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miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2015

Caravan - The Battle of Hastings (1995)

Artista: Caravan
Álbum: The Battle of Hastings
Año: 1995
Género: Escena Canterbury
Duración: 50:01
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. It's a Sad, Sad Affair
2. Somewhere in Your Heart
3. Cold as Ice
4. Liar
5. Don't Want Love
6. Travelling Ways
7. This Time
8. If It Wasn't for Your Ego
9. It's Not Real
10. Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole
11. I Know Why You're Laughing

Alineación:
- Richard Coughlan / drums
- Jimmy Hastings / clarinet, flute, flute (alto), flute (bass), piccolo, sax (soprano), sax (tenor)
- Pye Hastings / accordion, guitar (electric), vocals, harmony vocals, guitar (Leslie)
- Jim Leverton / bass, vocals, harmony vocals
- Geoffrey Richardson / guitar (acoustic), clarinet, mandolin, violin, accordion, guitar (electric), tambourine, viola, wind, kalimba, harmony vocals, shaker, amplifiers
- Dave Sinclair / keyboards, harmony vocals


Otro disco de Caravan compartido por Wan. Como dice el pr{oximo comentario, un buen disco con muy buenos temas, pero que no pretende emular los sonidos que les dieron la gloria en otros tiempos, y quizá en ello estribe el que al final se obtenga un producto musical elegante y de calidad elevada.
Sin ser una maravilla es un lindo disco, sobretodo para los fans de la banda.
Aqu{i el comentario entero y luego algunos en ingl{es.

The Battle of Hastings vio la luz en 1995, tras 13 años de sequía en estudio. Los que busquen intrincados pasajes progresivos, largos temas prácticamente instrumentales o incursiones jazz-rock… que pasen página y vuelvan la vista atrás, hacia otros discos de Caravan.
Y con ello no estoy diciendo que The Battle of Hastings sea un mal disco, ni mucho menos. Tan sólo me voy a permitir afirmar que NO es un disco de Rock Progresivo, categórica aseveración que creo bastante cierta.
En The Battle of Hastings encontraremos buenos músicos interpretando excelentes melodías, ricas armonías y canciones bellas y bien hechas… pero no Rock Progresivo. Hay toques pop y folk, rock suave y tranquilos temas para escuchar sin sobresaltos ni sorpresas. Por momentos me parece estar escuchando algún disco de Alan Parsons, y con ello no estoy desprestigiando el disco: Alan Parsons Project me parece una banda con grandísimos discos y temazos imprescindibles.
Hay labor instrumental, y muy buena, en particular la flauta hace un excelente trabajo en algunos temas, pero tampoco encontramos esos extensos pasajes tan característicos de los primeros Caravan.
Pero los que busquen a los antiguos Caravan de los 70 y añoren los días de Deram, me temo que no lo van a encontrar en este disco.
The Battle of Hastings supone la vuelta a la composición de Pye Hastings, un intento más de asaltar las radios comerciales y el mercado americano y una gira en la que no pudo participar Geoffrey Richardson. Por cierto, lo del salto al gran mercado musical no dio resultado y el público americano siguió ignorando mayoritariamente la existencia de Caravan.
En cuanto al título del disco, es un juego de palabras entre la invasión normanda de Inglaterra y los apellidos de dos de los miembros fundamentales de la banda: Jimmy y Pye Hastings. Una muestra más del característico humor marca de la casa.
Veámoslo tema por tema...
It's a Sad, Sad Affair: Un precioso medio tiempo, muy pegadizo y con una melodía que, en mi opinión, podría haber sido un hit en las radios comerciales con una buena promoción. Hay algún destello de teclados, pero tampoco nada destacable en cuanto a la instrumentación: todo está en su sitio, pero nada sorprende.
Somewhere in Your Heart: Tranquilo comienzo para un tema en la línea de la que no se va a salir este disco. Las voces y armonías vocales son preciosas y la guitarra acústica y los arreglos de cuerda están, como en todo el álbum, prácticamente omnipresente. También hay destellos de protagonismo de algún teclado, pero muy leve. Eso sí, hay un buen, aunque cortito, solo de guitarra. Y por primera vez hace aparición, hacia el final del tema, la fantástica flauta de Jimmy Hastings, que tiene momentos geniales en este disco: de hecho quizá sea el instrumento que más se ‘luce’ en The Battle of Hastings.
Cold as Ice: Este tema empieza con una suavidad casi etérea y se eleva un tanto para mostrar las habilidades vocales de Hastings. De nuevo arreglos de cuerda haciendo colchón y la acústica de inevitable fondo. Uno de los momentos parsonianos del disco. El saxo hace una buena intervención y pone de relieve que en esta batalla Jimmy ganó bastantes escaramuzas, si no la guerra.
Liar: Por fin entrevemos algo de la energía de los antiguos Caravan, aunque sin pasarse, oigan… De hecho, la canción comienza al uso de este disco, con suavidad y sin estridencias. No es hasta el momento del estribillo cuando la cosa se pone algo más roquera. Y es otro tema que no me hubiera descolocado, por poner el caso, en el Eye in the Sky de Alan Parsons. Liar y el tema siguiente son los más largos del disco, con algo más de seis minutos cada uno.
En mi opinión uno de los mejores temas de esta guerra. Y como es la tónica general, todo es correcto y está en su sitio, pero desde luego no te pega un subidón escuchándolo. Hacia el final hay un solo de guitarra bastante bueno.
Don't Want Love: Los teclados protagonizan el comienzo de este tema, pero tampoco espere el escuchador de progresivo algo espectacular, pues más bien se trata de una entradita de piano bastante simplita que precede a la voz y que da paso a un medio tiempo. También este es un buen tema, pero si me resulta difícil calificarlo de rock, cuanto menos de progresivo. Y, ojo, para mi gusto se trata de una preciosa canción.
Es de nuevo la flauta la que deja un sabor de boca realmente bueno, con una fantástica intervención que recuerda por momentos a Camel.
Travelling Ways: Mi preferida de este disco. La canta Jim Leverton (muy bien, por cierto) y, creo que también la compone él. Empieza con un bonito piano y se convierte en una preciosa canción con cierto sabor blues-folk que induce a seguir el ritmo con la cabeza o el pie, cosa que en este disco no me pasa desde el primer tema, con It’s a Sad, Sad Affair. Los coros hacen una fantástica labor y de nuevo Jimmy se luce con la flauta, esta vez piccolo. También podría haber sido un éxito comercial en mi opinión…
This Time: Este tema parece que se contagia del anterior y es más dinámico y chispeante que la tónica general. Comienza con un atractivo riff y me recuerda a aquellas joyitas de los discos de los setenta de Caravan, de tipo pop como Golf Girl, If I could Do It All Over Again y sobre todo Love to Love You.
Hacia el final un solo de órgano nos recuerda que David Sinclair también anda por aquí…
If It Wasn't for Your Ego: También esta canción es más animada y rockera que los primeros temas y también recuerda a ese sabor que tenían las canciones anteriormente citadas tipo Golf Girl; de hecho este quizá sea el tema más puramente Caravan de todo el disco, salvando las distancias de todos modos. Y de nuevo Sinclair tiene un momento para lucirse brevemente y cerrar la canción.
It's Not Real: Otro de los temas que más gusta del disco. Serio y con fuerza, en este caso podemos hablar de Rock, de buen Rock. Con un buen colchón de teclados y Pye cantando tan bien como sólo él sabe, el tema avanza hasta un solo de Dave bastante bueno y conseguir la canción con más protagonismo de los teclados de todo el disco. También cuenta con un fantástico solo de saxo, con un toque jazzy, que redondea la canción y la lleva a su final.
Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole: Extraño título para una extraña canción. Con una cadencia muy característica y unas pedorretas hacia el final del tema como “instrumento” principal, si pretendía ser la canción cachonda (si se me permite la expresión) del disco, para mi gusto no lo consigue, a no ser que la letra sea muy graciosa, cosa que se me escapa. Lo cierto es que rompe un poco el buen ritmo que el disco llevaba desde Travelling Ways y que recupera ahora con la siguiente canción…
I Know Why You're Laughing: Una canción que abre el fuego con una sensual guitarra acústica y con Pye cantando suavemente. Pronto la batería rompe el ritmo tranquilo e impone una cadencia más rápida y ‘cabalgante’, que conduce a un estribillo muy pegadizo y un tanto épico, el cual es lo más destacado del tema: muy propio para corear en directo.
En el último tramo de la canción la guitarra se distorsiona un tanto y nos lleva hasta el final con un fantástico solo auténticamente Hard Rock. Un buen final.
En definitiva, un buen disco de Caravan con muy buenos temas, pero que no pretende emular los sonidos que les dieron la gloria en otros tiempos, y quizá en ello estribe el que al final se obtenga un producto musical elegante y de calidad elevada.
La verdad es que es un disco que le puede gustar a cualquiera este o no versado en el universo Caravan, desde luego a Fitzpatrick le gustaba mucho. Por cierto el pobre murió de viejo hace ya unos años, en su cama y bien atendido.
Anin Jadas

Listening to this beautifully melodic, midtempo album by Caravan is a bit like stepping inside of a time-warp. The group sounds astonishingly good vocally, and Pye Hastings' songwriting skills are as fine as (and maybe finer than) ever, as though they've scarcely skipped a beat from their 1970s heyday. Released in 1995, The Battle of Hastings might have put them on the U.S. charts, at least if an edited version of the hook-laden and memorable "Liar" had been released as an accompanying single -- indeed, this is the record that might've broken the band in America. It's a little late for that now, but time shouldn't prevent anyone from taking in the sweet, folk-like melodies and the rich harmonies. The playing is a curious mix of sharp attacks on mostly acoustic instruments punctuated with lead electric guitar that manages to be both sinewy and elegant (except where it's delightfully understated, as on most of "It's Not Real"), juxtaposed with Jimmy Hastings's richly melodic sax playing. Everything on this record works well, even the editing -- not a note is wasted, as though this were 1970 or so and the band is still competing at the forefront of art-rock and progressive rock circles. One important reason why this music works so well is that there is no pretentiousness about it. The band doesn't try to be heavy or profoundly serious; nor do they try to force rock music to carry ideas it was never meant to carry. Additionally, there's no slackness here, just wonderfully inventive composition and performance, all wrapped together in a gloriously elegant sound.
Bruce Eder

After 'Back To The Front' recorded in 1982 'The Battle Of Hastings', released in 1995, was CARAVAN's first studio record in13 years. The band had again found a stability, that lasts up to today with the basic core of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Dave Sinclair, Geoffrey Richardson, Jimmy Hastings and newcomer Jim Leverton on bass.Another newcomer is Julian Gordon Hastings on production and engineering duties. It is always difficult to listen to new records of a band that has produced such a great number of good records, but this one does not have to fear any comparaison . All compositions are by Pye Hastings and the songs alter between medium grooves: 'It's a Sad, Sad Affair', slower bluesy songs: 'Cold as Ice', uptempo rockers: 'If It Wasn't for Your Ego' and the occasional funny tongue-in-cheek song: 'Wendy Wants Another 6" Mole' with funny lyrics, sound effects and some retro feeling. Jimmy Hastings is very present on this record and delivers some beautiful flute solos on 'Somewhere in Your Heart' and 'Don't Want Love', a nice Piccolo solo on 'Travelling Ways', and a beutiful 'Soprano Sax Solo on 'It's Not Real'. Number two on the solo list is Dave Sinclair with a great acoustic piano intro on 'Travelling Ways' a great piano solo on 'Don't Want Love' and two groovy organ solos on 'This Time' and 'If It Wasn't for Your Ego' with his typical trademark organ sound. All the songs are interesting, the band grooves as in the good ol' times (special mention for Richard Coughlan) the arrangements are well- crafted the vocals are great and the production is good. If this record would have been released 30 years earlier I would have given it 5 stars.
Martin Horst

I've always liked the short, whimsical "pop" songs from Caravan - Golf Girl, If I could Do It All Over Again and particularly Love to Love You. This 1995 release contains at least one of the whimsical songs in "Wendy wants another 6" mole", but the rest of the tracks are all short (by Caravan standards anyway) and are in a less Canterbury style than the original band. This is very much a Pye Hastings CD, as he wrote all the songs bar one. To be honest I wasn't expecting too much but this has come as a very pleasant surprise. The quality of recordings is good, the songs are all melodic and well played as you'd expect, but there are enough solos to keep most prog fans happy. The wind of Jimmy Hastings (if you'll pardon the expression) is very much in evidence here and "I know why you're laughing" even features what sounds like the Caravan organ sound of old.
I appear to have the older edition where the cover art has a budget, almost photocopied feel to it, nevertheless this is an excellent CD and I'd recommend it to all but the most die-hard Canterbury fan.
Alan Hyde

Ahem, now this is getting difficult.
There are better songs (Liar, Somewhere in Your Heart which and few others, but there are also bad ones (It's a Sad, Sad Affair, where every second shouts it's shiny pop song which is melodic, nice and uplifting, but lacking anything Prog-related. The only glimpse would be this keyboards element that's present for few seconds, but only a glimpse, nothing more).
But this pop element was always there a little bit. And I also little bit appreciated it. Of course, I liked longer, more complex and generally better (not so leasure-like) songs over these shorter ones, but this album still has moments that are offering fine music. And maybe it's just sound hallucination, but I also hear Prog parts, elements here and there. Nothing major though, but it helps.
Don't Want Love is nice example of better parts and newly found inspiration that Caravan provides.
This is Caravan sound, but stripped of most Prog sounding elements that were present in 70s. But when compared to dark ages of 80s, it shines. Rating should probably be something in between.
But towards the end, pop is stepping to background and more Rock (and even Prog) sounds are appearing, so I'll go for
4(-) for this bold return.
Marty McFly

Recorded after the band's heyday, the title "The battle of Hastings" is a play on words referring to both the Norman invasion of England, and the surname of two of the band's key members. Following disagreements about the band's direction in the early 90's, Richard Sinclair is missing from the line up, and so therefore is his usually strong influence.
"Battle of Hastings" is essentially a pop orientated album, with little in the way of prog sounds or structures. That does not make it a bad album, but don't expect the complex jazz tingled output of the Deram days. Caravan's shorter tracks have always tended to be rather whimsical, and serve as lighter intermissions between their more complex longer tracks.
Tracks such as "Liar" (which has similarities to the Russ Ballard penned Argent song of the same name), "I know why you're laughing", and "If it wasn't for your ego" are excellent, but little more than high class pop songs. Indeed, the verses of "Liar" sound like they could have been taken from an Alan Parsons project album.
One of the more interesting tracks is "Travelling ways", which features a rare appearance by Jim Leverton on lead vocals. The track sounds similar to Simon Nicol's work with Fairport Convention.
Although there is some pleasant instrumentation, in particular the flute work on several tracks, there is little in the way of instrumentals and certainly none of the lengthy breaks which characterised their early output. An album full of their short tracks will probably be of less appeal to Caravan fans, and "Battle of Hastings" was clearly directed more towards the transient, pop orientated market.
For those looking to explore the album at a budget price, the Mooncrest label Caravan compilation "Travelling man" contains all but three of the tracks on "Battle of Hastings".
Bob McBeath

3,4 stars. This is pretty good prototype of a newer album by a legendary old band: you recognize it to be unarguably Caravan, but at the same it sounds fresh (ah, I don't mean old Caravan doesn't). In other words, nothing of being like an old dinosaur, but nor trying to be modern and contemporary so much that they would lose their own style. (On the other hand, often the new albums by for example Procol Harum bore me to death even if these words suit for them too. So let's just say that many songs are quite good.) Some tracks could have been in e.g. For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night. Of course Battle of Hastings (another pun in the album title, Pye!) is not in the same level as classic albums. No that famous organ sound, no long instrumental-oriented tracks, instead even some fillers, you might say. But still enjoyable.
Matti P.

Let's continue with Caravan's eleventh record which was made thriteen years after the wonderful "Back to front" recording. In 1995 when I was 6 years old Caravan had return to their nice cover apperence and also the title "Battle of Hastings" is interesting. Of course all of you know that two of the Caravans are named Hastings. Yes here they're two; Pyes brother Jimmy is here too, playing a lot of wind and blow instruments. The cover picture shows scenes from the famous tapestry showing the Battle of Hastings. Here there's also Richard Coughlan (we remember him and mourn his recent death), Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson and Dave Sinclair and Jim Leverton who plays bass and sings.
"The Battle of Hastings" is a well procuded an over all enjoyable album which carries on the spirit of Caravan through the nineties. I am a little sorry that many of the songs don't sound very much like Caravan. They're too ordinar rock songs. I think it's Dave Sinclairs piano solos that are too seldom here but there are some interesting songs, especially in the end of the record. "It's not real" where I don't think Pye sings is the very best song (8/10). I do like the vocals and even if the song is calm it has a forwardlooking rhytm. The short "Wendy wants another 6" mole" is also great, just as playful and happy a Caravan song should be(7/10) and the closer "I know why you're laughing" is a good rock song with a great synth solo(7/10).
Beside from these songs there are a lot of tracks that are okay or enjoyable but not so much above that. I like the happy starter "It's a sad, sad affair"(6/10) and "Cold as ice" starts slow and quite and becomes a very nice song too(6/10). "If it wasn't for your ego" is also playful and has a great synth solo.
Over all I like the well known easy adopted happy melodies and more leading keyboards. Perhaps I think these songs are recorded with too many instruments, Caravan should be more stripped. Well I should only review what I have heard and it was a decent record with perhaps five superior tracks that I do recommend. This record is a little better than "The Album" but not as good as "Better by far" or "Back to front". Three / Five stars !
Adrian Drömmaren

I would happily give this album 4 stars as I really love many of the songs here (Liar, If it Wasn't for Your Ego, It's not Real, I Know Why You're Laughing) but as these are the prog archives and, as the other reviewers have written, there isn't too much prog in there really, I can only give it 3 good stars (as in "good but non-essential"). That put aside, this is an excellent pop- rock album and highly recommended to those that like the lighter side of Caravan. The music is melodic, sunny and light (although the lyrics aren't always) with strong performances by brother Jimmy.
I hadn't listened to "The Battle..." for some years and rediscovered it only recently with a big grin on my face!
Madcap



2 comentarios:

  1. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.

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  2. Gracias Wan y Moe! Mi opinión es la de un fan de Caravan, pero este disco me parece muy agradable. Como si hubiesen madurado el estilo que se perfilaba desde Better by Far, pero no terminaba de cuajar. Acá la instrumentación es muy limpia, sencilla. Un buen disco de pop inteligente.

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