and probably a few bonus) on the Eclectic Label in late 2004

Report this review (#21426)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great comeback by a classic canterbury band. After the collapse of The Album lineup, the original quartet got back together and released an album with a more canterbury feel than anything since Cunning Stunts and with compositions better than anythin since Blind Dog at St. Dunstans. The Sinclair cousins' songs are the highlights, and whereas two of the Hastings songs are rather poor, All Aboard is his best composition in many years. Dave Sinclair plays the electric piano and synths he has favored since the mid-70s but brings back the fuzz organ sound for the semi-epic of the album Proper Job/Back to Front.

A great addition to your canterbury collection.

Report this review (#39374)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink

This is another existential question that the Sinclair cousins might have considered before rejoining "Caravan". Lots of hopes when you see the line-up. The original one, yes! But the least I can say, is that this album is not very much inspired.

Very pleasant vocals of course, some upbeat and pop songs ("Hold On", "Videos Of Hollywood"). Not bad but way off expectations. This reminds me more of the poor "Camel" of the late seventies (but both bands have profound links of course).

I have never been a great fan of the band but I have to say that they released very few bad albums so far (actually only one : "The Album") but to be honest, there is very little to retain from this one. A major deception if you considered the musicians involved here. The core of a band which created a style on their own. I have always been granted "Caravan" for this. But such an album won't add anything great to their fame.

Mellow mood with "Sally Don't Change It". Press next (but you could already have hit this key with "Videos)

This album is not very good. Might be OK when you listen to it abstractedly. But does "Caravan" music need to be listened to that way? I guess not. The finale of "All Abroad" is awful and disco oriented. And it is not the reggae-ish "Taken By Breath Away" that will convince you (nor myself). What the hell did happen to "Caravan"? Probably the same dreadful eighties syndrome.

I guess that the very few reviews for this album indicates sufficiently that it isn't really an essential album (even for die-hard fans).

Three out of ten (max) is the rate. Since it is still not possible on PA I will downgrade it to one star. A poor album indeed. Don't bother with this album.

Report this review (#160657)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars OK, granted, this isn't in the top flight of Caravan albums; but I think most Caravan fans will still appreciate this album. Especially with the welcome return of Robert Wyatt and Richard Sinclair to the line-up. AA Man and Proper Job make the album worth buying on their own. For me the low-point is Breath Away which is just bland. There are some great keyboard and guitar breaks lurking in most of the tracks which make you start to take notice if you've drifted off. I suppose this album and it's forerunner The Album suffer from being from the 80's, but when you consider what Yes/Genesis/Tull had become during this period, Caravan are actually holding on to their roots quite well. This album isn't particularly complex, but is light and tuneful and I certainly play it more than some 'classic' prog albums that are sometimes just too much like hard work.

Report this review (#164719)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Ewwww. They should really put a warning label on hazardous music like this: "May induce intense bouts of frustration, disgust, nausea, vomiting, and thoughts of suicide." It's true the thoughts of either ending my life or the disk's life did cross my mind, after it being my aural displeasure of having heard the likes of "AA Man" and "Sally, Don't Change It". Let's just say those are the only songs I fear hearing like Mr. Satan himself.

"Back to Front" has Caravan sounding like someone added waaaaay too much cream to the band's coffee and smothered their toast with some of the most disgustingly mundane adult contemporary influences. Well, either Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair had lobotomies for unique cord changes and good taste or had just recently bought a copy of the 1# smash hit, "No Jacket's Required", and were really digging those 'cool grooves'.

I would proudly like to proclaim that 'inspiration' and "Back to Front" are complete and utter oxymorons and this is coming from the guy who would like to have the title track of "Better by Far" played at his wedding. However, "AA Man", Taking My Breath Away", "Sally, Don't Change It" and "Back to Herme Bay Front" are some of the most mawkish adult pop clichés not penned by Sting. Tasteless sax playing and awkward disco influences abound and the good melodies have flown south for the winter. Only on the mild but kinda enjoyable, "All Aboard" do we get a quality Hastings melody. Pssst.... the only other good part on this whole album is when Pye plays a freaking, almost Zappa like wah-wah guitar solo on "Proper Job/Back to Front" but the rest of the song is dog excrements.

What's even more sad and pathetic is that this collaborative piece of crap was made by Caravan's original lineup. Yesh, the one that brought you "If I Could Do It All?" and "The Land of Grey and Pink" and all those other fazed cookies, but now they've created a swift kick in the crotch to their legacy and all of their fans with "Back to Front". None of this music resembles Caravan in the slightest and this is a fair warning for all ye wide eyed and romantic Caravan followers out there who still have happiness, hope, and belief that their Canterbury idols can do no wrong.

Album Grade: D+

Report this review (#293883)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Before listening to this album I had my hopes up. After a couple of lousy albums (Better By Far & The Album) Caravan returned to their classical form with Richard Sinclair back. Maybe Back To Front isn't as bad as The Album (whose name is already a cry for help), still it remains at the bottom of the barrel. Until "For Girls" Caravan had played excellent five star music and Cunning Stunts and Blind Dog were also terrific albums with a blend of Canterbury rock and sophisticated pop-music. Then Caravan fell from the ledge only to be left hanging for few years and finally to land in a rosebush. But Back To Front. It's released after a two year break and still Caravan couldn't think of anything new, they couldn't even go back to their glory days. What makes Back To Front so poor is the fact that the band has had a break and recruited Richard Sinclair back. They even had Mel Collins playing on the album. Back to Herne Bay front and Proper Job/Back To Front have a nice feeling in them but they can be counted as lifesavers because the rest of the album is just garbage.

2 stars (!BARELY!)

Report this review (#344551)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars I took years, after the first spin, to find the courage to retry this album. When I have bought it in 1982 it was a total disappointment as I was expecting a lot from the original lineup of a band able to release to of my all time favorite albums: If I could.. and In the Land...

The first disappointing thing was the cover sheet. It's a clear remind to Escher with flowers turning into birds, but what does it have to do with the album?

"Back To Herne Bay Front" is not a bad track at all. It has lost the disco-funky mood of some songs of the previous "The Album", even if I really dislike the sound used by David Sinclair on the solo. It's jazzy and the bass and vocals are quite good.

What's now? " Bet you wanna take it all / Hold on hold on" an uptime glam-rock&roll, I don't need anything like this. What's the sense of releasing a pop song that would have been good in 1970 while in 1982? It wouldn't have been a success in 1970 either. In the second half (or the second song) when it slows down is a bit better. Mel Collins plays a nice solo even on a trivial base.

I have controversial feelings about "A.A. Man". It features non-trivial passages, odd signatures and Richard's voice, but it doesn't do much for me. inserted in a different album would have been different. It could have been a good filler if part of a good disc.

"Videos Of Hollywood" is a song that seems taken from Camel's I Can See Your House From Here. Probably because of Richard's vocals. If only the guitar was played by Andy Latimer.... Also the sounds used by David Sinclair are similar to those used by Camel on that album. Add Mel Collins' sax and this is a "lost Camel's song".

"Sally Don't Change it " is on the same strings but almost without drums. It's Camel more than Caravan but without Latimer. I don't know where Pye Hastings is. He could have found room for good solos on songs of this kind, but there's very few guitar here.

"All Aboard" is nothing special, a pop Caravan song to let go in the background.

"Take My Breath Away" is in my opinion the poorest track of the album. I can't find a sense in this song. It seems survived from the disaster of The Album. Already heard and already discarded.

"Proper Job" starts similar to Nine Feet Underground. Of course it's just few seconds. It sounds like an attempt to return to the good moments and effectively there are moment in this closer that can remind to better moments. Add to this Mel's sax and the result is not that bad.

Back to Front is not totally back. Even if surely better than "The Album" (doing better wasn't a hard thing to do), it still doesn't deserve the third star, but apart of 3 weak songs all the rest is listenable and there are tracks of the old goodies.

2.5 stars

Report this review (#427749)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Caravan is back! And then I really mean it. "Back in front" from 1982 is the best Caravan album since 1975 and I would call it equal to "Girls..." and "Cunning...". What's so awesome here is that Richard Sinclair and Dave Sinclair are back. Although Caravan is amazing even without them, they were indeed missed. I have no idea why this album has gained so little understanding. Caravan is doing something inside me I can not resist. I am very greatful for that.

As always a big part of the phenomena is the guitarist Pye Hastings which does a big job even here. Dave Sinclair plays piano, organ and minimoog, Richard Sinclair plays bass and Richard Coughlan drums. They all do wonderful stuff on this album. The cover isn't complicated but esthetically enjoyable with green and yellow birds and flowers-

"Back to Herne bay front" is the great come back of Richard Sinclair as vocalist. He is so calm and emotional and I'd call him a wonder. This is how Caravan should sound. Present is the hint of jazz and the irresistible melody and I shiver(9/10). "Bet you wanna take it all/Hold on hold on" is a sophistoicated rock 'n' roll song sung by Pye Hastings with a joyful melody which changes twice, this song is actually two and we also get a nice sax solo by guest Mel Collins(7/10). "A.A. Man" is rather different. It's sung by Richard Sinclair(who also plays the guitar solo) and the melody switches many times; I'd consider this high standard music(8/10). "Videos of Hollywood" is also sung by Richard Sinclair and a wonderful song with Dave Sinclair's keyboard excesses: also (8/10). "Sally don't change it" is the records least interesting song (6/10), also very nice but a little too cheesy(sung by Pye). "All aboard" is a beautiful ballad sung by Pye Hastings(7/10). "Taken my breath away" sounds very poppy and that is great (when it comes to Caravan which is good at that) and Pye sings this too(7/10). "Proper job/Back to front" is surely the gem, the masterwork of this record. I find it perfect. It is both sung by Dave Sinclair(not Richard) and Pye Hastings and here do we have the perfect Caravan sound. The keyboard and guitar melody is as it could be in the seventies and it takes me away to another world where I am so happy I am living. (10/10).

After hearing this I wondered why I thought it was so good, because others have given it so bad reviews. I have actually no ideas why. This record is just the way I want Caravan and I recommend it warmly to anyone into great music. With more tracks like the first and the last this could have been even better. Now it's a clear four!

Report this review (#1072767)
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Better. But not by far

Caravan soldiered on during the early 80's with Back To Front, another entry in a series of weak albums from the group that began with Blind Dog At St. Dunstans. Back To Front is better than the previous The Album, but it is not better by far. The material is still uninspired, but at least here they again sound like Caravan. I find it a pleasant enough listen, but it fails to make an impact or leave any lasting impressions. After this album there would be a longer silence from the band and not until 1995 would they release another studio album. I think it was clear that they had come to the end of the line here. And like for most other classic progressive Rock bands, the 80's were not kind to them.

The song Videos Of Hollywood was previously familiar to me from Caravan's entry in the Classic Rock Legends video series. It is a rather simple Pop number, but at least it has a memorable melody and a characteristic lead vocal.

Back To Front is another Caravan album for fans and collectors

Report this review (#1130074)
Posted Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I read a lot of negative reviews on this recording, but I dare to disagree with them.

No, this isn't the big prog reunion some Caravan fans might have hoped for. But... yes, this is the classic line-up and yes, they sound like classic Caravan! I admit this album is very poppy, but I can remember the highly acclaimed 'For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night' is very poppy as well.

Personally I prefer this album above the stylish-similar 'Blind Dog' from '77, although this material sounds a bit more fresh and transparant.

For the famous David Sinclair keyboard solo you must wait until the epic last song, which is wonderful, but on 'Videos of Hollywood' he plays a very nice synth solo as well. Another pleasant component of the album is the wonderful sound of Richard Sinclair's bass, which is very clear present in all the songs. On top of the cake we hear a few very nice sax solos from the one and only Mel Collins.

To everyone that likes the classic 70's Caravan and both 'Blind Dog' and won't set epic prog expectations too high, this is a very enjoyable album, worth quite a few spins. It's Caravan in what they do best: writing catchy poppy songs with a blend of colourful instrumentation.

Report this review (#1649953)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2016 | Review Permalink

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