Caravan: In The Land Of Grey & Pink (Deluxe Edition)
Disc One features the original album, newly remastered by Paschal Byrne at The Audio Archive, plus three new Stereo mixes by Steven Wilson. Disc Two features two previously unreleased versions of “It Doesn’t Take A Lot” and “Nigel Blows A Tune” plus four non-album tracks remixed by Wilson.
Disc Two also includes three songs recorded live for BBC radio’s Sounds of the Seventies - Love To Love You, Love Song Without Flute and In The Land Of Grey And Pink - plus two songs recorded live for John Peel’s Sunday Concert (which include a superb cover version of Soft Machine’s Feelin’, Reelin’, Squealin’ and Caravan’s own magnum opus, Nine Feet Underground). Disc Three is a DVD featuring the brand new 5.1 surround sound and stereo mix of the album, plus two performances recorded for German TV’s Beat Club in June 1971. Golf Girl was broadcast at the time but Winter Wine has never been seen.
Like Soft Machine, Caravan was born out of Canterbury based band Wilde Flowers, a group subject to many line-up changes. At various times the outfit featured Kevin Ayers (guitar), Richard Sinclair (guitar), Robert Wyatt (drums), and Hugh Hopper (bass). The band was augmented in 1965 when Hopper invited trainee dental technician and drummer Richard Coughlan to replace Robert Wyatt, who had chosen to sing rather than play drums. Shortly afterwards a new guitarist was also recruited, Pye Hastings, born in Banffshire, Scotland (but living in Canterbury since the age of twelve). Originally an R&B band, Wilde Flowers were developing towards more of a soul direction when Dave Sinclair joined, originally playing bass, but soon switching to keyboards. Both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt then departed just a few months apart, both later re-emerging in Soft Machine.
By 1968, changing their name to Caravan, the classic first line-up comprised Pye Hastings, guitar and vocals; Richard Sinclair, bass guitar and vocals; Dave Sinclair, keyboards; and Richard Coughlan, drums. Caravan soon developed a unique style, having begun to write their own material, and began to perform outside of Kent. An appearance at Middle Earth in Covent Garden in June 1968 eventually led to Caravan becoming the first British band to sign to the New York-based Verve Records. The album Caravan appeared on Verve Forecast in October 1968 and stands creatively along side classic early British psychedelic recordings like Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Family’s Music in a Doll’s House and Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy. Unfortunately, the album was only in the shops for a matter of months before Verve Records ceased operations in the UK.
Caravan soon found a new home, signing to Decca Records and recording their second album in September 1969. The irreverently titled If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You was released a year later. By then, Caravan had already written the new material that would make up the bulk of their next vinyl outing. In the Land of Grey and Pink was the result - arguably, their finest hour.
Sessions for the album began at Decca Studios in West Hampstead in September 1970 where Caravan worked on first versions of what would become legendary songs in their repertoire. On this occasion, Pye Hastings' sole songwriting contribution was Love To Love You. He explains his relative lack of material thus: “For the first two albums I wrote most of the material, and Dave Sinclair also wrote a lot. When it came to Grey and Pink the others had a big backlog of material. Dave especially was advancing way ahead of the rest of us in terms of musical development, so he had a lot of say on the album. Richard Sinclair also had a pile of good material. I only contributed one entire track, but offered bits to some others.”
The first song recorded was Richard Sinclair’s Group Girl, aka Golf Girl. Another Richard Sinclair composition to grace the album was Winter Wine, a song of fairy tales and dreams. “We tended to come up with the music first and the lyrics were usually the last thing to be finished,” explained Pye. “I think Winter Wine is probably the finest song Richard Sinclair has every written.” The remaining sessions in September 1970 were dedicated to Dave’s Thing, a major composition that became Nine Feet Underground. The 22-minute opus was recorded in five distinct sections and skilfully edited by David Hitchcock and engineer Dave Grinsted. In December 1970 the band moved to the newly opened Air London studios in Oxford Street. These AIR sessions saw Golf Girl re-recorded, with a superb piccolo solo from Pye’s brother, Jimmy Hastings, plus the remaining titles, including Grey and Pink and Hastings' Love To Love You. The work at Air also produced Richard Sinclair’s long unreleased “Frozen Rose (I Don’t Know It’s Name Alias The Word)”, now one of the bonus tracks on Disc Two.
The album’s final mixing was completed at Decca studios in January 1971, with its initial single, released on February 12th 1971, coupling Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly) with Golf Girl. In The Land Of Grey And Pink followed in April 1971 on Decca’s progressive rock label Deram. It was the inaugural release in Deram’s “deluxe” series, its gatefold sleeve featuring a striking Tolkien-esque illustration by Anne-Marie Anderson. Both the music within and the album sleeve created a stunning impression but, despite failing to register on the official UK album chart, In The Land Of Grey And Pink has remained on catalogue since its 1971 release and is Caravan’s biggest selling album. It’s splendid fusion of folk, jazz and rock - tinged with the band’s humour - created an album that is still highly regarded. Forty years on, In The Land Of Grey And Pink is, perhaps, Caravan’s defining moment.
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