For their first album, Caravan was surprisingly strong. While steeped in the same British psychedelia that informed bands such as Love Children, Pink Floyd, and Tomorrow, Caravan relates a freedom of spirit and mischief along the lines of Giles, Giles & Fripp or Gong. The band's roots can be traced to a British blue-eyed soul combo called the Wilde Flowers.
Among the luminaries to have passed through this Caravan precursor were Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Hugh Hopper and Brian Hopper (pre-Soft Machine, naturally). By the spring of 1968, Caravan had settled nicely into a quartet consisting of Pye Hastings (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (organ/vocals), and Richard Sinclair (bass/guitar/vocals).
Inspired by the notoriety and acclaim that Soft Machine encountered during the burgeoning days of London's underground scene, Caravan began a residency at the Middle Earth club. Additionally, the band was shopping a homemade demo tape around to local record companies. Before long, entrepreneur Tony Cox worked out a deal for them to record on the newly founded U.K. division of the Verve label. Caravan's self-titled debut is equally as inventive and infinitely more subtle than the Soft Machine's Volume One or Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Two of the album's best tunes -- the ethereal "Place of My Own" was backed with the dreamlike "Magic Man" -- were issued as the band's first single.
Those tracks accurately exemplify the subtle complexities that Caravan would hone to great effect on later recordings. The same can also be said for album cuts such as "Love Song With Flute" and the extended nine-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?" The latter title aptly exemplifies Caravan's decidedly less than turgid attitude toward themselves -- a refreshing contrast from the temperamental and serious Art School approach adopted by Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues.
The mono and stereo mixes of the long-player are striking in their disparities. The stereo mix is at times opaque and virtually swallows the vocals most specifically on the tracks "Policeman" and "Grandma's Lawn." Otherwise, there are numerous additional nuances that discern the two. The single version of "Hello Hello" is also included as a bonus. This track was the follow-up 45 to "Place of My Own" and would appear in a slightly different form on their next LP, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You.
by Lindsay Planer
1. Place Of My Own - 4:01
2. Ride - 3:42
3. Policeman - 2:44
4. Love Song With Flute - 4:10
5. Cecil Runs - 4:07
6. Magic Man - 4:03
7. Grandma's Lawn - 3:25
8. Where But For Caravan Would I Be (R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, B. Hopper, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair) - 9:01
9. Place Of My Own - 4:01
10.Ride - 3:42
11.Policeman - 2:44
12.Love Song With Flute - 4:10
13.Cecil Runs - 4:07
14.Magic Man - 4:03
15.Grandma's Lawn - 3:25
16.Where But For Caravan Would I Be (R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, B. Hopper, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair) - 9:01
17.Hello Hello (Single Version Bonus Track) - 3:12
All compositions by R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair except where indicated.
Tracks 1-8 Mono album
Tracks 9-17 Stereo album
*Pye Hastings – Guitar, Singer, Vocals
*Dave Sinclair – Electronic Organ, Organ, Piano
*Richard Sinclair – Bass Guitar, Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Richard Coughlan – Drum Kit, Drums
*Jimmy Hastings - Flute