THE BEST OF CARAVAN "LIVE" (1980) / LIVE AT THE FAIRFIELD HALLS, 1974 (2002)
TRACKLIST (all 2LP's)
1 Introduction - Memory Lain Hugh (5:04)
2 Headloss (4:51)
3 Virgin On The Ridiculous (6:51)
4 Be All Right (2:45)
5 The Love In Your Eye (15:22)
6 Hoedown (Encore) (6:57)
7 Introduction - L'Auberge Du Sanglier
a A Hunting We Shall Go (4:42)
b Backwards (3:42)
c A Hunting We Shall Go (Reprise) (1:33)
8 Introduction - The Dog, The Dog Is At It Again (6:55)
9 For Richard (17:30)
TRACKLIST (all CD's)
1 Memory Lain Hugh / Headloss (9:28)
2 Virgin On The Ridiculous (7:14)
3 Be All Right / Chance Of A Lifetime (6:38)
4 The Love In Your Eye (15:24)
5 L'Auberge Du Sanglier / A Hunting We Shall Go / Pengola / Backwards / A Hunting We Shall Go (Reprise) (9:49)
6 The Dog, The Dog Is At It Again (6:24)
7 For Richard (19:02)
8 Hoedown (5:58)
RECORDED LIVE AT THE FAIRFIELD HALLS, CROYDON, 01.09.1974
Richard Goughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals)
Geoffrey Richardson (viola, guitar, glockenspiel, announcements)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards)
Mike Wedgwood (bass, congas, vocals)
The Best Of Caravan "Live"
Live At The Fairfield Halls, 1974
REVIEWS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
Of all the live archival releases by Caravan covering single-date (or double-date) performances, I select only Live At The Fairfield Halls as an example, since it has a certain priority over everything else: it was originally released, in a slightly abbreviated version, as The Best Of Caravan Live in 1980, for the European market. The actual show took place on September 1, 1974, in London, approximately one year after the show with the New Symphonia and also introducing new member Mike Wedgwood on bass — just a few weeks before the once-again-revamped band entered the studio to record Cunning Stunts. Consequently, the setlist here is pretty much the same as on the expanded version of Caravan & The New Symphonia: lots of tracks from their most recent offering (Plump In The Night), ?Love In Your Eye' and ?For Richard' as stabilized mega-epic-classics, and a few non-studio LP rarities — ?Virgin On The Ridiculous' is done here without orchestral support as it was on the New Symphonia album, and ?Be Alright / Chance Of A Lifetime' is an outtake from the Plump In The Night sessions that did not make it onto the original album (but a studio version of which is now also available on the expanded CD edition). Since, predictably, there is not a lot of difference between the live performances and the studio originals, that's pretty much all you need to know — well, I might add that the show, also predictably, was a good one, and that Richardson's viola parts more than make up for the lack of a complete orchestra on ?Virgin'. The audience participation bit on ?Hoedown' is rather cheesy, but an unavoidable evil, especially for a band as audience-friendly and cheerful as Caravan; luckily, at least the in-between song banter is kept short and to the point. Otherwise, I am not really sure why anybody would want to bother with the record, given the availability of New Symphonia which at least adds a fresh twist to these songs. Perhaps in 1980, with Caravan arguably hitting rock bottom and all, a release like this made sense — just to remind the record-buying public of how great these guys used to be. Today, it is only for dedicated fans who wish to spend some time picking up all the little nuances that separate loyal live reproductions from the originals. Like, for instance, 'For Richard' is three minutes longer than the studio version here — I am still not sure if this is because they extend some of the jam sessions or because they take it such a leadenly slow tempo at the beginning, but I am too lazy to go check it out.
George Starostin (ONLY-SOLITAIRE.BLOGSPOT.COM) 21.06.2017
Everybody knows that all bands have a creative peak. It's nearly impossible to maintain a masterwork level constantly. Caravan probably had it in 1971 with In The Land Of Grey And Pink, with Richard Sinclair still in the band. But good bands also have a live peak, when their performances are nothing but sublime. And these two peaks don't sometimes happen at the same time. I think this is the case. This disc captures the best possible live Caravan in a 1974 concert, just before conquering The States, and I assume that it is because the presence of Geoff Richardson, who widened the soundscapes of an already wonderful band.
jmromeu@vodaf 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 15.01.2004
Yet another recording of the mid 70's (it was released as "best of caravan live " in France in the early 80's. If you should own only one live from them, get this one: "For Richard" is simply stupendous and the rest is great too . The thing is that this line-up gelled particularly well for a long period although the bassist kept changing.
Sean Trane 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 02.02.2004
Canterbury in Croydon
All the classic early Caravan tracks are present, including "For Richard", "The love in your eye", "A hunting we shall go" etc. The recording quality is good, and the performance accomplished. For me though, there's nothing here which isn't as good if not better on the original studio albums. If you're a fan of Caravan, this is probably worth having, otherwise, stick to the studio albums. For Caravan live, I would recommend the "New Symphonia" album, which sees many of the tracks orchestrated. Nice sleeve though!
Easy Livin 3/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 19.03.2004
Creatively, Caravan were at their peak in 1971 ('In the Land of Grey and Pink'), but their performance got that extra that made Caravan my all-time favourite (Canterbury-) band with the introduction of the viola of Geoff Richardson in 1973. (Violins always improve prog music.) 'Live at Fairfield Halls' is a registration of a live concert in 1974, shortly after the release of their 'For Girls...'-album, containing songs from 'For Girls...' as well as songs from previous times (like the concert favourite 'For Richard', which I now have in seven different versions, and 'Virgin on the Ridiculous' from 'Caravan & The New Symphonia', that has never been released on a studio album). It is Caravan performing at their peak, and especially Richardson's viola is superb. This really is one of the best live albums in prog history, and a must-have for everybody who loves Caravan, Canterbury music and violins in prog music. Caravan playing live really is something extra compared to their studio performances: their music is more voluminous, and really swings here! Originally, the recordings of this concert were released on an album called 'The Best of Caravan Live' in 1980, which for copyright reasons only came out in France. I lost my copy over the years, and have been waiting for twenty years before the album was re-released (and remastered) on cd, but it was worth every minute waiting. Five stars; if 'Nine Feet Underground' (their magnum opus, which as far as I know has never been released in a line-up with Geoff Richardson) would have been included, I would have given six.
Paul de Graaf 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 15.05.2005
Live board of CARAVAN released in 2002 "Caravan Live At The Fairfield Halls,1974". Work that recorded live in fair field hall on September 1, 1974. This tour is debut a tour of Mike Wedgewood (Lead Vorcal is announced in the third tune "Be Alright"). Work composed of "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" excluding "The Love In Your Eye" and "For Richard". It is an album that finishes being skilled as for the comfortable groove that an extremely steady performance invents.
braindamage 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 02.11.2005
If LIVE AT FAIRFIELD HALLS had been freely and universally available long before 2002 (when it finally appeared complete, in CD-format) it would probably be considered one of the great 1970s live albums. It contains eighty minutes of music which sound less messy than YESSONGS, less sterile than SECONDS OUT and less routine than BURSTING OUT. But let me be careful. I don't want to annoy people. My main purpose is to explain to you how adorable this album sounds! First of all, FAIRFIELD HALLS reveals Caravan at the absolute height of their powers. The album simply rocks, and the band play much better than on the NEW SYMPHONIA album. The concert recorded was apparently Mike Wedgwood's first appearance with Caravan, but you could never tell. Wedgwood's bass has a nice fat sound, his playing is incredibly tight, and with veteran Richard Coughlan he makes one hell of a rhythm section. Secondly, although the album features neither the vaudeville "Golf Girl" nor the band's best-known epic, "Nine Feet Underground", most other essential Caravan tracks are here, and they receive performances of the utmost warmth. I'll be the first to admit that, as a vocalist, Pye Hastings has his limitations (his singing never goes beyond mezzoforte), but what a range of lovely melodies does he get to sing, and how well does his fragile voice suit them! "Virgin on the ridiculous", "The love in your eye" and, of course, the immortal "For Richard" all sound delightful. Caravan is often considered the most conservative Canterbury band, because their compositions are more straightforward and less intricate than those by Hatfield and the North or Henry Cow. You will 'get' them from the first time, and they never grate on the ear. FAIRFIELD HALLS contains lots of solos, and while many of them are similarly structured (starting off peacefully and gradually getting more intense), none of them fail to satisfy. David Sinclair proves himself to be one of prog's greatest organists and Pye Hastings (whose clear sound I love) does a superb job on electric guitar. But the concert's true hero is undoubtedly viola player Geoffrey Richardson, who underscores each sung melody with the most delicate arrangements, and who also builds up one instrumental climax after another. I adore Richardson's warm timbre, and I'm convinced he is one of Caravan's greatest assets. The only thing I regret about FAIRFIELD HALLS is the lack of a guest spots for flautist Jimmy Hastings. With one or two appearances by him this album would have been perfect.
fuxi 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 01.08.2007
This is an excellent live set of CARAVAN, which consists mostly of the songs taken from their masterpiece "For Girls...". The entire band is in full speed and Richardson is simply brilliant on his viola. Magnum opus "For Richard" is the highlight of the album containing all the best musical and performing abilities of Hastings, Sinclair and others. Simply, this is one of the best live albums ever!
Seyo 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 07.10.2007
My favourite studio album of the band is "For Girls".
Since this is a live performance from the promoting tour of this album, it is nothing but normal that I appreciate this one a lot as well. The recording of this live set is brilliant and the performance of the band is on par. Such great numbers as "Memory Lain", and a great version of "L' Auberge Du Sanglier" are true highlights. Even if, like me, you are not deeply rooted in their discography, there is nothing to do. Just love this record. The version of "For Richard" is of course splendid. Perfect violin and grand keyboards. A HUGE version of this excellent song. I am not a deep fan of "Caravan" but when such a performance is released, one just have to recognize the grandeur of it. The best "Caravan" live album, for sure. I can only recommend this record to anyone who would like to get acquainted with the band. This is a magnificent journey into a dedicated part of their repertoire. Even if the audience participation during Hoedown is not the best Caravan experience you can get...
ZowieZiggy 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 10.02.2008
This album was recorded at Fairfields Halls in 1974 just before CARAVAN embarked on their first tour of the USA. "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" was their latest studio album at this time and 5 of the 8 tracks are from that record. Great cover art by the way. The electric viola of Geoff Richardson really adds to their sound here.This recording really surprised me, it's almost a five star for me. The only negative for me is the final track "Hoedown" which I was never a big fan of anyway, but during this version it's taken up more with audience participation then the music itself. The rest is about as perfect as it could be. "Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss" is such an incredible track with the persistant bass, viola and charming vocals. Organ before 2 1/2 minutes with some excellent drumming 4 minutes in as viola rips it up. It changes after 5 minutes to the more uptempo second section. "Virgin On The Ridiculous" was never released on a studio album. Viola and drums to open before it settles with vocals. I can't stop smiling. It kicks in before 3 minutes with drums leading the way as viola and organ keep pace. "Be Alright / Chance Of A Lifetime" has a melancholic flavour to it and I love it. The guitar is great a minute in when the vocals stop. Vocals return as drums and viola continue to be relentless. The second part comes in before 2 1/2 minutes and is slower but still sad. Beautiful. "Love In Your Eye" is from "Waterloo Lily". This is such a moving track. Nice rhythm 2 1/2 minutes in. Viola joins in then organ. Great section. Excellent guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. A calm with viola after 6 minutes. It picks back up with viola leading the way. The organ before 10 minutes is incredible.The guitar is back before 12 1/2 minutes ripping it up with the viola as the bass throbs. Just an amazing 15 1/2 minute version of this song. "L'Auberge Du Sanglier / A Hunting We Will Go / Pengola / Backwards / A Hunting We Shall Go (Reprise)" kicks in around a minute with viola and drums leading the way. The guitar before 2 1/2 minutes lights it up. It changes before 4 1/2 minutes as it calms right down and organ takes over. The tempo picks back up 8 minutes in to end it. I should mention that the original "Backwards" section was composed by Mike Ratledge, and the "Pengola" section was written by John G.Perry. "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again" is opened with a funny story about how that song came about. This might be my favourite track on here. The vocals are so wimsical and the lyrics so humerous. The music is infectious too. Deep bass lines on this one. Organ before 2 1/2 minutes. Lots of viola throughout. "For Richard" was written by David Sinclair about his brother. It's from the "If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You". This version is a monster at over 16 minutes in length ! The song starts to build after 4 minutes until we get this fantastic instrumental with killer guitar, viola and organ after 15 minutes.
If you like CARAVAN don't even hesitate, track this outstanding recording down.
Mellotron Storm 4,5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 30.03.2009
Although I can hardly describe myself as a Caravan fan, much less a connoisseur of the so called Canterbury sound, I was completely taken by this live album when I got it this weekend by pure chance. Recorded originally in 1974 when the band was touring to promote their For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Nigh album, it was only released in CD in 2002, with a superb remastering work. It seems this show was one of the first with new bassit Mike Wedgood (ex Curved Air) who had replaced original member Richard Sinclair. But he really seems to be in the band forever, as his playing here is simply great. Live At Fairfield Halls is Caravan at its peak. They play a killer tracklist and the band is tight and inspired. Much credit should be given to another relative newcomer: viola player Geoffrey Richardson is rocking all over the place through the concert. Together with David sinclair´s fantastic job on the Hammond organ, he is responsible for much of the best individual perfomances. Their version of the much played For Richard is the best I´ve heard, but in general I found their perfomances an improvement over their studio counterparts, in my opinion. The crystal clear production and remastering makes you think the album was recorded yesterday with the latest technique available. You can hear every instrument in a very balanced level. This live album has everything a music lover wants to hear: great songs played by a band that possess both the technique and the passion to make this a unique perfomance that fortunaltly was recorded for posterity. A classic, a masterpiece of progressive rock music. Five stars with honors.
Tarcisio Moura 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 15.02.2010
This CD had been gathering dust in my collection, but Tarcisio Moura's excellent review of it a week ago made me dust it off and giving it a try. I have always known that this is a superb live album. Caravan is one of my favourite bands. But I have spent most on my recent times in PA on reviewing other albums and doing interviews. So it was a revelation when I put this CD on my CD player and gave it some spins. Caravan's mix of pop-rock and jazz is as refreshing as always. The tracks here is delivered with gusto and superb musicianship. Of the two bands emerging from the Wilde Flowers, I am more a Soft Machine fan than Caravan fan. But this live album still gives me a lot of joy. The jazzy The Love In Your Eye is a big favourite of mine. The rest of the album is superb too. Superb, but not fantastic. It is still an album verging on five stars. The sound is also excellent so this is one of the Canterbury live albums well worth investing in.
toroddfuglesteg 4,5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 24.02.2010
Quite simply, 'Girls that grow plump...' is a fantastic album, and in particular I just love the last track. To that end I've always wanted to find a 'live' version of it, and after a bit of research I found it! So, does it deliver? Well, the musicianship is first-rate, the same as listening to the studio album infact. But therein lies a slight problem. It sounds too much like a studio album, and not a live one! The music is therefore great (and there's 79 minutes of it, no less), but there's no live 'rawness' to it. Overall, I found it very easy to listen to (because I'm familiar with the music), and enjoyable, but at the same time it disappointingly doesn't add anything new.
sussexbowler 4/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 18.08.2011
Easily the best Caravan live album, Live at Fairfield Halls captures the band seamlessly integrating new bassist Mike Wedgwood into their ranks. At the time the album was recorded, the group had been touring with the For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night material for a good while, and this shows in the confidence with which they bring pieces such as L'Auberge Du Sanglier to the stage. Without the distraction of the orchestra on the New Symphonia, the band are able to simply concentrate on giving the material their all, which they do with gusto. Between-songs banter with the audience is preserved to give an authentic taste of the live Caravan experience. In short, this album absolutely did not deserve to languish in the vaults for as long as it did, and we should thank Decca for making it available to us at last in 2002. Along with If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You and In the Land of Grey and Pink, I would say this is one of the essential Caravan albums - even more so than For Girls Who Grow Plump.
Warthur 5/5 (PROGARCHIVES) 21.09.2011
The Show Of Their Lives!
Well...they did it "All Over Again"! A must for all Caravan enthusiasts! Mr. Hastings and the boys miraculously locate the previously lost taping of this concert, and there could have been no question that it be slated for release to the public. Caravan deliver one of their very best Live performances ever, showcasing material from their classic release "For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night", augmented by incredible performances of their staple fan favorites, "The Love In Your Eye", and "For Richard".
a reviewer (Jacksonville, FL) 5/5 (CDUNIVERSE)
Cet album est la réédition d'un double à peine officiel réservé en son temps au marché français. Pour une fois que nous, pauvres Francaouis, avions la primeur de quelque chose... Enregistré en 1974, "Live at the Fairfield..." saisit Caravan en pleins changements (de manager, de musiciens), livrant un fameux concert destiné aux radios américaines afin qu'elles se rendent compte de quel bois se chauffaient ces garçons avant de débarquer pour une tournée outre-Atlantique. Le line-up du groupe a subi moult modifications depuis les origines (période "In the Land of Grey and Pink") mais vient alors de se stabiliser autour du trio de base Pye Hastings-Richard Coughlan-David Sinclair (ce dernier étant revenu après avoir quitté Caravan pendant "Waterloo Lily" si tout le monde suit bien), auxquels s'ajoutent le bassiste Mike Wedgwood, qui vient juste d'être recruté, et Geoffrey Richardson, fabuleux violoniste élargissant encore la palette instrumentale du combo. Extraordinaire de maîtrise et de précision, ce concert tape beaucoup dans les enregistrements récents du groupe, en particulier For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, joué presque dans son intégralité. Bestialement compétents, les cinq garçons alternent moments de grande finesse et variations punchy, notamment sur "Headloss" et la fin de "For Richard". Drivé par la voix haut perchée de Hastings, Caravan excelle dans ces longues parties instrumentales où claviers, guitare et alto se combinent à merveille. Bref, un must have pour tout nostalgique de la scène de Canterbury, et pour tout amateur de prog et de fusion. Sans doute le dernier très bon enregistrement de Caravan.
AGM 4,5/5 (RATEYOURMUSIC) 28.12.2009
This is actually a reissue of the French only release The Best of Caravan “Live”, but if I move it there no-one will notice it and then someone will resubmit it again. It has been resequenced to the actual concert set-list.
unclebob 4/5 (RATEYOURMUSIC) 15.05.2007
Documented during an era in which U.K. performances by Caravan were few and far between, Live at the Fairfield Halls 1974 is a brilliantly remastered and likewise complete presentation of a concert held just prior to their inaugural tour of North America. Although Caravan had been subjected to several key personnel and managerial alterations in the preceding months, once they hit the stage they shed any behind-the-scenes acrimony and were transformed into a stunning synergy of progressive and symphonic rock. This warm-up show took place on September 1, 1974, at Fairfield Hall in Croydon and was initially documented as a possible promotional tool for their upcoming stateside appearances. The tapes remained on deposit, seemingly forgotten, at the Decca studios storage facility in West Hampstead, U.K., until the stunning 19-minute "For Richard" was resurrected for inclusion on the two-LP Canterbury Tales compilation in 1976. Then, in 1980, the French budget label Kingdom Records issued a double album under the title The Best of Caravan Live. All but the most keen-eyed and -eared enthusiasts passed the set up as a poorly assembled hits package. It was, however, this show sans "Chance of a Lifetime" -- which the band rarely ever performed. Then as mysteriously as it appeared it was deleted and remains out of print. On this release, the sound has been sonically scrubbed and is now presented faithful to the original presentation. Enthusiasts who prefer the band's lineup and subsequent edgier tone, circa For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, will be doubly thrilled with this release as they re-create most of the album. Additionally, they wrap themselves around the crushing "Memory Lain, Hugh"/"Headloss" opener. Perhaps foreshadowing how powerful this rendition will be, the evening's proceedings fade in to the hovering resonation of Geoffrey Richardson's electric viola as he fiddles underneath the band's introduction. Caravan's most recent release concurrent to this performance is the equally impressive Caravan & the New Symphonia. From that disc comes "Virgin on the Ridiculous" -- performed here by just the quintet. Although composed for the incorporation of an orchestra, this rendition is leaner and displays the band's almost conversational way of jamming and improvising. The transition into the "Be Alright Now" suite is seamless, and, under the thunder sticks of Richard Coughlan (drums), the band is propelled into one of the only live versions of the medley to have been professionally documented. With a well-deserved nod to the "New Symphonia," Live at the Fairfield Halls 1974 will perhaps become the quintessential live Caravan release. The sound is crisp and the stereo image is direct and very warm. This disc is highly recommended for newly found fans as well as the more seasoned consumer.
Lindsay Planer (ALLMUSIC)
Caravan In Its Heyday
Caravan was likely the most creative band to come out of the Canterbury UK music scene in the 1960s and 70's. I've been a fan of them for more years than I want to think about. I recently found out about this live performance and grabbed it when I had the chance. I was not disappointed, in fact I was amazed by this high energy performance. Recorded in 1974 (not too long after Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night was released), right before a North America tour, this concert captures Caravan at their best. From the opening notes of Memory Lain, Hugh/Headloss through Hoedown this CD is a work of joy. And the interaction between the band and the audience is also quite fun, especially on the encore song, Hoedown. I'd forgotten for example what a great great song Virgin On the Ridiculous was (played it a handful of times when I was a college radio DJ long ago). And I discovered The Love In Your Eye (an awesome 15 minute long piece). The eight or nine minute A Hunting We Shall go (featuring 3 or 4 minutes of Dave Sinclair's haunting organ) is exquisite. And of course Caravan's opus on this live CD is For Richard. Another beautiful long song, of course Caravan was known for quite a few long songs in their heyday (Nine Feet Underground comes to mind among others). This concert was originally recorded with the intent of providing US radio stations with live Caravan in conjunction with their 1974 US tour. However, only some of it saw the light of day until this 2002 release. If you're a Caravan fan (or even if you're not and want to know what "all the fuss is about,"), buy this CD if you haven't already. It captures Caravan at their peak.
Todd Hawley (San Francisco CA) 5/5 (AMAZON) 22.01.2007
Haven't had any Caravan live albums since the New Symphona album back in the early 1970ies. did not even know about this album until I started exploring Amazon for Caravan. I think it is phenomanal. If you like Caravan buy it now. If you never heard of Caravan might be a good first CD. But if you are not into the 1974 Canterbury jazz-rock-progressive-classical-pop sound you might not like it so much. And the extended guitar/viola sections are really spot on.
potenza 5/5 (AMAZON) 12.02.2011
Peaking nearly at 80 minutes, this is a welcome treat for Caravan thirsty of live offerings. All the songs and instrumentation here rock particularly the Sinclairs' guitars and keyboards. It has a monster sound that one can hear whispering from the audience. The violin even gives you the shivers plus the lyrics interspersed with the lengthy jam. The love in your eye would blow you away and worth the price of the cd alone. Don't be dismayed if Land of G&P is not played but this can be found in a recent live DVD with the original line up. So enjoy this live Caravan journey.
shadowmaster (USA) 5/5 (AMAZON) 22.07.2011
Ce live de 1974 à d'abord pressé en vinyle (En 1980!)sous le titre Best of CARAVAN Live mais seulement en France et en Allemagne !! Cette remasterisation de 2002 est vraiment excellente au niveau du son et de plus les titres sont joués dans l'ordre du concert. C'est vrai que la voix peu surprendre au départ , très légère, fluette mais je ne considère pas celà comme le maillon faible du groupe bien au contraire il suffit d'écouter le début du chef d'oeuvre 'For Richard' (un hommage à Richard Sinclair) pour constater le talent de Pye Hastings. Geff Richardson au violon est tout simplement Divin. Passer à coté d'un Live de CARAVAN de cet époque c'est passer à coté du groupe tant sur scène ils donnaient leurs pleines mesures
LeDji 5/5 (AMAZON) 19.06.2012
Brilliant but for the vocals
This is a superb set and for anyone who enjoys prog-rock you will love the musicianship and energy of this set. The recording is also excellent given it was 1974. But, but, the vocals are weak and poor. Oh why did this band never, ever, get themselves a decent vocalist? Like Camel, another marvelous band from this era who also suffered from the same weakness. I still recommend this album for the brilliant instrumental passages and if you like Camel you will like this.
M. A. Stevens (Jakarta) 4/5 (AMAZON) 28.05.2012
THE archive release of 2002
The year has barely started and the competition for the best archive release of 2002 is already over. Caravan's "Live at the Fairfield Halls, 1974" is one monster of a live album, a couple of seconds short of 80 minutes of sheer brilliancy from a magnificent group in the peak of its powers. Previously available only briefly in the early 80's under the title "The Best of Caravan Live" (now complete with "Chance of a Lifetime" and the encore "Hoedown" correctly placed) this is a professionally recorded album with exceptional sound quality. The gig itself has been lauded as one of the finest Caravan performances of the period, and one can easily hear why. The set is brilliant from start to finish. Even the songs usually heard with orchestral backing ("Virgin on the Ridiculous" and "A Hunting We Shall Go") sound superb as quartet arrangements and certainly do not seem lacking in any respect. This Caravan comes loaded with goods - don't miss out on your share!
A Customer 5/5 (AMAZON) 21.09.2011
Caravan - As they were meant to be heard
The definitive Caravan live album.
OK the official release at the time "Caravan & the New Symphonia" has a novelty value with the full orchestral backing but is not as good as this release. The band were in magnificent form at fairfield Hall (obviously looking forward to their impending jaunt to the States)and every track is superbly performed - often surpassing the studio versions. Certainly The Love in Your Eye, For Richard and L'Auberge du Sanglier are worth the price alone. As one of the few who managed to get "The Best of Caravan Live" - the French release that featured much of this concert performance - I was doubtful if I would ever see it on CD so I could hardly have been more pleased to see the full concert released in its own right. 80 minutes of Caravan bliss? Come on - you can't go wrong!
A Customer 5/5 (AMAZON) 21.09.2011
Caravan at their best!
I was a loyal Caravan fan back in the early 70’s and could never understand why a band with such original musical ideas, and unique sound (just listen to that organ on If I Could Do it Again and Land of Grey and Pink), never made it to the big time. It was left to those of us ‘in the know’ to spread the Caravan message. Now, after many years, I have dug up my Caravan vinyl collection and decided that this music is still as fresh and original as ever and deserves upgrading to CD. Looking on Amazon, I was pleased to find that someone at Decca had persuaded the men in suits to re-master the albums. I was also intrigued to find this Live at Fairfield Halls CD and the glowing reviews were enough to make me buy it. I was not disappointed. It is Caravan at their best and all complimented by a technically good recording. Mainly featuring material from Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, there are other gems here as well, Virgin on the Ridiculous, Love in Your Eye and, of course, For Richard. The band sounds really tight and the musical energy is captured magnificently. This CD should have been released in the UK a long time ago rather than just being restricted to being a French release. Anyway, it is now here, great music from a great band - play loud.
Adrian Hedges (Dorking, Surrey United Kingdom) 5/5 (AMAZON) 15.01.2004
I bought this album in 1980 while interailing on the continent. I had "In the land of .." , but must admit that wasnt a true Caravan obsessive, being more of a Camel fan. I was blown away when I arrived home after carting the thing around Europe for 4 weeks. For Richard and The Love in your eye are personal faves . The sound quality for a live album of this era , even on vinyl , is superb. The band are very tight, and the Hammond organ solos still send shivers up my spine to this day. If you a long time fan, get it, and if you like early 70`s jazzy prog and wish to dip your toe into the Caravan stained water, it is also worth a listen. It is still one of my all time favourite live albums, 25 years after buying it.
Dr. Michael J. Johnson "MJJ" (UK) 5/5 (AMAZON) 09.04.2006
Greatest Hits Live
For anyone who managed to get their hands on the rather rare vinyl version of this album (only released in France) they might wonder what the fuss is about but this has nevertheless long been regarded by other Caravan fans as a bit of a holy grail release. Effectively released then as a live greatest hits package in fact it comprised a single performance from Croydon in September 1974, arguably at the zenith of the band's artistic period with Decca - certainly in terms of studio albums it was all downhill from here on in. The performance is nevertheless an enjoyable one. The band had long ago mutated from the original Canterbury line up and by late '74 it was effectively a new band playing the old hits (even the last album's line up from earlier in 1974 had not survived long). Now repackaged as a single live album (it is exactly what it says on the cover) these are nonetheless pretty storming performances, particularly the tracks from the "Girls That Grow Plump in the Night" LP. It is a bit of a strange mix however and although there is rarity value in the "L'Auberge Du Sanglier" suite being captured for posterity this and the New Symphonia track, "Virgin on the Ridiculous", are pretty weak live in my view. What makes up for these minor shortcomings are great performances of "Love in your Eye", "Memory Lain, Hugh/Headloss" and the old staple "For Richard". The whole album was recorded professionally on the Pye Mobile recording unit and, as such, sound quality is extremely high. Most Caravan fans will want this in their collection but if we can get earlier performances from 1970-71 officially released I suspect that this performance will, in comparison, soon be forgotten.
Spinalpap4u (Monmouth, Wales) 4/5 (AMAZON) 08.11.2003
Not the only, but definitely the best way to hear Caravan
Like many other bands in the early seventies, Caravan were always at their best in concert. Sadly Richard Sinclair had moved on prior to the recording of this and 'For girls who grow plump...' hence the bass lines are not quite as melodic as earlier material but what the heck thats a small price to pay, the musicians, yes I do mean musicians here put on what must have been a concert to die for (wish I was there). A well balanced set from the opener 'Memory Lain, Hugh/Headloss' to 'Hoedown'which closed the album. Highlights!!! don't ask me, every time I play it something different takes my fancy, all I will say is this, if you know and enjoy the music of Caravan then the quality on offer here will be no surprise, if however you have just stopped by on a browsing session and are wonderng just what Caravan are like then this album will supply the answer. A steady laid back form of rock with both jazz and folk influences, keyboards in the main to the fore but some intelligent viola and guitar provide good support. Do yourself a favour and try it, I'd be surprised if you didn't then search out the rest of their back catalogue.
Mark Kibble "Underground man" (Coalville Leics England) 5/5 (AMAZON) 29.06.2009
Who Needs a Third Version of This Collection of Songs?
Well I certainly do actually. Essentially there was the studio album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, then a live album Caravan & the New Symphonia which covered more or less that album live with an orchestral accompaniment. Then Before they went on tour to America they recorded this album as a taster for radio play, hoping to draw in audiences for the concerts. When this subsequently surfaced as a live album I have to say that I thought that I thought that it might not be the most essential Caravan album available. I then read a glowing review of this and thought that I might as well give it a go and it is brilliant. Good sound quality and the band have got these song really pinned down live by this stage. It really is worth having either/both of the other albums mentioned above as well as this excellent album
Numinous Ugo (Edinburgh) 5/5 (AMAZON) 22.09.2008
Mike's first gig
I had this LP on the Kingdom label, bought at a record fair. My best mate and son's Godfather, Mike Wedgwood, was amazed to hear it as the band seemed barely aware that it existed! When I listen to the quality of the songs and of the playing, it makes the recent Coldplay headline at Glastonbury look so feeble: and this was Mike's first gig with Caravan!! How can you play all this thoughtful, intelligent and difficult music so well after only a few days? Great Caravan fare here, classic tracks played by a band who were always fantastic on stage and who were a lot more powerful than many remember: a powerhouse band punching out the all great stuff. Brilliantly recorded, this is a cracking album. Buy now.
Mr. Thomas Thatcher "Tom Thatcher" (Salisbury, UK) 5/5 (AMAZON) 12.07.2011
Buy this CD Now!
"For Girls......" for me was the best Caravan LP. Not true to Caravan of old, but Free Form Caravan with Jazz. Live at Fairfield is the Big Brother to "For Girls......". Why this was never released in the UK, I will never know. If you liked "For Girls......" just type in the information, and buy this CD before it is deleted. Superb, great quality, and great music. End of story. What a Band! Decca may be an Old Record Label, but there is one Record Executive who works for Decca who knows what he/she is doing, and has a brain. Who ever it was who said "Yes lets do it" needs to be commended. Roll Back the Years, Hold up the Ears, and in the comfort of your own home do what ever you did when you saw them live!
A Customer 5/5 (AMAZON) 21.03.2002
I bought this album knowing that this version of For Richard is, in my view, one of the best live performances of any band ever. The more you listen to it the more you realise how good it is. Particularly the first few minutes with the incredible build up of the electric viola. and the words.........Wonderful!
Bulpitt 5/5 (AMAZON) 24.04.2013
Caravan in their best
Great band,famous musicians in a great line-up,and even more inspired soulful music in a Caravan style. Once i told myself, must have.
Zo 5/5 (AMAZON) 14.07.2012
I'm new to Caravan, so it has been a joy to discover this classic prog outfit I had so regrettably overlooked. If you want the pick of their studio releases go for 'Girls that grow plump' or 'Land of Grey & Pink', but if you want to capture the energy and spirit of the band go for this live classic. It is brim-full of talented musicians at the height of their creative powers. Wonderfully loose and extended versions abound as they rip into their classic tracks. A tight rhythm section back up the flowing viola of Geoffrey Richardson and the pure vocals of Pye Hastings. As for Dave Sinclair, his Hammond & Moog simply cut through to provide a wonderfully full sound. I defy anyone not to listen to the closer 'Hoedown' without taking up the bands invitation to come on and join in the fun ...in 7/8. Truly wonderful stuff.
Paul Millington (Wirral, England) 5/5 (AMAZON) 04.06.2009
Caravan at their peak
Way back in the mid 70s I saw Caravan five times up and down the country. As a fifty-something old git, I do know they are a bit naff, but they represent the pinnacle of British prog rock. To make them still tolerable, they never seemed to take themselves too seriously, which contrasted with the cringeworthy pretentiousness of Yes, Genesis, Camel, King Crimson etc etc. This was recorded at the peak of their commercial success. I gather Mike Wedgwood had only just joined the band and it's a credit to his musical ability that he must have learnt the repertoire note-perfect (as far as I can hear) in a very short space of time. His predecessor, John G Perry, formed a very tight rhythm section with Richard Coughlan, and Mike Wedgwood seemed to reproduce that togetherness very well. To be honest, apart from an excellent version of "For Richard", this is really just "For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night" performed live, but it's worth listening to just to admire how accurately the band could reproduce the studio version in a live setting, but with the atmosphere of a live performance thrown in, and with a different bass player drafted in at short notice. And it was cheap.
P. Kaye "Peter from Devon" (Devon UK) 5/5 (AMAZON) 02.09.2011