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Old 09-08-2009, 08:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973)

  1. Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss (Pye Hastings) - 9:"1"4
  2. Hoedown (Hastings) - 3:"1""1"
  3. Surprise, Surprise (Hastings) - 4:06
  4. C'thulu Thulu (Hastings) - 6:"5"
  5. The Dog, the Dog, He's at It Again (Hastings) - "5":"5"6
  6. Be Alright / Chance of a Lifetime (Hastings) - 6:33
  7. L'Auberge Du Sanglier / a Hunting We Shall Go / Pengola / Backwards / a Hunting We… (Mike Ratledge) - "1"0:03


Members on this album : Pye Hastings, Geoff Richardson, David Sinclair, John G. Perry, Richard Coughlan

Caravan is a (still active) prog-rock band from the Canterbury area and were part of the canterbury scene along with contemporaries like Soft Machine. Unlike some of their contemporaries who often moved in a more jazzy improvisational direction, Caravan eventually pursued a more good-natured pop-rock sound that sometimes had slightly naive or silly lyrical themes.

They released a well-recieved eponymous debut album in 1968 which was followed up by more well-recieved album "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" (1970, awesome title by the way) which was followed up by even more well recieved and critically acclaimed classic "In the Land of Grey and Pink" (1971). After the third album, then-keyboardist David Sinclair left the group and was replaced with Steve Miller .. Then they released another album, Waterloo Lily, but it did not recieve so well with fans and critics as their previous albums. Ouch. Anyways, to make a long story short, the band was broken up leaving only Hastings and Coughlan who recruited some new names and after a while, David Sinclair returned to the band.

I hope I'm not boring you this early on with facts. You can read about it on Wikipedia if you wanna know all the details. Anyways, Sinclair leaves -> slightly disappointing 4th album - Sinclair comes back -> ... what happens then? Why, they make the album "For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night" of course!

Album Review

"So is it good?!" you wonder, probing at the feelings of suspense and wonder I left you with in my introduction. "Patience man! You can't just dive head-first into an album like this. Now, let us start with the first track" ...

Memory Lain opens the album with a solid, catchy guitar riff - bass and hats come in, followed by drums after a couple more turns on the riff and WHAM! Harmonius, playful vocals enter and the magic that is Caravan opens up and sucks you in, lulling you with soft rock goodness. Wow! After a couple of goes at a wonderful refrain, the song softens up with a lovely part on the flute before it heads into an instrumental jam on the same theme. Everything is so catchy, dreamy, perfect - you can't help but get sucked in. After a while, the song slows down again and a probing, haunting flute finds it's way into the music and steers it down a new path. A steady beat picks up until eventually, the song starts breaking up again. But not for long.

Suddenly, the drums and guitar kicks off again in perfect sync in what must be Headloss. The rock & roll riff will send shivers down your spine and the vocals are are right back again in what sounds like a real feelgood rock tune.
"I got my pipe and I got my song - and I got love to keep me happy"
After some rounds of this, the song kicks off into it's final jam and finally ends at a little more than 9 thrilling minutes of great music. I hope I'm able to convey some of the love and wonder I have for this song. The moment I heard it, I knew I liked it and the replayability is tremendous. It feels like it grows on me a little more everytime I hear it, making me more and more fond of this album.

Next song, Hoedown also kicks off with a solid riff in what is one of the "rockier" songs on the album. However, being the shortest song on the album, it soon hands things over to Surprise, Surprise, Surprise which is another absolutely wonderful song, a bit poppier than the first two tracks with some absolutely lovely backing vocals and lyrics that contains words like "sunshine" and "love". Associations in my head is walking in the sun a summerday, being young and in love. If what I write sounds tacky, then I'm sorry - don't take it out on the song. It is awesome.

The sweetness dies away a little with scary-themed C'thulu Thulu (Cthulhu fthagn!) song, but instead of breaking up the so-far sweet theme of the album, it's playful style and humorous refrain makes it more like a humorous anekdote about something spooky that happened one day. Now and then, it surprises you with a raw guitar sound (relative to whatever else on this album) and jams out ..

The next song is The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again. Oh my. Oh .. wow. This joyful song with the most harmonius vocals so far should hit you right in the heart. If you say you don't like this song, well - I just don't believe you. Of course, it continues the sweet, feelgood theme of the album. A jam in the middle shakes things up a little and makes you long for the vocal verses once again and when they return, it feels oh-so satisfying. I'll add that the song has some very playful, fun and interesting lyrics. Supposedly, Pye wrote this song as an ode to blowjobs or something along those lines.
My mother said that I should stay out of bed,
But I know that I like it in there
Legs and thighs, hellos and goodbyes
It's all there
Oh my, oh
So please - sit back, relax and enjoy this song in it's entirety.

Next track, Be Alright / Chance of a Lifetime ups the pace again in a more beat-steady rock tune with some skillfull solo-guitar and orchestral arrangement that are perfectly mixed, keeping it in line with the rest of the album. However, when it makes it's slide into the Chance of a Lifetime theme, we're onto new ground . The song slows down and is takes the shape of a kind of slow-jazzy bossa nova. In my mind's eye, the warm music conjures up pictures of white beaches and blue waves as the song jams, hits a new verse and then slowly breaks to a halt, leaving the stage for the album's last song.

Last track opens with acoustic guitar and some wonderful violin in a theme similar to Chance of a Lifetime before it kicks into a beat-steady prog-instrumental piece A Hunting We Shall Go. The next theme is another haunting instrumental part dominated by piano at first, then strings and clarinet. It picks up towards the end with more horns and strings adding to the sound, making it sound more or less like a pure orchestral piece - growing more and more pompous. Within the song's last minute, the rock riff from earlier comes back in with the orchestra for a final showoff before the album ends abruptly in what sounds like a thunder .. the album has reached it's inevitable end. Sigh.

Now, if you are fortunate and have the bonus songs, you might hear what sounds like "memory lain" starting up again. Oh joy! If you don't have them, putting the album on repeat will suffice.

Review summary

While Airborne's last album will pick you up, throw you on to the table and have rough sex with your eardrums, Caravan's "For Girls who grow plump in the night" will seduce you, make you fall in love with it, make sweet lovin' to your soft and ravaged little ears and make you beg for more in the morning. This is some of the most seductive rock-music I've ever heard. It may take a few listens to really get into it, but it's not hard. The first time I heard it, I was like "Wow! This is a good album!" A couple of listens later, I was like "Someone get me a glass of water. Drooling hydrates me. Dear Caravan, thank you for making sweet love to my ears. Will you please do it again? Aaahh". This has rapidly become my favourite album these days and I'm sorry for all the comparisons between sex and listening to music, but if you were me, you'd understand.

It's also a real "feelgood"-album, more so than the previous albums I've heard from them .. more so than any other prog-rock album I've heard, at least so far. That, to me, makes it a little extra special. It's an album for the good times in your life - or - as is my case right now, remembering them (Well - I've been working a lot the last few days). Where I am right now - in the polarnight where it's dark and cold 24/7, I sincerely appreciate it.

So what can I say? Unless you already have it or your taste in music is narrower than a mite's arsehole, you need to get this album. If you do get it, bear in mind that this album may not be appropriate any time of any day. It may not be appropriate for a night's beer-drinking with your bachelor friends, but you could possibly listen to it when you're driving your car in the summer with the top down (the roof, I mean). If you have a long bussride to get through, you could put this album on your iPod and let yourself slip down into the warm and seductive sounds of Caravan .. (It also works when you're out walking in -20 below and strong gale winds as long as you cover your head properly.)

So how do I rate this sly sucker? My heart tells me to give it a 6, but I'm in a vulnerable state right now - like I'm in love and I can't think straight. I need to think with my head and not with my heart. Can I trust Caravan? Maybe they're taking take advantage of me?! ...

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 6/6

All good tracks combined with the way they all add to the outstanding wholeness of the album deserves, right now, a 6 - I think. If you find the time, try listening to it in it's entirety. You will see what I mean.
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