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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Somewhat of a return to better things but no long songs that made the legend. At the time I believed Caravan would just collapse but better things were to come . however this is a collection of songs in the typical Hastings style and Sinclair although present does not seem to get involved in the writing dept. Try to get the second edition as they improved the cover art work.
Report this review (#21432)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3,4 stars. This is pretty good prototype of a newer album by a legendary old band: you recognize it to be unarguably Caravan, but at the same it sounds fresh (ah, I don't mean old Caravan doesn't). In other words, nothing of being like an old dinosaur, but nor trying to be modern and contemporary so much that they would lose their own style. (On the other hand, often the new albums by for example Procol Harum bore me to death even if these words suit for them too. So let's just say that many songs are quite good.) Some tracks could have been in e.g. For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night. Of course Battle of Hastings (another pun in the album title, Pye!) is not in the same level as classic albums. No that famous organ sound, no long instrumental-oriented tracks, instead even some fillers, you might say. But still enjoyable.
Report this review (#21434)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars I know why you're laughing

Recorded after the band's heyday, the title "The battle of Hastings" is a play on words referring to both the Norman invasion of England, and the surname of two of the band's key members. Following disagreements about the band's direction in the early 90's, Richard Sinclair is missing from the line up, and so therefore is his usually strong influence.

"Battle of Hastings" is essentially a pop orientated album, with little in the way of prog sounds or structures. That does not make it a bad album, but don't expect the complex jazz tingled output of the Deram days. Caravan's shorter tracks have always tended to be rather whimsical, and serve as lighter intermissions between their more complex longer tracks.

Tracks such as "Liar" (which has similarities to the Russ Ballard penned Argent song of the same name), "I know why you're laughing", and "If it wasn't for your ego" are excellent, but little more than high class pop songs. Indeed, the verses of "Liar" sound like they could have been taken from an Alan Parsons project album.

One of the more interesting tracks is "Travelling ways", which features a rare appearance by Jim Leverton on lead vocals. The track sounds similar to Simon Nicol's work with Fairport Convention.

Although there is some pleasant instrumentation, in particular the flute work on several tracks, there is little in the way of instrumentals and certainly none of the lengthy breaks which characterised their early output. An album full of their short tracks will probably be of less appeal to Caravan fans, and "Battle of Hastings" was clearly directed more towards the transient, pop orientated market.

For those looking to explore the album at a budget price, the Mooncrest label Caravan compilation "Travelling man" contains all but three of the tracks on "Battle of Hastings".

Report this review (#50448)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After 'Back To The Front' recorded in 1982 'The Battle Of Hastings', released in 1995, was CARAVAN's first studio record in13 years. The band had again found a stability, that lasts up to today with the basic core of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Dave Sinclair, Geoffrey Richardson, Jimmy Hastings and newcomer Jim Leverton on bass.Another newcomer is Julian Gordon Hastings on production and engineering duties. It is always difficult to listen to new records of a band that has produced such a great number of good records, but this one does not have to fear any comparaison . All compositions are by Pye Hastings and the songs alter between medium grooves: 'It's a Sad, Sad Affair', slower bluesy songs: 'Cold as Ice', uptempo rockers: 'If It Wasn't for Your Ego' and the occasional funny tongue-in-cheek song: 'Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole' with funny lyrics, sound effects and some retro feeling. Jimmy Hastings is very present on this record and delivers some beautiful flute solos on 'Somewhere in Your Heart' and 'Don't Want Love', a nice Piccolo solo on 'Travelling Ways', and a beutiful 'Soprano Sax Solo on 'It's Not Real'. Number two on the solo list is Dave Sinclair with a great acoustic piano intro on 'Travelling Ways' a great piano solo on 'Don't Want Love' and two groovy organ solos on 'This Time' and 'If It Wasn't for Your Ego' with his typical trademark organ sound. All the songs are interesting, the band grooves as in the good ol' times (special mention for Richard Coughlan) the arrangements are well- crafted the vocals are great and the production is good. If this record would have been released 30 years earlier I would have given it 5 stars.
Report this review (#60708)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've always liked the short, whimsical "pop" songs from Caravan - Golf Girl, If I could Do It All Over Again and particularly Love to Love You. This 1995 release contains at least one of the whimsical songs in "Wendy wants another 6" mole", but the rest of the tracks are all short (by Caravan standards anyway) and are in a less Canterbury style than the original band. This is very much a Pye Hastings CD, as he wrote all the songs bar one. To be honest I wasn't expecting too much but this has come as a very pleasant surprise. The quality of recordings is good, the songs are all melodic and well played as you'd expect, but there are enough solos to keep most prog fans happy. The wind of Jimmy Hastings (if you'll pardon the expression) is very much in evidence here and "I know why you're laughing" even features what sounds like the Caravan organ sound of old.

I appear to have the older edition where the cover art has a budget, almost photocopied feel to it, nevertheless this is an excellent CD and I'd recommend it to all but the most die-hard Canterbury fan.

Report this review (#133217)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Who could still be interested in "Caravan" in 1995 ?

For those of you who would like to get an understanding of the title of this album, let me mention that "Hastings" was one of the greatest battle ever fought on English soil to defend the integrity of the territory (in 1066). But it might as well be referring to some battles fought by the Hastings brothers. Who knows...

This album is far from being one of the greatest English work to have ever been recorded. "Caravan" has used us to weak albums recently starting with the poor "The Album" released in 1980 and this come back after some thirteen years can't be considered as a great one.

IMHHO, if the band would have remained silent in terms of studio albums and just perform some live sets (which is basically what they will do anyway) they would have gained in credibility because this "The Battle of Hastings" doesn't hold any great numbers.

Two stars, that's all.

Report this review (#160698)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Caravan naked

After a longer break from the recording studio, Caravan returned in 1995 with The Battle Of Hastings. Keeping in mind that their previous albums from the early 80's and late 70's were less than impressive, it comes as no surprise that what we have here is an improvement. But even so, The Battle Of Hastings is not very impressive on its own merits, and it leaves a lot to be desired.

The Battle Of Hastings presents a subtle, charming and predominantly acoustic Caravan with many Folk-influences with lots of tasteful mandolin and flutes. The melodies are rather soft and laid back, and the album is not particularly progressive. The music is pleasant, but the material is not really memorable and the album simply lacks the lasting appeal of classic Caravan albums like For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night and Cunning Stunts.

As I said, this album is very acoustic in its nature, almost "naked" compared to other Caravan albums. But it is not quite an unplugged session, however, as there are some nice keyboard solos and electric guitars in addition to acoustic guitars, mandolin, flute, and violin, among other instruments. The flute work in particular is very nice.

The only real embarrassment is the outrageously silly Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole is totally out of place with its silly and annoying "farting" noises! Were they trying to make children's music here? Thankfully, the rest of the songs have a rather serious tone and are not so silly. I have never liked Caravan's silly and whimsical moments.

Caravan wouldn't return to form until their next album, 2003's The Unauthorised Breakfast Item.

Report this review (#257172)
Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Ahem, now this is getting difficult.

There are better songs (Liar, Somewhere in Your Heart which and few others, but there are also bad ones (It's a Sad, Sad Affair, where every second shouts it's shiny pop song which is melodic, nice and uplifting, but lacking anything Prog-related. The only glimpse would be this keyboards element that's present for few seconds, but only a glimpse, nothing more).

But this pop element was always there a little bit. And I also little bit appreciated it. Of course, I liked longer, more complex and generally better (not so leasure-like) songs over these shorter ones, but this album still has moments that are offering fine music. And maybe it's just sound hallucination, but I also hear Prog parts, elements here and there. Nothing major though, but it helps.

Don't Want Love is nice example of better parts and newly found inspiration that Caravan provides.

This is Caravan sound, but stripped of most Prog sounding elements that were present in 70s. But when compared to dark ages of 80s, it shines. Rating should probably be something in between.

But towards the end, pop is stepping to background and more Rock (and even Prog) sounds are appearing, so I'll go for

4(-) for this bold return.

Report this review (#285872)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars Pye Hastigs and Dave Sinclair give a touch of old Caravan with their vocals, but the 70s will never come back again.

This reunion album, without Richard Sinclair, doesn't contain true highlights. The opener "It's A Sad, Sad Affair" is nice but just a pop song, and things don't go better with "Somewhere In Your Heart", that's a song to make thirteens dance at birthdays celebrations, even with Jimmy Hastings closing the track with his flute.

"Cold As Ice" is better. We have to wait for the third track to listen to Caravan. It's everything but a masterpiece, but it's a decent Canterbury song. "Liar" is similar but with some "70s disco" moments.

"Don't Want Love" is the first good song, in the sense that's more than just "decent". Unfortunately it lacks the long instrumental parts which made songs like Winter Wine great. The final flute is not enough.

"Travelling Ways" is just a nice pop song with no Caravans inside. "This Time" sounds like the poppy Camel of "Breathless", but Camel were making Harbour of Tears at this time. This is a huge difference.

"If It Wasn't For Your Ego" is a song that belongs to the "glam" side of Caravan. Not bad also this, but not much better than things like Love To Love You.

"It's Not Real" has a slow funky mood It sounds like Wishbone Ash on Front Page News. Again the problem is that we are in 1995.

"Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole": two minutes to skip.

"I Know You Were Laughing" is one of the best songs. It sounds Caravan enough and is captivating. Only it's that kind of nice songs one get soon tired of.

This second "reunion" some 13 years after the last one is neither a revival. It's well played, but we know how skilled those guys are. There are no essential songs and some weak moments. I can't rate it more than two stars, sorry.

Report this review (#430828)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I would happily give this album 4 stars as I really love many of the songs here (Liar, If it Wasn't for Your Ego, It's not Real, I Know Why You're Laughing) but as these are the prog archives and, as the other reviewers have written, there isn't too much prog in there really, I can only give it 3 good stars (as in "good but non-essential"). That put aside, this is an excellent pop- rock album and highly recommended to those that like the lighter side of Caravan. The music is melodic, sunny and light (although the lyrics aren't always) with strong performances by brother Jimmy.

I hadn't listened to "The Battle..." for some years and rediscovered it only recently with a big grin on my face!

Report this review (#817922)
Posted Monday, September 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let's continue with Caravan's eleventh record which was made thriteen years after the wonderful "Back to front" recording. In 1995 when I was 6 years old Caravan had return to their nice cover apperence and also the title "Battle of Hastings" is interesting. Of course all of you know that two of the Caravans are named Hastings. Yes here they're two; Pyes brother Jimmy is here too, playing a lot of wind and blow instruments. The cover picture shows scenes from the famous tapestry showing the Battle of Hastings. Here there's also Richard Coughlan (we remember him and mourn his recent death), Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson and Dave Sinclair and Jim Leverton who plays bass and sings.

"The Battle of Hastings" is a well procuded an over all enjoyable album which carries on the spirit of Caravan through the nineties. I am a little sorry that many of the songs don't sound very much like Caravan. They're too ordinar rock songs. I think it's Dave Sinclairs piano solos that are too seldom here but there are some interesting songs, especially in the end of the record. "It's not real" where I don't think Pye sings is the very best song (8/10). I do like the vocals and even if the song is calm it has a forwardlooking rhytm. The short "Wendy wants another 6" mole" is also great, just as playful and happy a Caravan song should be(7/10) and the closer "I know why you're laughing" is a good rock song with a great synth solo(7/10).

Beside from these songs there are a lot of tracks that are okay or enjoyable but not so much above that. I like the happy starter "It's a sad, sad affair"(6/10) and "Cold as ice" starts slow and quite and becomes a very nice song too(6/10). "If it wasn't for your ego" is also playful and has a great synth solo.

Over all I like the well known easy adopted happy melodies and more leading keyboards. Perhaps I think these songs are recorded with too many instruments, Caravan should be more stripped. Well I should only review what I have heard and it was a decent record with perhaps five superior tracks that I do recommend. This record is a little better than "The Album" but not as good as "Better by far" or "Back to front". Three stars!

Report this review (#1088633)
Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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