THE ALBUM (1980/2004)
1 Heartbreaker (3:06)
2 Corner Of Me Eye (3:37)
3 Watcha Gonna Tell Me (4:48)
4 Piano Player (5:24)
5 Make Yourself At Home (3:26)
6 Golden Mile (3:12)
7 Bright Shiny Day (6:17)
8 Clear Blue Sky (6:24)
9 Keepin' Up De Fences (5:17)
Bonus Tracks on Eclectic remaster (2004): A and B side of single released on 24.10.1980
10 Heartbreaker (Single Version) (3:40)
11 It's Never Too Late (6:24)
Richard Coughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals on tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 11)
Dek Messecar (bass, vocals on track 3)
Geoffrey Richardson (viola, flute, guitar, vocals on tracks 2, 6 and 8)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards)
1991/LP/Music Box International/40474/Greece
REVIEWS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
What looks like an ordinary LP for the group can be a lifetime achievement for the others. Light and cheerful.
Kirilitza 24.07.2015 (ALLMUSIC)
By the early Eighties, Caravan were in a total state of flux: their Arista contract fizzled out, some of the band members quietly quit, and so it was almost by accident that somehow, in 1980, they found themselves in the studio once again — and with Dave Sinclair in person returning for the third time, no less. Now they found themselves signed exclusively to Kingdom Records, the small label of their former manager Terry King (which used to distribute their recordings in Europe), they had three of the original members, and they split the songwriting three ways, with Hastings, Sinclair, and Richardson each taking a near-equal share. Perhaps one could hope for a slight improvement over the mediocrity of Better By Far? Well, look no further than 'Heartbreaker', the opening single (no relation to Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones), for the revelation. It opens with a broken-hearted (yeah right) bluesy riff, so muffled, so glossy, so tight-wedged in the hum-hum-humming of the synthesizer wraps, that it is clear from the first fifteen seconds: whatever melodic potential there is here, it is going to be smothered by awful production, and once again what used to be the strong side of Caravan — a sense of sentimental humility — is going to work to their absolute disadvantage. But that is only the beginning of our problems: by the time we get to the chorus, it is clear that Caravan have pretty much mutated into Air Supply, or America, or any of those limp soft-rock outfits who thought that the more shallow they made their tenderness, the more appeal it would find among those people for whom even 'Here, There And Everywhere' was too deep. The hookline of 'Heartbreaker' — "while with you was a heartache, without you is a hell" — is not only barely grammatical and barely pronounceable, but is also unsingable with a straight face. Still, at least Pye's other two contributions are arguably the highest points of this sorry mess of an album: 'Bright Shiny Day' has him in solid McCartney mode, with a sunshiny chorus that makes good use of his high-pitched modulation and heavier emphasis on catchy guitar licks than on the synthesizers, and 'Keepin' Up De Fences' — if you can make peace with the idea of disco basslines on a Caravan song (and we all knew it was coming, sooner or later... in 1980, though? what a bunch of retards!), it is the only song on this album that genuinely rocks, with a fine flashy guitar solo at the end and true proof that Richard Coughlan can keep a fast, steady, tight beat and ornate it with expressive fills at the same time. I wish I could be just as empathetic to Richardson; but 'Corner Of My Eye' is just another one of these taking-itself-too-seriously soft-rock cornballs, not helped much by the surprising transformation into rollickin' pop-rock in the bridge section — and 'Clear Blue Sky' is Caravan's first and last foray into the distant world of reggae, a track that they try to make more psychedelic by adding «cloudy» synth swirls all over the place, but Richardson's strained vocals are awful, his scat singing over the syncopated rhythm chords is even worse, and at six and a half minutes, the song tries to present itself as something epic when in reality it seems to simply follow the guideline of "hey wait, we've never done a reggae song yet? come on now, everybody's done at least one reggae song! this will be fun, like a 'Bob Marley goes to Canterbury' kind of thing!" Which leaves us with the Dave Sinclair songs, and I don't remember much about them after three or four listens, except that they kinda sounded like a mix of Elton John and Billy Joel (heck, one of them is even called 'Piano Player', for Chrissake!). 'Make Yourself At Home' is 'Honky Cat'-like funk-pop that could really benefit from a strong singer like Elton, but has absolutely no future with these totally disinterested vocals (is that bass player Dek Messecar singing? he has no personality whatsoever). I would not say that The Album is a significant drop down from the level of 1977 — the only difference is that here, there is not even a single superficial attempt to retain the «progressive» legacy of classic Caravan, but then, this is not necessarily a bad thing: from a certain point of view, it makes them more honest about what they are trying to do. The problem is that Caravan as a bona fide pop band, with no additional ambition, is a suicidal proposal — they never had the cockiness, the energy, the great guitar tones, the vivaciousness that should go along with a great pop band. They almost succeeded with Blind Dog, though, but then they ran out of inspiration and sheer power altogether, and now all we have is utter blandness. Thumbs down.
George Starostin 26.04.2017 (ONLY-SOLITAIRE.BLOGSPOT.COM)
Caravan's last decent studio album.
Released in 1980, this was Caravan's nineth studio album. It was 43 minutes long. The original CD was released in 1990 and the sound quality was fair, with poor dynamic range. So, a remastered version would be welcomed. The LP and original CD were never released in the US. This is a remastered version, with 2 additional tracks. Total time is now up to 53 minutes. If also has a different cover from the LP and original CD. I have to admit that I only have the original version, so I haven't heard this new version and can't comment on the sound quality and bonus tracks. Coming out in 1980, this was released when progressive rock was all but dead. Like most albums released by progressive rock groups at the time, there is very little of the progressive elements left in the songs. But, the songs are still fairly good, for the most part. There are some nice songs with a funky/raggae twing (Clear Blue Sky and Bright Shiny Day). And there is slightly soulful Piano Player, which is one of the better pure songs ever done by Caravan. The group at this time is Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Geoff Richardson, Richard Coughlan and some bass player. As will be the case in the future, all the good songs were written by Sinclair or Richardson and the bad ones come from Hastings. The only exception is Heartbreaker, which is one of the last very good songs Hastings has wrote. Note that some songs on this album and the next album, Back to Front were combined and released as Canterbury Collection.
VINE VOICE 3/5 04.01.2007 (AMAZON)
One song wonder,
This was a transitional album at the time, with new personnel and fresh hopes of returning to the limelight. It failed, but Clear Blue Sky's magic is worth the time and the effort of getting this obscure and disappointing work.
Ulric von Bek 3/5 11.06.2014 (AMAZON)
I think that the title says it all. No inspiration. Only Clear Blue Sky - a reggae - manages some interest from my ears , the rest being really a lacklustre collection of uninspired songs . I am so sorry one of my favorite band ever got so low. This one did come out on Cd but look elsewhere as there are tons of Caravan records to investigate before delving for this one. While rewriting my Blind Dog review, I had a chance to add this and tell you that this got a second release (remastered ) with a few Bonus Tracks - not that it would make it less un-essential - on the Eclectic label.
Sean Trane 2/5 02.02.2004 (PROGARCHIVES)
If after "better by far" you thought, that it can't get worse, you were wrong. Most of the songs here are depressingly soapy, boring and uninspired "ballads" sung by Pye Hastings. If "clear blue sky"(with a touch of reagge) or "golden mile" seem a little bit better than the rest of the album, it's only because it's not so slow as the rest of songs, and because you can have a rest from Hastings voice. AVOID!
kajetan 1/5 24.08.2005 (PROGARCHIVES)
Oh dear - such a great band - such a poor album (for their high standards). I disagree with other reviewers who pick out the reggae track "clear blue sky" as this track apitomises the root of the problem with this album - which is this viola and guitar player Geoff Richardson was given too much licence which overpowers and stifles Hastings and Sinclair's normally strong creativity. For me Keeping Up Da Fences and Watcha Gonna Tell Me are the only two tracks of note.
Mark Roberts 2/5 02.10.2006 (PROGARCHIVES)
Even in their worst times CARAVAN are intelligent enough. Solid and even record, “The Album” is somewhere in between “Blind Dog…” and DONOVAN or THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS. Not recommended in any way, but it’s interesting journey for early CARAVAN fans. Unfortunately, they didn’t get better after it, and their later studio albums fall into the same line. Nice and inescapable addition for die-hard CARAVAN fan collection, but don’t bother if you still haven’t made your mind towards their best efforts.
Prog-jester 2/5 06.06.2007 (PROGARCHIVES)
SHOULD I COME BACK OR SHOULD I STAY AWAY (PART X)
This is frankly the question. Dave is back again in the band. But what for? This is a major flop IMO. One out of many of course in the early eighties from a prog point of view. At the end of the day, where were the great bands of the seventies (even if "Caravan" has never belonged to my fave ones). Gone are the days of their exquisite and so personal music that could be found on "For Girls". This one is just a poor I don't know what album. No genre can be associated with this album. Only that it is poor from start to finish. Attempts to rock like "Make Yourself At Home" completely fails. And the awful disco "Golden Mile" just show you the quick way to the toilets. Run fast if you want to avoid the vomiting thing to happen onto your pants.This is the absolute nadir of this band (so far). There are not a single track that stands out on this album. A shame of course for Caravan. But they won't be the only ones to produce a crappy album I these eighties, right? There is even one ridiculous attempt to a reggae song in here. This genre was rather commercially successful at the time, and I liked quite a lot bands as Culture and Steel Pulse during those days to know what great reggae was all about. This one is just boring and useless. Does anyone need "Caravan" to turn into poor reggae. Definitely not! One star and this is way too much for this extremely poor album.
ZowieZiggy 1/5 01.02.2008 (PROGARCHIVES)
The Album is the ninth full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Caravan. It´s been three years since their last album Better By Far (1977) was released and one could expect that those three years had been used wisely. Better By Far (1977) was a below standard album from the band though and I had my worries before listening to The Album. The music is soft rock with only a few of the progressive elements left that made earlier albums by Caravan so great. The only song that gives small hints to their past greatness is Watcha Gonna Tell Me. It´s be far the best song on the album with flute and those quirky fast vocal lines that I love from the old albums. Opener Heartbreaker and the song Piano Player are also respectable (remember I didn´t say good), but the rest is rather bland and forgettable. There´s even a poor attempt to play white man reggae in the song Clear Blue Sky (and no it doesn´t sound like UB40). That´s a disaster to my ears. The musicianship is as good as usual and it´s rather interesting that David Sinclair has returned on the keyboards once again. The production is good. Warm and pleasant and it suits the music perfectly. The Album is unfortunately another below average album by Caravan and it´s hard not to get the thought that they really didn´t have much more to offer to the world of music at this point in their career. A 2 star rating is warranted. I must say that I had expected much more from the band after a three year recording break.
UMUR 2/5 11.04.2009 (PROGARCHIVES)
Not a masterpiece, but not a disaster. Dave Sinclair is back, and, needless to say, his stuff is the best: "Watcha gonna tell me" and "Piano Player" * are good indeed. "Make yourself at home" ** and Pye's "Keeping up De Fences" are nice songs, too. There are also some strange episodes such as disco attempt and even a reggae by Geoff Richardson: not an ugly song, although too long and with no trace of Caravan's style. An album you have to listen, even just once in your life. * and ** are also featured, in completed demo form, on Dave's album, "Moon over man".
pied piper 3/5 20.05.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)
It's really hard for a Caravan-fan to say this, but listening to this album is just torture. The only decent song is Keeping Up The Fences and by that I mean listenable for a minute. I know this is harsh but where is the energy? Maybe I understand now why Dave Sinclair needed a breeze of fresh Camel-air. But even he can't lift this album with his "Piano Player". The thing I'm surprised about is that after Blind Dog Caravan lost the energy to produce at least decent albums and still went on to produce three lousy albums. There's still no doubt that while Better By Far and Back To Front still contain 1-2 listenable tracks, "The Album" isn't even worth that.
BrainStillLife 1/5 06.12.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)
"The Album" is quite good. In fact, I like it a lot. It's very much like a pick & mix bowl of candies. It's a contribution of individual songs "played' by members of Caravan. I don't really consider it a Caravan album per se. "Heartbreaker" is a great pop rock song that would sound great on Waterloo Lily. "Corner Of Me Eye" is a track by Geoffrey Richardson that sounds like it may be a Caravan tune until it turns into progressive bluegrass during the instrumental part of the track. A great twist(Dixie Dregs/Little Feat anyone?). "Watcha Gonna Tell Me" has some nice electric piano and beautiful flute colourings and a flute solo from Geoffrey Richardson...and a great guitar/keyboard/guitar/keyboard exchange between Pye Hastings and Dave Sinclair. This is the best track on the album. Another track that would not sound out of place on Waterloo Lily. "Piano Player" has lyrics about drinking and smoking that only Caravan sing about with expertise. It's a very flighty piece with Geoffrey Richardson delivering an inspired solo on the viola. A track to listen to after a warm rain. "Make Yourself At Home" starts out like a Doobie Brothers track, then the unmistakable english vocals are present with a relaxed/loose/slacker sound in the playing by the band. There's a weird vocoder effect on the vocal. Very cool! Uh oh, in comes the disco with the track "Golden Mile". No worse than "Summer Lightning" from Camel's Breathless, really. "Golden Mile" reminds me of something one might here on the Cafe Jacques album "Round The Back"(which also features Geoffrey Richardson). "Bright Shiny Day" is just that. A happy track. Off to Jamaica with the reggae of "Clear Blue Sky"(Police meets Dire Straits?). Nice guitar work from Pye Hastings. "Keepin' Up De Fences" is another great track and it concludes the album. Caravan with timbales? Yes, indeed. This one reminds me of something off Gentle Giant's "Civilian", yet I can't put my finger on it. A lively track this one - the boys sounding like "Caravan" with a nice keyboard/guitar/keyboard exchange. I have to say that I love albums like this on progarchives.com. The low ratings are unwarranted. it all depends on your taste. If you enjoy the Camel albums "Breathless" and "I Can See Your House From Here", then you'll certainly find something to enjoy with "The Album". An initial listen may not impress, but try it over several listens and you will be rewarded. A great rock & roll album for fans of Steely Dan and Dire Straits. Not very "progressive" but very competent. A great addition to anyone's collection, regardless.
Gooner 3/5 19.02.2011 (PROGARCHIVES)
First of all let me say that my vinyl copy of the album doesn't have that anonymous cover sheet that's on PA. It has a sort of aztec pyramid with "The Album" written in the stones..... Unfortunately it's the only "epic" thing that I can find in it. The return of David Sinclair didn't bring all the good that one could have expected and what they were perhaps intending as a sort of reunion resulted in a big disappointment. The opener is enough to understand what this album is made for. "Heartbreaker" is a mixture of Supertramp and Climax Blues Band. Nothing to do with the band of Winter Wine. The finger picking of "Corner Of My Eye" is not bad if you like country music. I personally like this song, but it's absolutely non-essential. "What'cha Gonna Tell Me" is a partially successful attempt to sound as in the past, but it's clear that it's not Jimmy Hastings to play the flute. The piano riff is good and the song sounds "Caravan enough". I'm relistening to this album after years and it's not so awful as I was remembering. "Piano Player" is not a masterpiece but I don't dislike it. Going to the B side we find a piece of trivial brit-pop like "Make Yourself At Home" followed by the disco-funky of "Golden Mile". Two tracks to skip, but after them the brit chill-out of "Bright Shiny Day" is not that bad. A kind of newage.... What do Caravan have to do with Reggae? It's not their pot. This song makes me thing to Wishbone Ash. They have a little piece of reggae in Pilgrimage, but their one is good. At least this should have been "reggae" also in the chorus. "Keeping Up Da Fences" just doesn't do anything for me. I had totally forgotten this song, probably because I've rarely been able to run the whole album in a shot. This song is not bad if you like things like Wishbone Ash "Front Page News", but this is not what one can expect from Caravan. I'm undecided between one and two stars. Looking at my other one-star ratings on PA I think I can be generous and go for two, but if you are not fans there's no reason to invest money in this stuff.
octopus-4 2/5 04.04.2011 (PROGARCHIVES)
Caravan's ninth record which opened up the eighties was a step down for the band. Just look at the cover. It's black and has a minimalistic design and I don't like to look at it. "Better by far" hadn't a very nice cover either but it was better. This album is the lowest rated Caravan album of all and I understand it. Though I don't think it's bad. Three years had gone since the last record and the band consisted of Pye Hastings, the singer and guitarist, Dave Sinclair, the keyboard player, Geoff Richardson, the guitar, viola, flute player and singer, Richard Coughlan, the drummer and Dek Messecar, the bassist and singer. Three of five in the band were original members and Geoff had been in it since 1972 and Dek since 1976 so I must say there was a continuity in the band. The music though had changed and we wonder of course why. Many prog bands were confused in the early eighties and almost everyone changed direction. Caravan fans who want to hear traditional Caravan songs has at least three songs to look forward to on this record. "Watcha gonna tell me"(8/10) is absolutely best. It has great instrumentation: starts with flute and has a playful melody and a soft and unstopable attitude. Dave Sinclair's piano solo here is the very highligth on the record and the guitars too are great. "Heartbreaker"(7/10) is also a funny tune which swings and makes the listeners happy. "Piano player"(7/10) has a beautiful atmosphere and Geoff's strings are great. I wish there had been more of that on this record. "Keepin' up de fences"(6/10= is a nice Pye song with velocity and a nice keyboard solo. Otherwise the songs are quite vague. "Corner of me eye" is too simple, but I appreciate the rock'n'roll feeling(5/10), "Make yourself home"(5/10) is funny but a parenthesis and "Clear blue skye" is a rather boring reggae attempt(5/10). "Bright shiny day" works but nothing more(5/10) and fianly "Golden mile"(3/10) is very bad. That is not a worthy Caravan song in any way. Over all I think the A-side is much better than the B-side but the over all result of the record is quite an enjoyable thing. I especially enjoy those first mentioned tracks and this is a Caravan record with glimpses of its former glory. For me this is a clear three star record!
DrömmarenAdrian 3/5 11.12.2013 (PROGARCHIVES)
The Disco Album.
Caravan entered the 80's with this Disco-infected Pop Rock album, simply titled The Album. The first two tracks are upbeat, simple Pop-Disco tunes that feel void of inspiration, but with Watcha Gonna Tell Me there is at least some first indication that they still had at least some progressive aspirations. Some nice flute and keyboard sounds there. Piano Player is a pleasant enough piano-driven semi-ballad not far away from the style of Supertramp. Electric Light Orchestra (of the late 70's) is another reference point for this album. It only occasionally sounds like a Caravan album. Several more dull and uninspired tracks follow, and it is not until the Reggae of Clear Blue Sky that there is again anything even slightly interesting. But interesting does not equal good. The Album is another one of a long string of rather uninspired albums from Caravan. Like the previous two albums, this one is recommended for fans and collectors
SouthSideoftheSky 2/5 10.02.2014 (PROGARCHIVES)