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Caravan - In the Land of Grey and Pink CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1819 ratings

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3 stars Not as colorful as I imagined.

The Canterbury Scene as a genre really appealed to me early on during my explorations of the genres here on Prog Archives. It was light, quirky, playful, yet had wonderful musicianship mixing fusion into catchy pop-like songs. Every album I touched in the genre failed to disappoint and so I simply just ran down the list of artists and gave each of their higher rated albums a go. I was blown away by the experimentation of Soft Machine's Third, the virtuosity of National Health, the power behind Quiet Sun and so on as I continued looking into the bigger names of the genre.

Caravan was a slightly different experience. Now being one of my favorite Canterbury Scene band, I absolutely love their first 5 albums - except this one. I began with this album because it was, and still is, the highest rated Canterbury Scene album on Prog Archives. I was immediately annoyed by some of music on the album and was just quickly turned off by it. I continued to If I Could I'd Do It All Over Again..and just was in love. The stark difference in enjoyment between the two "masterpieces" of Canterbury Scene was just confusing. Even today, after more listens to In the Land of Grey and Pink, I just don't enjoy it nearly as much as any other Canterbury enthusiast. I find Caravan's other early work and other Canterbury Scene albums in general to simply be more successful and enjoyable.

For Side 1, we have shorter compositions and the pop-song qualities that Canterbury so often brings. Unfortunately we start off with the aggravating "Golf Girl". Richard Sinclair's vocals on this track and throughout the entire first half just are just grating on me. I find Pye's lead vocal contribution on "Love to Love You" not only tolerable but actually enjoyable. I've never disliked Sinclair's vocals prior, but I think when they're stuck in the middle of Golf Girl's weak, boring instrumentation and just lackluster lyricism they just are dragged down even further. I hate to come off so strongly, but even the ending piccolo solo and general outro can't save Golf Girls falling flat as a Canterbury pop song. "Winter Wine" brings things up a bit with more a more enjoyable delivery from Richard. His voice sounds airy and gentle. The extra two minutes we find on Winter Wine, compared to Golf Girl, really shows with a more tight composition with Pye's great lead guitar and other small, but noticeable offerings in passages leading up to the ending. "Love to Love You" is the shortest track on the album, just clocking over 3 minutes and somehow pulls off the bouncy, merry pop song more successfully than Golf Girl. Pye's lead vocals are great, the chorus is quick and catchy and we are given a wonderful flute solo for the outro. Overall this song takes Golf Girl's style and composition, compacts it and delivers a more enjoyable song. By the end of Side 1, we're given the title track, and by then I'm a little bored. Again we have a very simple, accented bouncy song with no edge, twists, or stand-out attributes. This song just embodies the first half overall unfortunately: a little too samey and far too weak especially when being compared to the brilliant album before this.

Now onto an interesting matter: Nine Feet Underground. Taking up the album's entire second side is a 22- minute epic by Caravan. This piece is a bit of a mixed bag for me. While it has some fantastic moments such as some great singing by both Richard Sinclair and Pye Hastings (to whom I prefer), fiery leads and solos, enjoyable keyboard textures, and some feel-good bass grooves, I just feel the song drags a bit sometimes. It has a hard time getting started, sure you can see it as coming out with some solos but I feel nothing is really being said by them and the structure comes off a little "by the numbers". Takes about 8 minutes for the rhythm section to really get an interesting pocket going and personally I think the song as a whole gets a little lost after it goes through some of the distinct phase changes. Enjoyable some of the time, though I feel that the ambition of the epic loses me.

In the Land of Grey and Pink just falls flat for me. Their previous album "If I Could I'd Do It All Over Again.." is a dignified masterpiece, and my favorite Canterbury album, but I just get a sense that a lot of the magical melodies and Canterbury flair was all used up around the time of this record. A Side 1 plagued by monotonous compositions and a surprisingly annoying sound while Side 2 just can't keep the heat it builds up every so often, ending up with a semi-enjoyable but obviously 22-minute long composition. In the end I would recommend any other album from Caravan from their '68-'73 period.

Horizons | 3/5 |


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