The World Is Yours: The Anthology 1968-1976 Box set, Original recording remastered
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The World Is Yours - The Anthology 1968-1976 is an exhaustive remastered four CD box set from Canterbury sound band Caravan. The set includes previously unreleased studio recordings, album tracks, rare single mixes, BBC recordings and out-takes,a s well as a lavish book featuring an essay and previously unseen photographs plus sleeve notes by Mark Powell.
Although they are intricately entwined into the DNA of that sub-genre of progressive music known as the Canterbury scene, there’s nevertheless always been something of the “bridesmaid but never the bride” syndrome about Caravan.
Quite why this should be is slightly baffling given that their sound has always been on the light and accessible end of the progressive rock spectrum. Their straightforward songs and bright, unfussy noodling was the sunshine to the oft-dark complexities of their close Canterbury cousins, Soft Machine.
Whereas the Softs veered far from their shared pop roots, ploughing an acerbic, often ground-breaking furrow into improvisation, jazz-rock fusion and beyond, Caravan pretty much bumbled along on their old straight track in a benign, slightly sleepy but agreeable manner.
This handsomely appointed four-CD box set, whilst being skimpy on unreleased or rare material (only boasting a couple of previously-unreleased extras), offers a pleasantly winding stroll through their classic period, from which 1971’s In The Land of Grey and Pink remains their most enduring work.
All but one of its original studio tracks are presented here; filled with flutes, fuzz-pedalled organ and dreamy vocals about girls, freedom, and finding yourself, these agreeable, sun-dappled pastoral tunes are as English as Elgar.
Gracefully structured long-form suites were essential ingredients in the Caravan brew, but whilst Nine Feet Underground (1971), Nothing At All (1972) Memory Lain (1973) and several other notable epics all clocked up the minutes, these were genteel, subtle undertakings rather than vulgar exhibitions of technique.
Though they recruited a dedicated following it was never wide or deep enough to deliver them real commercial success. It always seemed that Caravan were only ever one album away cracking the market, but much to the frustration of the band and its supporters that happy event always eluded them.
At a time when bands like ELP seemed hell-bent on world domination via bombastic rock symphonics, Caravan generally opted for a kinder, whimsical non-competitive mode of expression when soloing, and perhaps it was precisely the lack of extrovert showmanship that prevented them from attracting wider attention.
Yet, as this set demonstrates, given that they sound a good deal less-arch and cliché-free than many of their more illustrious and fêted contemporaries, this was probably a good thing. A worthy introduction to a likeable but often unfairly neglected English institution. --Sid Smith
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Top Customer Reviews
The group's strength and trademark were the long and often epic tracks, which sometimes were tight through-composed and sometimes gave way to longer improvisations. Despite many line-up changes the band maintained a relatively uniform expression, where the jazzy elements in some periods were more prevalent than in others.
The band's compositions were often quite complex, with unusual rhythms and rhythm changes. Instrumentally the band members were highly competent, and willing to seek musical challenges. Conversely, one should not expect many catchy tunes, and the group achieved no real hits. Only in few cases their songs could be called commercial or catchy, most albums, however, do contain one or two numbers relatively straightforward and a playing time under 5 minutes.
The fact that the group's songwriting was something special and that they never created a real classic song, has meant that they never got wider recognition. Moreover the group also lacked a strong profile vocalist so a big breakthrough did not materialize.
Several of the group's albums, however, have gained considerable recognition as some of the best prog. rock of the early 1970s. Especially "If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You" from 1970 and "In the Land of Grey and Pink" from 1971, stand as significant releases.
A four CD box is a big mouthful and I must admit that I am mostly in for the shorter tracks.Read more ›
Caravan are always actually referred to as a quintessential English band, indeed it could be argued that they are the quintessential English prog band. Unlike many British bands they sing in English accents with no trace of any American rock and roll inflections, although this is true of much prog rock. They didn't even appear in the States until 1974, six years after their debut recording.
Caravan's music, although varied, is often built upon the same formula - a pastoral, folky / soft rock beginning spanning a couple of verses before going off on a lengthy keyboard improvisation which often ups the tempo and turns them into an out and out rock band until it slows down again before the end. This is occasionally varied with some flute or violin, the guitar solo is rare, indeed it might be totally absent in Caravan's entire recorded work.Read more ›