George Starostin's Reviews



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<> (12.12.2002)

Caravan has to be one of the more over-looked prog rock bands, particularly this side of the Pond. While they have their following in Europe, American music fans have all but ignored them (Canada is only slightly better). Yet Caravan has a definite place in my heart and on my turntable/CD player. Perhaps its the yearning for another simpler, happier time when we were all younger, but it goes beyond mere nostalgia. Caravan music is original, fun, somewhat and at times intense. The musicianship is at or near top-notch (I'm a big fan of Mr. Richard Sinclair's bass-playing prowess - poor John Perry!): having someone of Jimmy Hasting's ability at your beck and call doesn't hurt either. The lyrics are evocative, often ribald, and occasionally awkward. Put it all together and you have a group that worked through a lot of personnel difficulties, ultimately to triumph. I wish there was a way to better promote their music, even now, to North American music-lovers.


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<> (22.09.2001)

Those fine vocals on "Winter Wine", "In The Land Of Grey And Pink", "Golf Girl", and the better part of "Nine Feet Underground" were delivered not by Pye, but by Richard Sinclair, who, by the way, was--and still is--one of the best bass players around. [Correction made - G.S.]

<> (22.06.2002)

I had this album for a week back in 1971, . . . since then I survived the decades of pop, disco, punk with doses of jazz/fusion and Jethro Tull.

After 30 years the songs still haunted me so I started an internet search, hit paydirt, and I must say it still holds up and then some. Really fine album, . . . takes you out and back in a very nice way. I feel so sorry for the youth of today.

Nick Pulliam <> (29.07.2002)

This album is still virtually unknown in the U.S. and that's a shame because it is a true classic. Its got one side with great melody-rich prog-pop songs and another side with prog-rock (or even Jam-band) type music. A great album to relax to and escape to some place where people pick punk weed with fingers and toes and "smoke it all day untill they bleed." A great discovery for those people who have had their fill of Yes and Tull and are looking for something different.

Colin Brown-Hart <> (27.07.2003)

In the Land of Grey and Pink is a bit soft but it still deserves a "10". "Golf Girl" is kind of a masterpiece. The way it gets to you, it's fresh and cool. It's the best song that Caravan ever wrote. When "Golf Girl" finishes, I wish it would come on again, but, if I heard it more than five times in a row I would get annoyed with it. I wish Caravan could make more cd's like this one.

Pedro Andino <> (26.01.2004)

this album can be a concept album for a old anime named magic boy let's see: caravan seen the 1960 movie thenm made concept record! 'golf girl' can be the love theme love you can be another love theme! 'winter time' can be a waltz but the 22 minute thing that you said was 'nine feet underground'! that was a battle teme! 'golf girl' is a favorite ! lovely! paly the song radio fuck cline dion! pussy!

John Paley <> (25.08.2004)

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head with this album's 'otherworldly' feel. Suffice to say that I'm 24, yet every time I put this record on and stare into the cover design, I still feel like I'm being carried off into the Land of Grey and Pink, like little Alice through the looking glass or something! All in all, beautiful melodies (personal pick: 'Winter Wine'), vocal deliveries and superb musicianship which compliments both, this certainly qualifies as one of the all-time great albums (not just 'prog albums', and it's interesting that this one is still receiving much retrospective acclaim in an era in which the 'classic prog' genre, along with it's most notorious innovators - Yes et al - are regularly subjected to critical bile. Hastings and co. are fine technical musicians but never take themselves too seriously. Wit rather than pomposity wins the day!). Incidentally, I picked up on your comment: "The title track must have blown many a young mind away with its haunting escapist theme, the beautiful folkish acoustic rhythm track, the dreamy organ solo and especially those weird little brr-brr noises in the instrumental section. What's that supposed to be? Pink hippopotamuses?". When I fist heard this record as a young boy, I imagined those little brr-brr noises to be the sound of (quote lyric): "Those nasty grumbly-grimblies..and they're climbing down your chimney, yes they're trying to get in..". Scary? Actually, I found it quite amusing, but yes, my young mind was certainly blown away!


Keith Hart <> (21.11.2003)

Still no comments? This is an historic opportunity then. The is the album where all the promise and jazzy impulses of the band take an unexpected and dark turn and emerge finely balanced. This is where Caravan discovers that the "trip" is found in the "groove", and a heavy groove is best. Too few people know this one. It's less ridgidly composed than the much-vaunted predessor Land of Grey and Pink that with all the accomplished soloing of David Sinclair - (the only instrumental voice on the record) - sounds tight-arsed when compared to the crude unbridled delights of Lily. Here Richard Sinclair shows a bass sensibility that's so visceral and in your face that it's almost embarrassing, and yet it's his boldness that carries the playing into zones of cool and groove that are unequalled to my knowledge. Amazingly everyone pulls in the same almost sweaty direction. Pye adjusts his song writing enough to permit the long splendid jams, and Miller's plays his keys with such style and restraint that the counter they provide to Pye's wailing wah-wah makes for perfect call and response soloing. I don't miss David Sinclair for a moment. Pye gets the strident parts this time, and he stretches out brilliantly with a tense virtuosity as never again. His vocals as well as Richard Sinclair's are all first-rate performances. There's a moment, somewhere deep insode "Love in your Eye" where (possibly) the producer David Hitchcock shouts "yeah" over the control-room p.a., imprinting himself in a moment of uncontrollable excitement. You don't hear that on other Caravan albums. In hindsight there must be some regret between Sinclair, Hastings and Miller that they didn't continue along the new road. But the audience wanted more of the polite fantasy Caravan. That's what they got with the plodding but enjoyable Girls album that followed. They never had another bass player like Sinclair. This is their brick in the great prog archway. A great, great record.


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jackie brown-hart <> (24.01.2003)

Hello George, been away for awhile but never a day without Caravan. They are my great missing link in the prog cannon. Unlike P.F.M. they never get to the point where there's nothing really left for you but confused wankery and you eventually give-up. Cunning Stunts goes in a direction that I would rather them not after "girls" but the musicianship still wins you over and I agree with your opinion of Pye Hastings' blossoming ability as a song writer. But for a middle - it's not Pye singing the styxee "show of our lives", it's Wedgewood. Another mystery to me is that the cheesy seventies sound starts to emerge here along with mushy themes, pretty as they are. These don't come without Dave Sinclairs wonderful sense of groove and tasty soloing so I'll count the blessings. The albums deficit is Wedgewood's songs as you identify, he's a better singer and a good bassist. Richardson has less to do as well. But Pye's voice and his melodic structures are so wonderful that you almost forgive him for selling off all the prog china. The musicianship is so solid, so professional, so tight. What a group.

Q: Why do records in the mid-70's sound dated when work '70 - '73 can be timeless? Case in point: the chukka-wukka guitars during the second side suite, particularly after the tasty flute/keyboard jam?

Finally, your rating is pretty spot on. There's plenty of delights but they are interrupted by the 'ole leap for the needle.

<> (28.03.2006)

Jackie is right. Mike Wedgwood is a fantastic singer, and when he was young he had the voice of an angel, as Head Chorister in Salisbury Cathedral, that exquisite edifice of Early English Gothic with a spire 404 feet high. In his youth Mike also used to play incredibly good sax, clarinet, keyboards, bass, drums and he always took the lead vocals because he could sing, literally, anything in any key. He also scored for a full orchestra for Nicky James and John Entwistle.

I love this album, although it has its flaws. Mike's vocals on 'Show of our Lives' is staggering - get the note just below top A at the end, and did you realise that Geoff Richardson plays all the guitar on it?. And (mainly) Pye's Conshirto on side two has some great rocky moments, again with powerhouse vocals from Mike. It's not a complete success, but Pye's songs are all pretty good. Lover, though, is a great song with a cracking solo by Pye.

Rating? 7/10. If it were released now, 10/10 because there would be no real competition at the top of the second division.


<> (20.02.2006)

This is a lovely album, full of fun, wit and great playing. Just to fill in a gap, the reason for the cover and title is that when they were rehearsing Jack and Jill, they used to sing "Blind Dog at St Dunstan's" as a gentle mockery of "Right down at the bottom".

Mike told me that when we listened to the demos in his little cabin at Canterbury.


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