Aclaración...

Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).

martes, 25 de agosto de 2015

Caravan - Cunning Stunts (1975)


Artista: Caravan
Álbum: Cunning Stunts
Año: 1975
Género: Escena Canterbury
Duración: 69:20
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. The Show of Our Live
2. Stuck in a Hole
3. Lover
4. No Backstage Pass
5. Welcome the Day
6. Dabsong Conshirto (Pt. 1 the Mad Dabsong...
7. The Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park
8. Stuck In A Hole (Bonus track)
9. Keeping Back My Love (Bonus track)
10. For Richard

Alineación:
- Richard Coughlan / drums, percussion
- Pye Hastings / vocals, guitars
- Geoff Richardson / viola, guitars, flute
- David Sinclair / keyboards
- Mike Wedgwood / basses, vocals, congas
+ Jimmy Hastings / brass arrangements


Otra vez aportes de Wan, seguimos con la desordenada presentación de esta banda inglesa. Y como los textos de la publicación de los discos de Leusemia y Porcupine Tree me ha llevado mucho tiempo, para poder seguir adelante solamente voy a trae un buen comentario ajeno como comentario principal.


Cuando el viejo Fitzpatrick se enteró de que había algunos miembros de mi club privado que deseaban escucharle disertar acerca de aquellos jovenzuelos de Canterbury que él tan bien conoció y cuya música tanto me había encandilado, puedo decir sin temor a ser corregido, que su pasmo fue tal que sus labios se tensaron un tanto y sus ojos mostraron un asomo de existencia que demostraba que su vida interior, tal como negaba mi esposa en contra de mi voluntad, iba algo más allá de la de una rana. Es más, creí notar cierto aflojamiento en una de sus rectilíneas piernas, en concreto, la derecha, que por un momento pareció hacerle trastabillar ligeramente. Mis ojos brillaron de satisfacción y, debo decirlo, expectación.
Recuperada su pétrea compostura, mi noble mayordomo, más estirado que nunca si es que eso era posible, engoló la voz y me dijo:
- Cómo no, señor. Supongo que el señor se refiere a mis antiguos apadrinados Caravan. No tendría ningún inconveniente en hacer lo que el señor me propone.
- Excelente – afirmé -. En ese caso deberá preparar una monografía sobre alguno de los acetatos de los tal Caravan y presentarla sin falta el 29 de octubre en mi club, que usted como bien sabe, es el Club de los Lechuguinos Estirados.
- Creo que tengo todos los datos necesarios, señor. Si no desea nada más me retiraré ipso facto para preparar el susodicho memorando.
- Puede retirarse Fitzpatrick.
Llegado el día del evento, mis compañeros del club esperaban con cierta curiosidad lo que un mayordomo tuviera que explicarles de unos jovenzuelos que tocaron extraños instrumentos electrónicos o eléctricos, a quién le importa, hace tres décadas.
Siento decir, y tengo que hacerlo para ceñirme a la verdad en todo lo posible como bien me propuse, que Fitzpatrick parecía extrañamente conmovido el día de autos, podría decir que incluso emocionado. Llegó puntual, subió al estrado y pronunció su exposición.
Caballeros, he de decir que supone para mí un honor la invitación que me hacen y que trataré de hacerles llegar lo mejor que pueda mis conocimientos y vivencias en torno a una de las producciones de Caravan, como ya saben banda de rock progresivo que desarrolló su mejor quehacer durante los años 70, y que se llamó genéricamente Cunning Stunts. Y permitan que mi pudor me impida aclararles lo que el título implica, caballeros.
Dicha grabación puede que sea la última en gozar del favor total de todo el público que se proclama seguidor de Caravan. Posee todo lo que les hizo grandes en los discos anteriores y algunos avances de su posterior venida a menos. Por mi parte no puedo juzgar los discos que siguieron pues aún no los conozco, pero si puedo decir que Cunning Stunts no siendo de los mejores discos que habían hecho hasta el momento, si que me permito afirmar que es un gran trabajo, con altibajos, pero con genialidades características de Caravan.
De hecho, y para corroborar mi anterior afirmación, diré que Cunning Stunts fue el mayor éxito comercial de Caravan, lo que hizo que sus seguidores más acérrimos y puristas se llevaran las manos a la cabeza, si me permiten la expresión.
La alineación de Caravan para este trabajo cuenta con el incombustible líder Pye Hastings a la guitarra, el retornado y convertido en una leyenda del Canterbury David Sinclair en los teclados, Richard Coughlan a la batería y Mike Wedgewood en el bajo completando la línea rítmica; además participan como músicos, más o menos invitados, Geoff Richardson tocando violines, flautas y algún instrumento más y Jimmy Hastings aportando algunos vientos. Por cierto, y según me indica el señor Tommy: Geoff Richardson es el que hace ese bonito solo de guitarra en el tema de apertura "The Show of Our Lives", además de tocar la guitarra acústica en "The Dabsong Conshirtoe". Hay que anotar que el señor Wedgewood aporta un toque pop-rock más convencional a una ciertamente potente formación.
Caballeros, me dispongo ahora a conectar el viejo toca-vinilos del salón de fumar para que escuchen la música mientras comento las canciones de este viejo acetato...
THE SHOW OF OUR LIVES:
El disco comienza con una de las mejores canciones de Caravan, a mí humilde entender, que abre con unos deliciosos teclados a los que pronto se suma la base rítmica. Una grandiosa y épica canción de rock progresivo sinfónico. El tema habla, simplemente, de un concierto visto desde su punto de vista. Un arranque genial para sus presentaciones en directo, algo a lo que ustedes, señorías, quizá no querrían asistir.
A mitad de canción hay un precioso punteo, y luego, de nuevo se apropian las voces de la canción que discurre sobre una firme y reiterativa base rítmica. Eso sí, la guitarra vuelve a tomar el protagonismo y nos demuestra que Mr. Hastings ha mejorado notablemente con los años y la práctica. Al igual que la increíble voz de la que hace gala.
Unos coros finales despiden el tema y es fácil imaginar al público de un concierto coreando hasta el final: Ring the bells and sing… Cosa que no se me ocurriría proponer a ustedes, señorías, Dios me libre de hacer tal cosa.
STUCK IN A HOLE:
A partir de este tema, uno de los más famosos y comerciales de Caravan entramos quizá en la parte más farragosa del álbum, donde el pop se hace con el rock y la miel fluye por doquier, si ustedes me entienden.
Y ciertamente este tema sería perfectamente radiable o podría protagonizar un spot televisivo sin el menor rubor, algo difícil de decir de otros temas de Caravan.
Sin embargo, la calidad de estos músicos es innegable y no podemos dejar de movernos al ritmo de esta simpática canción en la que teclados y guitarra compiten en protagonismo y los coros vuelven a ser magníficos.
LOVER:
Y es aquí, señores Lechuguinos, donde de verdad la miel y el dulzor se hacen un tanto espesos, y espero haber sido claro.
Ya el título nos indica por donde van los tiros: arreglos de cuerda melosos, cadencias para recordar la portada del Love Beach, y perdonen señorías por traer esa imagen a sus mentes, y una voz lánguida y susurrante. Vamos, lo que se dice una canción de Amor, de esas que podría rescatar una Mari Trini del siglo XXI, y no es que tenga yo nada contra el amor, faltaría más, señorías, pero coincidirán conmigo en que hay maneras y maneras de tratar el tema.
Y entre estrofa y estrofa y mucha, mucha cuerda, la canción se apaga, cómo no, con un coro violinesco de mucha ostentación.
NO BACKSTAGE PASS:
La cosa sigue por los mismos derroteros, pero algo mejor para ser justos. En estos momentos alguien podría preguntarse por esos Caravan plenos de fuerza y por aquellos escapismos jazzísticos.
Y el caso es que no puedo afirmar que este tema y el siguiente, al igual que el anterior, sean malos, pero tampoco los rescataría para una selección de lo mejor que estos chicos de Canterbury han hecho a lo largo de los años.
Calidad hay, pero falta la chispa, a mi entender, y de nuevo me disculpo ante ustedes por usar este tipo de lenguaje, señores.
WELCOME THE DAY:
Como advertía hace un momento, este tema tampoco es una cosa bárbara, pero tiene la curiosidad de introducir un toque funky, sobre todo en el ritmo del bajo, muy bien tocado por cierto, y unos curiosos violines dándole el contrapunto a las voces.
Guitarras y teclados también están bastante bien en sus respectivos solos, también con ese toque funky que respira toda la canción.
THE DABSONG CONSHIRTOE
Y ahora, si me lo permiten caballeros, llegamos al momento cumbre de este disco. El momento en que Caravan se atreven con una de sus épicas suites, de esas que cortan la respiración y hacen caer monóculos por doquier desde asombrados párpados que se levantan ante tanta maestría.
Los teclados abren esta majestuosa composición de 18 minutos de duración. Pronto la voz de Hastings comienza a deleitarnos cantando en un ligero falsete una dulce melodía… ¿Dije dulce? Pues ese dulzor se va endureciendo poco a poco y la guitarra le hace el eco, también contribuyendo a hacer más bronco el sonido, más roquero, dejando atrás ese sabor popero del principio.
Llega el momento de un cambio, estamos alrededor del minuto 5 y la canción da una vuelta total, recobrando un tono más jazz, con toques inequívocamente funkys, con algunos bronces destellando aquí y allá. Y también se produce un fantástico solo de teclados, al que acompaña un violín que parece impensable que esté ahí: más bien parece una guitarra eléctrica.
La canción avanza y nos sumergimos en un impresionante muro de teclados que ralentizan el ritmo y nos empapan de sinfonismo, antes de embarcarnos en un momento jazz-folk liderado por una flauta que podría pasar perfectamente en cualquier disco de Gwendal (y para mí eso es un halago, conste). Un momento precioso, para mi gusto lo mejor de esta gran canción.
El sabor jazz es cada vez más y más patente y los músicos aprovechan para lucirse a lo grande: la base rítmica es excelente y precisa, los teclados envuelven y destacan lo justo, violines y vientos se entremezclan con la guitarra, y la flauta reclama su parte de nuevo. Impresionante.
Y ahora, casi llegando al minuto 13, de nuevo el tema cambia radicalmente y se vuelve mucho más hard, cobrando la guitarra especial protagonismo en un ritmo endiablado que se hace cada vez más rápido, mientras unos space keyboards y extraños sonidos y voces nos precipitan a una extraña coda… que acaba con los mismos coros que The Show of Our Lives: Ring the bells and sing...
FEAR AND LOATHING IN TOLLINGTON PARK RAG:
El último minuto de este disco está dedicado a una bonita composición acústica que deja un buen sabor de boca, al igual que un buen té bien preparado y en su punto, si sus señorías me comprenden.
En cuanto a los bonus tracks, seguramente una endiablada costumbre yanki, este disco incluye una versión single de Stuck in a Hole, un tema inédito llamado Keeping Back my Love, que está bastante bien, incluso yo lo habría puesto en vez de Lover sin ningún rubor, y, por fin, una versión en directo genial de For Richard que los chicos grabaron en Fairfield Hall en 1974.
Y por mi parte eso es todo caballeros, espero que mi exposición haya resultado de su agrado. Con su permiso, procedo a retirarme. Que pasen una feliz noche.
Anin Jadas


Muchos marcan la aparición de este disco como el principo del declive en la carrera del grupo de Canterbury Inglaterra, Caravan. No es que el disco sea un fracaso artístico, sino que el grupo empieza a sonar “diferente”.
Llega el bajista de Curved Air, Mike Wedgewood y desde el principio tiene la oportunidad de compartir la voz principal junto con el guitarrista Pye Hastings. Su voz y su estilo de componer suenan un poco “extraño” para Caravan. Con su aporte, el otrora grupo de Jazz-Rock incursiona en el campo de la música americana con ciertas tendencias al Funk y el Soul. Por su parte, las composiciones de Hastings y el tecladista David Sinclair mantienen una continuidad con el trabajo anterior.
El primer lado del disco de vinil original, contiene piezas cortas, algunas realmente inesperadas como el Funk-Rock de “Welcome the day” y la dulce balada “Lover”. ¡Definitivamente, esta no es la música que espera escuchar un aficionado progresivo!
Sin embargo, el segundo lado contenía la suite “The Dabsong Conshirto” que nos hace recordar que estamos ante la misma banda que grabó la maravilla sinfónica de “Caravan & The New Symphonia”.
La Taberna de Rael

Vamos con algunos comentarios en inglés y al disco.

By July 1974, John Perry had moved off to play with Quantum Jump, to be replaced by Mike Wedgewood who had played previously in Curved Air. With Dave Sinclair firmly re-established in the band, an album was put together. This was originally to have been titled 'Toys in the Attic', but they were beaten to it by Aerosmith and had to make do with 'Cunning Stunts', which featured Dave Sinclair's songwriting far more heavily.
The opening "Show Of Our Lives" was (still is) one of my favorite Caravan tracks, along with few others which were part of a somekind a best of record by Caravan, that i bought back there in the second half of the seventies. Their songwritting goes more easily with Pye's "Stuck In A Hole" a funky groovy three minute heavenly song.
Lover is nice melodic Mike's composition with the use of an orchestra, which comes as no surprise after Caravan's 'The New Symphonia' record. 'No Backstage Pass' (another Pye's song) flows from 'Lover' with a string introduction, and takes it good with a guitar solo. The next step comes again with a funky groovy little piece, this time the songwritting part goes to Mike. "The Dabsong Conshirtoe" is an 18 minute composition by John Murphy and Dave Sinclair, split in five parts, a long trip, with many turns, that gives to members the opportunity, to show their high perfoming level.
This japanese remaster release comes with extra bonus tracks, the single version of "Stuck In A Hole", an unissued take of "Keeping Back My Love" which would ultimately be reworked three years later on Better by Far (1977), and "For Richard" recorded at Fairfield Hall in Croydon, England. Also there's a 12page booklet with liner notes from Mark Powell.
Marios

"Cunning Stunts" is another superb Canterbury prog release from CARAVAN mixing all the right elements throughout. Songs range from more pop orientated (side A) to the side long epic "The Dabsong Conshirtoe" which shows a more progressive side of CARAVAN ( a six part movement). "Cunning Stunts" in many ways is actually my fav of CARAVAN's output with some great gentle CAMEL-like canterbury keyboards and songs. Vocals are picture perfect with great harmonies and thoughtful backing vocals. The reason why I love this album is that although "Cunning Stunts" carries all the trademarks of classic CARAVAN they involve more CAMEL imagery than say SOFT MACHINE influences. A beautiful album worthy of your collection...
James Unger

People say it was the beginning of the end for Caravan. I couldn't disagree more. This and Blind Dogs are very well produced albums continuing in the jazzy mix of WL but obviously not as prog influenced. The Dabsong Conshirtoe is an epic as is ' Stuck in a Hole', ' No backstage Pass' and the soft rocker 'Welcome the Day'. Highly recommended particularly for those who enjoy the jazz side of Caravan.
Chris S.

This album was Caravan's most commercially succesful, driven by the (relative) single sucess of the songs "Stuck in a Hole" and "The Show of Our Lives". Despite this, it earns a lot of derision on the part of die-hard fans, some unwarranted. This is the last good release from Caravan, and has many reasons to recommend it. (It sports a great cover, and Caravan had not lost their trademark Canterbury humour, with the title pun, "Cunning Stunts"). By this point the lineup consisted of band leader and guitarist Pye Hastings, the canterbury legend (and recently returned) David Sinclair on keys, Richard Coughlan on Drums, Geoff Richardson on Violin and Mike Wedgewood on Bass. A strong lineup, but the addition of Wedgewood does push them into much more conventional, rock-pop mould. The album opens with the stately Sinclair composition "The Show of Our Lives", which is the closest Caravan comes to symphonic prog. This slow and majestic track is a real gem, Pye's voice and guitar are both spot on, as well as Richardson as always fantastic violin/viola work. The next track, Pye Hasting's "Stuck in a Hole" was Caravan's biggest hit, and while it lacks the power and grandeur of "Show of our Lives" and their earlier work, it is nonetheless enjoyable and fun, (although not the sound Caravan fans had come to expect). The next three tracks are rather mediocre bordering on insufferable. Mike Wedgewood's "Lover" is one of the most hated tracks ever by Caravan fans, with good reason. It is syrupy trash with little substance. "Welcome the Day" and "no Backstage Pass" are a bit better, though instantly forgettable. With the eighteen minute "Dabsong Concerto", another Sinclair composition, Caravan return to their strong canterbury jazz roots, and they do it well. This is the last epic in the bands repertoire, and its memorable. It has a poppy begginning, similar to many of their songs, which fades into a great Jazz-Prog workout. While Caravan had no doubt drifted towards a more commercial sound of late, they showed they could still play, and play well on this track. Interestingly, this track not only draws its inspiration from folk, jazz and prog like many Caravan tracks, but their is a great deal of Funk in it as well! Overall a very enjoyable and lively track (minus the repetitive and annoying ending with random sound effects). The album closes with a short (1 minute) and pleasant piece called "the Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park Rag", a nice little acoustic guitarpiece and a great way to end the album. Overall a pleasant and enjoyable album, and the last of any importance from Caravan. Despite three weak middle tracks, it is a strong album, and any fan of the lighter, more structured side of Canterbury will love it - 3.5/5 stars.
NetsNJFan

This will probably sound heretical for die-hard CARAVAN fans, but I enjoy this album much more than heavily overrated "The Land of Grey and Pink"! It's soft and easy to listen, true, but it is not simply "soft-rock" or "easy-listening" music. The music flows perfectly from start to finish and seems like well-constructed and composed theme. This LP is far from groundbreaking or avant-garde innovations. It is far from masterpiece. But it is simply very nice album to listen to and enjoy. I don't see a reason why "Cunning Stunts" shouldn't be included in any decent prog collection.
Seyo

Cunning Stunts is the sixth studio album from Caravan. After the brilliant For Girls Who Grow Plumb in the Night, I expected an equally stunning album, but I guess Caravan´s great era ended with For Girls Who Grow Plumb in the Night because Cunning Stunts is a disappointment compared to the previous album. It´s not all bad though and there are hints to the Caravan we love.
The Show of Our Lives starts the album. It´s a semi-ballad song with lots of orchestration. I can´t say I enjoy this song very much. It´s definitely not to my taste. Stuck in a Hole is the next song and here the quality is considerably higher. This is how Caravan should sound like IMO. It´s an energetic song that reminds me a bit about some of the songs from For Girls Who Grow Plumb in the Night. One of the best songs here without a doubt. Lover is a terrible cheesy ballad type song with lots of orchestration. Really not my taste at all. Around this time of listening I was seriously worried if Cunning Stunts would continue in this way but fortunately the next song No Backstage Pass is a pretty good subtle Caravan song. But then we go again with a terrible song. Welcome the Day has beat that is almost in the vein of disco. This song is so cheesy I can´t stand it. The keyboard solo by David Sinclair is a bit redeeming though. It´s a very bad song though.
Dabsong Conshirto is an 18 minute long song which is the definite highlight of Cunning Stunts. This is actually one of the greatest compositions I have heard so far from Caravan. Lots of soloing by violin, keyboards and flute but there are also some of the most demanding vocal parts Pye Hastings ever did. Really high pitched without sounding forced. What a great song. The last song is The Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park which is a short almost bluegrass inspired guitar led song but then flute kicks in and gives it a folky touch. Ok but nothing special.
The musicianship is very good even though it´s hard to understand that brilliant musicians like these want´s to play some of the things played on Cunning Stunts.
The production is very good. I really enjoy this production and I wish that the music had been better so it could have profited from the good sound quality.
Cunning Stunts have good moments and terrible moments and it´t definitely not my favorite Caravan album but the good moments does mean that I will rate Cunning Stunts 3 stars. Two songs stand out as the best and saves the album and that is Stuck in a Hole and Dabsong Conshirto. This is partially recommendable. I would buy this if I fell over it in a record store but it´s not the kind of album I would seek out.
UMUR

This is one of Caravan's better albums, but it is far away from the previous For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night. Cunning Stunts consists mainly of rather lightweight songs with a distinct Pop flavour. Perhaps, not that they are particularly commercial or very memorable, but they are quite accessible and cathcy they somehow lack an edge.
The opening song, The Show Of Our Lives, is more grandiose and symphonic than what we are used to from Caravan. It is a lovely song though, but hardly progressive. The misguided Jazz-Rock/Fusion direction of Waterloo Lily is thankfully not resurrected on this album. Instead they chose here to be a bit more accessible and melodic which benefits their sound much more than Jazz-Rock in my opinion. However, they often sound rather anonymous here and a bit too lighthearted for my taste. The Disco flavoured Welcome The Day would have fitted perfectly, both musically and lyrically, on an Alan Parsons Project album like I Robot or Eve!
The centrepiece of the album is the 18 minute, multipart The Dabsong Conshirtoe. This is clearly the most interesting song on the album and is quite nice. However, it does not compare favourably to the For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night material or the classic Five Feet Underground from The Land Of Gray And Pink.
The conclusion is that Cunning Stunts, while neither particularly cunning nor particularly stunning, is still a good album. However, it is hardly essential listening.
Fritz-Anton

Caravan turned on US market with this album. They always were pop-folk wing of Canterbury scene, but on their previous albums they quite successfully balanced between catchy melodies, soft multi layered sound and light smell of jazzy psychedelia to stay one of most respectable Canterbury scene band.
With Cunning Stunts they left their usual field of activities. Songs there are a bit faster,less dreamy, missed almost all folksy moments, but became much more funky and a bit more jazzy. Still big part of great melodies stayed on this release, and they are great material for almost groovy compositions a-la Steely Dan or Chicago (even more some compositions sound close to ELO prog-boogie ,or are influenced by American folk music)
I believe for Canterbury scene fans this album is a total disaster, but with my love to jazzy/funky grooves I can easily find an interesting side of the band's music there. For sure, a bit simplistic and some openly radio-friendly compositions didn't help much for band's progressive fame, but open ears listener will find really many interesting moments in the music of this album.
Interesting release for funky jazz rock fans, not recommended for Canterbury or prog folk lovers.
Slava Gliozeris

This is what I consider the last good thing made by Caravan. This quite underrated album (IMO of course) is similar in its structure to Grey and Pink: 5 songs on the A side and a suite on the B side, even if there's a short closer at the end.
But let's go step by step: the album's opener is one of the most famous Caravan's tracks, at least by the mainstream public. It was also the title of the compilation that represented my first Caravan purchase. It's not on PA but I have to retrieve the vinyl in a box... "The Show Of Our Lives" is a major-chords-mellow-tempo song, nothing special apart the cello in the background and I really dislike its final.
Things are little better with "Stick In A Hole", another of the Caravan's pop-oriented songs. It's a piece of British Glam as we have found several times in the previous albums. Not properly prog. Good but non-essential let's say.
"Lover" seems to have been written to give Geoff Richardson the opportunity to place some strings here and there. This song can be skipped both for the trivial pop music and for the poor lyrics.
At this point somebody could wonder why I call this album "the last good thing"...let's proceed.
Strings and flute open "No Backstage Pass". It's the first true Caravan song. The vocals are not too dissimilar from Richard Sinclair's and the music is finally fully enjoyable. There's some pop in the chorus but it's not so bad to jeopardize the rest of the song.
"Welcome the Day" is a surprise. I don't understand why a band like this tried to make a Disco-Funky song. The attempt was unsuccessful , specially because the chorus is too typical Caravan's stuff and this partially saves this song. Not that it's bad, but surely is not what one looks for in a Caravan's album. If I want this kind of things I can buy Bee Gees or at least the late 70s output of Wishbone Ash (a little better for me).
Ok, the A side is no more than two stars, but "The Dashboard Conshirtoe" is about to come. Put the vinyl upside down and listen to one of the best songs ever released by this band. A slow melodic beginning with some jazzy accents, the only thing that appears misplaced is the bongos in the background. After a couple of minutes it goes uptime and it's not dissimilar from what is found in epics like Nine Feet Underground. The initial theme is then back just to introduce a glam part that's very enjoyable and contains the brasses arranged by Jimmy Hastings who reveals to be a genius. Also the guitar solo which follows is reminding of the acid sounds of the first albums. To be honest I like the Slade, so how could I dislike this? However it suddenly stops to leave room to a symphonic instrumental part which later turns into jazz. And it's really better than the first jazzy attempts of Waterloo Lily. The bass is so good that you wouldn't suspect that Richard Sinclair is not here. As often happens in jazz and in prog there's room for riffs from all the instruments, in particular guitar and electric piano which alternate several times. When the jazzy part stops one could expect a thunder like on For Richard. It turns into funky instead. This is a five minutes coda or better the final movement of the symphony which ends in chaos as also None Feet Underground does. Please forgive the last minute...
The album is closed by "Tollington Park Rag". As the title says it's a ragtime and even if totally disconnected from the rest, I like it. One funny trivial is that I was unable to listen to it on vinyl without passing by the suite first, because moving the pick-up so close to the centre of the disk was causing the pick-up to go back to the standby position...
I know that I shouldn't rate half of an album, but the B side is very good and at the level of the best things released by Caravan so missing it because of some poor things on the A side would be a pity. The A side is for fans only but the B side is an excellent addition. I will go for the average but with the temptation of rating it 4 stars.
octopus-4

Caravan left Canterbury and entered Crossovertown or perhaps Art Rock City but after hearing this pretty record I must confess that was not a bad development. I am happy how a band can change style and go to new dimensions but keep their excellent feeling for the art of music. Because music can still be fine art without being too progressive. On "Cunning stunts" Caravan also became harder than before. Caravan 1975 consisted of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Geoff Richardson, David Sinclair and Mike Wedgwood and Jimmy Hastings. Of these two sides of one record, the second makes this music brilliant.
Put "Cunning stunts" on and perhaps it will sound a little bit like the art rockers "10cc" (which is another great band). Caravan nice sound and catchy melodies has allways made a bridge to poular music and here they did it even clearer. But this is not a failed try to be popular, it feels honest every minute. "The show of our lives" is the starter with nice vocals and melody. "Stuck in a hole" is better with speed and interesting feeling. "Lover" has string and brass arrangements which makes it feel classical. "No backstage pass" is the albums second best track with the typital withdrawn vocals and a wonderful melody. Small influences of jazz in this pearl. "Welcome the day" is more ordinary but a clear rock song where the singer is aloud to show more of his abilities. "The badsong conshirtoe" is a true masterpiece of art rock like "Feel the benefit" by 10cc. It's a clever composition with a lot of intertexts from different styles and cultures. Maybe Caravan fans are unused to this new heavy Caravan but it is truely worth listening. The closer "The fear and the loathing in Tollington park rag" is short but not less beautiful. An acoustic little rag.
I don't think I can hear any Canterbury scene here but I hear wonderful music and what is wrong with that? A somewhat inferior A-side takes away one star but four remain. Recommended!
Adrian Drömmaren

An admitted step in the "commercialized" direction. Yeah? What's wrong with that? Is that your definition of a cunning stunt, sir or madam? Pye Hastings wanted to be a successful rock musician; don't we all want to succeed in what we strive at? Taking that into consideration, it is quite understandable why the change of direction took place. Caravan's first foray into "pop slop" brought upon a minor success on the charts that had given Hastings hope, despite having betrayed his previous trench coat and fishing hat clad cult fan base in order to "sell out". Being a second generation member of this Caravan cult, I can't say I'm happy with all of the decisions made on this album but the ones derived from Caravan's roots (Pretty sounding instrumentation and ace melodies) make this album a very tolerable bugger.
The only notable change in the line up is that the uncanny Ozzy Osbourne sound-alike, John G. Perry, has been replaced by a certain Mike Wedgewood on bass. Wedgy had been previously part of another "progressive" outfit called Curved Air and in which, he had the curious behavior of penning something called "songs". Not particularly good ones either. During his short time in Caravan, he kept up this painful habit and wrote some real stinkers that clog up this album's already unhealthy arteries real nicely.
The Wedgewood compositions "Lover" and "Welcome the Day" are completely incompatible with Caravan's sound. What would be incompatible for this white n' nerdy n' proggy group, you ask? "Lover" is a "passionate, soulful crooner" and "Welcome the Day" is an "aggressive, 'soul on fire' funker". Is there any other band that these two genres would sound more awkward and stiff coming out of? Well? yeah, certainly a lot of bands on these archives that's for sure. Anyway, "Lover" and "Welcome the Day" would sound much happier being played, written and performed by Aretha Franklin and Sly and the Family Stone, respectively. I surmise the skinny and wimpy duo of Pye Hastings and Mike Wedgewood, would have to have a quick 'plasty and live on devil's food cake for the rest of their lives before they'd even be considerable as pop divas. Eww is right.
Thankfully, the rest draws from much more standard influences for Caravan and the results are much nicer and respectable. With the exception of "Show of our Lives" which is a warm, friendly, show tune-y opener, everything else is easily identifiable as either pop or prog. "Stuck in a Hole"? Snappy Elton Johnesque pop with lots of wooden block clunking. "No Backstage Pass" Very weighty power ballad pop with a massive melodic chorus built on pure sprawl. "Dabsong Conshirtoe"? Hmm, what else would a twenty minute song be labeled as? If you guessed neo-beatnik poetry masquerading as synth horn filled dance pop with twenties stylizations, you lucky kiddie, are correct.
Yeah right. More like the long awaited sequel to the second side of "Abbey Road" with a firey prog instrumental coda. No kidding. "Dabsong" might in fact be one of the best prog twenty minute epics ever. The first three sections are three individual pop songs that segue into each other while the rest is purely instrumental. The songs themselves have absolutely nil to do with each other (other then being very catchy ditties) and the lyrics range from prog ponderings to more Pye Hasting patented lustings after chubby call girls. (To think Mr. Perverse Pye was totally one upping 'Sir Mix a lot' long before the rapper's debut in 1988) However, I like to think of this as one continued, (musically) conceptual piece of dynamics as the tension rises through three mighty fine pop songs, is dropped on a light, jazzy, and flutey interlude and slowly mounts with the final section "All Sorts Of Unmentionable Things" on a really dangerous and evil sounding riff until it bursts into a heavenly reprise of the closing section of "Show of Our Lives" before the tension is released for good on a tiny folkie snippet thing entitled "The Fear and Loathing of Tollington Park Rag". Yes, the lyrics are complete Canterbury scene styled canterbabble but musically it holds together extremely coherently (and the melodies stick in your head with a vengeance) and almost manages to knock "Supper's Ready" off it's high perch for me. Sorry but "Dabsong Conshirtoe" doesn't even touch my spiritual nerve in any way. (or even reach in that direction, for that matter) unlike the one in a million, "Supper's Ready".
Well, with that last song colour me surprised that this album even made it on the charts. I'm sure the commercial pop crowd was a lot more tolerant towards nuances such as twenty minute long time wasters back then. (Wasn't Yes's "Going For The One" also mildly successful despite it's 15 minute epic?) While today, they're pretty oblivious to anything that isn't saturated with Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus all over it. Come to think if it, what if Billy Ray's daughter ever came around to writing (Yea, I'm 98% sure she doesn't even write her own songs, but if she did?) a twenty minute epic would prog archives include her in their vast discography? Would people here embrace it or shun it? Well, if it was a mighty country flavored epic with those eye ball tic bad, "cowgirl" vocals, I know I'd spit my acidic critic juice all over it. The day Prog itself finally sells out? Yes and dee dee. This album is a little bit commercialized too but what it actually knows how to do (pop n' prog NOT funk n' soul) it does well.
Album Grade: B-
Lionel P. Rockefeller

"Cunning Stunts" of announcement in 1975. The last work in DERAM age. The feature of the sound is graceful British pop shown by the first two. It is a system to which the influence of THE BEATLES such as 10CC and WINGS has been received. The first half is a melodious pop like Paul McCartney. The latter half is a masterpiece of the medley that can be concentrated on the sound in a relaxed manner. It is possible to listen to the CARAVAN world the encounter or not dividing.
braindamage

STUCK IN A HOLE and the brilliant DABSONG CONSHIRTOE make this album for me. HOLE sounds like NIGHT OWL-era Gerry Rafferty, while the CONSHIRTOE is simply mesmerizing. Along with GREY AND PINK and PLUMP IN THE NIGHT, this has to be one of Caravan's best.
garyr

The Show of Our Lives and No Backstage Pass are the best songs ever recorded by Caravan, in my humble opinion. The Dabsong Conshirtoe is a little self indulgent, but is pleasant enough for an ambient piece. This is a very under rated album. Sure it doesn't sound like their previous albums, but it would be rather pointless to make the same album over and over.
Petek Stranded

Otra vez agradezcan a Wan, espero que les guste...




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