If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over you
- If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over you
- And I wish I were stoned – Don’t worry
- As I feel I die
- With an ear to the ground you can make it / Martinian / Only cox / Reprise
- Hello Hello
- Asforteri 25
- Can’t be long now / Françoise / For Richard / Warlock
Now we’re talking! Full frontal prog, with song lengths setting a standard that in 1970 was still to be assimilated by the prog community. Of course, song length is not a value in itself and if you can’t justify it with good melodies and/or intriguing instrumental passages then it’s just grating. Thankfully, Caravan at least partly succeeded in this respect from the very beginning although I feel that the closing suite consists too much of uninspired jamming and little actual songwriting, but up until then we’re sorted.
The overall atmosphere is somewhat lighter than on the debut, despite the even more bombastic approach with all the multi-part suites because basically every song on here is built upon melodies lighter than a feather. Kinda reflective of the forest grove on the cover with all the ‘foresty’ organs and flutes abound. This atmosphere is especially present on “And I wish I were stoned”, “As I feel I die” and “With an ear to the ground you can make it”. Well, there’s half the album already! However, it all begins with Caravan’s already established brand of quirky pop in “If I could do it all over again, I’d make the title even longer”, but I honestly don’t think that it’s very good. The looping melody with interweaving harmonies is inventive for sure, but I don’t really care for the actual song.
But then we’re going places, supposedly into that aforementioned forest. “And I wish I were stoned” is one of my favourite tracks on here, essentially just two oh-so-obvious pop ditties merged together with some tasteful organ-led passages and what is actually the first real guitar solo from Hastings. Then, still in the forest, we have “As I feel I die” beginning as a slow, almost unbearably quiet melody (that nonetheless rule) building up tension, only to suddenly shift gears and tipping its hat to their jazz-tinged legacy. Can’t you imagine the elves skipping around in the morning sun finding its way down through the green foilage? Or yourself, for that matter.
But then we are ever so slightly running into trouble. The, once again, multi-part “With an ear to the ground” begins on a similarily quiet note, then gradually picks up steam but its first part (reprised at the end) doesn’t really cut it. It gets better in the mid-section though, and as it slows down we are greeted with lush harmonies and a lovely flute solo so all in all it qualifies. “Hello hello” continues the line of the title track, although in a minor key this time and noticeably better. But then we have that closing suite which just seems to go nowhere. There are a few moments which approaches ‘decent’, like the reocurring organ theme that concludes the measures in the second part about four minutes in and onward, as well as after the sax/flute solos. I also like the part which follows, with that four-chord organ swirl adding at least some power to an otherwise lame exercise in pointless noodling. Why couldn’t they make a proper song out of these neat little ideas instead of trying to one-up the… oh wait! This piece is actually breaking some new ground. Like I said, the side-long prog suites were still to be taken up by contemporaries like Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Yes (who at the time hadn’t even released “The Yes album” which even there didn’t boast anything longer than ten minutes. “For Richard” is over fourteen).
So that somewhat ruins the experience since it takes up way too much of the overall running length. Too bad, since some of the other tracks manages to surpass the quality of the debut. Their best work was yet to come.