Some debate that Psychedelic Rock is really just a passage between Rock & Roll and Progressive Rock, but others believe that it is the golden age of music. In this period, other than all the greats like Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, the Doors, there were also an infinitude of smaller, very young bands that started their career with embracing the typical sound of Psychedelia and afterwards became part of the so called Prog Rock movement. Caravan, one of the greatest Canterbury bands, are one of these -at first- humble musicians, struggling to find some room for themselves. Their debut album was released in what was one of the greatest years for music, 1968, and relatively few people recognized this band’s potential at the time.
Caravan was not a typical Psych band, even from the start: the atmospheres they created were, yes, a bit na’ve sounding, just like many bands at the time, but they never had that cheerfulness incorporated in the music: instead, they focused on being either dramatic, romantic, melancholic, or simply relaxing, for the quieter moments. From the start, Caravan incorporated sounds that were very similar to the future Canterbury Scene movement, for which the band played an essential role. Also from the start Caravan had more Prog than Psych within them, because of the massive use of the organ and more elaborate song structures. This seriousness of the overall sound makes the music’s na’ve tone much less evident, but there is still a great dose of immaturity within Caravan’s first album. However, the songwriting of the LP is at considerably high levels, and whether it is na’ve sounding or not, it becomes completely irrelevant.
“Caravan” is a wonderful little gem that will contribute in launching the band towards future fame and inspiration.
Already with this first album Caravan deliver some of what will become classics of the band, especially the final track of the album, the nine minute long ‘Where But For Caravan Would I?’, a clever premonition of the Canterbury Scene. But some of the best songs are the more straight-forward ones, such as the dramatic and dragging ‘Place of My Own’, the quieter and more mysterious ‘Ride’, or the memorable ‘Love Song For Flute’.
Overall an album that, even though showing some immaturity, is unquestionably entertaining from start to finish, a wonderful little gem that will be sure to launch Caravan to success and inspiration.
One of the greatest Canterbury bands, Caravan, created with their second album, “If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You” one of the most symbolic and memorable works of the genre. It is highly melodic, easy to listen, but also very ambitious and highly progressive. Caravan have clearly abandoned the immature sounds of the debut and reached a whole new level of songwriting and musical philosophy.
Caravan’s Psychedelic sound is all gone on this new 1970 album: the organ and the guitars are now always hand in hand, the musicianship is more elaborate, the overall sound is of a pretty noticeable change. The structure of these songs also are much more complex and studied, making this record one that leaves all innocence behind and goes towards the epic pathways of Progressive. This however is not exactly an album of the Canterbury Scene quite yet, even though it already has plenty typical elements of the genre: it has that sense of romanticism Caravan in particular are famous for, and as a consequence also the whole Canterbury scene is, but it doesn’t have such elaborate songwriting, which is not a bad thing, because they are on this particular record much more accessible and memorable than almost anybody else from Canterbury. For example, it’s miles away from the cold avant- garde of the Soft Machine, or the spacey themes of Gong. “In the Land Of Grey and Pink”, the following Caravan album, will still be of this sort of nature -with a lot of melody-, but that time around it will have much more ambition and sophistications, being that their supreme masterpiece. But “If I Could Do It All?” still is a beautiful dedication to youth and innocence, inserted in a much more intricate, Progressive style. This is what Canterbury’s magic lies in.
“If I Could Do It…” is a wonderful hymn to youth and innocence, at the same time being highly progressive and ambitious.
Some of the more memorable moments include the beautiful “I Wish I Were Stoned”, which, from it’s nine minutes, donates some space in the final minutes for it’s other side, “Don’t Worry”. Together, these two parts create what is in my opinion the greatest song of the album, having great, catchy melodies, great song structure, and fantastic musicianship all together. There are the shorter, poppier songs like “Hello Hello”, and the build-up of “As I Feel I Die”, but also the highly ambitious ones, like the most Progressive song of the album, the final fourteen minute suite, “For Richard”, an instrumental that has no specific form but constantly shifts, builds, explodes, and tones down. No wonder it is considered one of the best Caravan tracks. The other suite is the middle one, “With an Ear To The Ground You Can Make It”, the least memorable of them but still very powerful from every point of view.
“If I Could Do It?” is a wonderful example of a Canterbury album of a band that still has to fully blossom, but still looks quite exemplar and is already faithful to a few canons, without on the other hand bending some rules.