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.
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.