Tag Archives: Matching Mole

Caravan – 1973 – For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night

Cover Album Art for For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (1973)

After the release of Caravan’s Canterbury landmark album In the Land of Grey and Pink, creative differences in the group started pulling the band apart. First to leave was keyboardist David Sinclair to be replaced by Steve Miller. On the band’s fourth album from 1972, the band was basically split into two working pairs, Richard Sinclair and Steve Miller doing their more jazz inspired thing and Pye Hastings with Richard Coughlan writing more of the kind of rock tunes Caravan were known for. As a result, the band’s fourth album, Waterloo Lily, didn’t feel entirely cohesive and after it’s completion, Richard and Steve would leave Caravan and go on to other projects like Delivery and (for Richard) Hatfield and the North.

On For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, keyboardist David Sinclair was asked to participate and agreed to (re)join (after a short stint with Matching Mole) as a paid session player as he was in need of some cash. Also joining the ranks were John G. Perry on bass and shared vocal duty and multi-instrumentalist Peter Geoffrey “Geoff” Richardson on viola who has stayed with the band since. The man at the helm was, once again, singer and self-proclaimed chord basher Pye Hastings who wrote the vast majority of the music.

Album review

The result, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night from 1973, is a much more cohesive effort than their previous album, Waterloo Lily. With the jazzy experiments of Sinclair and Miller gone, the band adopted a rockier and more guitar dominated sound with various other noticeable instrumental differences such as the lovely addition of Geoff’s viola. The music they play is remarkably seductive and peppered throughout with feelgood sounds and lyrics on topics like love and sunshine. It may sound a bit wishy washy, but they managed to pull it off remarkably well and the whole album is full of hooks. A good example of the catchy feelgood music you’ll find on the album (and perhaps the song which is likely to first get stuck on a first time listener’s mind) is Caravan’s classic The Dog, The Dog, He’s At It Again, Pye’s tribute to sex – which I promise you is more charming than it sounds.

ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeGbAz8Ri1U

I consider the last half of the album to be the strongest and, as we get close to the end, the band plays along with an orchestra for an epic finish; a medley of beautiful instrumental pieces including Soft Machine keyboardist Mike Ratledge’s wonderful composition Backwards. If only Caravan and the New Symphonia sounded this good!

Final words

Not every song reaches the same level of excellence, but there really isn’t a bad track on here. To me, the album has great replayability as I find myself returning to this more than any other in the band’s discography. I suspect some Canterbury enthusiasts well versed in the avantgarde may initially consider this batch of Caravan’s later rock sounds to not be experimental enough for their liking. For their sake, I hope not because they’d be missing out. Like John G. Perry said in his interview with Aymeric from Calyx, I consider this album to be almost on par with the band’s classic In the Land of Grey and Pink. Depending on my mood, it may even be my favourite!

[rating:5] (5/5)

What on Earth are you doing, God?

God Song is another classic and, for me, another favorite from the Canterbury scene. It was first released on Matching Mole’s Little Red Record from 1972, but other versions exist, for example a lovely version with Robert Wyatt singing and playing the piano on his archive release Solar Flares Burn for You, released in 2003. The lyrics were written by Robert while the music is credited to Phil Miller who was, at that time, Matching Mole’s guitarist.

To me, the song showcases some amazing lyrical skills by Robert. The song itself is a sort of prayer where a drunk singer, having a moment of honesty, expresses his frustrations with God. Towards the end of the song, the singer’s fear of God seems to resurface and he asks Him to discard his frustrations as a joke or drunken rant.

 

Don’t hunt me down for heaven’s sake

You know I’m only joking, aren’t I

Pardon me, I’m very drunk

 

The song portrays God as something like a bully, possibly playing a big joke on Mankind, expecting rules to be followed while being absent and not involving himself in the betterment of his followers lives and possibly “hunting down” those who dare complain. The use of everyday language and expressions and the partly rantish nature of the lyrics (such as the changing subjects and the suggestion that he gives his son a wife and a sexy daughter next time around) may seem comical at first, but actually help make the song feel more real and honest.

Most of you who are interested in the scene will know the Matching Mole version already and so I thought I’d post here Wyatt’s version from Solar Flares Burn For You which I believe is the same as on the Flotsam Jetsam compilation, only that one has Fol De Rol attached to the end of it.

The song was also played by Hatfield and the North and has been sung many times on stage by Richard Sinclair. The last time they played it may have been in drummer Pip Pyle’s funeral in 2006, a very beautiful and touching gesture. Back in 1972, the band also played the song with Robert Wyatt as a guest singer in a duet with Richard Sinclair. Here is such a version sung at the start of this medley, supposedly from a set they played together in France in 1972, according to the video’s description.

To me, God Song is an immortal classic which never seems to get old. What do you think? Any other fans out there? :)

Happy birthday, Dave!

David Sinclair 1976/77, picture courtesy of Mark Hewins

It was back in 1968 that David Sinclair first gave us the gift that keeps on giving as keyboardist on Caravan’s debut album. Since then, he’s become one the most loved musicians from the scene and has been involved with projects like Matching Mole, Sinclair & The South, The Polite Force, Camel and also his own solo material. He’s still most famous for his work with Caravan, for the timeless beauty of his playing and for composing classics like For Richard, Nine Feet Underground and Proper Job / Back to Front. Those were all recorded a while ago now, but Dave is still very much an active musician with his last release being Stream from earlier this year (which by the way features other known Canterburyans like Robert Wyatt and Jimmy Hastings!).

Today, it’s 64 years ago since David Sinclair was born in Herne Bay and so we’d like to say

Happy birthday, Dave! We wish you all the best!