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viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2015

Caravan - Caravan (1968)


Artista: Caravan
Álbum: Caravan
Año: 1968
Género: Psicodelia / Protoprog / Canterbury Scene
Duración: 1:13:55
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
Versión monaural
1. Place of My Own
2. Ride

3. Policeman
4. Love Song with Flute
5. Cecil Rons
6. Magic Man
7. Grandma's Lawn
8. Where But for Caravan Would I?
Versión estéreo
9. Place of My Own
10. Ride
11. Policeman
12. Love Song with Flute
13. Cecil Rons
14. Magic Man
15. Grandma's Lawn
16. Where But for Caravan Would I?
Bonus track
17. Hello Hello

Alineación:
- Richard Sinclair / Bajo, guitarra, voz
- Pye Hastings / Guitarra, bajo, voz

- David Sinclair / Órgano, voz
- Richard Coughlan / Batería
Más Jimmy Hastings, flauta en "Love Song with Flute"


Este disco de Caravan, homónimo, grabado y lanzado en octubre de 1968 (otras fuentes dan comno fecha de lanzamiento enero de 69), es el primero de su discografía y presenta a una banda en pleno proceso de construcción de un sonido y una idea musical que los haría únicos dentro del rock progresivo de los 70. Comparto con Moe la idea de que “Canterbury scene” no es un género o subgénero propiamente dicho, sobre todo porque, como puede verse en Caravan, las semejanzas con otros sonidos que despegaban en la época y no eran de Canterbury, son notables, especialmente si vemos este disco a la luz de The Piper at the Gates of Dawn de Pink Floyd, aparecido poco más de un año antes.

La versión que comento es una remasterización de 2002 que incluye las dos versiones lanzadas en 68, una monaural y la otra estereofónica, con un bonus track: la versión sencilla de “Hello Hello”, tema de su segunda producción If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You. Entonces, podremos escuchar aquí ambas mezclas, poniendo atención en que en esa época en Inglaterra todavía estaba más difundida la tecnología mono y por tanto los ingenieros le ponían más cuidado al balanceo de esa mezcla que a la estereofónica, que aún no se convertía en estándar. Las versiones estereo nos permiten ver con más claridad como se construye la música y probablemente se acercan más al sonido en vivo de la banda, pero las monaurales tienen un encanto particular que nos deja viajar hasta esos años, ¡hace casi 50! de experimentación y búsqueda. La calidad de grabación parece más bien pastosa, pero es algo que se debe a las decisiones del productor que no dejó a los miembros de la banda asistir a las sesiones de mezcla. La banda en general destaca por su manejo coral y la presencia esencial de los teclados, específicamente el órgano tipo Hammond, a veces más colchonero, a veces con más ataque.
El Caravan de 1968 es una banda que recién se está desprendiendo de su origen común con Soft Machine: los Wilde Flowers. La característica que los diferencia es que desde su origen R&B y soul, Caravan se decanta poco a poco hacia la experimentación progresiva, mientras Soft Machine y sus extensiones (Gong, Wyatt solo) se van más por el jazz rock y en ciertos momentos el noise.
El primer tema, “Place of my own” fue el single del disco y fue también el que les abrió las puertas para una mayor difusión, promocionado incluso por el mítico DJ John Peel. Se trata de una canción con influencia psicodelia que podríamos calificar de típica de la época. El solo de teclado (órgano) sobre una guitarra que casi podría ser funk es una de las maravillas de esa década loca. La estridencia se desdibuja en una guitarra suave, punteada que da lugar al regreso del coro, uno de los factores comunes del disco... y de la banda. “Ride” fue lado B del sencillo en Europa continental; arranca con un ritmo sobre tambores al que se suma una guitarra muy suavecita y la voz; poco a poco va apareciendo el bajo haciendo líneas melódicas que le hacen coro a la voz, hasta que aparece la instrumentación completa, guitarra con wah y lucimiento de platillos en la batería para una rica improvisación psicodélica. La letra habla de cómo podría ser el mundo si pudiéramos ponernos en el lugar del otro. El foco está sobre lo que sucede en la mente, no en la “realidad”, ¡subjetivismo al máximo! Termina en fade out pero nos quedamos como esperando que esa última improvisación siga ad infinitum.
“Policeman” es un blues modificado con juegos armónicos extra-blues. Tiene un tema social cercano a lo hippy: el cuestionamiento de la figura de autoridad, y recuerda ciertas cosas de los psicodélicos de San Francisco, como Jefferson Airplane con su “Law Man” (pero eso es del 71). “Love Song with Flute” tiene ritmos y armonías que recuerdan el bossa nova; la improvisación a la flauta es del único invitado de la placa, Jimmy Hastings (hermano de Pye), y cuenta con el apoyo melódico-armónico del teclado, que se fuga en menor después de juguetear con mayores. “Cecil Rons” es más psicodélica, en menores y con variaciones armónicas semitonales, un coro claramente psico que desemboca en una tonalidad mayor tipo finale. El tema es de encanto por la naturaleza y el trabajo agrícola. El final de improvisación del órgano sobre bajo continuo es muy espacial y recuerda al Pink Floyd de la época. “Magic Man” podría ser un himno hippie a la romántica libertad y el apreciado ocio de aquella generación. La estructura es la de una balada-vals. El hombre mágico viaja de la copa de un árbol al mar y al cielo sin escalas: eso era posible en 1968-1969. “Soy un hombre mágico sobre el mar en el cielo” ¡nomás! “Grandma's Lawn” es psicodelia al máximo: este tema tiene visiones ácidas que enuncian todo lo que era posible imaginar en una época en que la imaginación pareció perder todo límite y cruzar todas las fronteras. Las partes instrumentales breves entre estrofas dejan ver el uso de teclados que más tarde caracterizará los mejores discos de Caravan así como algunos de Camel, pariente muy cercano de la movida Canterbury.
“Where But for Caravan Would I?” es el tema más extenso del disco y los créditos se dan, además de a los cuatro miembros de la banda, al Soft Machine Brian Hopper, autor de la idea original cuando todos rolaban con Wilde Flowers. Comienza en una suavidad maravillosa que hace gala de la mesura instrumental y arreglística que caracteriza a Caravan, sobre una estructura de vals. ¡Sí, ya estaba ahí desde el 68! Pero pronto estalla en experimentación rítmica e instrumental con una sección que descompone el 3/4 en 11/8 y que convierte al tema en el más importante del disco, y anuncia claramente lo que vendrá después, llegando a su culminación en In the Land of Grey and Pink. Caravan se echa a volar y nos lleva en su alucinante viaje: “We'll take our time flying, we'll take our time / We need your mind to be flying, we need your mind...”
Hello Hello” es un bonus track que corresponde a If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You, fue el lado B del single de ese disco, pero la disquera ha incluido aquí la versión single porque la cinta original apareció mientras se preparaba este remaster de 2002. Es un tema extraordinario en 7/8 que definitivamente no tiene el componente psicodélico de Caravan, ni los efectos de eco que el productor Tony Cox introdujo en la producción y que causaron que los integrantes de la banda se extrañaran por el sonido porque no era así como sonaban en vivo, pero quizás uno de los mejores del disco, demasiado breve por desgracia.
El disco, a diferencia de los debuts de otras bandas de los setenta (pienso en From Genesis to Revelation, por ejemplo) tiene ya un grado de madurez que anuncia lo que vendrá después. Es la expresión perfecta del momento en que la psicodelia inglesa decide dar el paso más allá, hacia la experimentación sinfónica. Un gran disco, sin lugar a dudas, que aglutina a un conjunto de músicos a los que no les faltaba experiencia pues ya tenían kilómetros recorridos con Wilde Flowers y comparten el entorno del que nace Soft Machine. ¡Y siguen activos! Veo en su página en internet que está programado un concierto de Caravan el próximo 20 de noviembre, día de la Revolución Mexicana, en el mismísimo Teatro Blanquita de la ciudad de México, ¡cómo quisiera estar ahí!
Del disco dicen por ahí:
Caravan is the debut album by the British Canterbury scene progressive rock band Caravan. It was released in January 1969.
The album was the result of the band borrowing equipment from Soft Machine (who were touring the U.S. at the time with Jimi Hendrix and using his backline), producing “an unusually mature musical statement”.[Buckley, Peter J. (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides Limited. p. 178] The album was released in stereo and mono, in both the United States and United Kingdom, but failed to reach chart hit status.

Caravan was the first UK act to sign with American label MGM/ Verve and their debut album, entitled ‘Caravan’ was released late in 1968. It was favourably received by the critics and the debut single, Place of My Own was described as having a ‘gripping compulsion’ with ‘scintillating organ work’. John Peel played the album regularly on his radio show ‘Top Gear’.

For their first album, Caravan was surprisingly strong. While steeped in the same British psychedelia that informed bands such as Love Children, Pink Floyd, and Tomorrow, Caravan relates a freedom of spirit and mischief along the lines of Giles, Giles & Fripp or Gong. The band's roots can be traced to a British blue-eyed soul combo called the Wilde Flowers. Among the luminaries to have passed through this Caravan precursor were Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Hugh Hopper and Brian Hopper (pre-Soft Machine, naturally). By the spring of 1968, Caravan had settled nicely into a quartet consisting of Pye Hastings (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (organ/vocals), and Richard Sinclair (bass/guitar/vocals). Inspired by the notoriety and acclaim that Soft Machine encountered during the burgeoning days of London's underground scene, Caravan began a residency at the Middle Earth club. Additionally, the band was shopping a homemade demo tape around to local record companies. Before long, entrepreneur Tony Cox worked out a deal for them to record on the newly founded U.K. division of the Verve label. Caravan's self-titled debut is equally as inventive and infinitely more subtle than the Soft Machine's Volume One or Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Two of the album's best tunes -- the ethereal "Place of My Own" was backed with the dreamlike "Magic Man" -- were issued as the band's first single. Those tracks accurately exemplify the subtle complexities that Caravan would hone to great effect on later recordings. The same can also be said for album cuts such as "Love Song With Flute" and the extended nine-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?" The latter title aptly exemplifies Caravan's decidedly less than turgid attitude toward themselves -- a refreshing contrast from the temperamental and serious Art School approach adopted by Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues. The mono and stereo mixes of the long-player are striking in their disparities. The stereo mix is at times opaque and virtually swallows the vocals most specifically on the tracks "Policeman" and "Grandma's Lawn." Otherwise, there are numerous additional nuances that discern the two. The single version of "Hello Hello" is also included as a bonus. This track was the follow-up 45 to "Place of My Own" and would appear in a slightly different form on their next LP, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You. Potential consumers should note that the sound quality on this package is indescribably better than the HTD Records 1996 CD pressing.

Caravan was originally formed in early 1968 from the ashes of the legendary Wilde Flowers. All four members of Caravan were, at one time or another, in that band. "Caravan" was however a big change in terms of musical direction. The earliest Caravan composition was a number entitled "Where But For Caravan Would I", co-written with Brian Hopper, which was 10-minutes long and had several sections in it. It appeared on the band's eponymous first album, the other tracks of which were lighter poppy songs with a little psychedelic touch.
This debut album is a big step forward from the music of the Wilde Flowers, of which all four founders of Caravan had been members over the years. While most of the songs have psychedelic flavour that may sound dated now, all the elements that would later typify the classic Caravan sounds are present : the contrasted voices of Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair, the predominating sound of David Sinclair's organ, the jazzy chords and distinctively British melodies. Highlights include "A Place Of My Own", Hastings' first-ever composition, "Love Song With Flute", which for the first time features Pye's brother Jimmy on flute, and most of all "Where But For Caravan Would I", an epic composition co-written by ex-Wilde Flowers leader Brian Hopper. This song predates the progressive direction of the next two albums, with a rhythmic sophistication and a band interplay absent from the rest of the album.

Las siguientes opiniones son de Progarchives
This is a prime example of the links between psychedelic rock and its progressive younger brother. All of the qualities present in the following albums are present and this is no bias towards what is one of my favorite artists. A Place Of My Own and Love Song With A Flute and Where But For A Caravan are typical delightful numbers but listen to Grandma's Lawn or Cecil Rons to realize of progressive this Psychadelia is. The sound is quite different than the next albums but then again this is a different label and producer.
Sean Trane

I have always held a certain spot in my heart for the music of CARAVAN and none come so finer as their debut album. Opening Cantebury classic "Place Of My Own" remains to this day one of my most beloved tracks. Tragically CARAVAN's first album is far too oft overlooked in their discography and in most cases forgotten completely. Songs on this album carry an early Cantebury-psychedelic edge to them with some great organ sweeps , guitar, bass and drumming. Richard Sinclair's vocals are choice with some great vocal harmonies and pure sounding voice.
Loserboy

Amazingly mature debut from CARAVAN is among the best British psychedelia albums of the era. Sound mixing is bad, with that "primitive" stereo effect division between vocals and instruments, but there is a hell of a good songs on it! Outstanding numbers are "Place of My Own", "Love Song with Flute", "Cecil Rons" and a proto-epic suite "Where But For Caravan Would I Be". There is some wonderful organ playing and one would wonder how David Sinclair is not often mentioned as a great organist. Now, this may sound as sacrilege, but this album is much better and more interesting for my ears than the highly overrated "In the Land of Grey and Pink", despite its weak production. A gem of early Canterbury style!
Seyo

Don't expect anything resembling the classic Caravan sound on this, their debut album. What you get here is much more closely related to Pink Floyd's debut, the legendary "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", than to the monumental second and third albums of the Canterbury band. This is quite evident in the remastered version, which includes the delightful "Hello Hello" from "If I Could Do It All Over Again..." - the differences in style and sound between the latter and the rest of the album couldn't be more obvious. That said, however, Caravan's debut is much more interesting that it is usually credited for. Their take on psychedelia is highly original and entertaining, and the members of the band, in spite of their youth, are more than capable as musicians and songwriters.
The album's opener, "A Place of My Own", released as a single, attracted quite a lot of attention at the time. It's an endearing ditty, sung by Pye Hastings in a slightly more uncertain voice than usual, with great organ work by Dave Sinclair. The keyboardist is possibly the real star of this album, as his trademark organ makes the overall sound fuller and richer, as well as adding complexity and interest to the compositions. His contribution to the closing track, the 9-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?", the album's most convincing stab at fully-fledged prog, is outstanding, the sinuous sound of the organ weaving in and out of the vocal interludes sung by Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair. The latter's presence is more restrained than in the two following albums, which of course is a pity. He sings lead in the Beatles-flavoured "Policeman" and the distinctly Syd Barrett-ish "Grandma's Lawn", backed up by cousin Dave's haunting organ - a slightly disturbing song with weird lyrics, further enhanced by Richard's smooth delivery. His best vocal performance, though, comes towards the end of "Where but for Caravan Would I", where his voice achieves that velvety tone that I find so irresistible.
The sinister, almost discordant "Cecil Rons", another track haunted by the ghost of Syd Barrett (both vocalists, especially the usually soft, mild-mannered Hastings, are utterly unrecognizable!) is probably the most uncharacteristic of the band's output. On the other hand, the romantic "Love Song with Flute" (the latter superbly played by Jimmy Hastings) is almost classic Caravan, beautifully sung by Pye - possibly his best vocal performance on the album.
In spite of the very poor production and sound quality, "Caravan" shows quite clearly that the band had potential in spades. Things could only get better, as they did. The follow-up album was a rather giant leap forward in terms of songwriting and overall sound; but this endearingly homespun album, for all its shortcomings, deserves recognition of its own for being a gem of late '60s psychedelic prog. You could do much worse than add this to your collection.
Raff

There's something about the innocence and naive beauty of this album that tells me it couldn't have been made in any other time period. This is the 60's in Britain put into the form of a collection of poppy, mildly jazzy, psychedelic songs. Whenever I listen to it, I feel plain happy. I feel like I can do anything, I want to go be friends with the Policeman, lay in Grandmas Lawn and stare at the sky, make love in the park, or just sit around and waste my time looking at the beauty of the world. Few albums make me feel exactly like this.
All of the songs are about simple subject matter and are not very ambitious. 'A Place of My Own' is about getting a new flat. 'Policeman' is exactly what it's title states. 'Ride' is about finding a place in your mind where your comfortable. The song of the band may not be groundbreaking but it's definitely original. The focus in on the funky wah organ, with undistorted jazzy guitar, walking bass-lines, and powerful rhythmic drumming. There are melodies everywhere and Pye Hastings voice is so innocent and full of glee that you'll want to sing along with him the whole time through.
'Where but for Caravan would I' probably sounds the most like the Caravan of the future which is jazzier and more complex. The instrumental sections of the song definitely forecast the more complex elements of the bands music in the future. There's also some dissonance features in the song, giving it a darker edge in some parts. Another thing to note is that every song on the album features an incredible organ solo. David Sinclair is definetly master at his instrument.
Sure the music on here is outdated, but that's part of what makes it great. It's a celebration of the simplicity of life and all the joys to be seen. It's not a masterpiece. It's not perfect. The production is far from perfect. But all of that thrown aside this album makes me feel great. Therefore it's a great album.
The Wizard

As with the remastered version of Hawkwind's first album, the remastered CD of Caravan's first album includes the whole album twice on a single disc. Both the mono and stereo mixes are included in full, the actual original recordings used for both being identical.
Formed in the mid-late 1960's from the Canterbury scene band The Wilde Flowers (which also included Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers in its ever changing line up), Caravan recorded this self titled debut in late 1968. Most of the songs here had been rehearsed and performed live by the band for some time before they got around to recording them and indeed some of them had been instrumental in helping to secure a recording contract. As was customary at the time, the band were forbidden from being involved in the mixing of the album, which focused primarily on the more lucrative mono version, (since stereo was still in its infancy at the time, and stereo albums were actually dearer!). The band were not entirely satisfied with the results, as they felt producer Tony Cox had not captured their sound well.
The album starts with a song which even today is a Caravan favourite. The balance between the band's whimsical interludes, strong melodies and progressive inclinations is captured perfectly in "Place of my own". The distinctive keyboards of David Sinclair, which for many represent the band's signature, are a feature of this wonderful song. The track was subsequently released as the band's first single.
In general, while many of the tracks here fall short of the standards attained by Caravan on subsequent albums, especially those recorded during their period with Decca records, they show the promising glimpses of what was to come. Tracks such as "Policeman" and "Cecil Rons" are rooted in the psychedelic sounds of the period, with strong nods to the Barrett era Pink Floyd and the likes. Tony Cox's production emphasises such leanings more strongly than perhaps was necessary.
"Love song with flute" is interesting, as it features future band member Jimmy Hastings playing the wonderful flute solo. The song is a soft reflective piece with decent vocal harmonies, which develops into a faster more pop orientated number. The latter part of this track indicates far more clearly how the band would mature.
The focus of most of the attention for prog fans is the 9 minute closing song "Where but for Caravan would I?". This mid-paced organ based number may pre-date many of the Caravan classics, but it is an early product of the same mould. In the context of the greats such as "For Richard" and "Nine foot underground" it is a little clumsy and naive, but when we bear in mind that this is a 1968 recording, it shines brightly.
In all, a fine first album from Caravan. It may sound a bit of its time now, largely due to the production; but the quality of the songs, the proficiency of the performances, and most of all the promise of what is to come, is clear for all to see.
In general, the sound quality of the mono recordings, even in remastered form, is at best adequate. The stereo mixes have brushed up far better though, and are the ones to head for on the 2002 CD. That release includes a single version of "Hello hello", a track on the following "If I could do it all over again.." album. It was originally intended that the single version be added to the remaster of that album, but the master tapes were only located after it had been released. As the remastering of the debut album was carried out later, the opportunity was taken to include it here.
Easy Livin





3 comentarios:

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  2. "Ride", una melodía tremendamente hermosa...

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