1 Place Of My Own (Mono) (4:01)
2 Ride (Mono) (3:42)
3 Policeman (Mono) (2:44)
4 Love Song With A Flute (Mono) (4:10)
5 Cecil Rons (Mono) (4:07)
6 Magic Man (Mono) (4:03)
7 Grandmas Lawn (Mono) (3:25)
8 Where But For Caravan Would I? (Mono) (9:01)
Bonus tracks on Verve Cd's (2002 and later):
9 Place Of My Own (Stereo) (4:01)
10 Ride (Stereo) (3:42)
11 Policeman (Stereo) (2:44)
12 Love Song With Flute (Stereo) (4:10)
13 Cecil Rons (Stereo) (4:07)
14 Magic Man (Stereo) (4:03)
15 Grandmas Lawn (Stereo) (3:25)
16 Where But For Caravan Would I? (Stereo) (9:01)
17 Hello Hello (Single Version) (3:12)
Richard Goughlan (drums, percussion)
Pye Hastings (vocals, guitars)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards)
Richard Sinclair (vocals, bass)
1997/CD(Unofficial)/CD Media Records/5251097/Russia
2006/LP/A New Day/68CARAD/UK
2011/LP/Music On Vinyl/MOVLP385/Europe
REVIEWS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
The earliest history of Caravan is inextricably linked to the earliest history of Soft Machine: both bands were formed out of the ashes of the legendary Canterbury band Wilde Flowers, which made no recordings yet served as a building pad for two of the most famous outfits of the «Canterbury scene». That said, from the very start Caravan and Soft Machine followed two very different paths — apart from the fact that both teams were progressive-minded, Soft Machine quickly adopted modern jazz and avantgarde as their prime sources of inspiration, whereas for Caravan, even in their «wildest» days, jazz was just one of the building blocks, and hardly the principal one. Above everything else, Caravan wanted sorely to be an English band, so that the word "Canterbury" could actually redeem that Chaucer association; and that Englishness already permeates and dominates their self-titled debut so thoroughly that, perhaps, it is no wonder that it did not sell all too well — in the same year when the same fate also befell the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society, for instance. Then again, maybe it was just because it was not such a great record. Recorded in London and released on Decca in the UK and on Verve in the US, Caravan was a collection of relatively quiet, friendly, introspective progressive pop songs whose closest stylistic predecessors would probably be The Moody Blues and Procol Harum (to a lesser degree, also Traffic) — and it might have been just a wee bit hard to understand what it was that made them special. The primary lead vocalist, Pye Hastings, sounded pretty, but clearly less gorgeous than Justin Hayward, and he wasn't much of a guitar player, either, certainly not when compared to Robin Trower. Richard Sinclair, on bass and occasional vocals, did not exactly lay on a ton of dazzling lines, taking more of a McCartney-style «concealed melodic approach» to the instrument. The most visible musician on the album is Richard's cousin, Dave Sinclair, whose organ is almost always the single loudest instrument of all, but even he ends up sounding like a slightly inferior partner of Rod Argent. So what is the saving grace, then? Nothing but the simple fact that in between all of them, they form a pleasant mix, and that the lack of flash comes across as a sign of friendly humbleness. The entire album has a bit of an echoey, cavernous sound to it, further emphasized with the loudness of Sinclair's organ, so that when Pye sings, "I've got this place of my own / Where I can go when I feel I'm coming down", the automatic question in my mind is, "What place? Canterbury Cathedral?", and Pye does sound like a preacher on that song, except that the sermon is non-canon ("Why don't you live a bit today? / For tomorrow you may find that you are dead"). A friendly, non-intimidating preacher, though, one that won't piss you off even if you disagree. Most of the short songs are catchy in their little ways. 'Ride', propelled with a funny little cavalry trot from drummer Richard Coughlan, is a cute folksy ditty, gradually transforming into a vigorous drum / organ extravaganza. 'Policeman' is a wannabe-Traffic art-blues song, with Richard Sinclair throwing in a bit of a political angle, but in such a mildly pleading manner that no true revolutionary would accept this bunch of pussies as his trusted friends. ("Take the time to change our minds / We will pay our parking fines", Sinclair promises like he means it). And 'Grandma's Lawn', speeding up the tempo and harshening up the organ tone, kind of sounds like early (pre-Gillan) Deep Purple, only without the distorted guitar, mixed with a 'Dead End Street'-like attitude of misery ("lost my plec, bloody heck, who's got my plec, break his neck" is a particularly precious line that even Ray Davies wouldn't have come up with at the time). There are also some psycho experiments that are questionable — 'Magic Man' is a lazy waltz where Pye seems to be trying a little too hard to convince us of the pleasures of a life of floating around in your own pot-enhanced imagination ("Soft Machines, Heart Club Bands and all, are welcome here with me" is a particularly cringeworthy line, too), and 'Cecil Rons' might be their most embarrassing stab at psych-folk ever, since the song never seems to decide if it wants to be intimidating or enchanting, let alone the lyrics that deal with urinating under somebody's tree, if I'm not mistaken. It is well worth a listen just to learn how absurd things can get at times, but don't expect Monty Python quality or anything. That said, «classic» Caravan is only previewed here by two tracks — 'Love Song With Flute', a jazzy ballad with unpredictable time / tempo changes and, indeed, a lengthy flute solo delivered by Pye's brother Jimmy in properly pastoral mode (with more fluency than Ray Thomas, but far less aggression than Ian Anderson); and the lengthy 'Where But For Caravan Would I', bookmarked with more folksy preaching from Pye but essentially given over to proggy jamming in non-standard time, Pye holding things together with simple, but powerful guitar riffage and Dave pulling a Rod Argent / Keith Emerson on the organ as long and hard as he can (which isn't really that long, or that hard). Both tracks are passable exercises, but do not really answer the question of whether we need to have yet another young aspiring progressive act to add to the already existing diversity. Despite that, Caravan still works as an atmospheric, melodic, friendly collection of art-pop songs: for what it lacks here in originality, it makes up in terms of hooks, good taste (other than "so we all go to wee in the garden"), and humility. I mean, with this kind of equipment and these particular musical goals, Caravan's debut could have easily been like Uriah Heep's debut — except that it wasn't, because nobody is trying to compensate for lack of musical virtuosity with annoying bombast and trumped-up epicness. So, even if this is just a brief taste of better things to come, I've always had the same kind of soft spot in my heart for it as for From Genesis To Revelation, and here it is reflected in a thumbs up rating.
George Starostin 22.05.2017 (ONLY-SOLITAIRE.BLOGSPOT.COM)
Top of the list of Caravan albums.
There was a burgeoning musical scene in Canterbury in the psychedelic era of the later sixties, much of which stemmed from a band called the Wilde Flowers. Groups to emerge from this original nucleus included Gong, Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World, Hatfield and the North and of course Caravan, now based in nearby Whitstable, who evolved out of the remaining members of Wilde Flowers during 1967 when they decided not to be a soul band anymore. They were signed to Verve Records in 1968 with a line-up comprising singer and principal writer Pye Hastings, the brothers Richard and David Sinclair and Richard Coughlan. Their first album, Caravan, was released in October 1968, with the first two tracks, A Place Of My Own and Ride, extracted as a single the following January. It was in some ways a groundbreaking album that captured the whimsical and exploratory moods of the times with a sound that built on the changing styles of the contemporary underground and took them further. Pye's brother Jimmy played on the dreamily evocative Love Song With Flute, never having heard the song and recording the flute solo on the first take. The following song, the stage favourite Cecil Rons (a disguised Cecil Rhodes?) is in contrast a rowdy powerful piece with a yelled chorus. Guitar and bass are swapped over on two songs so that Richard Sinclair can take over on lead vocal for his songs Grandma's Lawn and Policeman. The closing track was a complex nine-minute piece inspired in part by a melody written in Wilde Flowers days by then member Brian Hopper. Where But For Caravan Would I? was the precursor of the direction Caravan would take on future albums, alongside their other strengths. On this edition both mono and stereo mixes of the album are included, and as a bonus track, the single version of 1970's Hello Hello, recorded for Decca as Verve/MGM had folded by this time, rounds off the CD.
Lozarithm (Wilts, UK) 4/5 (AMAZON) 03.01.2005
For me, I really believe Caravan pulled it off right from the start with this great album. Yeah, I know, their next two albums might be better, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You and In the Land & Grey & Pink, but I found their debut quite enjoyable too. They were recording for Verve Forecast, but they didn't stay on the label for long, as apparently MGM got bought up in the States by Mike Curb who attempted to sanitize the label as much as Pat Boone tried to sanitize 1950s rock and roll (probably a good reason Frank Zappa left Verve by this time, and also the Velvet Underground - actually Zappa already left after his contract with MGM/Verve expired before Curb got his hands on the label). I understand Caravan tried for Island Records, but Chris Blackwell didn't like the vocals. On this debut, much of the vocals were from Pye Hastings, as Richard Sinclair only sung one entire song, and part of another. It sounds like unmistakable Caravan, songs like "A Place of My Own" and "Ride" proves that, with nice organ playing from David Sinclair. David Sinclair had yet to use that fuzz-organ, so you won't find that here, though. "Love Song With Flute" is a laid-back piece, with a flute solo from Pye Hastings' older brother Jimmy Hastings (who was no stranger in the Canterbury scene, as he appeared on many other Caravan albums, plus on Soft Machine's Third, and tons more). "Mr. Policeman" is the song with Richard Sinclair on vocals, and I understand he and Pye Hastings do a switch where Richard plays guitar and Pye on the bass. "Cecil Rons" is another great piece, while "Where But For Caravan Would I" is more into prog territory, with extended organ solos and changing passages and time signatures. Pye Hastings does the majority of singing on this piece, but Richard Sinclair also does some singing. While the sound quality isn't the best, I still think this album is great, and if you enjoyed their next two albums, you should get this one too.
progfan97402 21.04.2013 (DISCOGS) 03.01.2005
A fine debut.
This was Caravan's first album, recorded and released in 1968, and to this reviewer's mind and ears, it was one of the first real progressive rock albums along with Soft Machine's debut, released that same year. You've really got to hand it to the Canterbury proggers--they balanced seriousness and facetiousness extraordinarily well in their music; just listen to any album by Gong, Soft Machine, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, Egg, etc., and you'll never again think of prog as "grim-faced philosopher" music. (In fact, most prog bands, with the possibly exception of King Crimson--due to R. Fripp's overbearing studiousness--have a dry, subtle sense of humour that the uninitiated will miss on the first trip, but most others will pick up on easily, and laugh out loud at the underlying goofiness.) After all, how else could you approach a song with a title like "Where But for Caravan Would I?" And of course, "Love Song With Flute" sounds like a starving artist's first painting (think "Lawn Chair With Fruit" and you're in the ballpark). Yet for all that underlying levity, this is a seriously good album throughout. The sonic differences between the mono and stereo versions are obvious--mono is a bit flatter and two-dimensional, whereas stereo has actual depth--but this is a minor complaint...not even really a complaint, just an observation. The addition of the single version of "Hello, Hello" is nice, as this reissue was put together somewhat after the reissue of the band's sophomore release, If I Could Do it All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You (1970), on which "Hello, Hello" first appeared as an album track. The liner notes give a nice account from Pye Hastings of the band's beginnings and their struggles to find a label (Island's Chris Blackwell hated Pye's singing voice and declined to sign them on that basis), especially after the UK branch of Verve/Forecast folded within a year of its establishment; luckily, Decca, who were distributing Verve in England, picked them up and they were able to continue forward. Favourite tracks on here include "A Place of My Own," "Cecil Rons" (with its gonzo chorus) and "Where But for Caravan Would I?" Pick this one up; I did, and haven't regretted it for a moment. Neither will you.
William M. Feagin "music dealer/geek" (Upstate New York, USA) 15.01.2006 5/5 (AMAZON)
Ride the van, the caravan!
What makes Caravan's debut so interesting is how the vocal melodies are simply gorgeous and likeable for ANYONE, not just fans of progressive rock. To me that makes Caravan one of the most likeable bands of all-time. The way they can be enjoyed by just about anyone. It's all because of that lead singers amazing voice. I take that back- AMAZING voice! Amazing because more often than not it feels like he's breathing directly into your soul with his voice. It makes you wanna cry most of the time (or maybe just me- hey, I cry a lot. I even cried during Homeward Bound. Remember that great adventure movie?) Also, the songs are written in a way that's not very challenging, allowing people who don't have a whole lot of patience in an ever-growing financially-struggling world to get into the music fairly easily. The final track on the album titled "Where But for Caravan Would I?" is nearly 10 minutes of emotional brilliance. The way it starts with a beautiful vocal melody and then the melodic, eeric organs come out of nowhere and paint a VERY different picture! Even more strange is the *next* vocal melody that occurs after the jam and the way it gently shifts into the calm "We need your mind to be flying" line. This song alone is worth the purchase of Caravan's debut. "Magic Man" is pure hypnotic adventurousness and "Grandma's Lawn" takes psychedelia to the highest level it can with a catchy vocal melody. "Place Of My Own" has a vocal melody that rolls forward in a way that almost sounds like the lead singer is worried about something but then leads into an upbeat chorus so all is well. I love the line about living for today because "tomorrow you just might be dead". It's true! This is why you shouldn't believe in bad days. Bad days don't exist. You simply have bad *moments* of a certain day. The entire day isn't ruined because of an unfortunate series of events. I know you agree with me! "Ride" is AWESOME! I love the simple, gentle way the verse melody is sung. So carefree and beautiful. I love the line "I'll try and find a place in my mind where you know you can go and leave all behind". Hey take me with you! I don't want to stick around this crappy wor... I mean lovely, excellent planet of ours! "Policeman" is a WONDERFUL Beatles-influenced pop song with a memorable vocal melody. The way the tempos constant shift around is highly professional and exciting. "Cecil Rons" is an odd experimental track that was probably influenced by Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn album. The psychedelic style is REALLY bizarre on this track thanks to the way the singer changes the sound of his voice and screams "CECIL RONS!" before quickly switching back to the more familiar beautiful vocal style. "Love Song With Flute" is all about the softly sung verse melody. Nobody writes better ballads than Caravan. *Nobody*. Something about the way these guys write jams is pretty spectacular as well. Just a very very good band. The debut is a very good one, but probably the next two Caravan albums released directly after this one are better. Not by much though!
B. E Jackson (Pennsylvania) 22.01.2009 5/5 (AMAZON)
TWICE AT ONCE.
You can hear this disc twice at once! Well, in one pass. Mono--the way they used to mix. Stereo--the way they came to mix. Lately, I've re-fallen in love with this time zone of music. For a while. You know--back before the Big Nonsense Radio and the Trillion Dollar Recording Contracts. This first Caravan record is quite quaint. A little trippy even. These are songs of endearing quality and though mixed a bit oddly, play around this house somewhat regularly. Place of My Own, Ride, Policeman--all good material leading up to everyone's fave--Love Song With Flute. Lovely harmonies, organ, beautiful flute, moving tempo--would sound great in a live set list today. Cecil Rons is a playful romp, Magic Man a lilting little tune in almost a Moody style. Grandmother's Lawn sounds like it was recorded in a gym. Saw many bands in the big gym in high school so it's familiar in that way. Where But For Caravan Would I? is the big nine-minute piece. Hearing it twice on this disc makes it even better. I prefer the stereo mix frankly. The purist mono thing never appealed to me that much--we were the New Happening Generation. Remember? Good for comparison I guess. Hi Fi stereo was the next big thing in my grandfather's Radio and TV Shop in the old hometown. These songs are accomplished, bright, agile, and creative. A good beginning to their long run of well-loved albums.
OLD GUY 24.06.2011 5/5 (AMAZON)
This is not the progressive rock of Caravan's In the Land of Grey and Pink or If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You. Then again, in 1969, prog as we know it was just being hatched, so bands like Caravan were just playing their organs, trying to sketch a new genre the shape of which they did not know. But on its own terms, this is a great album, and basically, a churchy, organ album. Of all the Cantaberry bands--Soft Machine, Henry Cow-Caravan made music as happy if not happier. So although you get a lot of gothic sounding organ, you won't get that dark flavor of, say, those David Axelrod produced Electric Prunes albums like Mass in F Minor orRelease of an Oath. But the melodic playing, particularly on the latin-tinged "Love Song With Flute" show this band was set on their toes, more than ready to sprint into uncharted musical turf. The album is done twice here, in mono and stereo, and although we associate progressive rock with stereo, the bold organ here works in clean mono just beautifuly. This may not be the Caravan you know, and may not be the place to start, but while waiting for art rock to come out of utero, Caravan sure made one terrific debut.
Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ "bill nicholas" (Mahwah, NJ USA) 29.11.2009 4/5 (AMAZON)
Up there with Floyd, Crimson, Yes, etc.
Always loved this album since i bought it on vinyl back in the 60's. they are one of the best least known groups i know of. exceptional musicians and song writers.
Jeffrey Lipson 18.03.2014 5/5 (AMAZON)
This is one of the best bands of the era. Not as well known as they should be. However, they get enough love from record collectors to make up for it.
K. McDonald (Maggie Valley, NC USA) 02.02.2013 5/5 (AMAZON)
Discovering A Hidden Treasure.
I would strongly recommend this LP to any ardent progressive rock listener. Especially if or after they have heard their other two earliest LPs-- If I Could Do It All Over Again and In The Land Of Grey and Pink. It is a hidden gem(as well as the aforementioned other two) that was well under-rated back in it's day as well as being ahead of it's time (alike the TV-series Star Trek). The wah-wah hooked up tonewheel organ of Dave Sinclair is one example of this, among other characteristics such as the reverberated and airy vocals of Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair. This album marks Caravan at their most youthful and most distinquished sound. A must-have for any progrock connoisseur that has listened to earliest-period Pink Floyd(w/Sid Barrett at the forefront), and later-period Beatles. Caravan has been one of the very rare and hidden bands to help define the psychedelic contribution that the UK had brought to the psychedelic 60's. There is also a great "sing-a-long, and folk" flavor to this album that makes the songs simple to sing along with for those that are into basic, less complex dance-rock forms.
Richard C. Avila (Fresno, CA)Lozarithm 29.02.2012 5/5 (AMAZON)
Mostly average, before they really figured it all out.
I searched all over for this cd after I had heard "Grey and Pink" and "If I could do it all again....", and I was in denial for a while about it being as good. Being released the same year as the first Soft Machine album, I was expecting "Caravan" to be an equally creatively explosive affair. However, after time I realized that this was a band that had not yet figured out what they were doing (much like the first two yes albums). I burned a copy before selling the original just for "Magic Man" and "Place of my own", for me the two shining spots on this disc. I'm not a sound engineer, so I don't get off on the stero and mono versions included on the album. Why listen to mono? Why? "In the land of Grey and Pink" and "If I could do it all over again, I'd do it all over you" are the only Caravan albums you need, in my opinion. Overall, my score is average at best.
Abe (Columbus, Ohio) 14.08.2006 3/5 (AMAZON)
Their folk debut on the spirit earth.
Now caravan who come from the good old town of Canterbury a place i visit quite often, and one time i didn't know but the organ player david sinclair was in the same shop i was buying this album ironic right, but i didn't realise he was there so i didn't get my copy sign damn i know... right down to the review of this album what can i say it's a trippy hippy folk rock classic with 4 long haired hippies on the front "standin' on pillars" and a camel in the background it really makes a scene this album features one of my favorite songs ever "policeman" with it's catchy melody and lyrics it's a classic it also features the single "hello hello" plus "place of my own" "grandma's lawn" this really really rocks if you're into folk trippy hippy rock and if you are you'll probaly have it anyway.
Richard "Rich" (england) 29.12.2005 5/5 (AMAZON)
For their first album, Caravan was surprisingly strong. While steeped in the same British psychedelia that informed bands such as Love Children, Pink Floyd, and Tomorrow, Caravan relates a freedom of spirit and mischief along the lines of Giles, Giles & Fripp or Gong. The band's roots can be traced to a British blue-eyed soul combo called the Wilde Flowers. Among the luminaries to have passed through this Caravan precursor were Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Hugh Hopper and Brian Hopper (pre-Soft Machine, naturally). By the spring of 1968, Caravan had settled nicely into a quartet consisting of Pye Hastings (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (organ/vocals), and Richard Sinclair (bass/guitar/vocals). Inspired by the notoriety and acclaim that Soft Machine encountered during the burgeoning days of London's underground scene, Caravan began a residency at the Middle Earth club. Additionally, the band was shopping a homemade demo tape around to local record companies. Before long, entrepreneur Tony Cox worked out a deal for them to record on the newly founded U.K. division of the Verve label. Caravan's self-titled debut is equally as inventive and infinitely more subtle than the Soft Machine's Volume One or Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Two of the album's best tunes -- the ethereal "Place of My Own" was backed with the dreamlike "Magic Man" -- were issued as the band's first single. Those tracks accurately exemplify the subtle complexities that Caravan would hone to great effect on later recordings. The same can also be said for album cuts such as "Love Song With Flute" and the extended nine-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?" The latter title aptly exemplifies Caravan's decidedly less than turgid attitude toward themselves -- a refreshing contrast from the temperamental and serious Art School approach adopted by Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues. The mono and stereo mixes of the long-player are striking in their disparities. The stereo mix is at times opaque and virtually swallows the vocals most specifically on the tracks "Policeman" and "Grandma's Lawn." Otherwise, there are numerous additional nuances that discern the two. The single version of "Hello Hello" is also included as a bonus. This track was the follow-up 45 to "Place of My Own" and would appear in a slightly different form on their next LP, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You. Potential consumers should note that the sound quality on this package is indescribably better than the HTD Records 1996 CD pressing.
Lindsay Planer (ALLMUSIC)
This is a prime example of the links between psychedelic rock and its progressive younger brother. All of the qualities present in the following albums are present and this is no bias towards what is one of my favorite artists. A Place Of My Own and Love Song With A Flute and Where But For A Caravan are typical delightful numbers but listen to Grandma's Lawn or Cecil Rons to realize of progressive this Psychadelia is. The sound is quite different than the next albums but then again this is a different label and producer.
Sean Trane 12.02.2004 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
I have always held a certain spot in my heart for the music of CARAVAN and none come so finer as their debut album. Opening Cantebury classic "Place Of My Own" remains to this day one of my most beloved tracks. Tragically CARAVAN's first album is far too oft overlooked in their discography and in most cases forgotten completely. Songs on this album carry an early Cantebury-psychedelic edge to them with some great organ sweeps , guitar, bass and drumming. Richard Sinclair's vocals are choice with some great vocal harmonies and pure sounding voice.
loserboy 19.03.2004 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
The sound quality of this album absolutely suck! The recording sounds like it was made in a trash can, with bad mixing (where you hear Richard Sinclair's voice in one speaker, and the instruments in the other). Despite the crap sound quality, this an incredible debut from one of the Canterbury greats, full of great psychedelic pop prog goodies such as "A Place of My Own", "Ride", "Love Song with Flute" (in which Jimmy Hastings makes his first appearance, on flute, on a CARAVAN album), and the most progressive number, "Where But For Caravan Would I". Great stuff, would be made even greater if they had better equipment to record on.
Proghead 01.05.2004 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Hard to criticize this album much considering it was their important debut. All tracks are strong particularly ' Love song with flue'. the opener ' A Place of my Own' and the brilliant' Where but for Caravan would I be' To think they went on from here from strength to strength and they were already great songwriters.Four stars plus a half :-)
Chris S 02.07.2004 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
As other reviewers here have noted, this debut album suffers from unorthodox mixing and production techniques (apparently, even the band members themselves were not too keen on seeing this released on CD). However, there are some good tracks, and as a whole it's a very interesting document that hints at the great albums that followed. Try to find a copy for under $15, and you've got a pretty good deal.
soundsweird 08.03.2005 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Amazingly mature debut from CARAVAN is among the best British psychedelia albums of the era. Sound mixing is bad, with that "primitive" stereo effect division between vocals and instruments, but there is a hell of a good songs on it! Outstanding numbers are "Place of My Own", "Love Song with Flute", "Cecil Rons" and a proto-epic suite "Where But For Caravan Would I Be". There is some wonderful organ playing and one would wonder how David Sinclair is not often mentioned as a great organist. Now, this may sound as sacrilege, but this album is much better and more interesting for my ears than the highly overrated "In the Land of Grey and Pink", despite its weak production. A gem of early Canterbury style!
Seyo 29.10.2005 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
A definate product of the times. Caravan's first album is pysch all the way, but their whimsical Canterbury sound is just under the surface. The first song, 'Place of My Own' is catchy as hell, and their first single. The following songs are very Pink Floydish, ala Syd Barret, especially 'Cecil Rons' an absolute crazy pysch song. 'Love Song With Flute' has Pye Hastings brother Jimmy playing the flute, it's one of the most beautiful flute solos I've ever heard and to think it was done on the spot without practice! Being a HUGE fan of David Sinclair's keyboards, his playing is the highlight for me. Being sinister sounding, 'Cecil Rons', or whimsical, 'Policeman' or downright ornery, the album closer and epic 'Where But For Caravan Would I?' you hear the seeds planted for the groundbreaking and classic Canterbury albums to follow. But be warned, this is psych/prog. For those looking for that classic Caravan sound you may be disappointed. But if you are adventurous, and want to hear how they sounded way back when, give it a try. BTW, if you buy the re-mastered version, you get both stereo and mono. The mono, to me, sounds better. The stereo versions need to be cranked up a bit. Parts of the songs seemed to get washed out at low volume.
NJprogfan 05.01.2006 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Don't expect anything resembling the classic Caravan sound on this, their debut album. What you get here is much more closely related to Pink Floyd's debut, the legendary "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", than to the monumental second and third albums of the Canterbury band. This is quite evident in the remastered version, which includes the delightful "Hello Hello" from "If I Could Do It All Over Again..." - the differences in style and sound between the latter and the rest of the album couldn't be more obvious. That said, however, Caravan's debut is much more interesting that it is usually credited for. Their take on psychedelia is highly original and entertaining, and the members of the band, in spite of their youth, are more than capable as musicians and songwriters. The album's opener, "A Place of My Own", released as a single, attracted quite a lot of attention at the time. It's an endearing ditty, sung by Pye Hastings in a slightly more uncertain voice than usual, with great organ work by Dave Sinclair. The keyboardist is possibly the real star of this album, as his trademark organ makes the overall sound fuller and richer, as well as adding complexity and interest to the compositions. His contribution to the closing track, the 9-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?", the album's most convincing stab at fully-fledged prog, is outstanding, the sinuous sound of the organ weaving in and out of the vocal interludes sung by Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair. The latter's presence is more restrained than in the two following albums, which of course is a pity. He sings lead in the Beatles-flavoured "Policeman" and the distinctly Syd Barrett-ish "Grandma's Lawn", backed up by cousin Dave's haunting organ - a slightly disturbing song with weird lyrics, further enhanced by Richard's smooth delivery. His best vocal performance, though, comes towards the end of "Where but for Caravan Would I", where his voice achieves that velvety tone that I find so irresistible. The sinister, almost discordant "Cecil Rons", another track haunted by the ghost of Syd Barrett (both vocalists, especially the usually soft, mild-mannered Hastings, are utterly unrecognizable!) is probably the most uncharacteristic of the band's output. On the other hand, the romantic "Love Song with Flute" (the latter superbly played by Jimmy Hastings) is almost classic Caravan, beautifully sung by Pye - possibly his best vocal performance on the album. In spite of the very poor production and sound quality, "Caravan" shows quite clearly that the band had potential in spades. Things could only get better, as they did. The follow-up album was a rather giant leap forward in terms of songwriting and overall sound; but this endearingly homespun album, for all its shortcomings, deserves recognition of its own for being a gem of late '60s psychedelic prog. You could do much worse than add this to your collection.
Raff 13.05.2006 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
There's something about the innocence and naive beauty of this album that tells me it couldn't have been made in any other time period. This is the 60's in Britain put into the form of a collection of poppy, mildly jazzy, psychedelic songs. Whenever I listen to it, I feel plain happy. I feel like I can do anything, I want to go be friends with the Policeman, lay in Grandmas Lawn and stare at the sky, make love in the park, or just sit around and waste my time looking at the beauty of the world. Few albums make me feel exactly like this. All of the songs are about simple subject matter and are not very ambitious. 'A Place of My Own' is about getting a new flat. 'Policeman' is exactly what it's title states. 'Ride' is about finding a place in your mind where your comfortable. The song of the band may not be groundbreaking but it's definitely original. The focus in on the funky wah organ, with undistorted jazzy guitar, walking bass-lines, and powerful rhythmic drumming. There are melodies everywhere and Pye Hastings voice is so innocent and full of glee that you'll want to sing along with him the whole time through. 'Where but for Caravan would I' probably sounds the most like the Caravan of the future which is jazzier and more complex. The instrumental sections of the song definitely forecast the more complex elements of the bands music in the future. There's also some dissonance features in the song, giving it a darker edge in some parts. Another thing to note is that every song on the album features an incredible organ solo. David Sinclair is definetly master at his instrument. Sure the music on here is outdated, but that's part of what makes it great. It's a celebration of the simplicity of life and all the joys to be seen. It's not a masterpiece. It's not perfect. The production is far from perfect. But all of that thrown aside this album makes me feel great. Therefore it's a great album.
The Wizard 17.03.2007 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Very similar to the first Soft Machine album, although not quite as experimental. Sort of a groovier "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"(Pink Floyd). Worth it alone for "Where but for Caravan would I" and "Love Song For Flute". Some fine rustic sounding keyboards familiar to Canterbury bands. With the band Caravan, it all starts here. The "Caravan sound" is firmly in place from the get go. Also, think of an entire album where the pop/psychedelic songs have a Procol Harum "Repent Walpurgis" feel to them. Recommended.
Gooner 19.09.2007 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
I guess that it won't surprise anybody if I say that the debut album of Caravan sounds psychedelic. Don't forget that this album was released in 68, a year during which most of the prominent bands were playng this type of music (even if it started already in 66- 67 with Airplane, Floyd, The Beatles, The Who, The Doors, Vanilla Fudge, etc.). One will think of "Piper" while listening to this work. But a more softer one. More "Caravan". Don't expect any wild or disjoined songs; this album is a collection of tranquil psyche but not only. One of my fave is the sweet and melodic "Love Song With Flute". You can imagine that the flute sounds outstanding. Really brilliant. Several songs are on the mellowish side and not really appealing like "Magic Man" for instance. Of course "Grandma's Lawn" is more upbeat. It features great organ sounds ("The Doors" have been listened to). Another highlight of this album. This debut album has this typical sound of the mid late sixties. At times childish, innocent. It is a snapshot of an era. And Where But For Caravan Would I is another great example. It is my absolute fave of this recording. Switching between peaceful and rockier passages. Vocal harmonies are excellent and again David Sinclair's work on the keys is superb. This album sells for very cheap (just over 4 ?+shipment on Amazon Marketplace for the remastered version). So it wouldn't hurt too much your wallet to get it. A good debut album. Three stars.
ZowieZiggy 10.01.2008 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Beginnings are hard, is what I would like to begin this review by saying. Caravan who with their second and especially their third album made some of the best Canterbury prog rock albums ever, started out a bit more humbly. Not to say that this debut album isn´t good, but it´s not excellent by any means. First of all the production is really bad, even for the time. The drums are noisy and I can´t make out what´s happening all the time. Fortunately the charm in Caravan´s music makes up for this. Songs like Place of My Own, Policeman and Love Song with Flute are good examples of the early Caravan sound. Caravan don´t master the long songs yet as I feel WHERE BUT FOR CARAVAN WOULD I BE isn´t that well composed. Caravan are great musicians and of course it shows even under these not optimal circumstanses. Listen to David Sinclair´s organ play in Place of My own and there should be no doubt that this band can play. All in all this is an ok start to a brilliant career, but to be honest I only think this is for the fans really, therefore only 2 stars.
UMUR 19.02.2008 2/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
It may be only a Caravan, but it's a place of my own As with the remastered version of Hawkwind's first album, the remastered CD of Caravan's first album includes the whole album twice on a single disc. Both the mono and stereo mixes are included in full, the actual original recordings used for both being identical. Formed in the mid-late 1960's from the Canterbury scene band The Wilde Flowers (which also included Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers in its ever changing line up), Caravan recorded this self titled debut in late 1968. Most of the songs here had been rehearsed and performed live by the band for some time before they got around to recording them and indeed some of them had been instrumental in helping to secure a recording contract. As was customary at the time, the band were forbidden from being involved in the mixing of the album, which focused primarily on the more lucrative mono version, (since stereo was still in its infancy at the time, and stereo albums were actually dearer!). The band were not entirely satisfied with the results, as they felt producer Tony Cox had not captured their sound well. The album starts with a song which even today is a Caravan favourite. The balance between the band's whimsical interludes, strong melodies and progressive inclinations is captured perfectly in "Place of my own". The distinctive keyboards of David Sinclair, which for many represent the band's signature, are a feature of this wonderful song. The track was subsequently released as the band's first single. In general, while many of the tracks here fall short of the standards attained by Caravan on subsequent albums, especially those recorded during their period with Decca records, they show the promising glimpses of what was to come. Tracks such as "Policeman" and "Cecil Rons" are rooted in the psychedelic sounds of the period, with strong nods to the Barrett era Pink Floyd and the likes. Tony Cox's production emphasises such leanings more strongly than perhaps was necessary. "Love song with flute" is interesting, as it features future band member Jimmy Hastings playing the wonderful flute solo. The song is a soft reflective piece with decent vocal harmonies, which develops into a faster more pop orientated number. The latter part of this track indicates far more clearly how the band would mature. The focus of most of the attention for prog fans is the 9 minute closing song "Where but for Caravan would I?". This mid-paced organ based number may pre-date many of the Caravan classics, but it is an early product of the same mould. In the context of the greats such as "For Richard" and "Nine foot underground" it is a little clumsy and naive, but when we bear in mind that this is a 1968 recording, it shines brightly. In all, a fine first album from Caravan. It may sound a bit of its time now, largely due to the production; but the quality of the songs, the proficiency of the performances, and most of all the promise of what is to come, is clear for all to see. In general, the sound quality of the mono recordings, even in remastered form, is at best adequate. The stereo mixes have brushed up far better though, and are the ones to head for on the 2002 CD. That release includes a single version of "Hello hello", a track on the following "If I could do it all over again.." album. It was originally intended that the single version be added to the remaster of that album, but the master tapes were only located after it had been released. As the remastering of the debut album was carried out later, the opportunity was taken to include it here.
Easy Livin 18.07.2008 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Caravan's debut studio album shows the first seeds of the band's unique sound, but is equally rooted in tranquil mid-1960s pop. In this sense, the atmosphere of tracks such as "Place of My Own" is reminiscent of the tracks on sister band The Soft Machine's "Jet Propelled Photographs" demo from 1967, suggesting that both bands had been soaking in similar influences since their founder members had been working together in the Wilde Flowers, but by this point in time the Soft Machine had developed their own distinctive voice, whereas Caravan are still working towards theirs. That said, there's plenty of pointers towards what's to come: in particular, "Cecil Runs" reminds me of all the more foreboding parts of "Nine Feet Underground" or "C'thlu Thlu". If you are a Caravan fan who has already collected their classic albums (from If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You to For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night), I think their debut is definitely worth checking out before any of their later works, but I wouldn't call it a major priority.
Warthur 19.06.2009 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Like Soft Machine, Caravan came about as the result of the split of Canterbury band The Wilde Flowers, the band that spawned the so called Canterbury scene, a scene which most of the musicians playing in that area at the time deny even existed. Caravan's eponymous debut while showing promise doesn't bear much resemblance to the quirky progressive style they would become better known for in the near future. It's an album of the time, that being 1968 and the blend of psychedelic pop/rock like many albums of the era does sound somewhat dated. Nevertheless it's enjoyable enough the 2 best tracks book ending the album at start and finish. Place Of My Own is an instantly accessible and melodic organ driven rock song but it's closing track Where But For Caravan Would I? that shows promise of what was to come. Starting off somewhat restrained it develops over its 9 minutes into a psychedelic fuelled mini epic with David Sinclair's organ taking centre stage. Overall then Caravan debut is far from essential but a pleasant enough way to pass 40 minutes and an album that anyone who's already investigated their better known work will want to come too eventually.
Nightfly 17.07.2009 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Naive, mature or both? This debut self-titled album of Caravan is my second experience with the band, after the widely-acclaimed ''In the Land of Grey and Pink'' (considered to be their masterpiece). Someone who has heard the latter, and bearing in mind that this is the debut, would have possibly expected a not so mature album - this is only partly true. Released in 1968, Caravan's debut is strongly influenced by the 60's psychedelia sounds and the ''flower-power'' movement (but only to an extent). The hammond-like sounds are dominant and the percussion reflects a feeling of freedom. However, with a strong touch of melancholy, obscurity and well-structured melodies, Caravan leave their own personal stigma in the late 60's that differentiates them from most of the bands at the time. Along with psychedelia and strong rock influences, the level of complexity is relatively high for its time. The album generally flows in slow-tempos, without diverting from this path in only but very few exceptions (i.e. Cecil Rons, Grandma's Lawn) where mid-tempos are more likely. Examples of their ''musical maturity'' can be found in tracks like Live Song with Flute (impressive use of flute!) and Magic Man where the exceptional vocal melodies remind of URIAH HEEP's later releases. The term ''naive'' might be a bit too harsh to describe some of the musical approaches in this effort, but may apply to tracks like Policeman (although it might just be an intentional ''ironic'' reference). Special mention should be credited to the opening and closing tracks with the former being the most lively and energetic one with lots of guitar and keyboard work supporting it. Probably the most impressive and most diverse song in the album is the closing Where but for Caravan Would I? - which is also the longest track and Caravan's first long composition. Multiple variations in mood, speed and structure comprise this ultimately progressive track. Percussion and basswork are the strongest points in this impressive composition which starts off at a slow melodic mood and evolves to a highly creative musical piece. Overall, a pleasant and very promising debut from Caravan which at that time would have created lots of expectations to their fans. Being simultaneously naive and mature (at least to my ears), this would definitely be an interesting addition to your collection, especially if you are a fan of the genre.
aapatsos 22.07.2009 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
It's funny to hear this proto-Caravan sound. Half elements of later albums, half psychedelic sound and also partly The Beatles (Policeman). Magical, hallucinating, drugs were involved "fer" sure, but it's playful, nice little album that stands as predecessor to our beloved following albums "If I Could" and "In the Land". I mean, this is not major Canterbury release, there are just some parts that sounds like "something more". The rest is just psychedelic, which from some reason is not "just" for me, but "fortunately" Psychedelic. I love it that way. But we should draw a line here, there is Psychedelic normal and there is this Psychedelic Caravan. There's not as much repeating as in some other Psych projects, there is also more of interesting ideas that makes their music interesting even in terms of 80's - 90's releases. It's this undefined flavor that made them interesting for us. And it is here, for your to find it out, even the dosage is not as big as in next years. 4(-), proto is the word.
Marty McFly 20.02.2010 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
WILDE FLOWERS were a mid-sixties band that originally consisted of Wyatt, Ayers, the Hopper brothers and Richard Sinclair. This lineup would change over the coming years and the first big band to come out of it was SOFT MACHINE who were having some success along with PINK FLOYD playing at the UFO Club and Middle Earth Club in London. The last incarnation of the WILDE FLOWERS were Richard and Dave Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan.They actually were playing Soul music at that time until they realized that Psychedelic music was becoming very popular. So they changed their name to CARAVAN and this is their first album released the same year (1968) as SOFT MACHINE's "Volume One". What a great year for music ! Many consider CARAVAN's debut as the first true Canterbury Scene album. "Place Of My Own" was one of the first songs that Pye had ever written. Drums build as the vocals come in quickly. Both stand out on this track. It's the organ's turn after 1 1/2 minutes as we get an instrumental interlude. Vocals are back after 3 minutes. "Ride" opens with percussion as gentle guitar joins in and builds. Reserved vocals join in as well. This is very mystical sounding. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes including organ. Contrasts continue. "Policeman" is a Richard Sinclair tune so he both sings and plays lead guitar (Pye's usual roles) while Pye takes over on bass.This also happens on Richard's other song "Grandma's Lawn". The song "Policeman" is part Psych and part Canterbury. Great tune. It also reminds me of Barrett's compositional style on "Pipers...". The lyrics poke some fun at the paranoia many drug users have. "Love Song With Flute" features a guest appearance from Jimmy Hastings on flute. It's laid back with vocals. Vocal harmonies on this one too. It picks up before 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. Flute before 3 minutes. Amazing tune. "Cecil Rons" is experimental to start followed by vocals, drums and organ. This is fairly aggressive at times. "Magic Man" is such a feel good song with lots of organ. "Grandma's Lawn" is very 60's sounding. Love this one. Some nice organ work 2 minutes in. "Where But For Caravan Would I ?" is the bands longest track at 9 minutes. It was originally a song from the WILDE FLOWER's days co-written by Brian Hopper and Pye Hastings. It was re-worked here. Strummed guitar to open before a full sound comes in quickly but it's still fairly laid back until after 2 1/2 minutes when it kicks in. Great sound ! It settles back and vocals return 5 1/2 minutes in before kicking in again at 7 1/2 minutes. A very important album just like SOFT MACHINE's "Volume One".
Mellotron Storm 22.03.2010 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
I had to wait for the CD reprint to hear how the Caravan's debut was. I have the vinyls of If I Could Do and In The Land of Grey and Pink and I've been very curious for years about this debut that was impossible to find in its original form (I think it's a valuable collector's item). I have to say that for me it's better selling a 35 minutes CD instead of filling it with everything you can find just to give it a CD length. Quantity is not always quality and in this case putting the mono and stereo versions of the same album on CD to make it stick to about 70 minutes is an useless operation. Just a bit more interesting is the original version of Hello Hello as bonus track. This song was, if I'm not wrong, the Caravan's first hit single and re- releasing this version it has a bit of sense. Now the album itself: the songs are more or less as I was expecting (and hoping for). Pure Caravan style with the typical vocals and the instrumental parts that I loved on the two following albums. The athmospheres are a little more psychedelic respect to the pastoral ambient of If I Could Do... and the gnomes, fairies and elves of In The Land Of Grey and Pink, but the trademark is clear. I want to underline "Policeman", an instrumental that sounds very psych and makes me think to Steve Hillage's Arzachel. For this reason I see this album as a bridge between psych and Canterbury as well as that band was. Another interesting track is "Cecil Rons". A dark and crazy song quite unusual for Caravan. The choral parts can be compared to Hello Hello, but the instrumentals, specially the keyboards have a connection with Syd Barrett. With the chorus they come back to more familiar territories, but this song represents a path that they abandoned quickly. Also "Where but for Caravan would I be" is quite Floydian. In brief, it's not very different in the genre from the two following albums that I consider masterpieces, but it doesn't have heights like "For Richard" or "Nine Feet Underground". It's just a good album and an excellent debut for a band that could have been one of the greatest but we have gradually lost down the road and wasn't able to resurrect.
octopus-4 11.03.2011 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Bear in mind, this album was released in 1968, the very dawn of prog. All of the tracks on this record lie around the four minute mark, with just one notable exception being the nine-minute epic closing track (I'll come to that later). The other tracks on this record are understandably psychedelic in nature, though to varying degrees. Even though it's the same classic line-up of Caravan (Hastings, Sinclair, Sinclair and Coughlan) there's very little similarity between the music here and the music they would release on subsequent records. However, this album is still worth checking out. For one thing, there's hardly a bad track on here. Out of all the tracks, I'd say Magic Man is my least favourite, as it's quite dull, but at just 4:03, it's hardly offensive. Talking of being offensive, some tracks on here are quite... naughty shall I say. Cecil Rons is a nightmarish experimental song, with childlike lyrics: 'So we all go to wee in the garden'. Grandma's Lawn contains some of the weirdest lyrics and bizarrest imagery in any Caravan song. On the lighter side, Place Of My Own is a fun radio-friendly number with a good melody, and Love Song With Flute does exactly what it says on the tin (although the Jimmy Hastings' classic flute sound only comes in at 2:43, and carries the song to the finish. Ride is a quieter piece, but theres some good moments in there, and Policeman is another track with amusing lyrics. The highlight of the record however, is surely the nine minute opus Where But For Caravan Would I?. This track is essentially two songs stuck together, with an epic instrumental section joining them. The first section and the instrumental are entirely in 11/8, adding to the already very progressive nature of this song. The first song is a mysterious track with mystical progressive lyrics, and the second song is more uplifting. This song is the earliest sign of where Caravan's sound would go in later years. One thing that is worth mentioning is the sound quality. One does have to admit, listening to this record sounds a bit like listening to the band if they were in another room. This being their debut, it's easy to forgive this, and it adds to the naive nature of some of the tracks. This isn't the best place to start listening to Caravan, but this is a lovely little record that's well worth picking up if you're a fan of the band or of the Canterbury Scene in general. It would only get better from here!
baz91 03.05.2011 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
13/15P.: The Piper at the gates of Canterbury, so to say. It's perhaps the most underrated and most groundbreaking album by this band and worthwile alone for David Sinclair's impassionate organ playing. This guy enriches the whole album with wooly organ carpets and breathtaking counterpoints, components which were sadly reduced significantly on the subsequent Caravan albums. I don't know Caravan for too long. Still spending my time in school at the moment, I unfortunately wasn't allowed to enjoy this music when it first appeared, so I had to investigate the so-called Canterbury Scene 40 years after it was in its full blossom. The first record I bought was Camel's "Mirage", then came Soft Machine's "Third" in 2008, Khan's "Space Shanty" in late 2010 and the third one was Caravan's debut album in early 2011. Soon, some later Caravan albums found their way into my shelf, actually all from 1970 to 1974 - but my striking conclusion is, especially regarding the big mass of reviews in the WWW: none of these albums is as consistently good as this one. In The Land of Grey and Pink has good compositions, but a thin sound due to David Sinclair playing more solos and less chord textures. Of course - it's 1968, and there's plenty of dated 60s psychedelia which is assimilated here, but - as I've just said - Caravan really assimilate the spirit of the time and thus create a piece of music which stands the test of time. It is as mindblowing today as it most probably was in 1968. And the huge advantage is that Caravan are more concise than on all their later records. The organ solos start where they have to start and are followed by the next stanza or by a new part just before they run the risk of becoming overlong. The songwriting is top-notch, too - less hooks Place of My Own, the opener, already points out where the journey shall go: a distant drum roll, then a melange of floating organ loops, restrained rhythm guitar (a Rickenbacker, by the way - the Fender XII guitar with the golf-club headstock for which Pye Hastings would become famous isn't used here yet) and high-pitched lead vocals which can't deny that the singer grew up with R&B and soul. It's Pye Hastings, who played with Robert Wyatt in the band Wilde Flowers before and whose voice interestingly sounds just like Robert's (and Robert certainly doesn't have a most common voice!). The chord progression actually isn't too difficult, but Pye's melody isn't really the one you would expect, and that's what good songwriting is all about. The creepy stanzas are followed by quite up-beat choruses, and inbetween there is an awesome Hammond organ solo. It's just one minute long, and there's neither a Leslie nor a Wah Wah pedal used, but it cast a spell on me the first time I listened to it. It's just a Hammond L100 the organ with a loud key-click played through a guitar amp, and it grows and floats on top of a groovy rhythm until a breakdown around 2.30. Organ and guitar enter again, with organist Dave Sinclair trying out his typical wah-organ sound the first time. The last chorus, played twice this time, and the song ends after a short organ outro. Ride is the typical psychedelic thing, albeit without any sitars: the whole piece stays on a minimal drum beat (think Steeleye Span's Boys of Bedlam) and one drone while guitar and voice wind around each other, based on a really successful melody. The introspective verses (I try and find a place in my mind, where I know I can go and leave all behind) find relief in the upbeat instrumental interludes which already sound quite like Canterbury music, complete with rising Hammond organ chords and a fairly simple bluesy chord progression. But the more 'scalic' approach in the stanzas, i.e. moving the scales up and down, and the steady Hammond sound (without the usual swirling of the Leslie) - both factors are present on most of the pieces - actually make me feel reminded of Medieval church music, Gothic sounds in the truest sense of the word, conjoint with early 70s rock music. The plethora of reverb, limiting and compression effects enhances this mood furthermore. Actually I have rarely heard a late 60s record which makes such a sombre impression on me without sounding like a stoned-out experiment. Perhaps this is the point which the band takes up in the liner notes: they complain that the sound is quite fat and compressed, but not exactly what the band was aiming at when recording it. I don't know if it's meant this way, but Policeman makes me think of late-60s drug razzias, such as the infamous Rolling Stones incident in 1967. forty people more locked behind the door In the bathroom, Hope you don't go in for at least an hour. However - with less than 3 minutes it's the shortest track in the album, and one of the two pieces which Richard Sinclair composed. Everybody who knows Richard Sinclair's later compositions knows that his songs are always full of strange chord changes (Golf Girl), and this piece makes no difference. Again, the production stands out; Pye Hastings is on bass guitar this time and has a really chunky sound while the drums sound as if they were recorded in a church. Magic Man is as simple as a late 60s piece can be, perhaps The Tremeloes' Call Me Number One is even more complex, both in composition and in arrangement. But in a way both pieces are quite alike. Of course Magic Man is more hymnic, based on a slow 6/8 metre with atmospheric harmony vocals, but both pieces are examples of what I mentioned in the first lines of this review. There's no denying that this is music from the 1960s, but it still sounds impressive and fresh. Richard Sinclair's and Pye Hastings' voices blend wonderfully in the chorus, there's quiet 12-string-electric guitar strumming all the way through and Sinclair's organ loops provide the 'cerebral' component with the dreamy wah wah effects. Yes, it's not only an ok track, I really do approve of it very much! Love Song With Flute is the album's torch song, a slow soul number, a tasteful British love song with an awesome jazzy melody and the full dynamic bandwidth: soft vocals, quiet guitar picking and a few hi-hat strokes in the first stanza, reverberated harmony vocals and Hammond organ in the chorus and a wonderful bossa nova rhythm in double speed in the second stanza. A slightly weird jazz vamp (at 1:24, for instance) keeps it all together, dominated by Sinclair's tight organ playing. Pretty much going on here in terms of arrangement! Jimmy Hastings, Pye Hastings' cousin, also has his first Caravan performance in this song and delivers an absolutely fantastic flute solo in the end of the song. Interestingly, this is take 1 of the flute solo, and Jimmy didn't listen to the track before - it's spontaneous jazz and a breeze to listen to. Caravan also performed this piece live for the BBC in 1971 as Love Song Without Flute (honestly - Caravan's song titles are dead cool in their own special way!). Buy the new re-issue of "In The Land Of Grey and Pink" and enjoy this BBC version with upfront electric piano and Hammond organ replacing the flute. The two pieces left unreviewed are Cecil Rons and Grandma's Lawn, and both sound as if the musicians were totally out of their minds. Cecil Rons starts off with a totally crackbrained electric guitar drone with an even more crackbrained organ backing until a steady acid rock drum/bass rhythm (think The Nice's Rondo in half speed) enters. The rest of the piece consists of nursery-rhyme-like melodies, church-organ-like sounds which seem to be taken straight from a horror film and bloodcurdling screams inbetween. Except for the Beatles-like chorus and the majestic ending (yes, "The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" is a definite influence) the band does not care about beautiful - or at least memorable - melodies at all; this piece is complete madness, but performed really well. Grandma's Lawn is not as mad, but completely uncatchy - and that's why I don't give this album the full rating. This is the second Richard Sinclair song on the debut album and the combinations of completely unintellegible lyrics (I don't know if I should recommend you to read them or to not read them) with Sinclair's baritone voice and loads of organs somehow resemble the sound of Pink Floyd's "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". But the things which it lacks is a good melody and a bit of structure, it sounds as if the band was trying hard to run through the lyrics. To me, Where But For Caravan Would I? is the greatest song the band has ever recorded. Basically, this song is motored by a really strong riff which relies on the 11/8-metre in which the whole piece is written. Seemingly Brian Hopper, Hugh Hopper's brother who played saxophone in the Canterbury scene of the early 1960s, contributed to the composition and maybe it's to him one has to owe this clever idea. The song begins really mellow and pastoral with the jangly 12-string electric guitar chords, a creeping drum rhythm and atmospheric organ work before Pye Hastings' soulful vocal part begins. The first two stanzas are followed by a more enthusiastic middle 8 before it goes back to the stanza again: awesome song-writing which the band are yet able to force up. An aggressively dissonant scale heralds the piece's extended organ solo at 2:35. From now on you may enjoy 3 minutes of David Sinclair's improvisation towering on the aforementioned riff, including wah-wah pedal, rapid organ runs and moments of complete escalation. Every tone color of this instrument is at least hinted at during the course of this solo, But instead of savoring the whole 9 minutes in order to jam the band enters a second, 2-minute vocal part, this time sung by Richard Sinclair in his baritone voice - it's a different piece, or rather a fragment of a song which is written in the more accessible 6/8 metre, but it has found its perfect place here. Actually when listening to this song it feels like a trip or a hike: slow rising from the ground in the beginning, then gaining height and momentum in the first instrumental part in order to drift and fly for some minutes in the second vocal part. A pulsation of guitar and organ (I love those sounds from 8:40 onto the end) finishes the album, but not before reprising the organ solo with increased power; indeed, the 80 seconds of the second organ solo are really welcome since they give this piece the finale it deserves to get. In a way, For Richard and Where But For Caravan Would I? seem to be quite similar: a vocal part in the beginning, an instrumental part following and extended organ melodies inbetween. But this earlier piece has two vocal parts and it really goes somewhere, the organ parts aren't only there, but also home on a specific point and are twice as concise than in For Richard. I do get the point that Caravan are one of the bands that invite the listener to a journey on a meandering river of music, similarly to what modern minimal/techno musicians do (I thoroughly recommend Deadmau5's Bored of Canada!), and I like the album In The Land Of Grey And Pink for what it does and what it conveys, but a free improvisation becomes much more inspired when it's framed by composed parts and moves freely in a fixed scope. Unfortunately, the album is merely half an hour long (34 minutes or so). Yes, okay - thanks to this short length the CD features both the mono and the stereo version of the album (although I like the mono version more), but why didn't they include the 1968 BBC recordings (Place of My Own/Ride/Feelin Reelin Squealin/Green Bottles for Marjorie) instead? Contractual obligations? Anyway, we get the single version of Hello Hello as an additional bonus track. It actually belongs to the reissue of the following album, but the responsible persons couldn't find the master tapes of the single when "If I Could..." was reissued. It's a damn fine song, with a good percussion backing (hedgeclippers, tambourine, zils, shaker, +whatever...), a groovy 7/4 metre and a great melody - a nice easter egg which enhances the de-facto-length of the album to scarcely 38 minutes. However, this album is plain awesome. The last piece is spectacular, many more pieces are utterly great (Place of My Own, Ride, Love Song Without Flute, Magic Man, Hello Hello[#]) and the other pieces (Policeman, Cecil Rons and Grandma's Lawn) are less convincing, but also no fillers by any means. Perhaps I'm emotionally biassed, but until now this is my favorite Caravan album and - also regarding its age and the impact it must have made then - it deserves a 4 star rating which really is situated close to the 5 star realms. (I even gave it 5 stars when I first wrote this review.) Highly recommendable, in any case.
Einsetumadur 18.08.2011 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Dave Sinclair, Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlin, and Richard Sinclair are wonderful progenitors of the Canterbury scene and have produced masterpiece albums. This debut is no masterpiece but features some of the indelible sound that became their trademark. Hammond organ that shimmers and quivers, distant reflective vocals, strong time sigs, and melodic phrases with extended jamming. A Place of My Own encapsulates the late 60s where people were seeking respite from the crazy world. There was a harmless theme of searching for peace that permeates and it is refreshing to hear. Ride has a great rhythm and some psych musicianship, with strong Eastern melodies and lyrics; "here I am alone in your sky, with my mind passing by the thoughts in your mind, if I were you and you were me could you feel how unreal your world seems to be." The phrases are in perfect melody and rhythm to the music and work as very psychedelic sounds capturing the spirit of the dreamscape of hallucigenic acid and hash that must have been fuel for the inspiration. Love Song With flute is dreamy escapist lush and once again is just a hippies reflection on wanting to escape though "my mind draws a blind" and "look into my eyes tell me what you see". There are shades of psychedelia throughout of course but it is accessible and nowhere near as freaky as what was coming out of the scene. The flute solo is chillingly beautiful, rising and soaring on waves of organ phrases. Magic Man spaces out with slow grinding organ and some acoustic flourishes. The slow pace reflects the lazy adolescent doing nothing but lying in the flowers and dreaming of a better world of freedom and love; the flower power scene is unmistakeable with tracks like this. Where But For Caravan Would I? reminds me of the type of music the band would create in subsequent albums. A lengthy dreamy piece with an extended instrumental break. It builds gradually to the strong Hammond crunching break. This is Caravan at their best typifying the greatness to come on such masterpieces as "In The Land Of Grey And Pink". The album is more of a monument to the time it was created but it is an archival source of great worth thanks to some delightful melodic tracks and lashings of trippy lyrical whimsy and staccato 60s organ hammering. A great start to a brilliant band.
AtomicCrimsonRush 12.01.2012 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
"Caravan" is a wonderful little gem that will contribute in launching the band towards future fame and inspiration. Some debate that Psychedelic Rock is really just a passage between Rock & Roll and Progressive Rock, but others believe that it is the golden age of music. In this period, other than all the greats like Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, the Doors, there were also an infinitude of smaller, very young bands that started their career with embracing the typical sound of Psychedelia and afterwards became part of the so called Prog Rock movement. Caravan, one of the greatest Canterbury bands, are one of these -at first- humble musicians, struggling to find some room for themselves. Their debut album was released in what was one of the greatest years for music, 1968, and relatively few people recognized this band's potential at the time. Caravan was not a typical Psych band, even from the start: the atmospheres they created were, yes, a bit na've sounding, just like many bands at the time, but they never had that cheerfulness incorporated in the music: instead, they focused on being either dramatic, romantic, melancholic, or simply relaxing, for the quieter moments. From the start, Caravan incorporated sounds that were very similar to the future Canterbury Scene movement, for which the band played an essential role. Also from the start Caravan had more Prog than Psych within them, because of the massive use of the organ and more elaborate song structures. This seriousness of the overall sound makes the music's na've tone much less evident, but there is still a great dose of immaturity within Caravan's first album. However, the songwriting of the LP is at considerably high levels, and whether it is na've sounding or not, it becomes completely irrelevant. Already with this first album Caravan deliver some of what will become classics of the band, especially the final track of the album, the nine minute long 'Where But For Caravan Would I?', a clever premonition of the Canterbury Scene. But some of the best songs are the more straight-forward ones, such as the dramatic and dragging 'Place of My Own', the quieter and more mysterious 'Ride', or the memorable 'Love Song For Flute'. Overall an album that, even though showing some immaturity, is unquestionably entertaining from start to finish, a wonderful little gem that will be sure to launch Caravan to success and inspiration.
EatThatPhonebook 17.02.2012 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Perhaps Caravan is the progband that allows us to be a child again, just for a short moment. The transitional period, as a prog 'nd psych collector a man's got to love it. Canterbury classic Caravan emerged from the 'Wilde Flowers', whereas other members from that band went on to form the Soft Machine. Both bands recorded a debut in '68 that was dwelled in the sixties echo- psych sound, pre-Canterbury style organsounds, gentle yet dopey vocals and extremely catchy songwriting. Actually, I was suprised how much fun this record turned out to be. Don't come here seeking your developed and technical prog, it's just the sheer vibe and feel that make this a great records to listen to. Songs like 'Place of my Own', 'Ride' and 'Magic Man' just make you feel like a happy sensitive child. 'Cecil Runs' was a bit hard to understand at first, but this song has a great construction and some nice heavy psychedelic screams. 'Where but for Caravan would I be' is a longer and slightly more darker track and is perhaps the most progressive effort. The organ themes mght have inspired the not yet recording VdGG a bit here. The only thing the record does not have is a totally unproblemetic recording. Whilst it sounds brilliantlly bright and warm during small arangements (got to love the vocals on 'Ride'), it sounds like a garage take during heavier parts. This normally puts me a bit off, but I can't help to fall in love with the songs here. Conclusion. Here the birth of a progressive movement, yet it is like the other sixties debuts (think of Soft Machine, VdGG and Procol Harum) a record that has its roots deep in the psychedelic rock scene. Perhaps a bit of Frank Zappa if you will. If you like me happen to find psych really nice and like the development of the progressive genre, this is safe buy. Four happy children.
friso 22.03.2013 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
The year 1968 unknowingly ushered in a new style of British psych-pop later to be dubbed ''Canterbury''. The Soft Machine and Caravan both emerged from the demise of the obscure Wilde Flowers to have critical acclaim in the progressive rock world. Neither got off to the greatest of starts, but thankfully for both bands, they still had the best left in them. If you are discovering the album CARAVAN as I am, you have likely heard other Caravan albums before this one, so the review has a more retroactive approach. Those of us that have are quick to point out that the production isn't as stellar as what the future has to offer. It's often fuzzy and thin, usually resulting in unintelligible vocals. That's disappointing considering that Caravan often employs whimsical English humour, particularly on the tracks in which bassist Richard Sinclair sings lead (''Policeman'' and ''Grandma's Lawn''). And to add, the bonus edition has a mono version of the album as well as stereo, which makes me ask the question, ''Why would I want to listen to mono when the stereo option is right there?''. There are some delightfully fun psych-pop tracks on the first half, notably ''Love Song With Flute'' and ''Place of My Own''. ''Cecil Rons'' is a bit different as it goes more angry and heavy (for the band), yet still pulls off that joy that one expects from Caravan knowing the future. The rest of the poppier songs (particularly the first two tracks on the second side) sound muddled and struggle through lightweight and tiring melodies. Then the track that might set the course for the band's future progress comes at the end of the album, well in time for the listener to breathe a sigh of relief. ''Where but for Caravan Would I'' brings the band's sound into full focus, mostly swelling the organ into tightly constructed solos. The vocal melodies are quite perfect, especially Sinclair's that comes halfway into the track. I actually think the best part of the song is Pye Hastings's guitar; the jangly chords under all that heavy organ and drums provide a stable foundation for the solo section and makes the song that much better. I don't think Hastings gets enough credit for his guitar playing. Caravan would go on to record better produced albums, so this is pretty non-essential. But it is still a good Caravan album, and if you're a fan, if you like the Hammond organ, CARAVAN is ecstasy. And watch out for the ferocious drum pounding of Richard Coughlin.
Sinusoid 16.05.2013 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Great debut from the best band in Canterbury! Highlights include Place of my Own, Where But For Caravan Would I Be?, Love Song with Flute and Magic Man. Is no doubt that there is still some degree of immaturity and in the following steps of the band would see clarity and decisiveness in their innovative ideas. Still, it´s a transcendent work taking into account the time it was produced. Distinctive experimentation in the final track. A distorted organ and bold. Fortunately, Caravan deepen beautifully in this type of sound and arrangements. Psychedelic, jazzy, symphonic, melodic. In addition to the outstanding organ performance by Dave Sinclair, Recently deceased Richard Coughlan stands in Drums. There eloquent progressive tendencies, but can not qualify as a masterpiece in the genre.
sinslice 06.04.201 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
I honestly can't see why this album is so lowly rated. For me, it's undoubtedly a 5-star album - one of my Canterbury favourites and right up there with their magnum opus "In The Land Of Grey And Pink", "Caravan" is where it all began for the band. An excellent psychedelic rock album, with flavours of progressive rock to come. Very ahead of its time for 1968! The album begins with "Place Of My Own", probably my favourite song on here. The lyrics and vocals performed by Pye Hastings just captivate you immediately along with those hypnotic keyboard textures that continue throughout the album. "Ride" is probably the most psychedelic song on the album. Very trance-like with arabic percussion by Richard Coughlan and confusing lyrics teamed with droning, echoey backing harmonies. Another brilliant track, only hindered by the production (the loudness of the organ solo overloading the rest of the track in particular). "Policeman" is a great little song you could imagine a maturing band jamming out in a "smoky" room, but this song has some great quality to it. The instruments all complement each other splendidly and the piece contains sophisticated chord progressions that work beautifully - amazing for a group their age. "Love Song With Flute" is yet another Caravan classic for me. Love the melodies, lyrics and laid-back chords, and as always Pye's vocal delivery. Great harmonies on the line "I'm needing you" leading into a flute solo overshadowed by their later piccolo solo on "Golf Girl" but still more than creditable. Essential to the album. "Cecil Rons" is a delicious contrast to the melodic "Love Song", introduces more harmonic minor, dissonant, and off-beat lines, with all of the instruments played much harsher for the better, showing their versatility on this short work. Just incredible, and I'd love to have heard another one like it in Caravan's repertoire. "Magic Man" is one of the hits on the album (if you could call it that) and so relaxing. The atmosphere constructed by the gentle electric guitar strums, Coughlan's rim shots, and David's wah-wah organ, with more spectacular melodies. "Grandma's Lawn" is another great song, but perhaps sonically weaker, although it proves to be one of the best on paper. Comparable to "Policeman", but with slightly worse lyrics (or in the least trying to fulfil a different purpose). Still keeps the album's consistency and ends on a very low resonant vocal note. The final song "Where But For Caravan Would I?" is obviously one of the best tracks on the album, and the most progressive. Spanning almost 10 minutes and predominantly played in the hypnotic, rocking 11/8 metre, a very important precursor to progressive music. The great chord progressions and alluring melodies are still very much present in here, with devastating climaxes and organ solos. The track develops after a long trance into a more suitable 12/8 to fit the excellent harmonies. The youthfulness yet sophistication on here is just electric and glorious! The best closing track to any Canterbury album in my opinion too. A: A very ahead of its time work by the (relatively) new band "Caravan", showing their experimentations with music, but still managing to produce a signature style on each instrument. Very impressive at 20 or so years old and some of the greatest music I have ever heard! Place Of My Own: ***** Ride: ***** Policeman: ***** Love Song With Flute: ***** Magic Man: ***** Grandma's Lawn: **** Where But For Caravan Would I?: *****
Xonty 12.08.2013 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Better than Genesis! At least if we are talking about debut records. In that case Caravan is better than most rock bands. Beatles debut wasn't fantastic, not Genesis and Yes' was good but not as good as this. Sure even Caravan developed but their original sound was almost precised. The disc Caravan has a cover showing the members looking sacred with minds devoted to god(or music?) and an emply dusk background in yellow and orange. Caravan (Richard Couchlan, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Jimmy Hastings) does a very good record here. Back in 1968 the sound has more psychedelic influences than later and what makes this so pleasent is that it's like joyful pop melodic performed in a sophisticated progressive way. The vocals are magnificent here. I think they work better than on next record. Every song is great and worth enjoying but my favourite track is the longest(as it use to) "Where but for Caravan would I" which is a angelic composition with beauty and power. "Love song with flute" is also one of the best, perhaps by matter of the flute and you can't escape this feeling of genuineness. On many tracks, like "Grandma's lawn" you want to dive into the rich organ orgies which are so cleverly played. The drums are also amazing and make this so powerful as a unit. Caravan's music is nice, and it was nice from the very beginning. Just its niceness makes it the perfect music to introduce someone to prog rock with. It's no way a matter of crossover stuff or something like that, just very nice, that's it. I won't say it's a masterpiece or perfect, not today after a first listening, but it was an impressing start of this wonderful band. Four stars with opportunity to be raised even higher!
DrömmarenAdrian 17.06.2013 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
A lovely debut album from the zany Canterbury pop brigade. Despite being a Canterbury band, Caravan had never strayed too far into jazz-rock territory; the reluctant leader Pye Hastings has always made sure that the pop sensibility was always there. The band's humour and lightness is like a breath of fresh air in the often too serious world of prog. This LP isn't as talked about as the next two masterpieces by the classic lineup of Hastings/Sinclair/Sinclair/Coughlan (+ Brother Jim), but for me it's almost as great. The quirky melodies and funny lyrics are already there, although the guys would polish up their songwriting skills consideralby by 1970's "If I Could Do It...". Consisting mostly of Pye's compositions Caravan's first is still drenched in psychedelic atmosphere - this is one of those 68/69 albums where you can clearly hear how psychedelia morphed into prog. The echoey production hasn't aged too well, I'm afraid, but the songs themselves are nothing short of great. Be it the catchy opener "Place of My Own", the lovely "Love song with Flute", or the two Richard Sinclair contributions, where his carrollian whimsy comes to the fore. (On a sidenote: his voice is nothing short of angelic! clearly the best vocalist in British prog! and one more thing, the Hastings/Sinclair high/low vocal interplay does remind one of the similar Wyatt/Ayers combination on Soft Machines first LP, doesn't it?) As many other bands of the time, the guys leave the best for last: the long closer "Where but for Caravan Would I?" is up there with Caravan's other classic long tunes. At first listen it may not be as striking as "For Richard" or "Nine Feet Underground", but the lazy, pastoral atmosphere is simply wonderful. Really makes you want to go out and lie in the grass, looking at sunlight pouring in from between the tree branches (Sorry, got a bit carried away, it's cherry blossom season here in Japan). The apocaliptic ending is great too. The start of the Caravan journey was really promising, things would only get better from here (until 1972 at least).
Hailemon 22.03.2013 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
The second half of Wilde Flowers finally debuted under the name Caravan. The other half of Wilde Flowers called themselves Soft Machine. I just want to start this review with this piece of fact so you, the reader, understand where I come from and where this review is going. My first impression was that this was pretty similar to Soft Machine's debut album. A back to back comparison revealed that the Wilde Flowers split must have been a friendly one with a lot of mutual feelings. The overflow of ideas between those two albums proves my point. This album can also be compared to the Wilde Flowers compilation album (their only studio output). The music is psychedelia, the 1960s pop (The Beatles) and jazz mixed together. This album is therefore not representative for Caravan's total studio output at all. The same can be said about Soft Machine's debut album too. We have now established that this, their debut album is an oddball in Caravan's studio output. The quality is pretty good all over this album. From the opening song Place of my own to the closing track Where but for Caravan would I be. Inbetween, we are treated to an album full of small details and contrasts. From naive melodic pop to avant-garde jazz. I find this album pretty amazing, although I do not fall in love with it. I think it has a lot of durability. The album is also as charming as a kitten. Does that makes it a fantastic album ? No. But I have a lot of fun with it. I guess I will have a lot of fun with it as long as I live - and beyond. My favorite track is the strange Cecil Runs with it's total weirdo melody and rhythm patterns. The rest of the album is good too. It is an oddball album, but a rather good one. Three stars is in my book a good score and I may add one more star in twenty years time. I will keep you updated.
toroddfuglesteg 08.07.2009 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Place Of My Own - a nice up and down flow to the opening track with excellent keyboard work, simple yet effective lyrics, and lovely singing Ride - Coughlan's drumming sets the pace as lyrics are more narrated than sung with the distorted guitar and other instruments breaking around the minute and a half mark only to decend back down and repeat the process. Not a spectacular track but well paced and enjoyable. Policeman - a very good track that gives us a bit of a glimpse at what to expect from this band in the years ahead. Policeman reminds me a bit of Golf Girl but with much more well written lyrics, frankly. Love Song With Flute - the straight forward title sells this song short. Fourty years later this is still a very fresh sounding love song with some fine flute playing provided by Mr. Jimmy Hastings. Cecil Runs - compairs favorably to most any Syd Barrett song. Magic Man - a very mellow, very pleasant listen that bids you come along and join them, and Soft Machines, and Lonely Hearts Clubs for a lazy afternoon float around the clouds. Grandma's Lawn - now, I ask you, could you make cutting Grandma's lawn into such an intriguing song? Where But For Caravan Would I Be - after a soft build this song hits the keys and percussion pretty hard, which is not that interesting, but at the five and a half minute mark this comes around and forms an excellent piece. The lyrics remain light and airy while the instruments build and eventually take over the track which does end rather abruptly. Would have liked a clearer close to this song. Syd Barrett's rise to legend status in the music world may make it hard for many to accept that he was not the only one, at this time, who could write a string of great psych/prog songs, the lawfirm of Sinclair, Hastings, Coughlan & Sinclair were mighty capable themselves. The lyrical quality of Caravan, I would argue, is just as good as that of Piper but the production value falls woefully short. By all rights this album should be held in the similar esteem to Pink Floyd's Piper but again, the production holds it back. Actually, I think fans of the more mellow sound for which Pink Floyd would later come to be known might actually enjoy this album a little more than Piper, given a remastered copy and a good system to play it on. Interesting no nonsense song writing with sweet singing and an overall mellow feeling only lacking in recording quality. The music is more than worthy of 4 whole stars.
manofmystery 20.01.2009 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
I think this is a great 60's British psych classic. I don't understand why fans of the band seem to look down on it so much. Surely the sound quality is that of the sixties, and obviously won't stand next to an album such as In the Land of Grey and Pink ( In sound quality at least, what the hell people, a lot of sound quality improvement was done from the sixties till 1971), but compared to the heavy left/right panning of many sixties albums it seems fine to me. Starting with Place of My Own, this album kicks off with good work from the whole band. Not only is it catchy, but it's well written, well composed, it's pretty solid. Then there's Ride. This song is personally one of my favorite Caravan songs of all time, the beginning is just absolutely perfect, as are the vocals that come in afterwards and the first appearance of the wah- organ. I could go on and on. I heavily enjoy all the songs on this album (Love Song With Flute and Where But for Caravan Would I Be are absolutely beautiful, as is Magic Man.) It seems to me that the only reason a lot of people look down on this album on this site is because this site consists of more fans of 70's prog that 60's psych. I listen to a lot of both and would definitely consider this one of the greatest albums of all time (along with other Caravan albums.)
himtroy 20.01.2009 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Caravans debute album and what a debute then, this is no doubt one of the best debute albums ever by any prog band, yes its maybe not 100% prog its pretty similar to Pink Floyds masterpiece debute psychadelic pop songs but this one have more of a prog sound then piper had and it’s a bit more serious sounding, there’s no weak points, every song is totally memorable and real gems of the first song Place of my own is the real winner what a way to start the album just incredibly good prog pop song i always think for myself what if they played stuff like this on the radio, i would listen to the radio all the time, songs this good simply never make it to the radio sadly, anyway the other songs are in the same style except for the ending masterwork Where but for Caravan would i be and i guess it’s the real highpoint of the album simply a perfect mini epic, i got the new remaster of the album with both mono and stereo versions of the album and Hello Hello (single version) which I’m pretty happy with and Ii always listen to the whole album cause it’s so good I don’t mind listening to it twice its one of those albums where everything runs perfectly and before you know it its over great and short like most good things are. Well one of my favorite Caravan and Canterbury albums for sure and highly recomended don’t just expect a fullblown prog masterpiece it’s more like a psychadelical / prog masterpiece in the same style as Sgt Pepper and Piper at the gates of dawn just a little more prog then those 2 and in my opinion better. A Canterbury classic you should get simply. 5 star in my book.
Zargus 28.12.2007 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Where but for caravan would I be? Well, I for one would be in a much less satisfying musical status :) Caravan is one of the first Canterbury bands I listened too and as a habbit I usually start with a bands debut album and work it out chronologically. As a debut, Caravan's "Caravan" is surrely to impress anyone, especially considering it was released in 1968 and clearly features more then 'psychedelic pop', the album already exhibits Caravan's skillful songwriting and David Sinclair's majestic eerie distorted pleasuring keyboards and ofcourse the ever so whismical lyrics and themes of the future Caravan, althought I find some songs to be very serious too (A Place Of My Own, Ride). For me, this debut falls no less then Caravan's later releases who I also absoulutely adore (If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You, In The Land Of Grey And Pink (the highlights for me along with this album)). Perhaps a bit more song oriented and with a more basic structure but nevertheless amazingly put! Sure some may say the production may seem a bit lacky (when I listen to "A Place Of My Own" in my car there's a keyboard part that just kills the ears being so high pitched) but to me it makes no less of the album... still sounds terrific and beautiful! Lastly, I would mention "Where But For Caravan Would I Be?" as an indication to the future epics which we love so much and "Cecil Rons" (what the hell does that mean anyway?) as being quite an experimental piece of work, dissonant but amazing! p.s. A confession, I had to review this album after looking at the top albums from 1968 and seeing where this one stood, to me it just looks very unfair I would put it all the way up there. 9.9999/10 in my book, here definitely a 5!
Verwuestung 21.09.2007 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Song number one, Place Of My One is one out of eight reasons why this album is a perfect example of the Canterbury Scene, a delightful pop song with a strong psychedelic jazz to it. #2 (Ride) Nice Intro. Soft Percussion. Soft mellow lyrics lead us through. BOOM. Here comes the warm sound. Canterbury Keyboards, I can't get enough of them...PAUSE...Vocals that are very meditative..."I'll try and find...a place in my mind, where you know you can go and leave all behind." #3 Policeman: This song reminds me of how nosy the police are and how they can really spoil your fun sometimes...you know what I mean?... I hear organ, intense fantastic drumming, base, and creeping vocals that seem to get better wither every second of the song. #4. Love song with Flute: Is a semi-ballad, semi-psychedelica that sounds very good, very mellow, very 60's. "Who cares if I'm lost in my mind, my dreams are over-due. I don't want to spend too much time writing/typing about this great album, mainly because I need to write/type something up about Hatfield & The North's Hatfield & The North album, but an over-all view of this album is very positive, creative, and down right enjoyable.
Jake E. 23.08.2007 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
This is among the most influential and important albums in the progressive rock canon, but more than that, it is just a damn good album. It is the confident, fully-assured work of a band that had already figured everything out and was primed to break new ground while still retaining enough of a psychedelic pop/rock influence to remain thoroughly listenable and enjoyable. As such, it stands as one of the greatest debut records in the history of prog, alongside Court and Gentle Giant (among others). As this was released in 1968 it should surprise no one that the atmospheres here are quite psychedelic, and delightfully so. The record leads off with the band's first single, "Place Of My Own," penned by band leader and main creative force Pye Hastings. It has "classic" written all over it and rocks with powerful, paranoid vocals from Pye and some great keyboard work from my favorite keyboardist by far, David Sinclair. "Ride" is another superb psychedelic tune, featuring backing vocals with an echo effect that enhances the trippy-ness of the experience. According to Pye, this was a song written along the lines of contemporary works from the band Traffic, which he admired (as I do!). Richard Sinclair's first song with Caravan, "Policeman," follows, and it is rather nice, with excellent backing vocals from Pye. Evidently Richard had not yet fully worked out his songwriting or vocals by this point, as the song is slightly underdeveloped (though superior to his other effort on this album, "Grandma's Lawn") and he sounds rather rough in tone. Pye follows this with the best, most memorable tune on the album, the absolutely gorgeous "Love Song With Flute." His vocals are achingly beautiful (as are the backing vocals which meld together perfectly) and the lyrics, like most on this album, are mystical while still remaining thoroughly understandable and heartfelt. The song's structure is also impeccable, with great keyboard breaks and a superb closing flute solo from Caravan's ever-valuable extra, Pye's older brother Jimmy. "Cecil Rons" is among the most atypical Caravan creations ever, but there's a method to this madness and Pye balances the chaotic dissonance and wild screams (excellent use of his vocal chords for freak-out effect here) with a boisterous, involving chorus. Dave's freaky organ work towards the end is absolutely breathtaking. "Magic Man," the B-side to Caravan's first single, follows and is a simply gorgeous psychedelic ballad. Pye's highly distinctive vocals carry the tune but, as Richard Sinclair has remarked, the tune is truly elevated by Dave's inspired keyboard work elaborating on the chord progression. The harmony arrangements on the chorus are also superb. "Grandma's Lawn, " as I mentioned earlier, is likely the only true weak point on the album although it does feature more of Dave's excellent work and a very nice ending with an unexpected melodic vocal passage. This brings us to "Where But For Caravan Would I," the band's first true prog epic and one of its greatest works. Co-written by Pye and former Wilde Flowers comrade Brian Hopper, it begins with a dreamy, wonderful first section with very fitting vocals and evocative lyrics, along with the first of two epic choruses. A powerhouse, mood-heightening, high energy jam follows with Dave leading the way, until some acoustic guitar chords slice in and give way to a verse sung wonderfully by Richard this time in his best vocal performance on the album. Pye comes in on the utterly involving chorus, and the two voices meld effortlessly as usual, each enhancing the beauty of the other. A couple wild roars later and the album ends with another memorable jam with a repeated minor chord from Dave to conclude matters in excellent fashion. I have the 2002 remastered version of this album with both mono and stereo versions of every song, and although the sound of the original record may have been terrible the original recording was evidently just fine as this remaster from the original master tapes produces an excellent sounding album. In terms of whether the stereo or mono versions sound better, I'd say it differs track by track. "Place Of My Own" and "Magic Man" appear to sound better in mono, particularly the latter as the stereo version results in the echo effects drowning out the lead vocals. Almost all of the other songs sound a bit better in stereo in my opinion, as their trippy qualities are enhanced without overcoming the tunes. But opinions will doubtless vary. Regardless, this is a must-have for anyone interested in the foundations of progressive rock, and for anyone interested in Caravan or good music in general! Though Caravan would better this effort in the years to come, this 1968 debut still presents quite clearly all the merits of this great band.
Stughalf 22.03.2013 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Surprisingly good debut from my personal favorite Canterbury band Caravan. In my opinion this is an unfortunately underrated masterpiece, though not entirely of progressive music. This was my second album (after Grey and Pink) from this great band, and what let me know that Caravan is indeed a special band. The sound is completely different from everything they would do in the future, which gives it along with many other Caravan albums a unique edge. At first I didn't think this was a great album, the below-par sound quality put me off at the beginning. But when I think about it now, it is one of those factors that is necessary to the overall sound and atmosphere of the album. The other distinguishing factor of this album is the same feature that makes so many other early Caravan albums unique, Dave Sinclair's keyboard playing. However on this album, he creates a completely different atmosphere by using an organ almost exclusively to create dark textures that echo through the songs. Love Song with Flute, Cecil Rons, and Where but For Caravan Would I? are superb progressive songs. The other stuff is a bit less on the progressive side. Though not to detract from Place of My Own, Magic Man, and Grandma's Lawn; which among others are still very good songs that just aren't quite as progressive. A great album for anyone into Canterbury, as well as most of the other accessible sub-genres listed here. If you can appreciate atmosphere the way I can, I'm sure you'll find this album rewarding.
Speesh 30.09.2007 3,5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
The first work of CARAVAN announced in 1968 "Caravan". Goods of initial British rock with which fantasy and deep lyricism are filled. As a romantic organ rock, it might be an eminent work in my opinion."Love Song With Flute", "Cecil Rons", and "Where But For Caravan Would I" are masterpieces.
braindamage 20.10.2005 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Being a lover of the Canterbury sound, I give this the obligatory 5 stars. While most critics point to In The Land Of Grey And Pink or For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night as the group's best recordings, this debut has a helluva lot going for it. The first two tunes, "Place Of My Own" and "Ride" are classic psych-pop songs and set the tone for the rest of the album. I had many opportunities to purchase Caravan albums during my tour in Germany in the early/mid- eighties (I looked at their albums repeatedly but always ended up purchasing something else) and am sorry it took almost twenty more years to finally hear this classic music. Caravan is another prog rock group inexplicably passed over by America in their heyday. If you love the music of the late 60's, get some of this and don't let them pass you by again!
brianjwright62 30.01.2005 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
At the time of its release a newspaper has commented, "Neither the sleeve picture nor the notes help the group's image, but on its own merits the album deserves high Top 40 ratings." Caravan were not the first to arrive on the Canterbury scene, Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (keyboards) an Pye Hastings (guitar/vocals) had all arrived from the Canterbury pioneer, Wilde Flowers. They were hard-pressed to establish a name among the likes of Soft Machine and Delivery, but nevertheless their first album was a promising start to what would become a band producing the most consistently interesting music of the period. An overall echoing sound, perhaps more distinctive on the mono recording is the work of Tony Cox who as Hastings recalls, "[Tony] wouldn't let us attend the mixing on the grounds that if there were five people in the control room it would take five times as long to mix. I think he wanted total control." However, in stereo, the album is still quite a crisp and clean sound. Opening with "Place of My Own", Pye's creation was impressive enough to establish their music contract and provides a good opener for the album. Caravan frequently indulge in light-hearted lyrically content, often with dreamy guitar/keyboard interludes. "Ride" and "Policeman" are good examples of this whimsical style that Caravan enjoyed. "Love song with Flute" had Pye's brother Jimmy appear on the flute. "Jimmy had never heard "Love song with Flute" before and came up with the solo out of thin air on the first take." recalls Pye. The psychedelic influence is present on "Cecil Rons", "Magic Man" and "Grandma's Lawn" while "Where but for Caravan would I?" is their first at a longer and more complex piece with ex-Wilde Flowers colleague Brian Hopper. Whatever influenced the album is quite well hidden beneath the layers of sound, well-constructed tunes and clear desire to ascertain their own music. With the CD comes the mono and stereo recordings and a bonus track ("Hello Hello") along with the rewarding sound that belongs exclusively to Caravan.
Verisimilitude 11.02.2004 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
A good, but not spectacular, start. This album sounds very different than other Caravan albums - the voices are mixed differently and tons of reverb is used. The last track ("Where but for Caravan...") is the best.
walksa 03.02.2004 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES)
Stern and solemn, drenched in oceans of stately organ sound, and hardly any melodies in sight! Chic.
Best song: POLICEMAN or CECIL RONS
Well, whaddaya know. Caravan's first album effectively dismantles the very essence of the term 'Canterbury scene' - now that it unites Soft Machine, Gong and Caravan, there's no meaning to the term but strictly geographical. Where the Soft Machine, from the very beginning, headed for avantgarde and jazzy/modernistic experimentation, and Gong went straight away for fairy-tale funny trippy psychedelia, Caravan took an entirely different way, even if most of the members of the band had actually played together with Soft Machine just a year before. Simply put, Caravan's debut is a magnificent record if we speak in purely atmospheric terms. At this point, at least, the band members (most notably guitarist Pye Hastings, who wrote most of the stuff) didn't care much about distinctive melodies or hooks. Instead, they go for a most monotonous, slow, sludgy sound that never seems to proceed from point A to point B - it just flows on missing all the possible points. In other words, it's not the results that are interesting, master, it's the process. And certainly I could just dismiss the record as a bunch of useless stuff if all this wanking wasn't so hypnotic. It's a stately medievalistic/folksy groove that seems to borrow equally from Traffic and Procol Harum, and yet it's different. It's not as quirky or lightweight as the stuff by Traffic: all the instruments are so dang HEAVY on the move, with crashing drums, fat, thick rhythm chords, metallic bass, and, of course, layers of glossy organs that the guys really end up sounding like a caravan, and a caravan of elephants and mammoths, I dare say, rather than your normal camel thingie. On the other hand, it's denser and darker than the sound of Procol Harum - dunno why, but most psychologic associations I get out of this thing are real unhappy ones. Must be the leaden basslines. And yeah, the organ, of course. There are simply no guitar solos on the whole thing; Hastings sticks strictly to rhythm. All the other work is done by organist David Sinclair, and oh does he pack a whallop. Overdubbed, double-tracked, in the background, in the foreground, these organ patterns are truly excellent, and David isn't even a speed technician a la Keith Emerson - he's more of a stately economic player like Matthew Fischer, but a bit more experimental in nature. You may not remember these actual songs, but sometimes it's just a bit of pure joy to take a listen to all this soloing stuff. That's not to say that the record consists exclusively of organ wankery - there's only one lengthy track, the concluding 'Where But For Caravan Would I'. All the other songs are quite reasonable in length, and some are moderately catchy. There's no concept or general philosophy to the album, and Hastings' and others' lyrics aren't supposed to be tremendously meaningful, but they're okay, ranging from mildly nonsensic to mildly melancholic to optimistic ('Place Of My Own', for instance, according to Pye himself, deals with his finally finding a new flat). One thing I'm not pleased with is Pye's voice: there's a funny excerpt in the liner notes about how Caravan wanted to sign a contract with Island Records, and the guy out there listened to their demo tape and said something like 'I like the band but who is the crap singer'. Well, er, ahem, I can't say I agree with him completely, but I sure understand him. When Pye is slightly drowned out by other instruments, it's not a problem, but when he's mixed clearly upfront and moreover tries to achieve extra expressivity ('Ride'), the results can be totally disastrous. Still, never mind all the problems, just concentrate on the grooves. Two songs stand out for me from all the pleasant, but monotonous atmosphere: 'Policeman' is a funny little pop ode to law enforcers which uses a wonderful Beatlesque vocal melody twist ('we can see you creeping Mr Poli-i-i-i-iceman'), and 'Cecil Rons', which begins as a particularly scary little nursery rhyme, develops into a glorious celebration of nonsense, replete with horrifying screams and a totally nutty organ part the likes of which you ain't never heard. 'Love Song With Flute' is definitely a highlight as well, not because it's particularly memorable, but mainly because it milks the 'stately' vibe to an even higher effect. There is a gentle, gentle, gentlest of the gentle of solo flutes on there indeed. The rest of the songs I won't be discussing in particular - like I said, take a steady, easy-flowing fat-sounding rhythm track, throw on moody organ lines and funny vocals, and that's it. One thing's for certain: in 1968, at least, this was a unique sound, a sound that managed to be even more majestic and 'heavyweight' than the one developed by Procol Harum but equally unpretentious and adequate. Adequate, because these guys really knew their stuff - you can easily tell by listening to, say, the ominous jam on 'Where But For Caravan Would I' that these guys were no slouches and knew their bag of folksy and jazzy tricks quite well. The fact that they simply refuse to be flashy and show-off-ey (like Procol Harum) certainly adds to the general monotonousness, but on the other hand, guess what? It saves them possible accusations of flashiness and showoffiness. Unlike, say, ELP. The bad news, then, is that this LP has been long out of print and as far as I know, was re-issued only recently; in fact, legend has it that the band itself has almost forgotten about its existence - Pye, at least, has been quoted as saying that "my copy, and we were allowed only one copy each, has long since vanished", so he couldn't even remember particular info about any of the tracks. Oh dear, oh dear, how can we be so negligible towards our own work? Just look at me - you can wake me up in the middle of the night and I'll be able to quote you everything I wrote two years ago about King Crimson's Live At Capetown, 1977. Ha! Ha! I was kidding you! King Crimson NEVER had a Live At Capetown, 1977 album! That concert wasn't even bootlegged. Ha! Ha! Kidding you again! King Crimson never even played Capetown in 1977! How could you be so stupid not to have known that? HA! HA! Actually, King Crimson were DISBANDED in 1977! Betcha didn't even get your rock chronology straight! Say, this used to be a Caravan review, didn't it? Guess all the organ noodling just requires some half-assed humour to relieve the tension...
George Starostin (STARLING)
Caravan sind neben Soft Machine die bekanntesten Vertreter der sog. Canterbury-Szene, die sich mehr durch personelle als durch musikalische Gemeinsamkeiten auszeichnet. Wie manch andere Progband erreichten Caravan ihren musikalischen Höhepunkt in den frühen Siebzigern, um dann langsam aber sicher in kommerziellere Gefilde abzugleiten. Auf ihrem Debut zeigen sich Caravan teilweise noch vom Sixties Pop beeinflußt, obwohl die Merkmale ihres typischen Stils schon vorhanden sind, wie die langen Orgelschleifen, das Fehlen ausgeprägter Soloeinlagen (besonders bei der Gitarre, die nur als Rhythmusinstrument eingesetzt wird, auffällig) und natürlich der charakteristische Gesang von Pye Hastings und (hier noch seltener) Richard Sinclair. Manches wirkt noch unausgereift, besonders wenn einige Songs an unpassenden Stellen plötzlich ausgeblendet werden. Auch der leichte Jazzanteil ihrer klassischen Alben ist hier noch nicht vorhanden. Dennoch ist Caravan ein interessantes Debut gelungen.
Jochen Rindfrey 29.04.2002
Neben der Debutscheibe von Pink Floyd, "Volume 1" von Soft Machine und "Music in a Doll's House" von Family ist der Erstling von Caravan eine meiner Lieblingsplatten aus dem Grossbritannien der späten 60er. "Caravan" bietet eine ausgesprochen locker-entspannte, nie seichte, deutlich angejazzte Musik, die wunderbar ins Ohr geht. Mit dieser Platte legen Caravan das Fundament, auf dem sich ihre beiden kommenden Meisterwerke "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" und "In the Land of Grey and Pink" erheben sollten. Die Scheibe wagt sich, neben dem vorherrschenden Jazz-Pop, gelegentlich auch in psychedelisch-schräge, fast wüste Gefilde vor ("Cecil Rons", "Grandma's Lawn"), in die sich die Musik von Caravan später nicht mehr verirren sollte. Wunderschön ist "Place of My Own", mit dem sprudelnden Orgelspiel Sinclairs, "Love Song with Flute", mit einem Gastauftritt von Pye Hastings Bruder Jimmy (der zum Dauergast auf vielen Canterbury-Produktionen werden sollte) an der Flöte und das beschauliche "Ride". Mit dem 9-Minütigen "Where but for Caravan would I?" gibt es auch einen ausschweifenden, psychedelisch-jazzigen Longtrack, der sich vor allem durch das exzessive Orgelspiel Sinclairs auszeichnet. Die remasterte CD-Ausgabe von Decca (2002) beinhaltet neben dem Stereo-Mix von "Caravan" auch die Mono-Abmischung und, als Bonus-Track, die Single-Version von "Hello Hello", deren Masterband erst nach der Wiederveröffentlichung von "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" wiedergefunden wurde, und daher etwas verspätet hier auftaucht.
Achim Breiling 11.02.2005