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Caravan The Unauthorised Breakfast Item album cover
3.39 | 154 ratings | 10 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Smoking Gun (Right for Me) (5:36)
2. Revenge (5:15)
3. The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (4:44)
4. Tell Me Why (6:16)
5. It's Getting a Whole Lot Better (8:56)
6. Head Above the Clouds (7:21)
7. Straight Through the Heart (4:40)
8. Wild West Street (4:47)
9. Nowhere to Hide (8:54)
10. Linders Field (3:38)

Total Time 60:07

Bonus disc from 2003 Eclectic special edition:
1. Smoking Gun (Right for Me) (live) (7:56) *
2. The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (live) (6:16) *
3. Tell Me Why (live) (5:45) *
4. Revenge (live) (5:42) *
5. For Richard (live) (14:22) #

Total Time 40:01

* Recorded in Tokyo, May 2003
# Recorded in Quebec City, July 2002

Line-up / Musicians

- Pye Hastings / vocals, guitars
- Doug Boyle / lead guitar
- Jan Schelhaas / keyboards, backing vocals
- Geoffrey Richardson / viola, banjo, ukulele, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Jim Leverton / bass, lead (9) & backing vocals
- Richard Coughlan / drums

- David Sinclair / keyboards (2,9,2-5)
- Jimmy Hastings / tenor & soprano saxophones (2,4,5), flute (10)
- Simon Bentall / percussion
- Ralph Cross / percussion (3)
- The Quebec International Festival Orchestra (2-5)
- Martyn Ford / orchestra conductor (2-5)

Releases information

Artwork: Phil Smee

CD Eclectic Discs - ECLCD 1001 (2003, UK) Mastered by Paschal Byrne
2CD Eclectic Discs ‎- ECLCD 1001/2 (2003, UK) Limited Edition w/ bonus disc including 5 Live tracks remastered by Paschal Byrne & Mark Powell
CD Wienerworld ‎- WNRCD5061 (2012, UK) Reissue, with a different cover

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CARAVAN The Unauthorised Breakfast Item ratings distribution

(154 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

CARAVAN The Unauthorised Breakfast Item reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It was great to have this released last year after all the delays and nonsense about band member dischord etc. I think it is a well rounded album and has some very powerful typical Caravan numbers like Nowhere to Hide, Smoking Gun and the best one in my opinion, It's getting a whole Lot Better. There is some nice bonus material on the second CD and the autographed sleeve was a plus. Three and a half stars would be an accurate assesment.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really. Eight years after Battle Of Hastings, Pye's band comes back for a stronger effort. I am a huge Caravan fan (I go see them in concert anywhere they play in Benelux and up to Paris) and hold in highest esteem their first six albums . However , if they are a delight live, the studio records have been relatively tedious , but things are looking up. Breakfast is probably their finer effort since Blind Dog At St Dunstan but still a far cry from the fabulous six early (I include the New Symphonia album ) vinyls.

Pye is of course Caravan almost by himself and his songwriting is still the same (very pop with delightful melodies and witty lyrics ) and he accaparates most of the songs on this album. This may be why Caravan will not make better albums unless others are to make their influences better felt other than by their impeccable playing but to enlighten these tunes. This is what made their early albums great - the Sinclair cousins had a lot to say and got very involved in the writing. Most of the tunes on here are typical Caravan numbers but the more interesting times in them are the spaces where the instruments are doing the talking and then one can see those slots alloted were "glued on" at the end of a song or "stuck/fitted" in the middle of one. This was done by Dave sinclair's arrangements. This is not applicable to all numbers as Nowhere to Hide is excellent. Caravan is feeling much better than in the early 90's , but is still not back to their heydays.

Just one more thing: Caravan are known for the superb or humorous art cover sleeves and titles. The title comes from Richardson's near brush with New Jersey's police , as he had taken one more croissant for the road and the 250 lbs female cashier wanted to make him pay for that Unauthorized Breakfast Item and Geoff had no cash on him. He was saved fron life imprisonement in NJ's best cells by Pye's Visa card to pay for another full breakfast. Imagine the headlines : Caravan's Croissant Demise Scandal. The incident was immortalized in a song , album title and , if humorous , one of the the worse art sleeve work they made. Too bad.... This might have gotten them to a fourth star.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars To consider "Caravan" as one of the most popular band of the original prog explosion is just not correct IMHO. This band has had an immense esteem success, but no more.

They have of course produced some fine albums, but during the last twenty years of their career, these were non-existing. I am not a huge fan from the band and IMO, their last good album was "Blind Dogs" released in . 1976. Almost thirty years prior to this one. To be complete, the band has only released four albums in the meantime.

This release is rather pleasant, I must say. As usual there will be some conflict with one of the Sinclair cousins who will leave during the first recording sessions. But we are used to this by now (being one or the other cousin.).

Song writing is pretty much decent. One of my fave is the rocking "Revenge". Premonitory ? Several songs are on the rocking edge, but it is not to dissatisfy me. My favourite album from the band "For Girls." was already heading this direction, so.

The inspiration is probably not on par, but this album holds plenty of enjoyable numbers (as the title track). And some are fully respectful of the original "Caravan" sound ("It's Getting A Whole Lot Better"). It is a pleasure to listen to this good album after so much average work (at best).

Another joyful song as they have produced a lot is best experience while you listen to "Head Above The Clouds". This undeniable great flavour is fully available. Such a pleasure, to be honest. I was reviewing "Innuendo" yesterday and the same feeling prevailed. How good it is to listen to a band that reverts to good music! As one very well known commercial would say, this is "priceless".

The melancholic "Straight Through The Heart" features a great and emotional guitar solo. Rhythm is upbeat and, again it communicates such joy that one can only be please while listening to such a piece.

The brilliance of the early days might not be on the rendez-vous, but this is a good and unexpected come back. Three stars for this good album. As Hughes have said, it is their best effort since "Blind Dog". And I fully agree with this statement.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Caravan's best album in 30 years!

Exactly three decades after their peak with For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night in 1973, Caravan finally managed to make an album that was up to the standards of their best works; finally a return to form. 2003's The Unauthorised Breakfast Item has everything that that the foregoing handful of albums from the 90's, 80's, and the late 70's lacked: inspiration, energy, strong material, the right sound and the right feel.

The line-up here consists of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Jan Schelhaas, Doug Boyle, Geoffrey Richardson, and Jim Leverton, with Dave Sinclair and Jimmy Hastings appearing as guests. The album has all of the band's trademarks, yet at the same time it also has a strong Rock edge that is uncharacteristic of Caravan and that was completely missing from the previous, acoustically driven The Battle of Hastings. The opening track, for example, has an almost heavy Rock groove, but the chorus lines are still cheerful and catchy and the melodies are memorable this time around.

Another strong point about this album is that there is a good flow and a good balance between vocal and instrumental passages and between acoustic and electric instruments. There is a nice variety of tempos from upbeat to almost ambient, and the instrumental variety is here as well with tasteful uses of viola, banjo, flutes, and saxophone, among the "normal" (Prog) Rock setting of drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards. The influences include Jazz, Folk, Rock, and Pop music.

The whole album is very good, but the absolute highlight for me is the almost nine minute Nowhere To Hide which features excellent lead guitar and towards the end erupts in a synthesiser and violin dual that reminds me of Kansas! Some hardcore Caravan fans might perhaps complain that this track, as well as some of the other tracks here, don't sound enough like (classic) Caravan. But at the same time this album might appeal to people that normally are not overly keen on Caravan (like me, for example; I like the band, but am not a big fan). I actually enjoy this album more than almost any other Caravan album.

Review by Warthur
4 stars For a while now, Caravan have eased off on their production of studio albums - indeed, since the 1990s they've only averaged about one album of original material per decade. (Remember, the Cool Water release was mostly recorded in the late 1970s, and the All Over You and All Over You Too projects were re-imaginings of Caravan classics, leaving The Battle of Hastings as the only album of all-original studio tracks recorded entirely in the 1990s.)

Their noughties release was The Unauthorised Breakfast Item, which makes an interesting change of pace. From as far back as Better By Far, Caravan's albums had really been about indulging the poppier side of the band's sound more than their progressive side; in contrast, The Unauthorised Breakfast Item finds them shifting their sound for the good time in a while. It's not a full-blooded return to the style of their 1970s peak, but it's an interesting sort of laid-back dreamy style which has a somewhat rockier feel to it, in part because of the further integration of Doug Boyle's guitar into the band's repertoire.

Although it is in no way as essential as their run of albums from If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You through to For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night, it's still a very strong release, and probably their most prog-leaning for a good long while.

Latest members reviews

2 stars The name of the album is promising but the contents is disappointing. The music has not gotten any muscles from the best Caravan era and melodies don't achieve the heights of the songs from the 70's. The only piece that can somewhat keep pace with average songs from the 70's is "Head above the c ... (read more)

Report this review (#2457578) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, October 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Here's a gem of subtlety, which is not surprising because Caravan is composed of musicians who have demonstrated in their heyday how much they could be inventive. What is astonishing is that they have recovered their whole creativity after 25 years of very poor albums. We find ourselves 30 year ... (read more)

Report this review (#1299829) | Posted by Kjarks | Sunday, November 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Unauthorized Breakfast Item from 2003 is Caravan's twelfth studio album. It was released eight years after their last record "The Battle of Hastings" which I thought was a good one. So, in 2003 the band made up by Pye Hastings(vocals, guitar), Richard Coughlan(drums), Jan Schelhaas(keyboar ... (read more)

Report this review (#1126435) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, February 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have only this year caught up with this 2003 release of Caravan's but am very pleased that I did so as it is a splendid record! In fact, I would go so far as to say that "The Unauthorised Breakfast Item" is on a par with their best records from those halcyon days of the 70s, "If I Could Do It ... (read more)

Report this review (#140065) | Posted by alextorres2 | Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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