Caravan were formed in 1968, during the reign of the Canterbury sound - a sudden waft of enthusiasm for avant-garde progressive rock. By the mid-seventies, the band had become synonymous with the scene. They found themselves saddled with a titanic irony: having effectively scripted for the rulebook for a scene borne from a desire to defy all musical rules and conventions.
Throughout the eighties and nineties, the band faded quietly into the background. But, in recent years, shows like BBC 6 Music's Freak Zone have acted like a life support machine for the band, with Stuart Maconie regularly dusting off their records, and generating intrigue in their quirky, jazz-riddled rock.
The Show Of Our Lives - the closest thing to a Caravan release for four years - is a collection of BBC archive recordings, charting the band's youth from 1968 to 1975. It's a rich resource, bringing together well-polished recordings of some of the band's best known and most respected work.
It's a release which will appeal exclusively to fans of Caravan. Of course, this'll come as no surprise to the Caravan boys: after forty years of skirting the fringes of obscurity, they'll be well aware that their indulgent organ solos and hysterical song structures aren't to everyone's tastes.
Like any album forged together from the archives, it does feel rather disjointed. For those unfamiliar with the Canterbury sound's proudest survivors, The Show Of Our Lives will be a pretty slapdash and substandard introduction. But if you're already well acquainted with their idiosyncratic sound, then it should be a different story. --Robert Jackman
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