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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Caravan: The Show Of Our Lives


1) Place Of My Own; 2) Ride; 3) If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You; 4) Hello Hello; 5) As I Feel I Die; 6) Love To Love You; 7) Love Song Without Flute; 8) In The Land Of Grey And Pink; 9) Nine Feet Underground; 10) Feelin', Reelin', Squealin'; 11) A-Hunting We Shall Go; 12) Waffle (Be Alright / Chance Of A Lifetime); 13) Memory Lain Hugh; 14) Headloss; 15) The Love In Your Eye; 16) Mirror For The Day; 17) Virgin On The Ridiculous; 18) For Richard; 19) The Dabsong Conshirtoe; 20) Stuck In A Hole; 21) The Show Of Our Lives.

It makes perfect sense to round out the Caravan retrospective with this huge 2-CD package that spans their entire «prog years» career. Prior to this, there have been several rather chaotic releases of BBC material recorded by the band at various occasions; the only one I'd previously heard was BBC Radio 1 In Concert, recorded March 21, 1975 at the Paris Theatre, and it has been almost completely integrated here (strangely, though, without a complete overlap — the original release had ʽHoedownʼ, which is not included here, while the new package adds ʽMirror For The Dayʼ and ʽVirgin On The Ridiculousʼ that were omitted from the 1991 album, so go figure).

Anyway, this here is a solid and well-balanced mix of performances from various John Peel and BBC In Concert sessions that, among other things, allows you to get a peek at live interpretations of some of the early material that never survived the transition into the «golden age» — songs from the self-titled debut (including ʽLove Song With Fluteʼ, which is transformed here into ʽLove Song Without Fluteʼ because they could not get brother Jimmy to appear with them, so Dave has to fill his shoes with an organ equivalent of the flute part) and «filler tracks» from the second album, like ʽAs I Feel I Dieʼ. Once we get to the Grey And Pink period, performances start to become more familiar and predictable, but there is still at least one super-curious rarity: ʽFeelin', Reelin', Squealin'ʼ, a 10-minute epic that starts out in inconspicuously default soft-rock mode, but then quickly becomes an improvised psychedelic extravaganza — a free-form freakout that alternately reminds one of The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and The Soft Machine. I would not call it particularly mind-blowing or anything, but it's a bold side of Caravan that had blipped for a few seconds around 1970, then was wiped out completely with the emergence of the Grey And Pink style, and it is interesting to learn that they could occasionally allow themselves to go crazy like this as late as May 1971, by which time ʽGolf Girlʼ had already become their trade­mark song (ironically, there is no ʽGolf Girlʼ on this package).

The second disc, covering 1973-75, is clearly less exciting for those who have already heard all the regular live albums — I mean, there's only so many live versions of ʽThe Love In Your Eyeʼ and ʽFor Richardʼ that I'd care to have in my collection — but it does include a rare occasion of the complete live performance of ʽThe Dabsong Conshirtoeʼ and other songs from Cunning Stunts that might help rekindle your interest in that transitional album. They could have gone further: if you are genuinely curious about continuing this experience, the earlier package Ether Way: BBC Sessions 1975-77, overlapping with this one in regard to the Cunning Stunts tracks, also adds some live renditions of material from Blind Dog At St. Dunstan's (could be entertai­ning) and Better By Far (probably couldn't) — but on the whole, I understand the decision of the compilers to stop at 1975 and have ʽThe Show Of Our Livesʼ round out the album in gloriously anthemic mode.

1 comment:

  1. Feelin Reelin Squealin was an early Soft Machine single or B Side as it happens, originally featuring Daevid Allen in fact! It can be found tacked on to CD versions of their debut.