Pioneers of the Canterbury sound, Caravan, show their skills have not waned over the years with a masterful new album.
Release date: 8th October 2021
Label: Madfish Music.
Format: CD / digital / LP on black vinyl released on 5th November
Early this year we placed Caravan’s In The Land Of Grey And Pink amongst our epic 50th anniversary albums. There are not many groups from that era who have survived with a clear change in style and line up and can still produce high quality fresh music and complete nationwide tours.
Right from the opening bars we hear the distinctive Caravan sound. Even though the line up and style may have seen changes for those who loved the instrumental psychedelic prog flavour of 50 years ago there are samples of it particularly in Luna’s Tune
It’s None Of Your Business is a solid and entertaining album of music performed by experienced artists still at the top of their game and able to entertain. Their forthcoming tour which I’m certain will promote this splendid album and our older favourites will be an evening of our joy as was the last outing I saw when they graced the Cropredy Festival stage in 2019.
I liked this album, Caravan’s first album since Paradise Filter released in 2013, from the first listen and it got better more I listened to it. It features nine new songs plus one instrumental track which although might not be the longer epics of their earlier years will satisfy the most ardent of Caravan fans.
It is the instrumentals both as a single track and within the songs that enticed me to repeated listens of this album; the virtuosic strings of Geoff Richardson on viola and the keyboards of Jan Schelhaas expertly producing the warm, rich sounds we are familiar with. Long term fans of Caravan have plenty opportunity to relive those moments of ‘filling our pipes full of hogweed’ to take us back to the 70’s as well as wallowing in the solid, chunky rhythms of the modern Caravan sound. Also still assisting the group is jazzman Jimmy Hastings who was very much an important part of Caravan sound from the outset.
Caravan has always been a group in tune with current times, so mixed in with the songs of recent events are those of a personal nature as like most groups they have not been immune to recent events and two songs – Spare A Thought dedicated to lost friends and Every Precious Little Thing expressing anxieties about the touring experience returning – show this with of course, a smattering of love songs with and without flute!! Also still prevalent are the quirky lyrics which makes them typically British and distinctly Caravan.
The vocals of Pye Hastings are still delivered with clarity and panache, his mild tones emphasising the familiar quaintness and those with a more sombre poignant nature. Although he readily admits: “Lyrics can sometimes be my Achilles Heel” but the last months have provided an opportunity to centre his mind as he says: “The lockdown certainly focused the mind when it came to writing the lyrics.”
The album covers of Caravan albums have always complemented the music artistically. The mystical sultry atmosphere of the debut album, through to the thought provoking For Girls Who Goes Plump In The Night , the surreal Cunning Stunts and of course the otherworldly In The Land Of Grey And Pink ( I still find things I’ve not seen before). Now with the imagery of illustrator Bob Venables, the artwork to the new album displays a contemporary feel.
Caravan have never been strangers to change and experimentation and the opportunity for them to record and write spontaneously together is clearly evident.
“Sitting round in a circle having eye to eye contact, a large sound room was required,” Pye Hastings explains . “I much prefer this method because you can bounce ideas off each other as they occur, and voice encouragement when the whole thing begins to click.”
With the production engineering and mastering in the hands of Julian Hastings with assistant engineer Mike Thorne we have a new Caravan album to savour.