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Caravan - The Unauthorised Breakfast Item CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.39 | 154 ratings

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4 stars When a band grows old and doesn't have any ambition of escalating the charts two things can happen: retirement or an album of this kind. The Caravan sound was dated and their attempts to make some pop music during the punk age were quite pathetic. I mean things like "The Album" or "Back To Front", but in the new century, after the little rebirth of prog, has a new flavor, maybe nostalgic.

The album starts with a pop tune, or better, it would have been a pop tune 30 years before. "Smoking Gun" it's just a nice easy song. It's good hearing Pye's vocals again which are still a band's trademark. "Revenge" is another typical Caravan easy song with some Jimmy Hastings in the background and just a bit more rock than usual. It has made me remember "Stuck In A Hole", but the coda features an excellent solo by Jan Schelhaas.

The title track sounds like it was from the Waterloo Lily age. Up to now it's a pleasant album, not even comparable with the rubbish releases of the 80s, but honestly not special. What I think is remarkable is that even using "modern" keyboards and guitar effects their sound is still unmistakable.

"Tell Me Why" is another typical easy song. Catchy enough to have the possibility of a radio passage also in those days, but it's "It's Getting A whole Lot Better" which makes me cry to the masterpiece. It's a slow jazzy and atmospheric track which values the price for the whole album. It recalls some of the atmospheres of the early albums, I think to"If I Can Do...". The very hot voice of Pye Hastings fits perfectly into the jazzy mood and the guitar riff,for the sound used, seems belonging more to Camel than to Caravan. This is Pye Hastings at his best, but also brother Jimmy plays a very good sax on it. This track is so good that makes "Head Above The Clouds" appear as just a pop song (and it's not). This song has a low volume instrumental intro before becoming a typical Caravan song, belonging more to the "Plump in the Night" period.

"Straight To The Heart" is the song I like less. Like a pop song of the late 60s it's not bad on its own, but it's just a melodic pop song, nothing more. That bit of nostalgic flavor that it has saves it, anyway. It can't be considered really a lowlight.

Geoff Richardson's viola opens "Wild West Street". He was unlucky to join the band when it was starting its decline. This track, built for his viola, is not bad. It's just a bit "misplaced". Too different from the rest of the album, I would have put it as closer, instead.

"Nowhere to Hide" sees Dave Sinclair back with his former band. Piano and viola open it. I don't think the vocalist is Pye here. The chords are easy, everything but challenging, but the song puts me in a mood that I'm used to call "blue effect". It's not easy to explain, I mean blue as colour, not as feeling. I would have just expected a bit more effort from Dave Sinclair, but he mainly plays a solo in the three minutes coda which seems to have been tied to the normal end of the song. Three excellent jazzy minutes, anyway. The most "Canterbury" part of the album.

"Linders Field" closes probably the whole Caravan's story. Acoustic guitar, flute and congas give us some minutes of relaxing and dreaming instrumental music. After two minutes the flute is replaced by a clean electric piano and a bit of electric guitar plays long notes in the background. It's not a typical Caravan's track, probably the best way to close the career of this historical band: like saying "hey guys, we could have made more of this stuff for the next years, this is what you are going to miss".

It's honestly a non-essential album, but it's the final act of a great band which has lost itself for a long time. It's the last, and I don't think anybody would complain if I add a star for the career. It's the best Caravan's album since from the 70s.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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