Caravan

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Matt Wilson
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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 06 Sep 2021, 00:05

Neil Jung wrote:I’ve just read that review. It took me ages, it must have been a real labour of love to write it. Caravan are actually playing only about 25 minutes drive from me in Basingstoke later this year. Should I go see them again?

PS Dave Sinclair’s Moon Over Man album was, I’m sorry to say, awful.


Why not? I've never seen a prog band in my life - and you only live once.

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Re: Caravan

Postby Neil Jung » 06 Sep 2021, 17:55

Matt Wilson wrote:
Neil Jung wrote:I’ve just read that review. It took me ages, it must have been a real labour of love to write it. Caravan are actually playing only about 25 minutes drive from me in Basingstoke later this year. Should I go see them again?

PS Dave Sinclair’s Moon Over Man album was, I’m sorry to say, awful.


Why not? I've never seen a prog band in my life - and you only live once.


You’ve never seen one? I know California isn’t exactly Prog Central but surely you must have had opportunities?
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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 06 Sep 2021, 19:45

Neil Jung wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:
Neil Jung wrote:I’ve just read that review. It took me ages, it must have been a real labour of love to write it. Caravan are actually playing only about 25 minutes drive from me in Basingstoke later this year. Should I go see them again?

PS Dave Sinclair’s Moon Over Man album was, I’m sorry to say, awful.


Why not? I've never seen a prog band in my life - and you only live once.


You’ve never seen one? I know California isn’t exactly Prog Central but surely you must have had opportunities?


I'm 56, so I was basically too young for a lot of concerts in the '70s. Never had any older brother or anything to take me to the shows. By the eighties, progressive rock wasn't enjoying its salad days anymore. I never saw Zeppelin, Harrison, (or Lennon, for that matter), Pink Floyd (guess I could have seen them post Waters, but still never did), but I pretty much saw everybody else that I wanted to.

Of course now that I'm more broad-minded about all of this, I realize I should've seen Yes, Genesis, Floyd, Marrillion, etc in the '80s, but I was going through my punk and post-punk phase then.
Last edited by Matt Wilson on 06 Sep 2021, 22:30, edited 1 time in total.

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toomanyhatz
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Re: Caravan

Postby toomanyhatz » 06 Sep 2021, 21:06

Matt Wilson wrote:I've never seen a prog band in my life.


Me neither - unless Queen counts.

I'm a couple years older than Matt, but I think this might be pretty common for our generation. I actually was a prog fan when punk happened, but when I started going to shows - give or take the occasional huge concert venue, which for me was Queen and the Who - it was pretty much club shows. Prog bands were on their way out, but were still big enough to play halls rather than clubs. I don't know if I could have found anyone to go with me to see, for example, Yes in the early 80s even if I wanted to - which I didn't at the time.

I would definitely go see Caravan if they were playing near me and it wasn't too prohibitively expensive - not that either of those things are likely to happen.
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The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Caravan

Postby C » 08 Sep 2021, 16:37

Matt Wilson wrote:I've never seen a prog band in my life


Not even a Broad Church one....?




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LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 09 Sep 2021, 05:36

C wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:I've never seen a prog band in my life


Not even a Broad Church one....?




.


Asia.

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Re: Caravan

Postby C » 09 Sep 2021, 13:35

Matt Wilson wrote:
C wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:I've never seen a prog band in my life


Not even a Broad Church one....?




.


Asia.


Any good?

If Wetton was there it would have helped....




.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 09 Sep 2021, 14:12

Yeah, John was there. This was right about the time of the first album, 1982. It was in a little theater no bigger than one you'd see a movie in.
Stockton, California. My dad was stationed there at the time. Saw Cheap Trick there too.

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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 10 Sep 2021, 04:13

Image
Blind Dog at St. Dunstans' 1976
Well, last time I said some people decided to get off the Caravan after Cunning Stunts, and so here we are. I don't know why so many progressive rock bands had such a difficult time keeping the faith after '74 or so. I mean it's not like the kids who were buying all those punk 45s were ever prog fans, right? The two markets really didn't intersect or overlap in any way. I think a lot of these bands just had a crises of conscience at about the same time. I'd like someone far more knowledgable than me to talk about this. Why did so many prog bands start making commercial-sounding music by 1976 or so? Was it that they had merely mined the same vein for too many years and were looking for something new? Or did any band not named Pink Floyd, Yes, or Jethro Tull suddenly decide they wanted to make some real money for once and not just enough to continue touring? Whatever the reason(s), our tale now takes a turn for the worse. Caravan would never again release a great, or even particularly good album - and I say that having never heard any of them after this one. Am I missing anything? There's certainly a lot more discs in this box, and I will finish the '70s because I did that with all the other prog band threads I've started in the last few months, but I'm not expecting anything revelatory, I can tell you that. Plus, I know the reputations of these records and none of them are particularly good. With that said...

Pye Hastings – vocals (tracks 1, 3-9); electric and acoustic guitars
Geoffrey Richardson – viola, electric guitar, flute, night-shift whistle
Jan Schelhaas – keyboards
Mike Wedgwood – vocals (track 2); bass guitar, congas
Richard Coughlan – drums

Additional personnel
Jimmy Hastings – flute, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Chanter Sisters – backing vocalist, backing vocals

Lead vocals on all songs by Pye Hastings, except track 2, by Mike Wedgwood.
"Here Am I": lead guitar – Pye Hastings
"A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik": lead guitar – Geoffrey Richardson
"Bobbing Wide": flutes – Geoffrey Richardson
"Come on Back": lead guitar & flute – Geoffrey Richardson; tenor sax and clarinet – Jimmy Hastings
"Oik (reprise)": lead guitar & flute – Geoffrey Richardson; tenor sax and clarinet – Jimmy Hastings
"Jack and Jill": lead guitar – Pye Hastings
"All the Way (with John Wayne's single-handed liberation of Paris)": flute, alto sax – Jimmy Hastings

All songs composed by Pye Hastings, except where noted.

1. "Here Am I" 6:19
New guy Jan Schelhaas plays nothing like David Sinclair, but the organ tone is similar. Pye going for another one of his commercial-sounding cuts in an attempt for radio play. It’s really too bad so many prog bands did that very thing for acceptance in the second half of the decade, but they did. This really isn’t a bad song at all and it almost seems like they’re going for some sense of grandeur that Genesis did so well at the time, but Hastings’ vocals are something else entirely. Geoffrey Richardson had been adding viola to Caravan’s music for years by this point, and it sounds great here. I don’t have to wonder if Pye is playing the guitar on this track because the liner notes say he is.

2. "Chiefs and Indians" (Mike Wedgwood) 5:13
I had issues with Wedgwood’s material on the last album, and it still doesn’t stand out here, nor does his voice. But once the band really kicks in after the one-minute mark, I don’t mind this tune. More viola, which is by now a trademark for the group. I also don’t mind Schelhaas’ solo. Actually, now that I’m used to it, I don’t mind this track at all.

3. "A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik" 4:15
Funky rhythm equals more concessions to commerciality, but at least since it's Hastings' voice it sounds like Caravan. Pye had almost complete dominion over the songwriting on this LP so if any of the songs aren't up to par, you know who to blame. Another one which is okay, but nothing special. Different-sounding Schelhaas solo. Wonder how Dave would have handled things on these recordings? Geoff on lead guitar. Segues right into...

4. "Bobbing Wide" 2:30
Nice intermission between major songs consisting of flute and a mellow groove. I like it!

5. "Come on Back" 4:50
Almost a lite jazz feel and it's pleasant I must admit. Shit, am I gonna end up liking side one more than I thought? It's been a while. Or maybe it's just because I've heard so much Caravan recently that I'm in the proper zone. Yeah, that's it... Goodness, a sax solo from brother Jimmy Hastings too.

6. "Oik (reprise)" 2:26
The "Oik reprise" sounds more like more of "Come on Back" to me, hmmm.... Now would be a good time for this:

"The cover art and title bring together several elements relating to Canterbury. Saint Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury and patron saint of the blind, after whom a home for the blind was named. The title comes from a Noël Coward explanation to a child for why one dog had mounted another: one dog was blind and the other was pushing him to St. Dunstan's. The cover notes gives special thanks to Coward. At the end of the song "Jack and Jill", amongst dogs barking, two speaking voices can be heard:
First voice: "What are those two doggies doing over there?" Second voice "Well, the doggie in front is blind and his friend behind is pushing him all the way to St Dunstan's." The album cover shows St. Dunstan's Street leading to the old West Gate in Canterbury. Members of Caravan used to frequent the pubs near the St. Dunstan area." - Wiki

Image

7. "Jack and Jill" 6:26
Side two brings us this attempt at funk (as funky as this band gets anyway), which - surprise - is neither dull nor stellar, much like most every other song on the album. Had one never heard another Caravan record, you might be forgiven for thinking this one pretty good. I mean it's not like anything offends. But is any of it necessary?

8. "Can You Hear Me?" 6:17
All right, maybe it's just because I've been patiently waiting for something to stand out, to make me say "Yes, THIS is the Caravan of old" - that I'm getting tired of yet another decent tune in a sea of them. Maybe had I grown up with this record then I would appreciate it more. As it is, this is another fairly good but uninspired example of the band in the mid seventies striving for something - if you get my drift.

9. "All the Way (with John Wayne's single-handed liberation of Paris)" 9:03
Would you look at the length, could this be their big prog moment at this late date on the LP? Starts off slowly with some pleasing synths and they're engaged in a sing-along chorus after the two-minute point. By the time the tune is half way over, you realize it's like the others mostly - pleasant, mildly engaging, and if you played it a lot it would no doubt grow on you.

And that describes the album, frankly. Nothing offensive, but it's not going to convert anyone not already predisposed to Caravan either.

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Re: Caravan

Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Sep 2021, 05:06

Image
Better by Far 1977
I think I was unduly harsh on Blind Dog, because upon further consideration, it's not bad at all. I mean it's not great, or even particularly good for that matter, but it's better than this. Caravan didn't go out of the '70s with a bang (few prog bands did), more like a flatulant squeak. But that's okay, at least they were still marginally progressive. Earlier I said Soft Machine were my fave Canterbury band - now I'm not so sure. I'm always changing my mind about these things anyway. Re-listening to these discs has given me an even greater appreciation for this group. It's all pretty good (and some of it awesome) through '76. Hell, that's better than you can say about a lot of bands who started in the '60s. This is the only out-and-out mediocre album they did at the time. Things wouldn't really improve in the '80s though and that's why I'm stopping here.

Pye Hastings – vocals, guitars
Geoff Richardson – viola, guitars, flute, sitar, mandolin, vocals
Jan Schelhaas – keyboards, backing vocals
Dek Messecar – bass, backing vocals
Richard Coughlan – drums, percussion

Additional personnel
Vicki Brown – vocals on "Give Me More"
Fiona Hibbert – harp on "Man in a Car"
Tony Visconti – recorders on "The Last Unicorn"; electric double bass on "Man in a Car"

All songs composed by Pye Hastings, except where noted.

1. "Feelin' Alright" 3:31
Jaunty little tune opens the proceedings. You wouldn't even recognize this on a Caravan album a few years previous. Pye definitely in charge here with an eye on listener-friendly melodies. Nice Jan solo which is cut short to keep the song length down for some reason.

2. "Behind You" 5:04
If Hastings wasn't singing I doubt I'd know what band this is. Not bad necessarily, just not what we listen to these guys for. I'm trying to think of who could have done this track and been successful with it, but I'm coming up short. Another interesting Schelhaas solo, and this time he's allowed to develop it somewhat. Still miss Dave though. Better than the first cut.

3. "Better by Far" 3:27
The title track is even shorter than the first number. Nice melody for the first ballad on the record, this almost sounds like it could have been a hit. Almost. Pye wants to make love tonight, folks...

4. "Silver Strings" (Geoff Richardson) 3:58
Guitar riff starts her off. Is this supposed to be reggae, but slower? And look at these song lengths; I guess they forgot their progressive roots. Bland, and faceless, Richardson should have had a word with himself. Guess Hastings wasn't the only one looking for a hit.

5. "The Last Unicorn" (Geoff Richardson) 5:52
The longest song on side one should have been their paean to prog, and for all I know maybe that's what they thought it was. You do kinda think of unicorns for the first two-and-a-half minutes before they go all fusion - and it is instrumental. Oh hell, I'm gonna make a ruling and call this the best thing on the first side. Geoff redeems himself.

Image

6. "Give Me More" 4:40
Back to ballad territory for side two, with funny lyrics of a sexual nature not uncommon for these guys. It's too bad the well had run dry by this point because this LP could really use a good song now. Alas, 'twas not to be.

7. "Man in a Car" (Jan Schelhaas) 5:43
Some forceful guitar almost makes me hopeful for this one, and indeed even the different way they recorded the vocal is intriguing. Maybe Jan should have had more of a hand in writing the songs on this album. It doesn't take much to stand out amongst these tunes though. Probably would have been even better live and they should have made it rock harder. It slows down for no discernible reason though no less than twice. Wonder what they were thinking? Still, I would have moved this one up in the sequencing and put it on the first side.

8. "Let It Shine" 4:27
With a title like this, you just know it's not going to work. Pye had shot his wad, and there wouldn't be another LP for three years. By then I doubt too many people cared.

9. "Nightmare" 6:23
The lengthiest tune here and it's fairly good I guess. Cool violin solo from Geoff which is too short. I'm betting they would have done better by this song five years earlier with longer solos and whatnot. As it stands it's one of the stronger numbers and a good way to finish the decade. Pye gets a chance to play a lot of guitar at the end.

Well, that's it for my Caravan thread. Next up: Van Der Graaf Generator!

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Re: Caravan

Postby Neil Jung » 16 Sep 2021, 15:25

Better By Far should have been called Worst By Some Distance.
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Re: Caravan

Postby C » 16 Sep 2021, 15:27

I'm going to do a bit of gardening, whilst the sun is shining, then I'll be back to comment on Matt's latest excellent posts




.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!