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Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night CD (album) cover

FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT

Caravan

 

Canterbury Scene

4.17 | 700 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars CARAVAN had suffered the same fate that many ambitious artistically oriented early 70s bands shared, namely a lack of financial stability in exchange for the overtly sophisticated progressive developments that they were developing. After what should have been their breakthrough success album with "In The Land Of They Grey And Pink," the band found its first major shakeup as founding member and keyboardist Dave Sinclair jumped ship and joined Robert Wyatt in his fledgling Matching Mole project. After reasserting their desire to carry on as a band, the remaining members recruited a replacement in the form of Steve Miller who filled the role quite nicely but also brought an overload of jazz sensibilities to the table. After the change in direction that resulted in the following "Waterloo Lily," CARAVAN's bold new direction left many fans alienated but not all was lost as many new ones filled their shoes. Feeling like the band's direction was merely spinning wheels, Miller's recalcitrant stance of wanting to follow Soft Machine into ever jazzier arenas didn't go over too well and he was relieved of his duties.

After his short stint with Matching Mole, Dave Sinclair rejoined the band and with the addition of viola player Geoff Richardson, the band added a completely new dimension to its sound and the result was the interestingly titled and fifth studio album FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT. The reactions of "Waterloo Lily" were mixed as some found the new direction favorable while others found it detracted from the band's potential however FOR GIRLS was universally praised for returning back to the rock elements as well as the challenging addition of a stellar horn section and elaborate symphonic orchestrations. The perfect mix of things conspired to create CARAVAN's last great album before they would water down their sound into a series of bland AOR sounding albums from which they would never fully recover. Now as a quintet, CARAVAN also solicited the help of twelve session musicians which makes FOR GIRLS sound like a larger than life experience.

The difference between FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT is immediately apparent as the the feisty "Memory Lain" which on some editions has the following "Headloss" tacked on, opens with a predominantly guitar and bass driven rock groove exhibiting faster tempos and heavier percussive drives than the dreamy offerings of the past. The track despite its rock guitar dominance still finds many opportunities to delve into psychedelic meanderings, heavy pile driving organ runs and the progressive jazzy chops that were characteristic of the Canterbury crowd of the era. While CARAVAN was clearly on the poppier side of the Canterbury spectrum, FOR GIRLS flawlessly balances the more accessible melodic developments with intricate uses of harmonic sophistication, subtle jazz touches and of course the traces of whimsy ubiquitous in the Canterbury vernacular. In some ways tracks like "Headloss" come off as straight forward hard rock but the incorporation of the bluesy viola, atmospheric organ touches as well as the Steely Dan-esque jazz-fusion harmonic touches take it to a totally different reality.

The more upbeat rock approach continues on "Hoedown" but "Surprise, Surprise" slows things down a bit and emphasizes the atmospheric touches. The formidable "C'thlu Thlu" packs a double identity as it alternates the introductory Jethro Tull like guitar riffs (think of Martin Barre on the "Aqualung" album) along with a funk laden segment that offers an energetic uptick which makes it sound like two completely different songs were fused together and one of the more brilliant moments on the album. Likewise the instantly addictive "The Dog, The Dog, He's at It Again" not only showcases the distinct Canterbury humor in full regalia but also delivers a distinct dreamy mid-tempo melody that qualifies as a first degree ear worm but in the most pleasant aspect of the term. The track is characteristic of a perfectly written singer / songwriter style of musical sensibility augmented by things such as ska syncopation, orchestral backing and then a foray into a sizzling keyboard dominated series of soloing. A performance par excellence.

The final two tracks feature the over-the-top progressiveness and excessively titled "Be Alright / Chance Of A Lifetime" and closing finale "L'auberge du sanglier / A Hunting We Shall Go / Pengola / Backwards / A Hunting Shall We Go (Reprise)," the former which delivers another heavier rock veneer but also delves into the softer more flute oriented melodies of classic CARAVAN which i presume are aspects of each title although there is no clear distinction other than the stylistic change in the middle. Another great viola performance on this one. The closing medley of CARAVANism skirts near the ten minute mark and provides a multi-suite foray into the most progressive moments of the entire album. This is where the classical and jazz touches exceed the rock elements and the sophisticated orchestral parts are fully employed to create an exceedingly symphonic aural overload. While starting off soft and subtle and jumping into choppy off-kilter time signature laced guitar riffing, the track slowly evolves as it ratchets up into a fully fueled orchestral fury.

While many would argue otherwise, i personally rank FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT second only to "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" as CARAVAN's finest moment, one they would unfortunately never repeat as starting with the following "Cunning Stunts" the band vied towards more commercial accessibility due to financial pressures but in reality sounded more like a neutered animal that had lost all its mojo making vitality. While this album signified a new era for CARAVAN that would lead to the "New Symphonia" live album, the volatility within the ranks found this another short-lived rendition of the band and essentially left FOR GIRLS as a triumphant anomaly within the band's discography. FOR GIRLS latched onto the perfect mix of heavier rock, symphonic orchestration, jazz tinged subtleties and Canterbury cheekiness that conspired to create an unforgettably unique album in the entire rock paradigm. As far as i'm concerned, this blows "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" away which has remained the band's most popular album. This one displays a much more diverse series of approaches that worked in tandem beautifully

4.5 but too good to round down

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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