SURPRISE SUPPLIES (1999) / HERE AM I (2005)

TRACKLIST
1 Here Am I (6:16)
2 Chiefs And Indians (5:23)
3 Can You Hear Me (6:27)
4 All The Way (7:17)
5 Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik / Bobbing Wide / Come On Back (13:01)
6 Love In Your Eye / To Catch Me A Brother / Sub Sultus / Debouchment / Tilbury Kecks (16:57)

Recorded live 04.05.1976 at the NEW VICTORIA THEATRE, LONDON
also released as 'Canterbury Everywhere'
LINE UP
Richard Goughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals)
Geoffrey Richardson (viola)
Jan Schelhaas (keyboards)
Mike Wedgwood (bass, vocals)

Jimmy Hastings (clarinet, flute, saxophone)
VERSIONS
Surprise Supplies
year/format/label/cat/country
1999/CD/HTD Records/HTDCD96/UK
Here Am I
year/format/label/cat/country
2005/CD/Documents/223175-205/UK&Europe
REVIEWS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES

A smelly oak?
"Surprise Supplies" is one of those albums which started life as a bootleg, but became legitimised when the band's then current label HTD released it officially. The recording by a Japanese fan of the band was made in the US during the tour to promote the "Blind dog at St Dunstan's" album. All but one of the six tracks here are therefore taken from that album, "The love in your eye" from "Waterloo Lily" being the only other song. "Blind dog.." was a decent, if unremarkable album, and while the performances here are competent and enjoyable, they do nothing to alter that situation. The stand out song by some way is "All the way", a laid back piece with an infectious hook. "A very smelly grubby little oik" is substantially extended through a lengthy improvised section, and as a whole there is a jazz tinge to the entire set. The "Waterloo Lily" track is therefore appropriate given that that album had a much jazzier basis that the rest of the catalogue. Perversely, the most notable thing about the album is the omission of a performance of "For Richard", surely the only live Caravan album to do so.
For collectors only.
The album was released in 2005 in identical format under the title "Here Am I". With admirable attention to detail, the track title becomes "Very smelly grubby little oak"!
Easy Livin 2/5 23.03.2007 (PROGARCHIVES)

This record was recorded on 04/05/1976 in the New Victoria Theatre in London and not as stated by a former reviewer during the 76 US tour. I base my informations on the Calyx Canterbury website which contains IMO in this case more accurate informations then the official Caravan site. It was also for sure not recorded by a fan in the audience as mentioned on the Caravan site. It's a good two channel soundboard recording that was re-mastered for the official CD release on HTD. The recording is slightly unbalanced and the drums are a little to low in the mix, but the overall audio quality is good. The 76/77 band with Mike Wedgwood and Jan Schelhaas, that I saw myself in 1977, was an excellent live band and had a funky driving feeling. The majority of the tracks come from the Blind Dog record presented here with a looser more relaxed and bluesy feeling. The band was joined during this concert by Brother James Hastings on flute, sax and clarinet who delivers some great solos on the aforementioned instruments. The interplay of the band is great and the tracks sound more natural and groovy on this live recording with a special mention for Chiefs and Indians, All The Way and A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oak with extended instrumental passages. The classic Love In Your Eye is the least convincing track of this concert recording. The recording gives a good overview of this particular live band and apart from some BBC studio (live) recordings this is the only existing official live recording of this band and worth buying.
Alucard 3/5 09.03.2010 (PROGARCHIVES)

Live in 1975, mostly presenting new material (that would be the core of Blind Dog At St. Dustans a year later); not that bad.
Lord_Corkscrew 2,5/5 22.01.2008 (RATEYOURMUSIC)

This disc is derived from Caravan's May 4, 1976, performance at the New Victoria Theatre in London. Keen-eyed and eared enthusiasts will no doubt notice the similarities between this set and several tracks located on various BBC compilations such as Ether Way and BBC Radio 1 Live. While the performances are different, the session taped for broadcast by John Peel was recorded a mere two days later. This flurry of activity by Caravan in the spring of '74 was primarily in support of the band's seventh studio release, Blind Dog at St. Dunstans' -- explaining the concentration of material from that album on this set. The combination of less-than-stellar material, as well as the instability of Caravan's personnel, results in an uneven performance. The addition of synthesizer/keyboardist Jan Schelhaas -- who is also featured on Blind Dog at St. Dunstans' -- masques any attempts at recapturing the classic Caravan sound with ill-placed solos and over-the-top flourishes la Keith Emerson. Redemption is found during the disc's waning moments during a comfortable "Love in Your Eye" suite. Like a favorite pair of blue jeans or well-worn sneakers, this track is definitely a keeper. The contrast between this cut and the newer works is striking. There is a palpable sense of Caravan rising to the occasion of a more familiar piece. Perhaps this is why it is positioned at the end of the performance. The sound quality on Surprise Supplies is also somewhat lacking. Likewise, when compared to the John Peel sessions located on Ether Way, this recording sounds as if it may be running a semi-tone sharp or fast. Interested enthusiasts are encouraged to seek this disc for the sake of completeness only. Inquiring parties are best served with either Ether Way or BBC Radio 1 Live -- both of which feature material from the same mid-'70s Caravan line-up.
Lindsay Planer (ALLMUSIC)

I really like this album it was better than I was expecting.
I was surprised, I really like this album it was better than I was expecting after reading other reviews. allmusic gave it 2 stars. they have more on there site about it. but the people like it better. the sound was not the best but not bad the songs I liked them all.
rick chaffee 5/5 13.12.2014 (AMAZON)