BACK TO FRONT (1982/1991)

1 Back To Herne Bay Front (5:47)
2 Bet You Wanna Take It All / Hold On, Hold On (5:12)
3 A. A. Man (4:55)
4 Videos Of Hollywood (5:03)
5 Sally Don't Change It (4:04)
6 All Aboard (4:06)
7 Taken My Breath Away (4:52)
8 Proper Job / Back To Front (8:18)
Richard Coughlan (drums, voice on track 8)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals on tracks 2, 6, 7 and 8, guitar solo on track 8)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards, vocals on track 5)
Richard Sinclair (bass, vocals on tracks 1, 3 and 4, guitar solo on track 3)

Mel Collins (saxophone on tracks 2, 4, 7 and 8)
1982/LP/Kingdom Records/KVS5011/UK
1982/LP/Kingdom Records/506102/France
1982/LP/Kingdom Records/KVS5011/Germany
1982/2LP/Victoria-Kingdom/VLP-52/Spain (b.w. "The Album")
1991/CD/Kingdom Records/CDKVS5011/UK
1992/CD/Jimco Records/JICK-89126/Japan
2004/CD/Eclectic Discs/ECLCD1010/UK

A great comeback by a classic canterbury band. After the collapse of The Album lineup, the original quartet got back together and released an album with a more canterbury feel than anything since Cunning Stunts and with compositions better than anythin since Blind Dog at St. Dunstans. The Sinclair cousins' songs are the highlights, and whereas two of the Hastings songs are rather poor, All Aboard is his best composition in many years. Dave Sinclair plays the electric piano and synths he has favored since the mid-70s but brings back the fuzz organ sound for the semi-epic of the album Proper Job/Back to Front. A great addition to your Canterbury collection.
beterdedthnred4 4/5 13.07.2005 (PROGARCHIVES)

OK, granted, this isn't in the top flight of Caravan albums; but I think most Caravan fans will still appreciate this album. Especially with the welcome return of Robert Wyatt and Richard Sinclair to the line-up. AA Man and Proper Job make the album worth buying on their own. For me the low-point is Breath Away which is just bland. There are some great keyboard and guitar breaks lurking in most of the tracks which make you start to take notice if you've drifted off. I suppose this album and it's forerunner The Album suffer from being from the 80's, but when you consider what Yes/Genesis/Tull had become during this period, Caravan are actually holding on to their roots quite well. This album isn't particularly complex, but is light and tuneful and I certainly play it more than some 'classic' prog albums that are sometimes just too much like hard work.
AYoungErrol 3/5 23.03.2008 (PROGARCHIVES)

I didn't like this album. Do not recommend.
Kirilitza 24.07.2015 (ALLMUSIC)

Look — a reunion! The band may have folded after The Album, but in less than two years, they are back, and look at the lineup: Pye Hastings on guitar! Richard Coughlan on drums! Dave Sinclair on keyboards! Richard Sinclair on bass! All songs written by Hastings, Sinclair, and Sinclair! It's 1968 all over again — or, perchance, even 1971?.. The most interesting thing about Back To Front is that it is heavily nostalgic. For most prog veterans, the early Eighties were not yet a time, usually, when they would look back with sadness and yearning on their glory days. Many were too busy tripling their hair volumes, learning drum machine programming, or finding other ways to compete with the new romantic youngsters on the charts (usually unsuccessfully, but at least it seemed to keep them alive at the time). With Back To Front, you can certainly sense by the production that it probably belongs in the early Eighties — but mostly it looks as if they are trying to recapture the inspiration of the days of Grey And Pink. There is even an epic track with instrumental jamming ('Proper Job / Back To Front'), although they do not dare to launch into full-scale multi-part suite mode. I am not sure, however, that the final result would genuinely appeal to veteran fans of Caravan at their peak. Admittedly, the two-part finale is a grower, particularly the 'Back To Front' part, an ominous riff-based jam shaped as a crescendo, with the doom-struck bass groove gradually enhanced by more and more layers of keyboards, and then finally evaporating into nothing and leaving you in a state of dark anxiety — just like in the old days, when they used to end their records on suspenseful notes rather than landing them softly with some soothing Pye Hastings lullaby. Even so, the entire thing hardly holds a candle to the classic suites, since the overall sound is somehow too close to generically tepid jazz-fusion grooves: Sinclair's bass lines on 'Proper Job' seem taken out of the fusion textbook, and Dave's synth tones are... well, too syn­thetic for my tastes at least. The biggest problem is that everything else is, at best, trying to hold up to the level of 'Back To Front', and, at worst, not even trying. The presence of Richard adds extra spice if you like his above-mentioned fusion-esque bass playing on the album (polished and perfected due to years of playing with Hatfield & The North), but hardly so if you have high hopes about his songwriting: 'Back To Herne Bay Front' is a rather non-descript exercise in nostalgia, and the wannabe-arena-rocker 'A. A. Man' is really just another mid-tempo pop song with a boring anthemic chorus that cannot seem to decide if it wants to be soft and tender or powerful and angry. Dave, meanwhile, is credited for the writing of the closing suite, but he is also responsible for 'Videos Of Holly­wood', a draggy rhythmic ballad that seems to share the sentimentality, but not the charm of the Kinks' 'Celluloid Heroes', and for 'Sally Don't Change It', an even slower ballad that sounds... well, like an unfunny parody on a Billy Joel ballad, I'd say. This leaves us with Pye, and Pye is the same Pye as he's been on the previous two albums. An oddly out of place tender rockabilly number ('Bet You Wanna Take It All'), seguing into a slow R&B ballad ('Hold On Hold On'), and a couple faceless pop numbers on the second side all seem to be rather jello-like — not hopeless choruses, perhaps, but everything sounds so silky, so fragile, so muffled and cuddled that whenever I try to concentrate on this stuff, I find myself figuratively drowning in some imaginary viscous fruit drink. Fun bit of trivia: the near-rapped mid-section on 'Taken My Breath Away' has the same vocal melody as Suzanne Vega's 'Tom's Diner' — almost certainly a coincidence, since I cannot imagine Vega taking cues from a nearly unknown Caravan album. But what's up with the spelling of that title? Is 'Taken My Breath Away' an implicit tribute to AC/DC's 'Given The Dog A Bone'? That might not be a total coincidence. Overall, the record is still a major improvement over the previous two albums — at the very least, there are no obvious embarrassments (like trying to do a reggae song or going disco at the wrong time), and that final suite is surprisingly better than I could have guessed. But it is also easy to see why the reunion did not hold up: trying to revive the classic Caravan vibe in the early Eighties was a bit like setting up a pro-Britain party in 1783. Absolutely nobody needed this at the time, and the reunited Caravan quickly split up again, even before it became obvious that the album would not sell, I believe — which, might I add, was a very good thing, because I shudder to think what the fate of a slightly cohesive Caravan could have been in the mid- to late Eighties. As it is, the Caravan finally took enough time to unpack, rest its weary legs, take a long drink, and sit out the rough times without getting into the heart of the shitstorm.
George Starostin 03.05.2017 (ONLY-SOLIAIRE.BOGSPOT.COM)

Not bad for 80s...
Back to front album sounds even more progressive than Better by far(1977) or The album(1980) . May be because the band atempted to achieve more comercial success ,but failed. Here the band contains the original line up: Hastings, Dave and Richard Sinclair and R. Coughlan. You won't hear songs from The land of grey and pink,the songs are more soft rock with slight jazzier and progressive influences. The last song Proper Job\Back to front are the most "progressive" because of its heavy end.Anyway this album sounds very good for 80s. (Remember the albums of other prog bands like Camel of the same 1982 year-The single factor?)Probably,the last good album of Caravan till today.
Koloyarski Avraham 5/5 02.10.2005 (AMAZON)

Bad reunion of the original group
This album was originally released in 1982. The original LP and CD cover were different than this reissue. The CD is 43 minutes long and the sound quality is good. This is sort of a reunion album of the four original members, plus Jimmy Hastings on flute and sax. Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlin have always been in the band, but Richard Sinclair and David Sinclair had been coming and going over the years. This is the first time since the third album (In the Land of Gray and Pink) that all four were together on the same album. This band would break up after this album and then get back together again in 1990 for a reunion concert. By this time, Pye Hastings had dominated the band. Unfortunately his song writing became weak and spineless and lost most of its early wit. He writes 5 of the 8 songs, and none of them are very good. Richard Sinclair has two songs that mirror close to what he was doing in his solo career at the time. One of the songs (the first) is fairly good, and the other is just annoying (which could be typical of him). The best thing on the album and the song that comes closest to bringing back the classic Caravan sound is the last song by David Sinclair. While it is not the best song ever written and not even close to the best song by caravan, it is still pretty good. However, I don't think it makes it worth buying this CD. I don't think Caravan has put out a good album since 1977's The Album, except for the nice reunion concert from 1990. Note that there is a very nice double LP called Greatest Hits Live, that has not been released on CD yet. It is a funny title because Caravan never had any hits.
kireviewer 2/5 09.10.2007 (AMAZON)

Caravan is not your run of the mill band, and their recordings can not be held to the standards or criteria of "popular" musicians. With Paul McCartney or Elton John you can speak about hooks, and the beat, or the quality of the writing, but Caravan takes a unique aproach to their art, and has to be looked at from an entirely different perspective. Caravan is a collective of Canterbury genre musicians creating tonal poems of an aesthetic value, not intended for dancing, sexual stimulation, or selling sneakers. Their work is best met on an intellectual level, like the timeless work of great authors or painters, existing not for a purpose, but for it's own sake. They don't so much write their songs as "experience" them, inventing a large portion of most tracks as they record, spontaneously, improvising not just melody and counterpoint, but rythms, chord changes, and even lyrics. Their strength is not in their precision but in their lack of musical dogma. Their are no rules here, and so the music is free to explore and experiment. Once you understand this, you can begin to appreciate their work in an appropriate light. You can't define or even explain this music, To castegorize and compare this band, or measure their work, like a "product" one manufactures for sale or competition, goes against their nature, for in doing so you have lost their essence, which is a subtlety that washes over the senses, integrating with the mind without assaulting it. This music is not intended to be memorized, as it evolves with each performance, growing and reshaping. It is a living, breathing organizm, not a static object. This particular recording was done after a hiatus from the studio, with a renewed vigor and refreshed palette of sounds to draw on. The result is a prime example of Caravan, and transendental art, at it's finest. If you wish to enjoy art for art's sake, this is a great place to start.
Stuart Moutner 4/5 03.01.2007 (AMAZON)

I don't really care for Caravan. I have just two caravan albums-Land of pink of grey and this one. But this album is worth the money b/c of the last track (long epic). It's not 'starless' by King crimson but it just flows nice and smoothly. Excellent track. I can compare this track to 'Metamorphosis' by Curved air. Nice melody and cool keyboard sound. This is one of those rare recordings I strongly recommend based on only a couple of songs (Video of Hollywood is also good) on a CD. Get it!
Y. Choe 3/5 14.03.2005 (AMAZON)

After a string of mediocre Caravan albums, Pye Hastings decided to reconvene all four original members for Back to Front. In an unusually democratic move, he divided the writing between himself, Richard Sinclair, and David Sinclair (with drummer Richard Coughlan abstaining). The result was a generally uneven album, but one which maintains a certain nostalgic charm. Surprisingly, the best songs here were written by David Sinclair, who was usually overshadowed by vocalists Hastings and Richard Sinclair in the early days. On "Sally Don't Change It" and "Videos of Hollywood," David reveals a soft romantic side previously hidden (and which would later blossom on his wonderful solo CD Moon Over Man, actually recorded before this record). "Proper Job/Back to Front" is another gem offered up by the same writer, and most closely recalls early Caravan. Another winner is cousin Richard Sinclair's "Back to Herne Bay Front," an amusing cameo of daily bingo and fish and chips in the small seaside town of Herne Bay. The three songs written by Pye Hastings, on the contrary, are fairly insipid pop numbers; not what one would expect from the band's mainstay and guiding light. Caravan was one of the truly good things to emerge from late-'60s/early-'70s progressive rock. Back to Front doesn't equate with their best work, but admirers of the group will be intrigued by the disparate personalities that emerge from this quiet reunion.
Peter Kurtz (ALLMUIC)

Ewwww. They should really put a warning label on hazardous music like this: "May induce intense bouts of frustration, disgust, nausea, vomiting, and thoughts of suicide." It's true the thoughts of either ending my life or the disk's life did cross my mind, after it being my aural displeasure of having heard the likes of "AA Man" and "Sally, Don't Change It". Let's just say those are the only songs I fear hearing like Mr. Satan himself. "Back to Front" has Caravan sounding like someone added waaaaay too much cream to the band's coffee and smothered their toast with some of the most disgustingly mundane adult contemporary influences. Well, either Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair had lobotomies for unique cord changes and good taste or had just recently bought a copy of the 1# smash hit, "No Jacket's Required", and were really digging those 'cool grooves'. I would proudly like to proclaim that 'inspiration' and "Back to Front" are complete and utter oxymorons and this is coming from the guy who would like to have the title track of "Better by Far" played at his wedding. However, "AA Man", Taking My Breath Away", "Sally, Don't Change It" and "Back to Herme Bay Front" are some of the most mawkish adult pop clichés not penned by Sting. Tasteless sax playing and awkward disco influences abound and the good melodies have flown south for the winter. Only on the mild but kinda enjoyable, "All Aboard" do we get a quality Hastings melody. Pssst.... the only other good part on this whole album is when Pye plays a freaking, almost Zappa like wah-wah guitar solo on "Proper Job/Back to Front" but the rest of the song is dog excrements. What's even more sad and pathetic is that this collaborative piece of crap was made by Caravan's original lineup. Yesh, the one that brought you "If I Could Do It All" and "The Land of Grey and Pink" and all those other fazed cookies, but now they've created a swift kick in the crotch to their legacy and all of their fans with "Back to Front". None of this music resembles Caravan in the slightest and this is a fair warning for all ye wide eyed and romantic Caravan followers out there who still have happiness, hope, and belief that their Canterbury idols can do no wrong.
LionRocker 1/5 09.08.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)

Before listening to this album I had my hopes up. After a couple of lousy albums (Better By Far & The Album) Caravan returned to their classical form with Richard Sinclair back. Maybe Back To Front isn't as bad as The Album (whose name is already a cry for help), still it remains at the bottom of the barrel. Until "For Girls" Caravan had played excellent five star music and Cunning Stunts and Blind Dog were also terrific albums with a blend of Canterbury rock and sophisticated pop-music. Then Caravan fell from the ledge only to be left hanging for few years and finally to land in a rosebush. But Back To Front. It's released after a two year break and still Caravan couldn't think of anything new, they couldn't even go back to their glory days. What makes Back To Front so poor is the fact that the band has had a break and recruited Richard Sinclair back. They even had Mel Collins playing on the album. Back to Herne Bay front and Proper Job/Back To Front have a nice feeling in them but they can be counted as lifesavers because the rest of the album is just garbage. 2 stars (!BARELY!)
BrainStillLife 2/5 06.12.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)

Caravan is back! And then I really mean it. "Back in front" from 1982 is the best Caravan album since 1975 and I would call it equal to "Girls..." and "Cunning...". What's so awesome here is that Richard Sinclair and Dave Sinclair are back. Although Caravan is amazing even without them, they were indeed missed. I have no idea why this album has gained so little understanding. Caravan is doing something inside me I can not resist. I am very greatful for that. As always a big part of the phenomena is the guitarist Pye Hastings which does a big job even here. Dave Sinclair plays piano, organ and minimoog, Richard Sinclair plays bass and Richard Coughlan drums. They all do wonderful stuff on this album. The cover isn't complicated but esthetically enjoyable with green and yellow birds and flowers- "Back to Herne bay front" is the great come back of Richard Sinclair as vocalist. He is so calm and emotional and I'd call him a wonder. This is how Caravan should sound. Present is the hint of jazz and the irresistible melody and I shiver(9/10). "Bet you wanna take it all/Hold on hold on" is a sophistoicated rock 'n' roll song sung by Pye Hastings with a joyful melody which changes twice, this song is actually two and we also get a nice sax solo by guest Mel Collins(7/10). "A.A. Man" is rather different. It's sung by Richard Sinclair(who also plays the guitar solo) and the melody switches many times; I'd consider this high standard music(8/10). "Videos of Hollywood" is also sung by Richard Sinclair and a wonderful song with Dave Sinclair's keyboard excesses: also (8/10). "Sally don't change it" is the records least interesting song (6/10), also very nice but a little too cheesy(sung by Pye). "All aboard" is a beautiful ballad sung by Pye Hastings(7/10). "Taken my breath away" sounds very poppy and that is great (when it comes to Caravan which is good at that) and Pye sings this too(7/10). "Proper job/Back to front" is surely the gem, the masterwork of this record. I find it perfect. It is both sung by Dave Sinclair(not Richard) and Pye Hastings and here do we have the perfect Caravan sound. The keyboard and guitar melody is as it could be in the seventies and it takes me away to another world where I am so happy I am living. (10/10). After hearing this I wondered why I thought it was so good, because others have given it so bad reviews. I have actually no ideas why. This record is just the way I want Caravan and I recommend it warmly to anyone into great music. With more tracks like the first and the last this could have been even better. Now it's a clear four!
DrömmarenAdrian 4/5 05.11.2013 (PROGARCHIVES)

This is from the original line-up and although better than its predecessor still a disappointment but the times would not allow them greater freedom. It seems the band enjoyed enough Videos , that this popped-up regularly in the 90's concert. Really a bunch of uninspired songs , but still one can hear somehow , how this was still Caravan. The opener and the final number are the better numbers on this album but the rest is rather unexciting. This album had already been released on CD but got a remastering (and probably a few bonus) on the Eclectic Label in late 2004.
Sean Trane 2/5 02.02.2004 (PROGARCHIVES)

This is another existential question that the Sinclair cousins might have considered before rejoining "Caravan". Lots of hopes when you see the line-up. The original one, yes! But the least I can say, is that this album is not very much inspired. Very pleasant vocals of course, some upbeat and pop songs ("Hold On", "Videos Of Hollywood"). Not bad but way off expectations. This reminds me more of the poor "Camel" of the late seventies (but both bands have profound links of course). I have never been a great fan of the band but I have to say that they released very few bad albums so far (actually only one : "The Album") but to be honest, there is very little to retain from this one. A major deception if you considered the musicians involved here. The core of a band which created a style on their own. I have always been granted "Caravan" for this. But such an album won't add anything great to their fame. Mellow mood with "Sally Don't Change It". Press next (but you could already have hit this key with "Videos) This album is not very good. Might be OK when you listen to it abstractedly. But does "Caravan" music need to be listened to that way? I guess not. The finale of "All Abroad" is awful and disco oriented. And it is not the reggae-ish "Taken By Breath Away" that will convince you (nor myself). What the hell did happen to "Caravan"? Probably the same dreadful eighties syndrome. I guess that the very few reviews for this album indicates sufficiently that it isn't really an essential album (even for die-hard fans). Three out of ten (max) is the rate. Since it is still not possible on PA I will downgrade it to one star. A poor album indeed. Don't bother with this album.
ZowieZiggy 1/5 03.02.2008 (PROGARCHIVES)

I took years, after the first spin, to find the courage to retry this album. When I have bought it in 1982 it was a total disappointment as I was expecting a lot from the original lineup of a band able to release to of my all time favorite albums: If I could.. and In the Land... The first disappointing thing was the cover sheet. It's a clear remind to Escher with flowers turning into birds, but what does it have to do with the album? "Back To Herne Bay Front" is not a bad track at all. It has lost the disco-funky mood of some songs of the previous "The Album", even if I really dislike the sound used by David Sinclair on the solo. It's jazzy and the bass and vocals are quite good. What's now? "Bet you wanna take it all / Hold on hold on" an uptime glam-rock&roll, I don't need anything like this. What's the sense of releasing a pop song that would have been good in 1970 while in 1982? It wouldn't have been a success in 1970 either. In the second half (or the second song) when it slows down is a bit better. Mel Collins plays a nice solo even on a trivial base. I have controversial feelings about "A.A. Man". It features non-trivial passages, odd signatures and Richard's voice, but it doesn't do much for me. inserted in a different album would have been different. It could have been a good filler if part of a good disc. "Videos Of Hollywood" is a song that seems taken from Camel's I Can See Your House From Here. Probably because of Richard's vocals. If only the guitar was played by Andy Latimer.... Also the sounds used by David Sinclair are similar to those used by Camel on that album. Add Mel Collins' sax and this is a "lost Camel's song". "Sally Don't Change it " is on the same strings but almost without drums. It's Camel more than Caravan but without Latimer. I don't know where Pye Hastings is. He could have found room for good solos on songs of this kind, but there's very few guitar here. "All Aboard" is nothing special, a pop Caravan song to let go in the background. "Take My Breath Away" is in my opinion the poorest track of the album. I can't find a sense in this song. It seems survived from the disaster of The Album. Already heard and already discarded. "Proper Job" starts similar to Nine Feet Underground. Of course it's just few seconds. It sounds like an attempt to return to the good moments and effectively there are moment in this closer that can remind to better moments. Add to this Mel's sax and the result is not that bad. Back to Front is not totally back. Even if surely better than "The Album" (doing better wasn't a hard thing to do), it still doesn't deserve the third star, but apart of 3 weak songs all the rest is listenable and there are tracks of the old goodies.
octopus-4 2,5/5 05.04.2011 (PROGARCHIVES)

Better. But not by far
Caravan soldiered on during the early 80's with Back To Front, another entry in a series of weak albums from the group that began with Blind Dog At St. Dunstans. Back To Front is better than the previous The Album, but it is not better by far. The material is still uninspired, but at least here they again sound like Caravan. I find it a pleasant enough listen, but it fails to make an impact or leave any lasting impressions. After this album there would be a longer silence from the band and not until 1995 would they release another studio album. I think it was clear that they had come to the end of the line here. And like for most other classic progressive Rock bands, the 80's were not kind to them. The song Videos Of Hollywood was previously familiar to me from Caravan's entry in the Classic Rock Legends video series. It is a rather simple Pop number, but at least it has a memorable melody and a characteristic lead vocal. Back To Front is another Caravan album for fans and collectors.
SouthSideoftheSky 2/5 11.02.2014 (PROGARCHIVES)