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Caravan - Paradise Filter CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.12 | 111 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars It's been a sad time for Caravan and their followers with the loss of founding member Richard Coughlan in 2013, no doubt shaking the group up, but through the support of fans, by way of a successful online Pledge Music pre-order campaign, we now have a thirteenth Caravan album entitled `Paradise Filter'. Truthfully, as much as fans can have good-will towards this beloved act, the results delivered offer only a slight interest to progressive rock fans, but there's still traces of the Caravan humour, good nature and musical taste. It's not like anyone should have expected any more side-long epics or quirky arrangements, so a bulk of `Paradise Filter' is straightforward oldies pop/rock, AOR tracks and ballads, but admittedly there's still the instantly recognisably warm and dignified voice of Pye Hastings. While initially somewhat unexciting, stick with the album for a few tracks and the better material starts to emerge.

A bunch of pleasing, melodic but mostly forgettable pop/rockers takes up the first sections of the album. With a bit more energy and life, `All This Could Be Yours' could have been one of those peppy little openers that appeared on earlier albums like `Feelin' Alright' off `Better By Far'. It's got a fairly catchy chorus, and Geoffrey Richardson's viola shows up briefly throughout the final minute, but it's mixed very low when it really needed to stand out! Mid- tempo rocker `I'm On My Way' has an almost flat wheezy chorus, but some gently bluesy guitar licks save it. With a title like `Fingers In The Till', one of those trademark silly and sprightly Caravan poppy tracks was expected, but it's a rather melancholic and serious plodder, only getting more infectious in the chorus towards the end. There's nice synths but they're mixed so far to the back they may as well have been left off altogether.

`This Is What We Are' shows the first signs of life and promise, a catchy chorus and stand- out vocal break mixed with menacing heavy piano and surprisingly murky snarling hard- rock riffs. `Dead Man Walking' has nice dusty western movie style harmonica, with a welcome extended instrumental second half built around striking acoustic guitar and dramatic piano, Hammond organ bristling away in the background. `Farewell, My Old Friend' is a touching piano ballad in honour of the late Richard Coughlin sung with sincerity by Pye and the whole band playing with great heart and emotion, and `I'll Be There For You' is a lovely romantic and optimistic light banjo ballad with classy synth orchestration.

Thankfully we also eventually get some of those cheekier numbers starting with the slinky jazz rocker `Pain In The Arse'! The hostile and very bitter `relationship gone wrong' lyric is a little shocking, but it's worth it to hear Pye deliver the classic line `While I think of it, you look just like a horse!' - now that's the Caravan I like to hear! `Trust Me I'm A Doctor' has nice jangling guitars over sly lines like `I'm here to look after your health, and maybe I'll add to my wealth', or even more amusingly `I told him that my throat hurt and that I couldn't sing, he said "Don't worry, Pye, neither can I!" Speaking of classic Caravan, Geoffrey Richardson takes the lead vocal on the title track album closer, a dreamy ballad that deters into a 70's style Caravan instrumental, not unlike the middle of `The Dog, The Dog He's At It Again'. Trilling flute, soft acoustic guitars and energetic synths all weave beautifully together, and it's the absolute highlight of the album.

I do believe the band should really `play the prog card' like that final piece a little more if they decide to release further albums in the future, just throw in more zippy synth soloing, more instrumental passages, even if it's kind of clichéd and predictable, because that's the sound Caravan fans really want to hear. A majority of vocal based straight-forward rock pieces from any progressive band are going to wear a little thin, no matter how much goodwill you have towards them. But many nice moments pop up throughout, so `Paradise Filter' is not without its charms, and it's really hard not to be taken in by this good-hearted band. Therefore it's still a worthy release for the more forgiving of their fans, and Caravan and Canterbury Scene completists will likely want to add either the CD or vinyl LP to their collection right away.

Three stars.

Note - Well done to all the fans who pre-ordered the album and got their names printed in the CD booklet. Nice big letters, easily to read and clear, they must be stoked to be a part of Caravan history! Good on them!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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