ETHER WAY (The Peel Sessions 1975-77) (1998)

1 The Show Of Our Lives (4:55)
2 Stuck In A Hole (3:15)
3 Dabsong Conshirto (12:32)
4 All The Way (6:33)
5 A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik / Bobbing Wide / Come On Back / Grubby Oik Reprise (11:45)
6 Behind You (5:13)
7 The Last Unicorn (5:34)
8 Nightmare (6:18)
9 Better By Far (4:49)

tracks 1-3 recorded for John Peel 26.06.1975. First transmitted 03.07.1975.
tracks 4-5 recorded for John Peel 06.05.1976. First transmitted 17.05.1976.
tracks 6-9 recorded for John Peel 02.05.1977. First transmitted 10.05.1977.
Richard Coughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals)
Dek Messecar (bass) on tracks 6-9
Geoffrey Richardson (viola)
Jan Schelhaas (keyboards) on tracks 4-5
Dave Sinclair (keyboards, vocals) on tracks 1-3
Mike Wedgewood (bass, conga, vocals) on tracks 1-5
1998/CD/Hux Records/HUX013/UK

I could subtitle this album as BBC Sessions/Tapes volume 3 (chronologically speaking) and the fourth album overall coming out of BBC archives. First to come out was BBC Live Radio 1 concert (75 at the Paris Theater) and then Green Bottles for Marjorie (sessions from 69 to 72 ) , Songs for Oblivion Fisherman (Sessions 71 to 74) and this one that features sessions from 75 onwards and deals with the later 70's albums. On this album we return to excellent quality BBC tapes (this was not the case for the other Beeb sessions with all Caravan sessions tapes disappearing and the Cds being reconstructed from other sources). It is unfortunate , however , that Caravan was not quite that excellent anymore but could still pump out some good stuff. The tracks here are from Cunning Stunts , Blind Dogs , Better By Far but present another side of them. Only for Caravan buffs as I, though.
Sean Trane 3/5 14.12.2004 (PROGARCHIVES)

Never really liked much of Caravan after "The New Symphonia". However, what he have here are some excellent renditions of their more commercially produced sounding albums rcorded live at the BBC from 1976-1979. The feeling I get from this disc is that of the "Waterloo Lily"-era. I would suggest these recordings and renditions are much better than those of studio releases since we Caravan playing these versions "live!". There seems to be that impovisational mood missing in the studio recordings, and especially that rawness Caravan fans are known to love. This disc is worth searching out for the track "Nightmare" alone(what an impressive guitar crescendo at the end!). "All The Way" has some of their most ethereal vocals, and if you close your eyes - you'd swear it was Robert Wyatt on back-up. The version of "Dabsong Conshirto" is more impressive and "raw" than that of the version on "Cunning Stunts". Sound quality is A+. This is classic Caravan not to be missed.
Gooner 4/5 22.07.2007 (PROGARCHIVES)

Late 1970s Caravan has had a bad press, but it will do you no harm, provided you take it in small doses. ETHER WAY is a first-rate live compilation of almost ALL of the best material from CUNNING STUNTS, BLIND DOG AT ST DUNSTAN'S and BETTER BY FAR. Admittedly, "Dabsong Conshirto", the one mini-epic included here, is not on quite the same level of inspiration as earlier (and even more ambitious) Caravan material like "For Richard" and "Nine Feet Underground". Furthermore, I must admit I positively dislike the rather glib "Oik" sequence of songs. But that whole "Oik" thing takes no more than ten minutes, and take a look at all other riches you'll find here. "The Show of our Lives", "All the Way" and "Better by Far" are romantic ballads which must be counted among the loveliest Pye Hastings has ever sung. No self-respecting Caravan freak should be without them, and these performances are impeccable. Similarly, both "Stuck in a Hole" and "Behind You" are superior pop-prog which would have graced any of Caravan's early (and more legendary) studio albums. Finally, let me point out that "Nightmare" and "The Last Unicorn" (the latter is a dreamy instrumental, with a leading role for viola) are among the most haunting tunes in the entire Caravan canon, easily on the same level as anything on GREY AND PINK or GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP. If you've never heard these, do yourself a favour and get a copy of ETHER WAY. The live versions will take your breath away - as other reviewers have pointed out, they're actually superior to the original studio performances. Strongly recommended!
fuxi 4/5 30.05.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)

Every Caravan fan should have this. The Better By Far tracks sound great. If you're not a fan of that album, you might be after listening to this. And what a wonderful version of Show of Our Lives, starting with just piano & vocals before the band kicks in. Great sound quality and very inspired playing throughout.
Dave (Massachusetts) 5/5 30.05.2010 (CD UNIVERSE)

Wow, what a performance and a great cd.
As far as some Caravan fans were concerned, Caravan started their decline after their 1973 "For Girls who Grow Plump in the Night". Caravan would release "Cunning Stunts", "Blind Dog at St. Dunstans" and "Better by Far" in 1975/1976/1977. These albums are considered to be (with the exception of the album-side long "Dabsong Conshirtoe" on Cunning Stunts) half-baked attempts compared to their classic 1968-1973 period. Well I'm sorry but I consider "Cunning Stunts" and "Blind Dog" (I don't have "Better by far" though so I've never heard it) to be very good Caravan albums. I don't think Caravan "got worse" with these albums. I think they just took a slightly different direction and focused more on commercial-like melodies (from their lead song-writter/singer Pye Hastings). This CD captures BBC recordings by Caravan performing songs from "Cunning Stunts/Blind Dog at St. Dunstans and Better By Far". Even if you're not a big fan of these albums, you owe it to yourself to check out this recording. I'd say these versions may even be better than the studio counterparts. This is Caravan in-the-raw and the performances are flawless. The version of "Dabsong Conshirtoe" is worth the price of the cd alone. Clocks in around 13 minutes (rather than 18 on the studio version) but the closing 5 minutes of this track is simply outstanding. Even the "Better by Far" (which I've heard nothing but negative reviews over the past year from people who have the vinyl (never released on cd)) releases are very good and I quite enjoyed them. The title track "Better by Far" has a very nice catchy melody which reminds me of what Eela Craig (cool space German band) was doing on their "Hats of Glass" album. This BBC album is excellent and I like it just as much as anything I have from Caravan's 1968-1973 era.
caravanfan (Iowa City, USA) 5/5 30.05.2010 (CD UNIVERSE)

A nice collection for fans.
I don't think anyone will be reading this if he/she weren't already a fan of Caravan. But just in case: if you're new to this group, don't buy this CD. Buy Caravan's In The Land of Grey and Pink instead. It's far and away their best. Okay, now that it's just us fans, what about this disc? Well, I'd recommend it, even if it consists of live material from Cunning Stunts onwards, which means that none of the truly great tracks (Nine Feet Underground, For Richard etc.) are included. The good thing about it is that it might not represent the best of Caravan as such, but it does manage to represent, without any apparent concessions, the best of Caravan in the relevant period (1975-1977). This is not a must-have. It's a fun-have. After all, who won't want to have a nice "new" live version of A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik? It's for fans, and any fan buying it will not be disappointed.
A. C. H. Bergh 4/5 26.06.2000 (AMAZON)

Great from start to finish.
No need for me to convey that Caravan is one of the most important Canterbury progressive bands to come out. It's wonderful that they're still performing even today. This is a collection of BBC recordings from their 1975/1976/1977 era. You will find no songs from their "classic" period. However(as much as I love their classic period) I consider this whole cd quite strong. Many songs even better then their studio version. Even though Caravan( with the departure of Richard Sinclair in 1972) took a different direction from 1973 on, I don't consider it to be a bad direction. Just different. Some of the songs are short pop melodies but performed with meaning and drive (and always interspersed with Richardson's viola). "Better by Far" is one of their catchiest pop melodies since "Hello Hello". Even if you're not a big fan of their "Cunning Stunts/Blind Dog/Better by Far" period, I suspect you'll still find this album to be quite good. Musicianship is tight in this live recording. No crowd noises either so you get to hear Caravan in the raw. One last thing, many complain that Cunning Stunts could have been better if it were not so over-produced/over-orchestrated. Here on this cd, you get to hear Dabsong Conshirto done "completely by Caravan in the raw". A great version too.
A Customer 5/5 02.07.2004 (AMAZON)

More BBC Recordings.
"Ether Way" is the companion piece to "Songs From Oblivion Fishermen" featuring live recordings from the BBC spanning the years 1975 to 1977. Most Caravan fans seem to look at the period prior to 1974 as the really classic Caravan material. "Ether Way" takes its material from the period immediately following this (plus the departure of Richard Sinclair) taking tracks from the albums "Cunning Stunts", "Blind Dog At Dustins", and "Better By Far". Overall I don't think that this one is quite as strong as "Oblivion Fishermen", but there is some very good stuff to be found here. The vocals are not always the greatest (although vocals were never Caravan's strongpoint), but there is a lot of great instrumental interplay on the album. Highlights include "Dabsong Conshirto", "A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik.....", and "The Last Unicorn". Caravan's more pop oriented side is also represented well with "Stuck In A Hole", and "Better By Far". This is not really an album to buy if you are just checking out Caravan, but for fans it is a nice addition to their collection.
Steven Sly 4/5 24.11.2006 (AMAZON)