Caravan’s Vinyl Reissues: A Nostalgic Trip Through Prog Rock’s Quirky Past
Today, we dive into the world of Caravan, a band whose presence in my collection was, until recently, limited to CDs and box sets. So I am very happy with these two vinyl reissues.
If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You – 1970
The title alone might give you a chuckle or prompt a double-take. When I mentioned to my partner Sue what had arrived in the post, she couldn’t help but remark on the Spinal Tap-esque nature of it. But let me assure you, Caravan is far from the ’80s rock stereotype. They are the quintessence of progressive rock, hailing from the Canterbury scene, more akin to sipping English tea with cucumber sandwiches than headbanging in leather trousers.
Musically, the album defies its whimsical title. It’s a classic Caravan record, complete with the expected long epic track that dominates most of side two. “Can’t Be Long Now” is a testament to the vinyl era, where a single song’s grandeur could fill an entire album side. Unlike their contemporaries, Caravan’s early work doesn’t lean on guitar solos. Instead, it draws you into a world of flutes, keyboards, and delightfully eccentric vocals with tracks like “I Wish I Was Stoned” and “With an Ear to the Ground You Can Make It.”
The reissue boasts a 180g vinyl pressing housed in a polylined sleeve, ensuring a pristine listening experience. It’s a tangible piece of history that invites you to engage with the music physically, flipping the record to immerse yourself in the B-side’s expansive soundscape.
Cunning Stunts: Navigating the Edgy Humor of Prog Rock – 1975
The second album to grace my turntable was “Cunning Stunts,” a title that requires careful enunciation, especially when considering the ever-listening ears of YouTube’s AI transcription service. Released in 1975, this album showcases a different facet of Caravan’s musical journey.
With a title that pushes the boundaries of radio-friendly language, “Cunning Stunts” is a playful nod to the band’s humor and willingness to challenge the status quo. Musically, I find myself gravitating towards this album. It retains the Caravan signature with another side-long track, “The Dabsong Conshirtoe,” a playful 18-minute romp through English prog that encapsulates the spirit of 1975.
The lineup features Richard Coughlan on drums, Pye Hastings on guitars, Geoffrey Richardson with his viola (not violin, as one might assume), and the dual talents of Dave Sinclair and Mike Wedgwood on keys and bass, respectively. The recording quality is superb, and the polylined sleeve ensures the vinyl remains in top condition for future spins.
“Cunning Stunts” and “If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You” are both reissues that deserve a spot in any prog lover’s collection. While I’ve been seduced by the allure of vinyl, there’s something special about the ritual of playing these records. Flipping the vinyl to its B-side feels like an active participation in the music, a nod to the days when listening was an event, not just background noise.
So, whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the quirky world of Caravan, these vinyl reissues are a perfect way to experience the band’s unique take on the progressive rock genre.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine