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Caravan - If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.25 | 1189 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nş 388

Caravan is an English progressive rock band from the Canterbury scene. For many aficionados of the creative progressive rock music that surfaced in the heady days of the 70's, the bands that surfaced from the English provincial city of Canterbury produced some of the best and most consistently interesting progressive rock music of that period. Of the all bands that emerged from the Canterbury scene, none was quite so original and as enduring as Caravan was.

Caravan was founded by the former Wilde Flowers' members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan in 1968. Caravan grew out of the breakup of the Wilde Flowers, a also Canterbury based group formed in 1964 as an R&B based outfit with a jazzy edge. The band was originally based in Whitstable, Kent, a place near Canterbury, but soon they relocated to London due to their musical career. They were a leading exponent of the Canterbury sound.

"If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" is the second studio album of Caravan and was released in 1970. The line up on the album is Pye Hastings (vocals, 6 and 12 string electric guitars, 6 string acoustic guitar, claves, worn leather strap, impersonation of a friendly gorilla and assorted ashtrays), David Sinclair (organ, piano and harpsichord), Richard Sinclair (vocals, bass guitar, tambourine and hedge clippers) and Richard Coughlan (drums, congas, bongos, maracas, figer and cymbals). The album had also the collaboration of Jimmy Hastings (saxophone and flute).

Caravan's self-titled debut album had held some promise but it was only "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" that brought a much more assured and distinctive sound. Indeed, this album perfectly bridges that awkward gap between psych and prog. This is really the album where the band had found their ultimate style. Jazz, pop, rock and classical music melted together in the usual prog way but far less pretentious than many other progressive rock bands. The classic Caravan sound was characterised by the vocals of Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair, twisted and fuzzed organ, very typical for many Canterbury bands, and there was usually some wind instruments too, mostly flute and sax.

"If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" has eight tracks. The first track is the title track. It's a short, fast, humorous piece, which draws its charm mainly by the vocal contrast of the two singers. Nice is also the organ solo in the middle. This is a fine opener to the album, but it isn't representative of the band, or even the album. The second track "And I Wish I Were Stoned ? Don't Worry" starts off something in the slightly 60's pop influenced style, which also influenced Caravan's debut album. The first half of the song is kept at a slow pace, then it gets faster, and Hastings even lays down a short solo. The guitar doesn't play a big role in the early sound of Caravan, really. The third track "As I Feel Die" is stylistically still in the tradition of the previous album. First, it begins very slowly and melancholy, then it goes abruptly into a brisk part with a beautiful organ. The fourth track is the suite "With An Ear To The Ground You Can Make It/Martinian/Only Cox/Reprise". It shows for the first time the slightly jazzy style sometimes interspersed with folky accents, which should also characterize the two great successors "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" and "Waterloo Lily". The long flowing instrumental parts, where sometimes the organ, sometimes saxophone or flute steps into the foreground, without pronounced solos. The singing is used sparingly but effectively. The fifth track "Hello Hello" is a very simple song but it's pretty good. It's a perfect example of how Caravan was able to beat many of their progressive contemporaries, creating shorter and more accessible songs. The sixth track "Asforteri 25" is another short and sweet song with great vocals from Hastings and Sinclair. It leads the way for the next track. The seventh track is the suite "Can't Be Long Now/Françoise/For Richard/Warlock". It's not just the highlight of the album, but one of the best pieces in Caravan's entire repertoire. After a gentle lyrical upbeat with a beautiful flute and nice vocals by Hastings, follows a long instrumental part. Organ, saxophone and flute entwine, again and again, one of these instruments comes to the fore for a short time to be replaced by another, to which bass, guitar and drums provide a solid rhythmic foundation. The eighth track "Limits" is a lighter piece, in which Hastings once again shines on flute. It's a nice close to the album.

Conclusion: This is a great album, a true masterpiece. It shows the intricacy with which Caravan's compositions are sculpted around some of the finest instrumental improvisation in British rock at the time, or arguably since. Caravan's uncanny ability to create a montage that effortlessly maneuvers through acoustic folk and electric progressive rock is really impressive, indeed. It's epic but never pretentious, psychedelic but never adrift, jazzy but never impenetrable. It has a lightness of touch and a complex magic the band never repeated. This is the first great highlight in the creation of Caravan and for those who are interested in the Canterbury sound is absolutely indispensable and for everyone else who love great music is strongly recommended, especially for the lovers of the classic prog scene of the early 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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