Perennial favorites Caravan tonight. One of those bands who helped define Prog-Rock in the late 60s and early 1970s and one of those bands whose influence was felt much farther and wider than many give credit to. Caravan epitomized the Canterbury Sound – a musical movement which began with such bands as The Wilde Flowers and continued with Soft Machine, and weaving in-between them, Caravan. Although they didn’t get the amount of recognition other bands from the period got, they were one of the most highly regarded bands among musicians as well as fans throughout the world. And they have been cited as major influences to countless bands and artists over the years.
Caravan represented a kind of quirkiness – a technical virtuosity without being self-indulgent. During a time when bands were bordering on pretentious and grandiose, they maintained a tight sense of ensemble – well executed songs written with razor-sharp wit and no-nonsense presentation. It may have explained why they didn’t quite achieve the commercial success as say, Yes – they weren’t showy and didn’t lend themselves to an arena setting. They were a band perfect for a smaller venue – a place you could sit and dive into the music and not feel like you were subject to a visual assault at any given time. I remember one of their early 70s appearances at The Starwood in West Hollywood and feeling this was a band that, for all their musical complexities, relied heavily on the give-and-take of an audience – particularly one close-up. But since this period of the 1970s was all about Arenas and grand spectacles, they didn’t get the huge commercial attention or the non-stop airplay from the FM powerhouses at the time.
But the fact of the matter is – Caravan have sustained and their music retains a freshness that some bands of the period have not. I would strongly recommend you check out their albums (which, with any luck, are still in print), particularly the early ones. My first experience with them was via their second album from 1970, If I Could Do It Again, I’d Do It All Over You – and I was hooked.
Start there and work your way through the 70s. In the meantime – crank this one up; the first two songs, Place Of My Own and Magic Man are from the 1969 Bremen session and the last song, Golf Girl comes from their 1971 Bremen session.
Fire it up and have a listen.