The land of grey and pink: Caravan reviewed

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The land of grey and pink: Caravan reviewed

Post  Mr007 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:53 pm

Where but for Caravan would I?

It's about time I get down to business and start to contribute to this site and what better way to begin with than with Caravan? The update schedule isn't carved in stone, but I'll try to keep up a regular and reasonable pace. And one more thing: I'll refrain from rating by numbers since I don't believe they contribute anything useful to the reviews. (I actually had a recent discussion with a friend at a paper for which I'm writing reviews among other things, where I proposed the absence of ratings, but I won't have that repeated here). Well, enough with the gab, let's proceed to... more gab.
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Caravan is probably my main candidate for being the nicest bunch of artsy dudes of the prog movement in the early 70's. Their output simply reeks of sunshine and you can't go wrong with just about any of their records for breakfast as the start of a much better day than it would have been otherwise. For some reason they seem to have been overlooked, not only among the general public (as always) but in the art/prog community as well and that's really a shame. Because not only were they there from the very beginning, releasing their first album even before King Crimson had the chance of blowing our minds with their apocalyptic chops. They were also a force to be reckoned with among the other giants of the era and, taken as a whole, their output is actually far more even than most prog bands.

True, that sort of vouches for mediocrity and I admit that nothing in their catalog ever really woos me over like, say, "Close to the edge" does, but on the other hand Caravan has actually pulled off the feat of having virtually no serious duffer on any of their records (bar a couple of tracks which I'll get back to in due time, but who's perfect besides [URL=""]Columbo[/URL]?). Pye Hastings proved to be quite a songwriter and combined with his thin and shakey voice he sort of underlined Caravan as one of the most perfect implementations of a white-ass nerd band not having neither the capabilities nor aspirations to rock the house down and get into girl's knickers (figuratively speaking of course, and being a white-ass nerd myself I mean that in a positive way).

As you all know they began in a local band called The Wilde Flowers together with to-be-members of Soft Machine, and were one main force in the so-called Canterbury scene. That term alone won't reveal much though and apart from the organ and some jazzy passages Caravan really didn't have anything in common with the fellow Canterbury colleagues musically. Their approach were just as much lush pop as it was jazz-tinged prog rock and in stature I'd say it's more appropriate to compare their music to baroque-influenced bands like Procol Harum and Zombies rather than the progressive contemporaries like Yes and Genesis. But they sure could prog out when they wanted to; They have several tricky songs as well as multi-part epics in their backpack and I believe they are definitely the best of the Canterbury bunch. Later on they more or less abandoned the prog route and went for the pure baroque pop sound instead, which they stuck with until they disbanded in the late 70's.

Lineup then: Pye Hastings - guitar and vocals, Dave Sinclair - keyboards, Richard Sinclair - bass guitar, Richard Coughlan - drums. That's basically what you need to know although some member changes took place down the line, with Hastings being the only consistent member together with Coughlan as his trusty sidekick.


Oh, and after the band broke up, Pye Hastings would go on to become a successful talkshow host.


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