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CARAVAN

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Caravan biography
CARAVAN were the other half of the WILDE FLOWERS - the SOFT MACHINE being the other - that originated in Canterbury, Kent. The band itself was originally formed in early 1968 by guitarist/vocalist Pye HASTINGS, keyboardist Dave SINCLAIR, bassist/vocalist Richard SINCLAIR (later of HATFIELD & THE NORTH, NATIONAL HEALTH, etc.), and drummer Richard COUGHLAN. All four members of CARAVAN were, at one time or another, in that band. They were a leading exponent of what became known as "the Canterbury sound".

The band's 1968 self-titled debut was a hybrid of jazz and psychedelia. Things became serious with the second album, "If I Could Do It All Over Again,I'd Do It All Over You" and would mark the start of their classic period. The material was a very original mixture of styles including classical, jazz, and traditional English influences. A MILESTONE IN THEIR HISTORY. This recipe was used to great success on the next album, "In the Land of Grey and Pink". This album was a perfect blend between simple northern-English pop and complex progressive rock. Quite simply one of the greatest progressive rock classics. The style dominated the next album, "Waterloo Lily", released in May of 1972, which marked a clear step towards jazz. Yet, Richard SINCLAIR's influence was clearly apparent on the first side. "For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night" marked another change in the band's sound, this time towards a more streamlined symphonic approach. This album is not a bad album taken by itself, but the classic Canterbury sound stopped here. For a more representative look at CARAVAN in their prime, check out the preceding three albums. This lineup also recorded the live album "Caravan and the New Symphonia", a live 1973 performance accompanied by a full orchestra.

"Cunning Stunts" (1975) marked the beginning of a series of mediocre releases and lineup changes, eventually leading to the reunion of the original members on "Back to Front". Many different compilations and live albums were released in the intervening twelve years before a new studio album, "Battle of Hastings", which was released in 1995. This album was a nice collection of poppy tunes retaining the classic CARAVAN sound (organ, violin, flute, sax and HASTINGS' inimitable vocals). CARAVAN is still active today...
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In The Land Of Grey & Pink 40Th Anniversary - CaravanIn The Land Of Grey & Pink 40Th Anniversary - Caravan
Import
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$16.40
$16.39 (used)
If I Could Do It All Over Again - CaravanIf I Could Do It All Over Again - Caravan
Import · Remastered
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$4.95
$8.48 (used)
In The Land Of Grey And Pink - CaravanIn The Land Of Grey And Pink - Caravan
Import · Remastered
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$9.15
$7.18 (used)
Plump In The Night - CaravanPlump In The Night - Caravan
Import · Remastered
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$5.13
$7.99 (used)
Waterloo Lily - CaravanWaterloo Lily - Caravan
Import · Remastered
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$5.11
$5.49 (used)
CaravanCaravan
Import · Remastered
DECCA 2015
Audio CD$3.79
$4.37 (used)
Better By FarBetter By Far
Import · Remastered
Eclectic Discs 2005
Audio CD$18.55
$14.00 (used)
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CARAVAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CARAVAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 451 ratings
Caravan
1968
4.25 | 887 ratings
If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
1970
4.27 | 1512 ratings
In The Land Of Grey And Pink
1971
3.75 | 483 ratings
Waterloo Lily
1972
4.15 | 641 ratings
For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night
1973
3.10 | 295 ratings
Cunning Stunts
1975
3.25 | 205 ratings
Blind Dog At St. Dunstans
1976
2.86 | 128 ratings
Better By Far
1977
2.11 | 105 ratings
The Album
1980
2.40 | 101 ratings
Back To Front
1982
2.79 | 105 ratings
The Battle Of Hastings
1995
3.28 | 107 ratings
The Unauthorised Breakfast Item
2003
2.99 | 76 ratings
Paradise Filter
2013
2.90 | 10 ratings
The Back Catalogue Songs
2014

CARAVAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 164 ratings
Caravan & The New Symphonia
1974
3.58 | 21 ratings
The Best of Caravan "Live"
1980
3.23 | 13 ratings
Show of Our Lives
1981
3.37 | 39 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert
1991
2.82 | 17 ratings
Live 1990
1993
3.72 | 13 ratings
Live: Canterbury Comes to London
1997
3.50 | 10 ratings
Back Of The Tracks (Live On The Continent)
1998
3.57 | 13 ratings
Ether Way: BBC Sessions 1975-77
1998
2.65 | 13 ratings
Surprise Supplies (AKA "Here I am")
1999
3.16 | 13 ratings
Green Bottles For Marjorie
2002
4.47 | 101 ratings
Live At Fairfield Halls - 1974
2002
3.88 | 15 ratings
Live UK Tour 1975
2003
3.38 | 8 ratings
Nowhere to Hide
2003
3.16 | 13 ratings
Live in Nottingham
2003
3.00 | 4 ratings
With Strings Attached
2003
4.03 | 41 ratings
The Show Of Our Lives: Caravan At The BBC 1968-1975
2007
2.33 | 15 ratings
A Hunting We Shall Go: Live In 1974
2008
2.72 | 7 ratings
The European Tour 2011: Live At Shepherds Bush Empire
2012

CARAVAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.36 | 20 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
2001
2.41 | 10 ratings
A Knight In London
2003
3.85 | 14 ratings
A Night's Tale: Live In The USA
2004
4.00 | 11 ratings
Caravan - The 35th Anniversary Concert
2005
2.93 | 7 ratings
The Anthology/The Ultimate Anthology
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
Classic Rock Legends: Caravan Live At Metropolis Studios
2011
3.00 | 3 ratings
Live At Rosfest Gettysburg USA
2014

CARAVAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Caravan: From 1970-1974
1974
4.00 | 1 ratings
This Is Caravan
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Dos
1976
4.20 | 21 ratings
Canterbury Tales - The Best of Caravan
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Caravan (Compilation)
1979
2.07 | 4 ratings
The Canterbury Collection
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
And I Wish I Were Stoned Don't Worry
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Songs And Signs
1991
4.09 | 7 ratings
The Best Of Caravan
1993
3.74 | 31 ratings
Canterbury Tales: The Best Of Caravan 1968-1975
1994
2.30 | 19 ratings
Cool Water
1994
3.18 | 17 ratings
All Over You
1997
3.00 | 2 ratings
Travelling Man
1998
3.24 | 17 ratings
Songs For Oblivion Fishermen
1998
3.35 | 15 ratings
All Over You ... Too
1999
3.05 | 3 ratings
Headloss
1999
3.00 | 2 ratings
The HTD Years
2000
3.19 | 12 ratings
Where But For Caravan Would I?
2000
2.20 | 7 ratings
Travelling Ways
2002
4.95 | 24 ratings
The World Is Yours - The Anthology 1968-1976
2010
2.00 | 2 ratings
Place of My Own: The Collection
2014

CARAVAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 5 ratings
Place of My Own
1969
3.83 | 6 ratings
Hello, Hello
1970
3.00 | 2 ratings
If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You
1970
3.22 | 8 ratings
Golf Girl
1971
3.40 | 5 ratings
Love to Love You
1971
2.00 | 1 ratings
A Hunting We Shall Go
1974
2.00 | 1 ratings
Headloss
1974
2.92 | 3 ratings
Stuck in a Hole
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
All The Way
1976
2.00 | 3 ratings
Better By Far
1977
2.00 | 1 ratings
Heartbreaker
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Keepin' Up De Fences
1980

CARAVAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In The Land Of Grey And Pink by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1512 ratings

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In The Land Of Grey And Pink
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars The land where the punk prog grows: 9/10

IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK is marked by the infusion of jazz elements into the well established psychedelic genre, dominant on the late 60's in Britain. It's an attempt at becoming something musically transcendental, on CARAVAN's own soft, charming methodology. Their importance, contextually, is what confers them their progressive status, because materialistically there's little solid evidence of such (aside from, well, the aforementioned syncretism between psychedelic rock and jazz). Not to mention the spectacular Nine Feet Underground, an insane epic at its own, with over 22 minutes in length. However, one that sticks solemnly to coldly identifiable progressive rock should really broaden their horizon because otherwise, they could miss jewels like this. It's a must to listen to this and witness the very transitionary phase between proto-prog and prog. And a must, too, because it's too heartwarming and lovable to skip.

 Back To Front by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.40 | 101 ratings

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Back To Front
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Borik

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.

 For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.15 | 641 ratings

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For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by ster

5 stars After Caravan produced "Waterloo Lily" the dissension among the members proved to be too much. Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair were obviously on two different paths. Richard Sinclair and Steve Miller would leave and be replaced by John G. Perry on bass/vocals and Geoff Richardson would provide electric violin. Also Dave Sinclair would come back as the keyboardist. This time though it would be Hastings who would be the main driving force with John G. Perry providing excellent vocal harmonies and Geoff Richardson providing a lot of the instrumentation with his violin rather that Dave Sinclair's keyboards. What we get is a very different sounding Caravan record. But it turns out to be an amazing record. From the beginning to the end. Very upbeat. The Canterbury sound only comes through rarely. The album rocks more often too and has more af an American sound without losing progressive ingenuity. A fun album through and through. One of those records that just never lets up being great, track after track. Even though this record is uncharacteristic of earlier Caravan albums, they broke new ground and came up aces.
 Waterloo Lily by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.75 | 483 ratings

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Waterloo Lily
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by ster

4 stars Different but still excellent.

Caravan did a great job cultivating such a great sound from their debut to their third album, In The Land Of Gray And Pink. This was due to a stable lineup and great contributions from all members. After ITLOGAP failed to become the commercial success they had hoped, keyboardist David Sinclair left and was replaced by Steve Miller. Newcomer Steve Miller brought a more jazzy influence that was contrary to guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Pye Hastings style. The sound of the band changed since Miller sounded nothing like David Sinclair and bassist/vocalist/songwriter Richard Sinclair was very accepting of the new direction. Now the band were at odds and the album has an obvious contrast of styles. Waterloo Lily is a bit of a let-down because it sounds different from its predecessors but is still a great record in its own right.

Waterloo Lily is a rock tune with some jazzy chops. Hilarious lyrics and great playing. An excellent song and a Canterbury classic.

Nothing At All /It's Coming Soon / Nothing At All is an instrumental that starts off with a jam that maybe overstays its welcome by a few bars, very monotonous. Mid-tempoed with plenty of improvised soloing along a related riff, but the "It's Coming Soon" section makes up for it with its great melodies, variations and dynamics.

Songs And Signs is a shorter piece penned by newcomer Steve Miller. Very melodic with great vocals. Great tune.

Aristocracy is a Pye Hastings song that doesn't disappoint. A leftover from the Gray and Pink sessions. A fun poppish song although the version on the deluxe version of ITLOGAP is better IMO.

The Love In Your Eye / To Catch Me A Brother / Subsultus / Debouchement / Tilbury Kecks is the epic on the album and one of Caravan's great moments. Great melodies with a backdrop of brass and Jimmy Hastings excellent flute playing. The tune then morphs into a jam not too different than the second track but little better and maybe a little too long. Still an excellent track with lots of variation.

The World Is Yours is an acoustic Hastings penned tune that's nice but kind of weird that they chose this to end the album.

 In The Land Of Grey And Pink by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1512 ratings

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In The Land Of Grey And Pink
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by marcobrusa

5 stars This one caught me by surprise. I had never listend to an entire canterbury album before. I decided to start with this one because of the very high rating, with no expectations. I fell in love on the first listen. Absolute masterpiece. No filler. No virtuosism. Every song is perfect. I listen to this album at least once a week at this very moment. Winter Wine has some of the best lyrics i've heard in my life (at this point, and if the singer is clear, i understand english whithout reading the lyrics). It's one of those albums that will stay forever in the top of my personal list. Nothing more to say. Masterpiece.
 In The Land Of Grey And Pink by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1512 ratings

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In The Land Of Grey And Pink
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Rodrigo Andrade7

5 stars This is my introduction to CARAVAN and aswell to the canterbury scene. I am astounded with the music produced on this album from the beginning to the very end, this is solid 5 stars for me in just one single listen. All the tracks on this album are solid and mark a very unique sounding and highly intelligent music like I never had listen before. You can clearly hear jazz and psychadelic elements all over the place, making it such a good combo in a album. The epic "Nine Feet Underground" is literally a ocean of music, 22 minutes of amazing musicianship, this band has amazing vocals and very clever song writting. The only bad thing about this album is that I cannot find any flaw or bad thing about it. Hehe seriously, this is a masterpiece of a album which remains as one of the most quintessential albums of the canterbury scene and to this day, it is between my favorite albums of all time without any doubt.
 In The Land Of Grey And Pink by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1512 ratings

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In The Land Of Grey And Pink
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars As one half of the Wilde Flowers which was, of course, the big bang band of everything later deemed Canterbury Scene, CARAVAN couldn't have been more distant from their counterparts The Soft Machine at this point. While Soft Machine had pretty much gone full on jazz with only scant traces of rock remaining, CARAVAN on the other hand took the psychedelic pop approach and with their third album IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK which is what i surmise to be the initial goal that the Wilde Flowers strived to achieve all the way back in the mid 60s. Unfortunately they just didn't have the chops and finesse to pull it off that far back. But it seems that CARAVAN never left those ambitions behind and despite a full-on entry into the progressive rock world of "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" which incorporated the best psychedelic features of the 60s with fresh and fertile ideas that were brewing at the turn of the decade, on album number 3 they chose to tame down any sort of bombast and focused on tamed down melodic developments that could in many cases pass as radio friendly tunes that your grandmum could sip tea to. Well, sort of?

The truth is IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK has always been a disappointment for me. Upon first listen i could not understand what all the fuss was about with this one. Where were the classical guitar workouts? What in the world happened to the symphonic light speed keyboard bombast? The crazed time sigs? The surreptitious proggy ways of cloaking a melody in rhythmic grandiloquence? Well, not on this one. Since this was my first CARAVAN album recommended by the leagues of prog fans who touted its virtuous nature, i simply abandoned the notion of pursuing any other albums from CARAVAN. After all, this was the best! Or was it? After by happenstance hearing "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night," i was astounded that i was instantly hooked by that album and decided to revisit this album as well as check out all the earlier albums as well. Well lo and behold i had made a gargantuan booboo by simply writing this band off as wimpy wannabe progsters.

Like many prog albums, even the more accessible strain of artists require some time for the idiosyncrasies to sink in. Despite being the easiest entry point into the Canterbury Scene universe, CARAVAN is no exception. Yes, tracks like "Golf Girl" and the title track are instant accessible slices of psychedelic pop all gussied up in supplemental instrumentation such as flute, tenor sax, piccolo, bells, wind instruments and even trombone but upon further listening and comparisons to true pop songs of the era, there are indeed progressive attributes aplenty. It's just that these aren't in your face and set on fire. Yes, think of this as psychedelic pop rock but really, really goooood psychedelic pop rock. The kind Jefferson Airplane and other 60s bands just couldn't even come close to mustering up. While i do consider this a step down from the previous album, i have to admit that the compositions are well thought out and intricately spiced up with all kinds of subtle variations.

In the beginning i was a non-believer but in the end i have come around to appreciate this album as a very listenable and well respected entry point for many prog rock lovers to delve into a much more complex prog universe. I mean really. How can you resist those soulful organ and Mellotron workouts of David Sinclair, the baritone vocals of Richard Sinclair and the unmistakable rhythmic chops of Ricard Sinclair's bass with Richard Coughlan's drum contributions. However, one of the things that's really missing from this album unlike others is the guitar capabilities of Pye Hastings. Here he merely serves as a rhythmic underlord never getting to usurp the organ, piano and Mellotron dominant psychedelic world that very much coincides with the color limited Hobbit world of the album cover.

After all is said and done, this is an album i have grown to appreciate but not an album i have grown to love above all others. Even within the greater world of CARAVAN this is my least favorite of the first five essentials. It lacks the thrill and excitement of what came before and what came after and despite having so-called prog behemoth workouts like "Nine Feet Underground" which in reality are only stitched together pop hooks that are sewn together instead of creating a true wild and wooly instrumental magnum opus that delivers surprise and puts the listener in a state of awe. But in the end, IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK is a quite listenable album that does deliver in creating a nice relaxing stroll through their imaginary world. Perhaps only deserving the "sorta prog" label but whatever you want to label it, it is still a very rewarding listen if you don't have expectations of ELP meets Yes or Gentle Giant. Despite all the radio friendly potential, the record label failed to promote this album which led to abysmal album sales initially. The good news is that this album has become quite the classic of the ages and could certainly qualify as a mutant late bloomer. Unfortunately David Sinclair was so dismayed by its lack of notoriety that he would depart soon after and join Robert Wyatt in creating Matching Mole. Nevertheless, the band would sally forth and create a couple more worthy editions to any prog collection.

 If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.25 | 887 ratings

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If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars As the 60s abruptly became the 70s, the psychedelia of the former era was transmogrifying into something more sophisticated. With the prog rock explosive nature of 1969 occurring with bands like East Of Eden and King Crimson forever changing the rock history books, bands who came before who were more focused on the psychedelic pop aspects of the scene rather than the sophisticated compositions of what would develop suddenly found themselves upping their game manyfold and the creative expressions were sudden and highly effective. CARAVAN was one such band that was one half of The Wilde Flowers, with the other half, of course, being The Soft Machine. While Soft Machine started out on a similar trajectory as their counterparts, they seemed determined to race full speed ahead into the world of jazz and upon every subsequent release jettisoned the rock aspects of their music. CARAVAN had the complete opposite approach. They simply took the psychedelic pop rock features on their debut album and upped the sophistication several times over and focused MORE on the rock instead of less. The results equated in being one of the most exciting releases to exist in the progressive rock work in the early year of 1970.

IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU is only the second album by the mighty Canterbury Scene innovators CARAVAN, but it is in my opinion their absolute best album that took all the best features of the 60s and adopted the new developments that were quickly becoming the 70s. There is a perfect balance between old and new on this one and this album is the perfect marriage of the two eras in equal proportionality. The title track starts things out innocently enough with a catchy repetition of the words that make up the whimsical title track. This album captures the perfect period sound with catchy melodies that incorporates lots of organ runs and a plethora of rock and jazz instrumentation including not only the usual rock instruments but also sax, flute, claves, bongos, congas and other such oddities like hedge clippers and assorted ashtrays :O While the catchy passages and rich palette of musical timbres create a delightful listening experience, what really puts this album into the realms of true masterpieces is the intricate and well-designed compositions that keep the listener enthralled and ecstatic throughout the album's playing time.

While the title track reels the listener in with its catchy and psychedelic tribute to the 60s, the second track "And I Wish I Were Stoned / Don't Worry" creates a multi-part 8:12 track that takes the nihilism of the shattered utopian dreams of the 60s and seeks a route through escapism. The pinnacle of this leap into the progasphere comes full force on the penultimate 14:17 track "Can't Be Long Now / Françoise / For Richard / Warlock" that pulls out all the prog punches. While the sections and components of these tracks encompass the same types of psychedelic pop tendencies, it's how they are all sewn together and how well each passage flows from one segment to the other.

Far from being random, the different sections recur in logical formations where themes develop and appropriately move on and then are revisited. The general gist is that one track is a normal song length and then the next one that is progressive and lengthy serving with mini-suites that build up into a larger whole. IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU simply covers all grounds of the era. It includes a healthy dose of the psychedelic scene of the era, smooths things over with pop sensibilities and dresses it all up with progressive rock workouts and jam band excursions that include jazzy improvisational techniques. Nothing outlasts its welcome and even 45 years after its release still evokes a sense of excitement when listening to it. This truly is not only one of the best CARAVAN albums but a cornerstone of the early progressive rock scene as well. This is simply a major mandatory edition to any prog lover's world. Perfect in every way.

 In The Land Of Grey And Pink by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1512 ratings

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In The Land Of Grey And Pink
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Given the high ratings for this album by hundreds of other reviewers, it's easy to say that this isn't a very hard album to love. But what makes it so universally enjoyable?

The answer certainly doesn't lie in the musicians' virtuosic pyrotechnics; most of the album's licks are just simple major harmonies with pentatonic soloing and there's nothing flamboyant about their performances. Instead, what we have is an album that plays off of its charm. From a glance at the cover, you know that by listening to "In The Land of Grey and Pink", you'll be spending the next 40 or so minutes in a psychedelic dreamland, where wit and whimsy reign supreme. In this world, the music acts as a sort of blanket, keeping you warm and cozy in the rain. And the fabric that weaves its way into your heart? The warm, fuzzy organ sounds from David Sinclair and the mellow, nonchalant vocals singing of far away fairy tale lands and carefree excursions into fantasy.

In short, this is an album that prog fans should have no trouble getting into, and is somewhat of a fan favourite, but I wouldn't consider it a masterpiece, given the often repetitive musical accompaniments. 4 stars.

 Caravan by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.67 | 451 ratings

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Caravan
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

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!

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