Years: 1968 - present
Styles: Canterbury Scene, Classic Rock, Pop Rock, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Soft Rock
Richard Sinclair - Acoustic guitar , Bass Guitar, Guitar, Tambourine, Vocals (in band: 1968 – 1972; 1981 – 1985; 1990 – 1992)
Pye Hastings - 12 string guitar, Acoustic guitar , Bass Guitar, Claves, Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1968 – 1978; 1980 – 1985; 1990 – 1992 ; 1995 – present)
Richard Coughlan - Bongos, Congas, Drums, Finger Cymbals, Maracas, Percussion, Timpani (in band: 1968 – 1978; 1980 – 1985; 1990 – 1992; 1995 – 2013)
Dave Sinclair - Electric piano, Fender piano, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Mellotron, MiniMoog, Organ, Piano, Prophet 5, Synthesizer, Vocals (in band: 1968– 1971; 1973 – 1975; 1980 – 1985; 1990 – 1992; 1995 – 2002)
Steve Miller - Electric piano, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Organ, Piano (in band: 1971 – 1972)
Derek Austin - Keyboards (in band: 1972 – 1973)
Geoffrey Richardson - Acoustic guitar , Backing vocals, Banjo, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Mandolin, Shaker, Sitar, Tambourine, Ukelele, Viola, Violin, Vocals, Whistle (in band: 1972 – 1978; 1980 – 1981; 1995 – 1996,;1997 – present)
Stuart Evans - Bass Guitar (in band: 1972– 1973)
John G. Perry - Bass Guitar, Percussion, Vocals (in band: 1973 – 1974)
Mike Wedgwood - Bass Guitar, Congas, Vocals (in band: 1974 – 1976)
Jan Schelhaas - ARP Solina string synthesizer, Backing vocals, Clavinet, Electric piano, Keyboards, MiniMoog, Organ, Piano, Vocals (in band: 1975 – 1978; 2002 – present)
Dek Messecar - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1976 – 1978; 1980 – 1981)
Jim Leverton - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar (in band: 1995 – present)
Simon Bentall - Percussion (in band: 1996 – 1997)
Jim Hastings - Flute, Saxophone (in band: 1996 – 1997)
Doug Boyle - Lead guitar (in band: 1996 – 2007)
Mark Walker - Drums, Percussion (in band: 2010 – present)
Caravan are an English band from the Canterbury area, founded by former Wilde Flowers members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan in 1968. Caravan rose to success over a period of several years from 1968 onwards into the 1970s as part of the Canterbury scene, blending psychedelic rock and jazz to create a distinctive sound like their contemporaries Soft Machine. Caravan still remains active as a live band in the 21st century.
Coughlan, Hastings and the two Sinclairs subsequently formed Caravan in 1968. By October, they had attracted the interest of music publicist Ian Ralfini, who signed them to the American record label, Verve Records, and became the first British act they signed. Verve subsequently released the band's debut LP, "Caravan", later the same year, but a few months later moved out of the UK record business and dropped the band.
After a series of gigs in London, including the Speakeasy Club, the band were introduced to Terry King, who became the group's first manager. David Hitchcock, who had been working in the art department of Decca Records, asked the company's president, Hugh Mendl to sign the band. They began recording their second album, "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You" in September 1969, while continuing to gig on the university circuit, and appearing at festivals alongside Pink Floyd, Yes, The Nice and Soft Machine. Recording "If I could ..." continued in February 1970, with the 14-minute track "For Richard", showing the band's contrast in styles and jazz-rock influence. The album was released in August, alongside an appearance at the Plumpton Festival with Van Der Graaf Generator, Yes and Colosseum.
“In the Land of Grey and Pink” is considered by many to be a pinnacle release from Caravan. The album contains an undeniable and decidedly European sense of humor and charm. In addition, this would mark the end of band’s premiere lineup. Co-founder David Sinclair would leave Caravan to form Matching Mole with Soft Machine drummer and vocalist Robert Wyatt in August of ’71.
As a group effort, “In the Land of Grey and Pink” displays all the brilliance Caravan’ created on their previous pair of 12” outings. The blending of jazz and folk instrumentation and improvisational styles hint at Traffic and Family, as display on “Winter Wine”, as well as the organ and sax driven instrumental introduction to “Nine Feet Underground”. These contract at decidedly aggressive sounds concurrent with albums from King Crimson and Soft Machine. Richard Sinclair’s lyrics are of particular note, especially the middle- earth imagery used on “Winter Wine” or the enduring whimsy of “Golf Girl”.
The remaining members continued on together and Richard Sinclair invited keyboardist Steve Miller to join the band. The band started recording a new album, "Waterloo Lily" in late 1971, which was the first use of orchestral instrumentation, arranged by Hastings and his brother, Jimmy, who had guested on previous albums. The album was released in May 1972, but by this time, musical differences had come to a head, and after a gig with Genesis in July 1972, the band split.
Hastings and Coughlan decided to continue as Caravan, and the duo recruited viola player Geoffrey Richardson, bassist Stu Evans and keyboardist Derek Austin and toured extensively. This line-up did not make any recordings before Evans was replaced by John G. Perry and Dave Sinclair rejoined the group in 1973.
After the musical uncertainty ow “Waterloo Lily”, Caravan returned with their most inspired recording since “In the Land of Grey and Pink”. The splendidly titled “For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night” is several steps ahead in terms of fresh musical ideas that wholly incorporate the band’s trademark humor within the otherwise serious and challenging sonic structures. Two and more dominant reasons for the change in Caravan’s sound were the return of keyboardist Dave Sinclair and the addition of violist Peter Geoffrey Richardson, Die-hard fans gladly welcomed Sinclair back, however, Richardson was met with heckles from enthusiasts during live appearances.
They were soon silenced as his place on “For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night” easily ranks among Caravan’s watershed moments. There are perhaps none better than the mesmerizing counterpoint melodies he weaves during the “L’Auberge Du Sanglier” suite. While not completely abandoning their jazz leanings, “For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night” is considerably focused back into the rock genre.
Perry replaced by Mike Wedgwood for the album "Cunning Stunts", which reached the top 50 in the UK and was a minor hit in the US, reaching number 124. It was the last album released on Decca, which preceded a number of other problems in the band. David Sinclair left after the album was recorded and was replaced by Jan Schelhaas, with the band's sound becoming more mainstream.
They recorded "Blind Dog at St. Dunstan's" for the Copeland-owned BTM Records the following year, and "Better by Far" for the Arista label the year after that, but by that time, their moment seemed to have passed, and they seemed increasingly out of step with the burgeoning punk rock boom. Caravan ceased activity in the early '80s, following the release of "The Album" and "Back to Front", both recorded for Kingdom Records, owned by their former manager Terry King.
Caravan were largely dormant in the 1980s until a 1990 reunion, planned as a one-off for television, reinvigorated their career. The group continued to tour in the early 1990s, before Richard Sinclair left. He was replaced by Jim Leverton, while Richardson rejoined the band. This version of the group released The "Battle of Hastings" in 1995.
Listen to this beautifully melodic, midtempo album by Caravan is a bit like stepping inside of a time-warp. The group sounds astonishingly good vocally, and Pye Hastings’ songwriting skills are as fine as (and maybe finer than) ever, as though they’ve scarcely skipped a beat from their 1970s heyday. Release in 1995 “The Battle of Hastings” might have put them on the U.S. charts, at least if an edited version of the hook-laden and memorable “Liar” had been released as an accompanying single-indeed, this is the record that might’ve broken the band in America.
The group continued to play into the 21st century. They have also achieved steady sales and a fan following with the support of Stuart Maconie' "Freak Zone" show on BBC 6 Music. After performing at NEARFest in 2002, they released "The Unauthorized Breakfast Item" album in 2003, where David Sinclair was replaced by a returning Schelhaas. An archive collection of BBC sessions from 1968–1975, The "Show of Our Lives" was released in 2007.
In January 2013 the band completed a successful UK tour to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the album "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night". This was followed later in the year by the announcement of a new album, "Paradise Filter".
1. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravan_(band)
2. All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. 3rd Edition 2002. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Published by Backbeat Books, page 182 - Lindsay Planer
3. Source: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/caravan-mn0000167296/biography
4. All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. 3rd Edition 2002. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Published by Backbeat Books, page 182 - Bruce Eder
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