Caravan - The Decca Deram Years box set

Caravan – The Decca/Deram Years: 1970 – 1975

Caravan are a legendary Prog band from Canterbury whose elegant and whimsically lyrical music has captivated many listeners over the years. They released a stunning selection of albums of consistently high quality in the mid-1970s and are still around today as an excellent live act.

My history with Caravan is related to my record store owning friend Peter Bonner, a lifelong fan who introduced me to the band with the For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973) and Cunning Stunts (1975) records, and I liked what I heard. For me it was these and especially the Caravan with the New Symphonia (1974) album that really caught my attention, and then the Canterbury Tales album that sealed the deal – sadly Canterbury Tales didn’t get a proper release like it deserved, this set includes everything on that album now so offers completeness.

This release contains all those albums on CD along with If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It Over You (1970), In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971), Waterloo Lily (1972) and Live at the Fairfield Halls, 1974 sets and the long-deleted Show of Our Lives Live at The BBC 1970-1975 double CD on two separate discs. Only the 1968 debut Caravan album is missing (but that can easily be found elsewhere).

The nine discs are housed in a clamshell box with a very decent 48-page booklet with full album credits, sleeves and pictures detailing the journey through that period with lots of interesting stories such as how Frank Zappa played with them at a festival in Holland in the early 1970s.

The albums are the recently reissued expanded versions with bonus tracks, a total of 26 extra tracks across the first 6 CDs, all of which sound very fine indeed, really good remasters that make this a valuable set and one where the extra tracks have much merit.
These albums should be well known to most readers, but for those that don’t know Caravan well I would suggest that they should look at the Caravan and the New Symphonia album especially as it is the essence of Caravan distilled into a single disc, and the performances are sublime. It has a short section of the band playing three songs from Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night before being joined by the New Symphonia orchestra for a further six pieces – the original vinyl version had just five so this full concert is a great addition, especially when it is as good as this with very clear sound and good separation between the instruments. The good balance with the orchestra also makes it a very satisfying listen, a real undervalued band and album indeed.

The orchestral segment is simply beautiful, it sounds grand in a marriage that complements both the orchestra and the band, the pastoral nature of Caravan’s jazz-influenced music working well, subtly enhanced by the power of the orchestra, especially on Virgin on the Ridiculous and For Richard where it is in a class of its own.

Many bands work with orchestras, but rarely as well as this. It’s magnificent and stirring, and above all tasteful and classy. The ride out ending segment on Virgin… is epic, sweeping, very English and absolutely top-notch. For Richard (one of Caravan’s better-known songs) is another superb piece and this version is something else, well worth the consideration of any Prog fan. The viola of Geoffrey Richardson is very fine here, weaving throughout the melody as he adds his own unique take on the music with tasteful and versatile playing. Everyone is playing well here, great bass work from John Perry, excellent keyboards from Dave Sinclair, fine guitar from Pye Hastings, along with powerful and strong drums from Richard Coughlan make this track something of a powerhouse, and yet it still retains its grace and beauty, a simply fantastic version of a great song. Nary a wasted moment in its fourteen-plus minute running time.

This epic track is followed by the encore of A Hunting We Shall Go, also from the Girls Who Grow Plump… album, a stunning conclusion to an album of great songs, epic performances and some really sympathetic collaboration between band and orchestra. Overall a magnificent triumph for all concerned, this song also has some very tasty guitar lines from Pye Hastings as he unleashes a brief solo.

Obviously a set like this has a degree of duplication within the tracks, especially on the live discs, but the versions are different enough to be worthy of inclusion. Not completely new stuff but lots of interesting additions that make this set most worthy, especially if you consider that the inclusion of the hard to get BBC set would cost more than this box set alone.

I think this set is very well done and extremely good value. The music is simply fantastic with many great songs included. I guess next someone will reissue Blind Dog at St Dunstan’s and Better By Far next and give a complete overview of Caravan’s first existence.

CD 1: If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You

01. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You (3:07)
02. And I Wish I Were Stoned / Don’t Worry (8:20)
03. As I Feel I Die (5:06)
04. With an Ear to the Ground / You Can Make It / Martinian / Only Cox / Reprise (9:54)
05. Hello Hello (3:45)
06. Asforteri (1:21)
07. Can’t Be Long Now / Françoise / For Richard / Warlock (14:21)
08. Limits (1:35)
~ Bonus Tracks:
09. A Day in the Life of Maurice Haylett (Outtake) (5:07)
10. Why? (And I wish I were Stoned) (Demo Version) (4:22)
11. Clipping the 8th (Hello Hello) (Demo Version) (3:13)
12. As I Feel I Die (Demo Version) (4:39)

Time – 63:36

CD 2: In the Land of Grey and Pink
01. Golf Girl (5:05)
02. Winter Wine (7:46)
03. Love to Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly) (3:06)
04. In the Land of Grey and Pink (4:51)
Nine Feet Underground (22:43):
– 05. Nigel Blows a Tune (5:42)
– 06. Love’s a Friend (3:20)
– 07. Make It 76 (1:45)
– 08. Dance of the Seven Paper Hankies (1:08)
– 09. Hold Grandad by the Nose (2:16)
– 10. Honest I Did! (2:03)
– 11. Disassociation (3:16)
– 12. 100% Proof (3:13)
~ Bonus Tracks:
13. I Don’t Know Its Name (Alias The Word) (6:12)
14. Aristocracy (3:42)
15. It’s Likely to have a Name Next Week (Instrumental version of Winter Wine) (7:48)
16. Group Girl” (First version of Golf Girl with different lyrics) (5:04)
17. Disassociation / 100% Proof (New Mix) (Closing section of Nine Feet Underground) (8:35)

Time – 74:52

CD 3: Waterloo Lily
01. Waterloo Lily (6:47)
02. Nothing at All / It’s Coming Soon / Nothing at All (Reprise) (10:25)
03. Songs and Signs (3:39)
04. Aristocracy (3:03)
05. The Love in Your Eye / To Catch Me a Brother / Subsultus / Debouchement / Tilbury Kecks (12:31)
06. The World is Yours (3:40)
~ Bonus Tracks:
07. Pye’s June Thing (2:58)
08. Ferdinand (2:57)
09. Looking Left, Looking Right (5:37)
10. Pye’s Loop (1:21)

Time – 53:08

CD 4: For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night
01. Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss (9:19)
02. Hoedown (3:20)
03. Surprise, Surprise (4:07)
04. C’thlu Thlu (6:15)
05. The Dog, The Dog, He’s at It Again (5:58)
06. Be All Right / Chance of a Lifetime (6:37)
07. L’Auberge du Sanglier / A Hunting We Shall Go / Pengola / Backwards / A Hunting We Shall Go (reprise) (10:07)
~ Bonus Tracks:
08. Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss (9:18)
09. No! (Be Alright) / Waffle (Chance of a Lifetime) 5:09)
10. He Who Smelt It Dealt It (Memory Lain, Hugh) (4:42)
11. Surprise, Surprise (3:15)
12. Derek’s Long Thing (10:57)

Time – 79:50

CD 5: Caravan & The New Symphonia
01. Introduction by Alan Black / Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss (10:58)
02. The Dog, The Dog, He’s at it Again (6:35)
03. Hoedown (3:55)
04. Introduction / Virgin on the Ridiculous (6:04)
05. The Love in Your Eye (12:23)
06. Mirror for the Day (4:45)
07. Virgin on the Ridiculous (7:55)
08. For Richard (15:00)
09. A Hunting We Shall Go (10:33)

Time – 77:08

CD 6: Cunning Stunts
01. The Show of Our Lives (5:47)
02. Stuck in a Hole (3:09)
03. Lover (5:06)
04. No Backstage Pass (4:34)
05. Welcome the Day (4:01)
The Dabsong Conshirtoe (18:00):
– 06. The Mad Dabsong (2:15)
– 07. Ben Karratt Rides Again (2:42)
– 08. Pro’s and Con’s (2:29)
– 09. Wraiks and Ladders (0:58)
– 10. Sneaking out the Bare Quare (4:25)
– 11. All Sorts of Unmentionable Things (5:11)
12. Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park Rag (1:10)
~ Bonus Tracks:
13. Stuck in a Hole (single version) (3:10)
14. Keeping Back My Love (5:14)

Time – 53:11

CD 7: Live at the Fairfield Halls, 1974
01. Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss (9:27)
02. Virgin on the Ridiculous (7:14)
03. Be Alright / Chance of a Lifetime (6:37)
04. The Love in Your Eye (15:23)
05. L’Auberge Du Sanglier / A Hunting We Shall Go / Pengola / Backwards / A Hunting We Shall Go (Reprise) (9:49)
06. The Dog the Dog He’s at It Again (6:23)
07. For Richard (19:01)
08. Hoedown (5:58)

Time – 79:52

CD 8: The Show Of Our Lives: Live at the BBC 1970-1975 (Part 1)
01. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You (2:45)
02. Hello, Hello (3:10)
03. As I Feel I Die (6:23)
04. Love to Love You (3:12)
05. Love Song Without Flute (3:33)
06. In The Land of Grey and Pink (3:43)
07. Nine Feet Underground (14:27)
08. Feelin’ Reelin’ Squealin’ (9:30)
09. A Huntin’ We Shall Go (9:15)
10. Waffle Part One: Be Alright / Chance of a Lifetime (6:46)

Time – 62:41

CD 9: The Show Of Our Lives: Live at the BBC 1970-1975 (Part 2)
01. Memory Lain Hugh (5:04)
02. Headloss (4:27)
03. The Love in Your Eye (13:54)
04. Mirror for the Day (4:15)
05. Virgin on the Ridiculous (7:01)
06. For Richard (15:04)
07. The Dabsong Conshirto (15:11)
08. Stuck in a Hole (3:14)
09. The Show of our Lives (4:54)

Time – 73:03

Total Time – 10:17:27

Pye Hastings – Vocals, 6 & 12-string Electric Guitars, 6-string Acoustic Guitar, Claves
Richard Sinclair – Vocals, Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine (discs 1 – 3, 8 & 9)
David Sinclair – Organ, Piano, Harpsichord, Mellotron, Harmony Vocals, Electric Piano, Synthesizer (discs 1 – 2, 4 – 9)
Richard Coughlan – Drums & Percussion
Steve Miller – Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Grand Piano, Hammond Organ, Electric Harpsichord (discs 3,8 & 9)
Geoffrey Richardson – Viola, Electric Viola, Electric Guitar, Flutes, Whistle (discs 4 – 9)
John G. Perry – Bass Guitar, Vocals, Percussion (discs 4 – 5)
Mike Wedgwood – Bass Guitar, Congas, Vocals, Moog Brass (disc 6 – 9)
Jan Schelhaas – Keyboards (discs 8 & 9)
~ Additional Personnel:
Jimmy Hastings – Saxophone, Flute, Piccolo (discs 1 – 4)
Dave Grinsted – Cannon, Bell, Wind (disc 2)
John Beecham – Trombone (disc 2)
Lol Coxhill – Soprano Saxophone (disc 3)
Phil Miller – Second Lead Guitar (disc 3)
Mike Cotton – Trumpet (disc 3)
Barry Robinson – Oboe (disc 3)
Rupert Hine – Synthesizer (disc 4)
Frank Ricotti – Congas (disc 4)
Paul Buckmaster – Electric Cello (disc 4)
Tony Coe – Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone (disc 4)
Pete King – Flute, Alto Saxophone (disc 4)
Harry Klein – Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone (disc 4)
Henry Lowther – Trumpet (disc 4)
Jill Pryor – Voice (disc 4)
Chris Pyne – Trombone (disc 4)
Barry Robinson – Piccolo (disc 4)
Tom Whittle – Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone (disc 4)
The New Symphonia – Orchestra (disc 5)

Record Label: Decca
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 6th September 2019

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