Caravan have a history that stretches back over half a century, with a catalogue of music that ranges from progressive rock classics to pop gems that should have been hits. Lumped into that strange category known as 'the Canterbury Sound', they are both the paradigm and the transcendent band within that nebulous category.
This book traces their history, track-by-track, over eighteen canonical albums, stopping off to examine the plethora of live and BBC session releases that have swollen their back catalogue like a girl who grows plump in the night. Beginning with their pop-psych debut on Verve, continuing through the run of classic and revered albums on Decca/Deram that forged their reputation, and then on the albums that saw them move towards pop and be swept up by the tides of fashion, it ends with the decades of reunions that saw fewer albums, but a refinement of the sensibilities that define their unique sound.
With ever-present Pye Hastings on guitar/vocals/songwriting, and Richard Coughlan at his back on drums, the band has also been defined by the skills of viola player Geoff Richardson and the Sinclair cousins - David on keys and Richard on bass. But this is not to belittle the contribution of every musician and songwriter whose talents have combined to make this most English of bands just that little bit special...
Publisher:Sonicbond Publishing
Dimensions:126 pages - 148 x 210mm
Series:On Track ... Every Album Every Song

The constantly expanding On Track series from Sonicbond Publishing is ideal for those who like to read about (progressive rock) music. Part of its charm for me lies in the fact that many of the included artists have started out in the late sixties/early seventies (Yes, Genesis, Queen, Kansas, Barclay James Harvest, and many more; just have a look at our Search page for On Track) and early eighties, with probably Dream Theater pushing the envelope starting as late as 1989. A period of time I was either very much part of (1980 and onwards) or a time-frame I deeply explored (1969-1979) when my own musical candle was lit.
In light of this the On Track series for me brings many different and interesting angles. Reading about ones favourite bands/artists never tires so naturally those are automatically welcomed, regardless of their outcome (all of them rewarding in their own way so far by the way). Almost the same goes for admired bands I missed out on their formative years (aka the seventies), where the vastly shared amount of facts, details, environmental musical change and other tale defining moments so far have been a delicious learning curve.
The third option is those whose legacy building pathway (partially) co-existed with my own walkways, where writers successfully dust of inner memory banks by addressing events, forgotten songs, facts or miscellaneous happenings I was part of or witnessed in real time. Andy Boot's effort on Caravan, one of the founding fathers of the 'Canterbury Sound' prog scene, mentioned in the same breath with Soft Machine, creates a new angle for it's a musical sub-genre I'm not familiar with and the band itself brings no recollection of my affection whatsoever.
Somehow, don't ask why, I never got around to exploring their music. Maybe I listened to 'the wrong' albums at the time, which judging by Boot's insightful opinions and passionately told story seems to be the case. Caravan's unattractive (repulsive even) album covers might have got something to do with it as well, but if there's a lesson to be learned today than it's never to judge an album by its artwork!
So far each of the contributing On Track writers have added their own story telling signatures to the fixed structures of the format, and within these confinements Boot's writing style is one of the more appealing ones. Mindful to one's favourite (science) teacher he initially takes you by the hand and gives very precise revealing lectures on the basics (origins, musical style, dos and don'ts, who's who, etc...) with complete dedication, conviction, passion, side remarks and spurring humour.
Once Boot's engaging constructive outline on Caravan's identity is for most part complete, somewhere halfway through the book, he loosens his lecturing grip and becomes an influential friend who makes you stand on your own two explorative feet as you slowly form an enthusiastic opinion of your own, based upon his clear musical descriptions and other vastly shared and extensively detailed informational images.
Boot makes no secret about it and admits being a very devoted fan since 1977, the year he discovered the band aged 14. By then, Caravan, having started out in 1968, had already released the majority of their prime legacy and changed musical direction shortly after to a more pop orientated style, temporarily breaking up in 1982. Since then the band has been on and off the circuit, sporadically releasing albums along the way, and still perform live nowadays (if it weren't for the pandemic).
Within these 53 years remarkably only two albums ever made it marginally into the charts (Cunning Stunts (say what?) and Blind Dog At St. Dunstans) which is quite an achievement in itself, and after reading Boot's plea for their 1971 release In The Land Of Grey And Pink, one would have assumed that Caravan's defining album would have fared better. His bold statement on the composition Nine Feet Underground in comparison to Genesis' Suppers Ready certainly makes for interesting reading and serves as food for thought for prog purists, much like his view on the difference between Progressive Rock and Prog Rock. It's precisely this kind of comments and positions that makes you want to carry on reading in order to find out what other (mildly) provoking opinions lie in store.
Boot's efforts at completeness, one of the aspects especially of interest for collectors such as me or to fans who like to own everything by their favourite artists, is for 95% spot on. CD re-issue bonus tracks and many other miscellaneous songs are well researched and included, and he devotes two chapters to various released BBC and live recordings. Giving sound advice and going all out on compilation albums in the final chapter, brilliantly omitting the pointless ones in the process, he does however regretfully forget to mention any of the bands video/DVD releases.
This minor flaw aside, Boot's page-turning story is a perfect demonstration of the series' strengths in which historical embodiment and elements like a reconstructed 'Family tree', depictive musical analogies and excellent analytical interpretations make the artist in question become fully alive for the duration of the book. And afterwards! For instigated by Boot's superb satisfying read and my 'knowledge is power' thirst a quick Youtube survey revealed a wondrous and apparently obscure line-up video (see the video below) to boot, which most definitely will see me explore this era for 'the right' albums as this fragment ticks many boxes. Apparently this isn't even their best period Boot tells me.
Overall another excellent entertaining addition to the series heartily recommended to fans of Caravan, while generally interested progressive rock enthusiasts can add a well written, accurate and compact overview to one of Prog's illustrious bands to their collection. Cautiously glancing at my over-exhausted time machine whilst looking down into my wallet to see if I still have some spending budget left I look forward to the series' next journey.
Jan Buddenberg for DPRP.NET 8/10

Andre de Waal for IO Pages

And so to Caravan, the book’s timing is excellent, with a super-sprawling box set of everything-and-then-some rocketing down the highway, and an entire new generation of listeners bracing themselves to hear Caravan doing it all over again all over whoever.
The box’s book will doubtless tell the story from the band’s point of view; now here it is from a fan’s perspective, and while author Boot is a lot more forgiving (or should that be “understanding”) than some veteran admirers, his thoughts are well worth hearing.
Again, every album is reviewed, every song is discussed (some a lot more thoroughly than others), CD bonus tracks get a place at the table, and the only real difficulty arises when the band takes a decade or so off in mid-discography, and then tries to pick up where they left off. Good luck with that, boys.
In fact, Caravan pulled it off a lot better than many bands, with Boot both enthusiastically, and analytically discussing the pressures (or lack thereof) that confronted the band upon its mid-1990s return. No, the studio albums have not been as gripping as that early run; no, the live performances aren’t so artfully bizarre.
But Caravan remain Caravan and besides, where else are you going to read a review of The Unauthorized Breakfast Item?
The appendices here are equally entertaining, tackling compilations, live albums and BBC sessions with a lot more attention than many other books in this series muster, while the photo spread (as always with this publisher) is glorious.no reviews found (yet)
Dave Thompson for GOLDMINEMAG.COM

Was there ever a more English sounding band than Caravan?
Their rather whimsical vocals and music often put me in mind of Syd Barrett, and I always thought of In The Land of Grey and Pink as being their defining work – after all, what’s not to like about songs such as Golf Girl, Winter Wine and of course the title track.
I rather lost touch with them after 1975’s Cunning Stunts set, but after fifty years and any number of reunions the band still continues to this day, although studio recordings have become ever more sporadic as the years have passed.
When they were on peak form in the early seventies though, their prog infused sound really could carry you away, and this book takes a track by track at their fourteen studio albums, giving a potted history of the band along the way, and even finds time to delve into their live recordings and BBC session releases.
Like Camel, their longevity is a fitting tribute to the music they created at their zenith, and fans will no doubt already be aware that a huge thirty seven disc box is due to arrive in August.