LIVE FROM THE ASTORIA - CANTERBURY COMES TO LONDON (1997)
CANTERBURY COMES TO LONDON (LIVE FROM THE ASTORIA) (1998)
1 Memory Lain (5:04)
2 Headloss (4:53)
3 Nine Feet Underground (17:33)
4 The Dog The Dog, He's At It Again (6:28)
5 Cold As Ice (5:47)
6 Somewhere In Your Heart (6:42)
7 I Know Why You're Laughing (5:47)
8 Liar (6:42)
9 For Richard (11:04)
10 Golf Girl (7:08)
Recorded live 19.09.1997 at the ASTORIA, LONDON
Simon Bentall (percussion)
Doug Boyle (lead guitar)
Richard Goughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals)
Jim Leverton (bass, vocals)
Geoffrey Richardson (viola, flute, mandolin, spoons)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards)
1997/CD/HTD Records/HTDCD79/UK (Live From The Astoria - Canterbury Comes To London)
1998/CD/Transatlantic Records/TRACD302/UK (Canterbury Comes To London (Live From The Astoria)
REVIEWS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
For a band that was never really known for virtuoso musicianship, unusual stage behavior, or at least a dedicated arena-size fan following, Caravan have had a fairly insane number of archival releases out in the past thirty years — not on the Grateful Dead level, of course, but still at least a dozen live documents of various tours over the decades, collecting and reviewing all of which would require an arch-obsessed mind. For this reason, I will pick out only a few representative points, even if they might not necessarily be the absolute best ones; but then again, it seems that Caravan had always had a decent live sound, and ultimately it all comes down to differences in set lists or sound quality. This one, technically, should not even be counted as an archival document: released in 1999, it documents the band on their promotional tour for The Battle Of Hastings, containing all or most of the show played at The Astoria, London, on September 17, 1997. In this setting, they are already augmented by Doug Boyle (who would remain with them for the Breakfast Item album), and Dave Sinclair is still in. The setlist, as the track listing quickly tells you, includes a large chunk of Battle Of Hastings material in the middle, bookmarked by classics from In The Land Of Grey And Pink and Plump In The Night, plus the perennial 'For Richard' — a fairly good flow control here, since interspersing the recent pop-style material with long-winded epics of the band's heroic past would probably work much to the new material's detriment. All the performances are carried off quite respectfully: the new guitarist does have a bit of that Eighties leftover flair (after all, he did spend a lot of time playing for Robert Plant in the decade of hair metal), but only about as much as is needed to give the songs a bit of an extra energy punch, not a bad thing for a band that somehow has to compensate for the age (and general chronological irrelevancy) factor. Also, bass player Jim Leverton is no Richard Sinclair when it comes to singing, so I do believe that 'Golf Girl' is sung by Pye instead, while the final vocal section of 'Nine Feet Underground' sorely loses in the beauty department (in fact, Leverton has to struggle to stay in tune on that one). As for the new material, they took most of the highlights from Battle Of Hastings without carrying over the slower, drearier stuff ('Cold As Ice' is the only exception — I'd much prefer 'It's A Sad, Sad Affair'); the insane guitar solo on 'I Know Why You're Laughing' is almost as effective as the studio version (not quite, because the studio version was immaculately constructed, and this one has moments of unfocused improvisation that sometimes kill the tension), but 'Liar' is extended by means of an additional solo and played rawer and with more aggression than in the studio, so it's really fun to hear these songs taken to the stage. Nevertheless, apart from a two-minute tricky introduction to 'Golf Girl' that has the audience clapping along and trying to guess if they are really going where the fans think they should be going, the album offers no surprises — this is just Pye Hastings' Caravan giving old prog rock fans a deserved good time for their money. We do have evidence, though, that as late as the late Nineties they could still sound like goddamn Caravan on that stage. Whether the same judgement would apply to their shows in the 2010s, I honestly have no idea, though.
George Starostin 14.06.2017 (ONLY-SOLITAIRE.BLOGSPOT.COM)
A second listen
I reviewed this album after I first heard it and was pretty harsh. I listened to it again, more carefully, and it isn't quite as bad as I first mentioned. What is nice about this album is that the group did not pull the dinosaur act of playing old hits in the same old way. The group did try to change things around a little and did play some new songs. Unfortunately, in most cases the changes aren't for the better. The new songs still suck (except for maybe Cold As Ice). They are all from Pye Hastings. He was never the best song writer in the group, and since the eighties, he has lost any edge that he originally had. Also, Caravan had a sound that would envelope you and take you to a different place. That is not apparent in any of the new tunes (except for Cold As Ice, thanks to Geoff Richardson' viola, and Hastings reverting back to his old vocal style). The other major change, is that group is plays some of the songs with a harder edge. The first two songs are actually played fairly well, with some nice solos. I aways liked the atmosphere that Richardson's viola added to the group when he joined for the fifth album. Nine Feet Underground is only 17 minutes and is 4 minutes shorter than the studio version. Another reviewer said that it was a nice run through. And for the most part, it is a run through, with nothing special added. But, you do have to give the group credit. Near the end the group does try to change things up, by singing and playing the piece as if they were a lounge act. I applaud change, but in this case it really doesn't work. For Richard is on almost all of Caravan's live albums. There are over 8 versions of the song. This one is played completely different than the rest. After a light rock intro, the group switches to a heavy metal, guitar crunching sound. I can't decide if I like it better than the other versions, but it does have some punch to it. The album ends with a pointless version of Golf Girl, which doesn't sound much different from the original, except for some annoying percussion in the background. It wasn't one of Caravan's best songs in the first place. So, with this album, you get a different, harder rocking version of For Richard, a couple of other OK tracks, some pointless music that isn't much different from other versions, and a bunch of bad songs. Much better choices include the 1995 "Live" which contains the original quartet (plus Jimmy Hastings) or Songs for the Oblivion Fishermen (what a horrible title), which features live performances from the earlier days. Note that this CD has come out in different covers and with different variations of the complete title Canterbury Comes to London: Live From Astoria.
kireviewer 2/5 05.11.2003 (AMAZON)
Get "Caravan Live" instead.
This is a live album from 1997. It features most of the original Caravan and one long standing member: Pye Hastings on guitar, Dave Sinclair on keyboards, Richard Coughlin on drums and Geoff Richardson viola and flute. There are three additional musicians I have never heard of. This CD is surprisingly bad. The old songs are played with no innovation, energy or spark. Nine Feet Underground at 17 minutes is three minutes shorter than the studio version. For Richard has already been overplayed to the max, being on all 8 of Caravan's live albums. This is the worst and shortest version of them all. The new songs are just plain terrible. Although Richardson and Sinclair are in the group, they do not contribute any material. Hastings basically dominates the band now, and his writing has gone stale. Caravan lost it in the early eighties, with some bad albums. They showed promise in 1990 when the whole original group reunited. They put out a great live CD, simply called Caravan Live. That is the CD to get. But, the reunited band didn't really hold together and Hastings continued on, putting out boring music. Sinclair and Richardson just appear again, mostly as guest musicians and not part of the band. Note that this CD was originally released with a different cover.
kireviewer 2/5 26.02.2001 (AMAZON)
Solid 1997 live album
The seminal British prog-rock band Caravan has released several live albums in recent years. This 1997 effort includes guitarist Pye Hastings, keyboardist Dave Sinclair, violist Geoffrey Richardson, and drummer Richard Coughlan from the classic Caravan lineup, along with a second guitarist, bass, and percussion. The highlight is a great run-through of "Nine Feet Underground", which shaves a couple minutes of jamming off the original while keeping the full intensity and splendor. There are good versions of "Memory Lain, Hugh", "The Dog, the Dog, He's at It Again", "Headloss", and the eternal novelty "Golf Girl". I found the addition of congas to songs like "Memory Lain" to be off-putting. The version of "For Richard" here isn't as good as the live version included in the "Canterbury Tales" package. There are also four recent songs, of which the only good one is "Cold As Ice". These weak songs cut this to a 3-1/2 star album. (1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
woburnmusicfan 4/5 20.01.2003 (AMAZON)
very good live Caravan
Since all three 2-star reviews are by the same person, I'd like to add some balance. Pye always sounds like Pye, so you either like him or not, and Jim Leverton does a decent job with a timbre sort of like John Perry. I hardly notice the percussionist that AllMusic and a reviewer complain about. Doug Boyle is great but I'm not sure "acrobat guitar" (to use FZ's term) is needed in a Caravan lineup although he does add heft to a very punchy and clear sound. The standout for me is Dave Sinclair who is in top form, and I always enjoy Geoff's viola. Because they were touring a new album, four songs from Battle of Hastings are sandwiched in between the classics, which may discomfit some although BoH is actually a pretty good album. There's a wealth of live Caravan out there, but this one is quite energetic and well rehearsed. Decades after other Canterbury groups went up in smoke, Caravan is still at it and I am thrilled that I will see them live for my first and probably only time when they perform in Gettysburg in May, 2014.
Tarheel 3/5 18.03.2014 (AMAZON)
Nice live effort, at least they seem sure of what they're playing; good take on Nine Feet Underground. Great guitar work by former Robert Plant axeman Doug Boyle.
Lord_Corkscrew 2,5/5 22.01.2008 (RATEYOURMUSIC)
Rarely do reformations of classic rock bands equal the work of the unit to gain initial notoriety. Since their semi-permanent reunion in the '80s, Caravan have not only reworked some of their most beloved works on studio releases such as All Over You and the follow-up, All Over You Too, but the band has also made numerous live recordings highlighting enthusiasts favorites as well as newer material, such as Pye Hastings ballad "Cold As Ice." Canterbury Comes to London is one of the better live performance recordings to feature core band members (Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson, Dave Sinclair and Richard Coughlan) as augmented by other non-Caravan alumni. Notable for their tenure in this incarnation is lead guitarist Doug Boyle -- who is probably best known as Robert Plant's post Robbie Blunt solo axe man. Jim Leverton is another addition whose long and varied residencies include Fat Mattress, Savoy Brown, and Juicy Lucy. Sadly, percussionist Simon Bentall's augmentations seem consistently out of place. The glaring chime crescendos during "Golf Girl" or the needless, yet incessant, tambourine fills and bongo fury which obscure an otherwise striking rendition of "Memory Lain, Hugh" and "Headloss" bear the deepest scars. Conversely, his restraint on "Nine Feet Underground" is duly noted. Enthusiasts whose interest began to wane in Caravan's post- Cunning Stunts era will, at the very least, be pleasantly surprised at the residual intensity and attack which are readily displayed throughout this live set. Immediately the togetherness of the band is demonstrated during the multi-rhythmic passages of "Headloss," as well as throughout "For Richard." There are no lagging tempos, forgotten lyrics, or neglected solos here. Caravan's motifs of musical economy while providing multi-hued sonic canvases are alive and well as Canterbury Comes to London.
Lindsay Planer (ALLMUSIC)
Caravan es una de las bandas europeas que combina elementos del rock y jazz progresivo. De esta combinación resulta un producto profundo y con gran sensibilidad que sólo las grandes bandas producen. Estan a la par con Solution, Kayax y Focus. Definitivamente, un gran grupo y éste un gran disco. Caravan is one of this european groups which combine elements of rock and progressive jazz. From this combination we got a wonderfull product of great sensibility that only great bands can get. They are head to head with Solution, Kayax and Focus. Without any doubt, a great band and a great CD.
Carlos I. Alsina "superflypr" 5/5 17.12.2001 (AMAZON)
This is an outstanding live album recorded at the London Astoria in one take in 1997. The band's lineup at this point consisted of Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson, Dave Sinclair, Jim Leverton, Doug Boyle, Richard Coughlin, and Simon Bentall. The album features twin lead guitars which give the band an overall harder edge on some of the tracks which for me works well. Geoffrey Richardson's viola shines through on several of the tracks that adds a different dimension on a few of the numbers. The album is a mix of old classic Caravan and four songs from the 90's version of the band. Highlights include "Headloss" "Nine Feet Underground" and "For Richard". The vocals on the album are a bit weak at times, but overall I like this album a lot.
Steven Sly 4/5 24.11.2006 (AMAZON)
This CD has been released with different covers and different titles, all variations on the full title: Cavaran; Canterbury Comes To London: Live from Astoria. This is yet another reunion live album from Caravan, playing the old songs plus a few new bad ones. This time the group is Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlin, David Sinclair, and Geoff Richardson, with three other musicians. One of the new guys is the old guitarist from Robert Plant's band. So, parts of this album have a harder, guitar-oriented edge, with the dual guitar attack. The album starts out with a fairly good Memory Lain, Hugh with some nice guitar solos at the end. It's nice to hear Richardson' viola at the beginning. It always gave the later Caravan music a very unique atmosphere. From there it goes into an OK version of Headloss. But, both these tracks have been done live before and none of the live versions have been that much different than the studio versions. The ones here are slightly unique with the dual guitars. The Nine Feet Underground here is only 17 minutes, 4 minutes shorter than the original studio version. There is nothing that different for most of the song. Near the end, the group plays it like a lounge act. It's nice to see them change things up, but this new version isn't particularly good. The album than moves into 4 new tracks from Pye Hastings (songs from albums released in the nineties). There is only one, Cold As Ice that is even tolerable. It has that atmospheric feel, highlighted by Hasting's vocals. The rest are bad lyrically and musically. The last two are rants against people who have done Hastings wrong. For Richard is on almost every live album Caravan has done. There must be over 8 versions of the song. At 11 minutes, this is one of the shortest ones. What is nice about this version is that is edgier and harder than any of the other versions, with guitars slamming out the tune. However, the famous bassline gets muted and distorted so that it is no longer recognizable. The CD ends up with a pointless version of Golf Girl. It is not much different than the original, and I never thought that this was one of Caravan's better songs. So, with this album you get rougher, but interesting versions of Memory and Richard, a number of old songs where nothing new has been added and 4 bad new songs. There are many, better live Caravan albums to get. Songs for Oblivion Fishermen (what a horrible title) might be the best, featuring some really old performances. Then there is the Best of Caravan Live (but I don't think it has been released on CD). And, from 1994 there is the reunion album called "Live", featuring the original group
kireviewer 2/5 07.11.2003 (AMAZON)