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Monday, August 1, 2011

Caravan - In The Land of Grey and Pink [Deluxe Edition]

In the land of Grey & Pink where only boy scouts stop to think/They’ll be coming back again, those nasty grumbly grimblies/And they’re climbing down your chimney, yes they’re trying to get it/Come to take your money isn’t it a sin, they’re so thin?/ They’ve black buckets in the sky, don’t leave your dad in the rain/Cigarettes burn bright tonight, they’ll all get washed down the drain.” Sings Richard Sinclair of Caravan as he describes the Tolkien-sque fantasy story line in the quirky resemblance of Whimsical humor.

Since its release in 1971, In The Land of Grey & Pink remains one of the most essential works that Caravan has released and has been a favorite for fans and music lovers to enjoy the Canterbury pioneers to take the listener to a wonderful and embracive journey they are about to embark on. That and this wonderful 2-CD deluxe edition including a DVD featuring a new 5.1 stereo mix done by Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, who’s been working really hard on the King Crimson 40th anniversary reissues and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung for the fall of this year, it provides a wonderful surround sound and experience that you’ll never forget.

When you hear the new 5.1 surround sound and the new stereo mix that Mr. Wilson has done, you will be completely blown away and have your breath taken away. Hearing the title track is very different from the original version (the rhythm guitar section comes in front while Richard’s voice comes in between Pye’s guitar sound); there’s also the Beat Club footage that the band perform to promote the album including the fuzzy version Golf Girl and a never-before-seen performance of Winter Wine that was cut before they were about to be on live TV.

Now the new stereo mix and 5.1 sound is marvelous, but this is a question that you might ask me and yourself, “Why this album stood the test time?” and, “What’s the best Caravan album to start off with that will get me going?” Well if you want the evidence, this here is a perfect way to start your journey into the Canterbury sound and feel like you have embarked on a whimsical adventure after listening to the first or third time that you have embarked on.

You have to love David Sinclair’s Hammond organ sound and the way he uses a Mellotron to give a jazz and psychedelic feel structure solo of the comedic touch on Golf Girl and goes at it to take turns on the mind-blowing 20-minute composition Nine Feet Underground while Pye Hastings doesn’t do any noodling on the guitar, but lays the beat down and has a sense of humor on the upbeat melody Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly). And then there’s drummer Richard Coughlan who brings the power and energy on the drums for Caravan as David’s younger brother, Richard who plays bass almost like in the realm of Paul McCartney, has a terrific voice and shows that he can really go for it and take the music to the next stage.

Then we get to the bonus tracks that are featured on the first and second disc of the reissue. We have different versions of Love To Love You and an alternate mix of Nine Feet Underground. However, on Frozen Rose and an early take of Aristocracy which would later be on their fourth album, Waterloo Lily shows that the band needed to make a small antidote for Grey & Pink while the soaring organ/piano melodic touches of jazz-psych-pop comes back in full crooning sound of Pye Hastings scatting on It Doesn’t Take a Lot.

And of course, the BBC sessions they did for Sound of the Seventies and the late John Peel who championed the band in the late ‘60s for his Sunday concerts in March and May of that year they were promoting the album and makes you feel that you are there at the sessions having a nice cup of tea and eating some biscuits while enjoying the beauty of Caravan’s music to tap your toes and clap to the beats they would do on their instruments.

Surprisingly, while the album and the new stereo mixes stands like a new diamond that has been freshly cleaned and repaired that will have fans blown away and know that Steven Wilson understood the album and how he gives a wonderful remix that would have fans enjoy the music to embrace it. And while they would draw a line in the sand to decide whether or not the album needed a new remix or not, it doesn’t matter, this was needed a full restoration and Wilson was up for the job to go through the multi-tracks to find what was left hidden underneath the analog tapes.

However, the most wonderful moment is the extended version of Love To Love You that features an unheard ending that was cut off due to time restraints as Jimmy Hastings gives his flute a time to fly into the heavenly sky and it remains one of the best unearth tracks. And while some people might prefer the original version, this new ending is breathtaking and you could see how Hastings, Pye’s older brother, deserves a lot of credit. Caravan was about family, not giant rock stars, but they proved they could be a pretty damn good Canterbury band in the psych-progressive movement in the underground era.

This is a fine treatment that the good people at Universal has done with the 40th anniversary Deluxe Edition CD-set of Prog’s magnetic bands to come out of the late ’60s, if anyone who wants to get into their music, this is it!

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