Caravan - In the Land of Grey and PinkThe serene Cathedral City of Canterbury in Kent started buzzing in the early sixties with the emergence of both pop and rock music, acting as a catalyst for what later became known as "The Canterbury Sound." This unique sound originated from a band named "The Wilde Flowers," formed in 1963. However, the band disbanded in 1967, giving rise to two factions. The avant-garde Jazz/Rock fusion band “Soft Machine,” which comprised the musicians Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, and Kevin Ayers. On the pop-rock side, musicians Richard Coughlan, Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, and Richard Sinclair, created "Caravan.”

Following their formation, Caravan retreated to the countryside for a year, dedicating their nights to rehearsals in a nearby church hall. In 1968, they signed with the American record label Verve, which released their debut album, "Caravan." However, the label went bankrupt, leading them to join Decca Records for their second album, "If I Could Do It Again I Would Do It All Over You" released in 1970, and subsequently embarked on a tour.

After six months of touring, the band returned to the studio for their third album, "In the Land of the Grey and Pink" which they released in 1971, marking a seminal moment in their career. The album features Richard Sinclair's exceptional songs, Pye Hastings's contributions, and the monumental twenty-two-minute opus " Nine Feet Underground " which came in five separate movements, with four bridges, and mainly composed by David Sinclair.

Opening with the enchanting 'Golf Girl,' the album progresses with 'Winter Wine,' a Richard Sinclair composition that delves into fairy tales and dreams, seamlessly blending with the mood set by the first track. Pye Hastings's 'Love to Love You' follows, leading to the title track, another masterpiece by Richard Sinclair resembling a nursery rhyme sung to children, complete with beautiful piano solos.

Clearly the pinnacle of the album is the epic "Nine Feet Underground," showcasing Caravan's mastery of their instruments, highlighted by the dual lead vocals of Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair. David Sinclair's keyboards take the forefront, with Richard Sinclair on jazzy bass, Pye Hastings on melodic lead guitar, and Richard Coughlan on robust drumming. The track also features Jimmy Hastings on flute and tenor saxophone.

I picked up the expanded deluxe NTSC/Region 0 DVD plus two CD edition of this classic album, which was remixed in 5.1 surround sound by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Disc 1contains the original album plus three brand new stereo mixes of album tracks on CD, disc 2 contains four new stereo mixes of non-album tracks plus two previously unreleased recordings and five live tracks on CD. Naturally, for high resolution surround enthusiasts, it is the third disc, which is the DVD, that contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix that is of greatest interest. Following in the path of all the King Crimson surround releases, Wilson has once again created an excellent surround mix that is clean, rich, and spread evenly around the room. A few aural bites have been added which provide a sense of journey while listening. Otherwise, the majority of the multi-channel mixes are pretty straight forward with bass and drums up front, along with vocals, guitars and keyboards spread to the back, along with the brass. Various elements have been spread around the sound stage depending on the particular tune, filling the spaces as needed. While this recording is a bit dry, it replicates the original mix very well, and does represent how many recordings of that era sounded.

This deluxe edition is a must-have for Caravan enthusiasts, and it is highly recommended for progressive rock collectors, aligning seamlessly with the band's influential Canterbury Sound.

This edition released May 30, 2011.

 

 Format Info

2CD + DVD NTSC region 0 deluxe edition with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix (OOP).  Vinyl version, and digital download of stereo mix.  Also available for streaming likely with a different mastering.

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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