It's back 2 Bizness As Usual here at the Back-Up Plan. The Holiday Rush is apparently over, & traffic 2 this site has reverted back 2 the more-normal dozen or so visits per day. My thanx 2 those who still browse here. Were those 80 or so visits per day I was getting 4 awhile just Bcos it was the holidays & folks hadda lotta spare time? & how 'bout all those visits from Denmark? 4 awhile the Danes were giving my American readers a real run 4 their money.
NEway, my thanx 2 all 4 yr support, & it would B great 2 actually HEAR from some of U....
& now, back 2 1 of my musical obsessions: Caravan. (Bet U thot I'd never get back 2 them....)
From THE WORLD IS YOURS best-of: Waterloo Lily/Any Advance on Carpet?/Bossa Nochance/Virgin on the Ridiculous/For Richard (live)/Keeping Back My Love/No Backstage Pass/Stuck in a Hole/The Love in Your Eye/The Dabsong Conshirtoe (live debut recording)/A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik/Feelin' Reelin' Squealin'.
The 2nd 1/2 of Caravan's 4-disc best-of isn't as intresting 2 me as the 1st 1/2 was, but that's probly just Bcos I'm pretty familiar w/ the band's later works. I think that overall the later songwriting & performances R stronger. Almost all the later Caravan Classics R included here, most in the best available versions -- "Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss," "The Dog, The Dog, He's at it Again," "A Hunting We Shall Go," "For Richard (live)," "All the Way with John Wayne's Single-Handed Liberation of Paris," etc. If U're a fan of melodic prog w/ catchy melodies & songs U can sing along w/ -- as well as some great, driving riffs -- these songs could change yr life.
But it's also EZer 4 me 2 pick at summa the choices, 2 whine (as w/ NE best-of) about all the great things that Rn't here & should B. But I'll get 2 that later....
"Waterloo Lily" is jazzy & silly, & highlights the band's ongoing hilarious but charming obsession w/ fat women. It also features bassist Richard Sinclair's Xcellent laid-back vocals & a nice jazzy organ midsection by Brit Steve Miller. From the album of the same name, this sounds better than I remembered.
"Any Advance on Carpet?" is a nice, jazzy organ&guitar instrumental -- definitely sounds like a backing track 4 something, but it's nice & bouncy.
The version of "Virgin on the Ridiculous" included here has some spirited viola-playing from Geoff Richardson, & guitarist Pye Hastings' usual relaxed vocals -- but I miss the orchestra & chorus from the original live/New Symphonia recording. This picks up in the instrumental midsection, but doesn't have the push & weight (swing?) of the original.
"For Richard" still sounds great -- as wistful in the opening & as forceful in the last 1/2 as ever. & the great riff that takes up the whole 2nd 1/2 is probly Caravan's most rockin' moment.
"Keeping Back My Love" is an outtake from CUNNING STUNTS that woulda improved their weakest classic-period album. But parts of it sound like sections of earlier Caravan songs, most like "Memory Lain" & at least 1 other 1 I can't place right off. A re-written version of this under the title "Behind You" was later included on their un-distinctive 1977 album BETTER BY FAR on British Arista.
"No Backstage Pass" is a pleasant but not outstanding Pye-vocal ballad. "Stuck in a Hole" is an upbeat single w/ a catchy chorus. All this stuff from CUNNING STUNTS sounds better than I remembered.
The BBC recording of "The Love in Your Eye" included here isn't bad, but it's thin compared 2 both the studio original & the New Symphonia/live version. There R 2 versions of "Love in Your Eye" in this package, & neither R as good as what was already available....
The 15-minute version of "Dabsong Conshirtoe" here is also a BBC recording, apparently the live debut of the song. Compared 2 the studio version, there R some bum notes & Pye's vocals R a little shaky -- but bassist Mike Wedgwood's singing is pretty strong. But then it turns rather unpleasantly heavy a few mins in -- the charm of the original was its jazzy lightness.
"A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik" -- Now this is more like it. Still sounds great. & it's REALLY silly.
Their version of Kevin Ayers/Soft Machine's "Feelin' Reelin' Squealin'" is the best previously-unreleased track in the whole package -- the wildest, loudest thing they ever did, straight outta 1967 Soft Machine, very loud & screechy & totally unlike NEthing else Caravan ever did. Recommended to Rastro & NE other big Soft Machine fans out there....
COMPLAINTS: All of Caravan's very best work coulda bn collected on 3 discs w/ the 4th saved 4 the best outtakes & live trax included here.
NOT IN THE PACKAGE: "Songs and Signs," "Surprise, Surprise," "Be All Right" in the freight-train-like original studio version, the charming original live "Virgin on the Ridiculous," the superior original studio "Love in Your Eye," the superior original studio "Dabsong Conshirtoe," "Can You Hear Me?" None of Wedgwood's songs R included -- "Chiefs and Indians" woulda bn a nice addition.
WASTED: "C'thulu" & mosta the live trax listed above.
FORMAT: Can I note how much I hate Decca/Universal's hardback-book-style CD collections with the booklet built-in & the jamming plastic clips & the CDs that sometimes fall out? I've hated this format since the Moody Blues' TIME TRAVELLER collection & Decca hasn't improved it. This 4mat might B cheaper 2 manufacture than a proper box, but it isn't BETTER.
OVERALL: This is in more depth than the previous Decca 2-disc best-of, CANTERBURY TALES, & if U buy this cheap (like I did) U can skip IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK (it's all here), & could put off FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT & their 1st album, most of which R also here. & the booklet's pretty informative. I'd still recommend this package 2 fans. But it otta B perfect....
COMING SOON: Camel's RAINBOW'S END best-of....