Tuesday, 3 April 2018

"In The Land Of The Grey And Pink" by CARAVAN (February 2001 Universal/Decca 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Paschal Byrne Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Grumbly Grimblies..."

It seems strange even now that in midst of spring 1971 (April to be exact) when all things Prog Rock really began to explode - that the release of Caravan's third and most beloved of album's "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" effectively tanked.

In fact Canterbury's finest (and Decca for that matter) would have to wait until album number seven "Cunning Stunts" to see some chart action - and even then it did so for one week in August 1975 at No. 50 and then buggered off again (they made a similarly anaemic entry in the States managing only No. 134 with the same LP). The band had played huge festivals in Europe after their second delightfully-titled platter from September 1970 "If I Could Do It All Again, I'd Do It All Over You" and built up a steady and fiercely loyal following at home in Blighty.

And while the Side Two 23-minute opus "Nine Feet Underground" is most definitely Proggy in nature - parts of Side One are more Pop than Avant Garde and even (dare we say it) 'pleasant'. Which is I suspect why the album has stuck in so many people's hearts ever since and remained on Decca and Universal's catalogue for nearly five decades now. So a little like Camel – Caravan have always skirted around the danger zones of success instead of kicking the doors in like Yes, ELP and Genesis did in those halcyon years of the early Seventies.

So what do you get? This quietly uplifting album still sounds poignant and wonderfully eccentric in a very English kind of way – here given a storming CD Remaster, genuinely decent Bonus Tracks and a hefty playing time. As the original Deram LP sleeve note royally pronounced on the 'Deluxe Edition' gatefold inner (the boys ambling over some hill somewhere with their hands raised in the air like some drugged-up pied-pipers) - "...Those of you who haven't heard the group before are in for a very enjoyable initiation." Amen to that baby - let's get to the grumbly grimblies...

UK released February 2001 - "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" by CARAVAN on Universal/Decca 8829832 (Barcode 042288298328) is a Reissue CD Remaster of their third album from 1971 with Five Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (74:45 minutes):

1. Golf Girl [Side 1]
2. Winter Wine
3. Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly)
4. In The Land Of Grey & Pink
5. Nine Feet Underground [Side 2]
A 22:40-minute track consisting of the following sections:
Nigel Blows A Tune/Love's A Friend/Make It 76/Dance Of The Seven Paper/Hankies/Hold Grandad By The Nose/Honest I Did!/Disassociation/100% Proof 
Tracks 1 to 5 are their third studio album "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" - released April 1971 in the UK on Deram SDL-R 1 and July 1971 in the USA on London PS 593. Produced by DAVID HITCHCOCK – it didn’t chart in either country.

6. I Don't Know Its Name (alias "The Word")
7. Aristocracy
8. It's Like To Have A Name Next Week (Instrumental of "Winter Wine")
9. Group Girl (First Version of "Golf Girl" with Different Lyrics)
10. Disassociation/100% Proof (New Mix)

RICHARD SINCLAIR - Bass  and Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
PYE HASTINGS - Electric and Acoustic Guitars and Vocals
DAVID SINCLAIR - Organ, Piano, Mellotron, Harmony Vocals
JIMMY HASTINGS - Flute, Tenor Sax and Piccolo
DAVE GRINSTEAD - Cannon, Bell and Wind
RICHARD COUGHLAN - Drums and Percussion

The 12-page booklet features all the relevant original LP/reissue CD details these Decca reissues do - illuminated even further by superb MARK POWELL liner notes (he runs the Prog and Avant Garde specialist reissue label 'Esoteric Recordings' for Cherry Red) alongside Trade adverts for the album, a Scarborough concert poster from December 1971 with guests Hookfoot and DJ Compere John Peel, period photo and a repro of the inner sleeve's liner notes. Powell's liner notes detail the band's history from 1968 up to the fourth album "Waterloo Lily" and includes contributions from band members Pye and Hastings. It's all very well done - as is the wonderfully clear and meaty Remaster from original tapes by PASCHAL BYRNE. Those Sinclair keyboard flourishes as you get into the first nine-minutes of the epic "Nine Feet Underground" over on Side 2 are really punchy - the notes rising and falling with clarity as they sail out of your speakers. To the music...

The opening salvo of Canterbury whimsy "Golf Girl" was used as a Caravan representative track on the superb 2002 Universal Box Set "Legend Of A Mind - The Underground Anthology" (see separate review) and it's easy to hear why. With his preppy voice and lyrics about girls handing out cups of tea as he fancies a swing at her putting area - it's five minutes of cool swinging Mellotron-Rock-Pop. The acoustic guitar and vocal combo that opens the near eight-minutes of "Winter Wine" is gorgeous (a great transfer) and when the band kick-in - the punch is huge. Dragons roamed the land and knights in armour saved damsels in distress - "Winter Wine" has always been a smoking dream of a tune - nymphs dancing as the high-hats patter - young men dreaming of things to come (and don't you just love those piano roles as he sings 'you're close to me' followed by that brilliant-sounding organ solo). The 3-minute ditty "Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly)" is alarmingly Pop - like Caravan had suddenly become Marmalade by way of Sparks and 10cc.

Those mumbling voices that open the title track "In The Land Of Grey & Pink" are a little clearer now - Acoustic Guitars then introducing nasty grumbling grimblies climbing down your chimney - a lovely piano solo soothing your worst 'there are monsters in the stacks' fears. Speaking of which - you would think that a 22:40-minute song consisting of large amounts of keyboard soloing would test even the most committed - but the monster that is "Nine Feet Underground" confirms the flashes of brilliance evident in the instrumental passages of "Winter Wine" and more on Side 1. And it just has that 'Caravan' sound that I love so much - brilliant stuff.

I'm amazed at the quality of the Unreleased Material - great saxophone work on "I Don't Know Its Name..." - a six-minute ambler tune similar to "Winter Wine" recorded December 1970 at AIR Studios in London. "Aristocracy" opens with a few words of studio banter - another outtake recorded 14 December 1970 - falsetto vocals making them sound like The Moody Blues sniffing helium gas. But for me (and fans) the instrumental variant of "Winter Wine" is so damn cool - Sinclair humming the melody in lieu of actual lyrics - clashing symbols and shivering notes trundling along as they flesh out the tune - a fab keyboard solo awaiting you as it boogies to a finish. It's eight minutes of Caravan composing - at work - and its genuinely fascinating stuff.

Great album, fond memories, kicking audio and a cheap-as-chips price tag. Yummy. In the pink on this one - yes...

The UK and Europe 2000 to 2002 Universal CD
'Extended Edition' Reissues and Remasters for CARAVAN include:

1. "Caravan" (February 1969 Debut LP)
Released April 2002 on Universal/Verve Forecast 8829522 (Barcode 042288295228) - features Mono and Stereo LP Versions and A Bonus Track
2. "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" (September 1970)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Decca 8829682 (Barcode 042288296829) with Four Bonus Tracks
3. "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" (April 1971)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Decca 8829832 (Barcode 042288298328) with Five Bonus Tracks
4. "Waterloo Lily" (May 1972)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Decca 8829822 (Barcode 042288298229) with Three Bonus Tracks
5. "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" (October 1973)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Deram 8829802 (Barcode 042288298021) with Five Bonus Tracks
6. "Caravan & The New Symphonia" (April 1974)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Decca 8829692 (Barcode 042288296928) with Four Previously Unreleased
7. "Cunning Stunts" (July 1975)
Released February 2001 on Universal/Decca 8829812 (Barcode 042288298120) with Three Bonus Tracks
8. "Where But For Caravan Would I"
A 2CD Anthology Covering 1968 to 1975 - released July 2000 on Decca 524 755-2 (Barcode 731452475527) includes Previously Unreleased material

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