Title - Who Do You Think We Are? [37-CD Box-Set]
Artist - Caravan
For those not in the know, the Canterbury scene combined elements of jazz, folk, rock and melodic pop into a sound that bridged the gulf between psychedelia and progressive rock, and ultimately shattered all genre barriers.
At the heart of the Canterbury scene was a group of musicians whose career has now spanned more than half a century: the legend that is Caravan.
Who Do You Think We Are? (out August 20th, 2021 via Madfish Records) is the ultimate tribute to the ultimate Canterbury band. This deluxe box set runs to a staggering 37 discs. All the official Caravan albums – studio and live recordings among them – are joined by eleven discs of previously unreleased live performances.
A Blu-ray includes remixer extraordinaire Steven Wilson’s 5.1 surround sound mix of the classic In the Land of Grey and Pink album. In addition, a DVD includes vintage European TV performances from 1971 – 1981 (London Marquee, German TV’s Swing In, Bataclan, Paris & French TV show ‘Pop 2’).
The lavish packaging of the set reflects the band’s stature. A hardback coffee table book features rare Caravan photos and memorabilia, and a full discography. A second Fan Club book assembles historic press articles from across the band’s career, alongside a new interview with founder member Pye Hastings.
Every copy of the box includes a photo signed by the three surviving members of the original Caravan line-up: Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair and David Sinclair. The celebration continues with a selection of memorabilia: a Caravan-centric map of Canterbury; a specially commissioned Caravan family tree poster, charting their long and circuitous progress; and two replica 1970s gig posters.
Put together with the band’s full co-operation, the full list of contents is as follows:
1. 14 Newly remastered Studio Albums & 4 Official Live Albums.
2. 11 Previously Unreleased Concert Recordings.
3. On Blu-Ray For The First Time 48/24 Stereo & 5. 1 Mix By Steven Wilson Of In The Land Of Grey & Pink.
4. DVD Including Rare Footage From The Marquee 1971, Rock en Stock 1972, Bataclan 1973 & French TV Performance 1981.
5. Individually Signed Photo By The Three Surviving Members Pye Hastings, Dave Sinclair, & Richard Sinclair.
6. 144 Page Hardback Coffee Table Book Featuring Rare Photographs & Memorabilia.
7. A4 Fan Club Mini Book Featuring Archive Articles & An Up To Date Interview With Pye Hastings.
8. A4 Replica Tour programme For Blind Dog At St Dunstans.
9. ’For Girls That Grow Plump In The Night’ Replica Press Pack.
10. Caravan’s Trip Down Memory Lain Map Of Canterbury.
11. Illustrated Family Tree.
12. 2 Replica Posters.
This box set will be limited to 2,500 copies worldwide and released on the Madfish Label through Snapper Music. DVD/Blu-Ray all region code.
The English rock band from the Canterbury area, was founded by former Wilde Flowers members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings, and Richard Coughlan in 1968.
The band have never achieved the great commercial success that was widely predicted for them at the beginning of their career, but are nevertheless considered a key part of the Canterbury scene of progressive rock acts, blending psychedelic rock, jazz, and classical influences to create a distinctive sound.
The band were originally based in Whitstable, Kent, near Canterbury, but moved to London when briefly signed to Verve Records. After being dropped by Verve, the band signed to Decca Records, where they released their most critically acclaimed album, In the Land of Grey and Pink, in 1971.
Dave Sinclair left after the album’s release and the group split up the following year. Hastings and Coughlan added new members, notably viola player Geoffrey Richardson, continuing on before splitting in 1978.
The band has reformed several times in the following decades, and Caravan still remain active as a live band in the 21st century, despite Coughlan’s death in December, 2013.
Culling together en mass of recordings from the band down the oh-so many years, it is therefore apt to run the trail of musical breadcrumbs left behind by Caravan, if not only to allow devoted fans the moment to gleefully reminisce, but to hopefully also draw newcomers and interested parties into the fold.
The band’s 1968 self-titled debut was a hybrid of jazz and psychedelia, but things became serious with the second album, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You and would mark the start of their classic period. The material was a very original mixture of styles including classical, jazz, and traditional English influences.
Indeed, this recipe was used to great success on the next album, In the Land of Grey and Pink for the album was a perfect blend between simple northern-English pop and complex progressive rock. Quite simply, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest progressive rock classics to this very day.
The style dominated the next album, Waterloo Lily, released in May of 1972, which marked a clear step towards jazz, and yet Richard Sinclair’s influence was clearly apparent on the first side. For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night marked another change in the band’s sound, this time towards a more streamlined symphonic approach.
This album is not a bad album taken by itself, but the classic Canterbury sound stopped here. Indeed, for a more representative look at Caravan in their prime, check out the preceding three albums. This lineup also recorded the live album Caravan and the New Symphonia, a live 1973 performance accompanied by a full orchestra.
The wickedly entitled Cunning Stunts (1975), for me, marked the beginning of a series of less enthusiastic releases and lineup changes, eventually leading to the reunion of the original members on Back to Front.
Many different compilations and live albums were released in the intervening twelve years before a new studio album, Battle of Hastings, which was released in 1995. This album was a nice collection of poppy tunes retaining the classic Caravan sound (organ, violin, flute, sax and Hastings’ inimitable vocals).
On a side note, in February 2001, all the albums from If I Could... to Cunning Stunts were each reissued with a myriad of bonus material, copious liner notes and impeccable sound quality and in 2002 also saw the band plays their first performance in the United States in 28 years at Nearfest 2002.
Though the group share a common history with Soft Machine, they have been considered more melodic and closer to folk music and frequently displaying a sense of humor (both within their music and on stage). The group were predominantly album-oriented, but Hastings vocally believed the group recorded enough straightforward pop that could have been hit singles if the record company had taken sufficient interest.
Instrumentally, David Sinclair’s fuzztone Hammond organ sound is a key ingredient of the early Caravan albums, and his playing is the dominant instrument on them. His musical palette subsequently expanded to include synthesizers. Jimmy Hastings’ woodwind playing and orchestral arrangements have also been a regular feature in the band’s music since its inception.
In closing, Who Do You Think We Are? is the ultimate tribute to the ultimate Canterbury band. This deluxe box set runs to a staggering 37 discs and features all the official Caravan albums - studio and live recordings among them – and which are joined by eleven previously unreleased live performances.
CARAVAN - Who Do You Think We Are? Box Set Trailer
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