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VINE VOICEon 3 January 2005
There was a burgeoning musical scene in Canterbury in the psychedelic era of the later sixties, much of which stemmed from a band called the Wilde Flowers. Groups to emerge from this original nucleus included Gong, Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World, Hatfield and the North and of course Caravan, now based in nearby Whitstable, who evolved out of the remaining members of Wilde Flowers during 1967 when they decided not to be a soul band anymore. They were signed to Verve Records in 1968 with a line-up comprising singer and principal writer Pye Hastings, the brothers Richard and David Sinclair and Richard Coughlan.
Their first album, Caravan, was released in October 1968, with the first two tracks, A Place Of My Own and Ride, extracted as a single the following January. It was in some ways a groundbreaking album that captured the whimsical and exploratory moods of the times with a sound that built on the changing styles of the contemporary underground and took them further.

Pye's brother Jimmy played on the dreamily evocative Love Song With Flute, never having heard the song and recording the flute solo on the first take. The following song, the stage favourite Cecil Rons (a disguised Cecil Rhodes?) is in contrast a rowdy powerful piece with a yelled chorus. Guitar and bass are swapped over on two songs so that Richard Sinclair can take over on lead vocal for his songs Grandma's Lawn and Policeman. The closing track was a complex nine-minute piece inspired in part by a melody written in Wilde Flowers days by then member Brian Hopper. Where But For Caravan Would I? was the precursor of the direction Caravan would take on future albums, alongside their other strengths.
On this edition both mono and stereo mixes of the album are included, and as a bonus track, the single version of 1970's Hello Hello, recorded for Decca as Verve/MGM had folded by this time, rounds off the CD
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2007
With its echoing organ backgrounds, Caravan's debut album is easily dated to the late 1960s. With only one long track, it has a different slant to everything the band subsequently did, though the gentle, English-accented
vocals are easily identifible. 'A Place Of My Own' is a straightforward, instantly memorable song and 'Ride' with its funny, trotting rhythm is both memorable and more indicative of the band's ingenuity. 'Love Song With Flute' is another beauty, but, while there are no bad tracks on the album, there are moments of blandness. 'Policeman' and 'Magic Man' are not quite as impressive and the first three minutes of their epic 'Where But For Caravan Would I?' are unremarkable. Nevertheless, this is a very good album, worth investigating after 'If I Could Do It All Over, etc' and 'In The Land Of Grey And Pink'. (They didn't like short titles, did they?)
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on 16 June 2008
With their 1968 debut album, Caravan set their own high benchmark for musicianship and creative endeavour, if not for subsequent commercial success. These are wonderful Hammond organ dominated songs sets, with the distinctive voice of Pye Hastings to the fore, superbly supported by Richard Sinclair's wonderfully 'English' vocals. Dave Sinclair's organ dominates the overall sound, but his cousin's tasteful bass, Hastings' precise rhythm guitar and Richard Coughlan's excellent drumming in occasionally challenging time signatures create a wonderful wall of sound with plenty of light and shade. Jimmy Hasting's outstanding flute playing graces "Love song". "Place of my own", "Ride", "Magic Man", and "Cecil Rons" are very evocative of Canterbury's own interpretation of psychedaelia. The album is fitting concluded with the extended piece "Where but for caravan would I?" which pointed the way to extended pieces such as "For Richard" and "Nine feet under" on subsequent albums. Whether you listen in mono or stereo, it is simply a brilliant album.
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on 23 September 2016
As an ex Canterbury lad this band were our local heroes together with the Soft Machine so this recording will suit those interested in Caravan and the so called ' Canterbury Sound ' especially the development of what became known as ' progressive music ' . This their debut LP was recorded with so much echo the band sound like they were recorded in a railway tunnel ; whilst the drum sound is muddy what stands out is the driving organ of founder David Sinclair who together with Steve Miller ( Waterloo Lily ) were always the best keyboard players in Caravan. For me Place of My Own, Love Song , Magic Man and Where But ' are the strongest songs on this patchy affair and to my ears the overall sound of this record is not a million miles from what the the Soft Machine were doing on Love Makes Sweet Music ' - jolly English pop music ; indeed the whimsy of Policeman recalls the quirkiness of Syd Barrett ear Pink Floyd , Bike & Scarecrow.
For anyone new to Caravan my recommendation would be to investigate ' If I Could Do It Again ' , the much underrated Waterloo Lily and ' For Girls Who Grow ' ; this selection will provide an overview of what Caravan were about , whimsical songs, long improvised ( live ) instrumental pieces broken up into movements with mingled with varying time signatures , a pastoral lilt supplied by flute and a jazzy feel supplied by both electric piano and saxophone . All in all Caravan have always been overlooked or rather they have been regarded as the poor relation to Genesis, Gentle Giant , Van Der Graff etc but for me they had their own unique sound .
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on 31 October 2014
Solid debut album from one of the leading lights of the 'Canterbury Scene' of the late 1960s/early 1970s. The majority of the material here is written by the mainstay of the band, guitarist/vocalist Pye Hastings, and the potential shown here was more fully revealed in 1970 with the release of the splendid 'If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You' and perfected on 2 gorgeous LPs, namely 1971's 'In The Land Of Grey And Pink' and 1973's 'For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night'. 'Caravan' is definitely worth checking out but, personally, I would buy the material from the period 1970-1973 first before I invested here.
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on 22 August 2011
I bought this album despite mixed reviews because I like the other Caravan albums I own. If you like the rest of their stuff like Land of Grey and Pink, you'll enjoy this one.
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on 7 May 2015
This is a bit like an early Pink Floyd album with some charming tracks like Place of my own, and some psychedelic tracks like Cecil Rons etc. I would give it 4 stars for the first 7 tracks which are great and all very listenable. Unfortunately it is let down somewhat by the rather boring and long-winded 8th track - Where But For Caravan Would I? which goes on for far too long. I just skip it and go back to first track again! added bonus is a version of Hello hello from If I could do it all over again..........
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on 12 April 2016
How can anyone in their right mind who loves prog music not give this vintage album 5 stars. This was the bench mark album all those years ago. Far more influential than Sgt Peppers. Must buy for all psychedelic prog fans.
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on 23 May 2009
Caravan's 1968 debut with both mono and stereo mixes. This cd has a melodic yet proggy sound, highlighted by the organ that seeps in from the very first track. "Place of my own" and "Magic man" are real gems of the psychedelic era. "Love song with flute" has a really dreamy summery feel, while "Cecil Rons" flashes from anger to happiness with amazing ease. A very British sounding album with hints of the progressive rock sound that would come to fruition in the early 1970's. The single "Hello hello" is also featured here and fits nicely with the album. Complete with comprehensive liner notes, this is an excellent purchase for fans of the psychedelic/prog rock sound.
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on 3 July 2014
This is a superb album. Totally under-rated and as good as Pink Floyd psychedelic era, early Genesis, the Doors, Satanic Majesties. or Seargeant Pepper (OK maybe not quite as good). Grandma's lawn is a classic psychedelic track with mind bending percussion and imaginative lyrics which I want to re-write as poetry. The keyboardist works some insane patterns. Mr Policeman - excellent. This is just waiting to be re-discovered. This is genuinely freaky and evocative of that particular time - 1968.
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