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




Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 1818 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It almost seems like assigning too many five-star ratings implies a lack of manliness here. I want to be a tough guy, believe me! But what am I supposed to do with an album as great as In the Land of Grey and Pink?

(Before I go further, I'll remark that the version I'm reviewing here is the 2011 Steven Wilson stereo remix from the 40th Anniversary set.)

The Prog Archives definition of a five-star album is "Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music," and this describes In the Land of Grey and Pink thoroughly. Its performances, production, and compositions are all first-rate.

The first song I heard from In the Land of Grey and Pink was the title song, which appeared on Supernatural Fairy Tales, a Rhino compilation. It's a pleasant, if inane, little song. For some reason I was inspired to look into Caravan further, and I looked up the band on Prog Archives. At that time, you could download full mp3s from the website, and I'm pretty sure that's where I got a copy of "Nine Feet Underground," which blew me away. In a textbook case of music file sharing benefiting the music industry, I eventually purchased the "Deluxe" edition of the album for almost $30. And it was worth it.

As it turns out, the nice-enough song "In the Land of Grey and Pink" is the least interesting on the album. It and the album-opening "Golf Girl," both sung by bassist Richard Sinclair, are relatively light, pastoral tunes which I've come to think of as exemplars of the "Canterbury sound." "Golf Girl" is slightly more accessible and wittier. Equally accessible, but catchier, is "Love to Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly)," sung by lead guitarist Pye Hastings. Now when I say that "Love to Love You" is accessible, I don't mean that its lyrics are relatable, or even that they make sense. Actually, the lyrics throughout In the Land of Grey and Pink are pretty good for progressive rock, but can't possibly be meant to be taken seriously.

"Golf Girl," "In the Land of Grey and Pink," and "Love to Love You" account for about thirteen of the album's forty-three minutes. The rest is occupied by the comparably progressive "Winter Wine" (sung by Sinclair) and "Nine Feet Underground" (sung by Hastings and Sinclair). Both are cut from the same cloth, and as the album's second song, the 7:36 "Winter Wine" serves as a preview of "Nine Feet," (22:43) which closes the album. Much has been made of the organ soloing on these songs and on the title track, and understandably so. Pardon the cliche, but keyboardist David Sinclair is on fire, especially on "Nine Feet."

I can't really say whether In the Land of Grey and Pink is, as many here claim, the best Canterbury Scene album ever; I haven't heard enough of the genre. Not knowing exactly how "Canterbury Scene" is defined as a subset of prog rock, I'll say that In the Land of Grey and Pink has significant elements of Symphonic Prog and Progressive Jazz, and to a greater extent, Progressive Folk. Despite these somewhat disparate ingredients, and although there are two distinct vocalists, In the Land of Grey and Pink hangs together as a single work.

So, great performances of great material. Highly recommended.

patrickq | 5/5 |


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