Saturday, April 28, 2007

Caravan

Current Line Up
Pye Hastings - Guitar / Vocals
Jan Schelhaas - Keyboards
Richard Coughlan - Drums
Geoffrey Richardson - Viola/ flute/ mandolin
Jim Leverton - Bass/ vocals
Doug Boyle - Guitar

@ Caravan Info
Caravan was formed in Canterbury, England in 1968 by Pye Hastings (guitar/ vocals), Dave Sinclair (keyboards), Richard Sinclair (bass/ vocals) and Richard Coughlan (drums). The four had previously played at various times with a local band, The Wilde Flowers, which also featured Kevin Ayers and future Soft Machine members Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper.

Caravan was the first UK act to sign with American label MGM/ Verve and their debut album, entitled 'Caravan' was released late in 1968. It was favourably received by the critics and the debut single, Place of My Own was described as having a 'gripping compulsion' with 'scintillating organ work'. John Peel played the album regularly on his radio show 'Top Gear'.

A second album saw a move from Verve, as they had closed down their rock/pop division and Decca took up the cause. September 1970 was the release date for 'If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You'. At this time relationships within the band were strong. They got on well and they looked on course to succeed as a band.

Still together as a unit, the band recorded 'In the Land of Grey and Pink' which was released in September 1971. By now a loyal fan base was developing and they were playing some prestigious gigs, for example in front of 250,000 in Rotterdam. The album was described as 'virtually faultless' and the band looked set fair for national and international recognition. At this crucial point, Dave Sinclair decided to leave. As Pye Hastings explained, 'Dave was developing faster than the rest of us and I think he was getting frustrated at seeing other bands of dubious talent getting greater financial reward. The management must have been beside themselves: the band were getting somewhere, a new album is released and the main player decides he is off.'

Steve Miller came in as a replacement for Dave: he had been recommended to Richard Sinclair by Phil, Steve's guitarist brother. This line up did not go down so well with fans who saw a change to a jazzier feel based around Steve's piano- orientated keyboards. This style dominated the next album release, Waterloo Lily, released in May 1972. No longer was Dave's unique keyboard sound- based around his Hammond organ- in evidence. Even Pye's older brother Jimmy Hastings appeared to be surplus to requirements, appearing only on 'Love in Your Eye' on sax and flute, the bulk of this work going to Lol Coxhill.

It was no surprise when the line up disbanded, leaving Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan to pick up the pieces and decide whether to carry on. A change of direction resulted with the addition of Geoffrey Richardson on viola. The line up was completed by Welshman Stu Evans on bass and the well travelled Derek Austin on Keyboards. No album was released by this version of Caravan, although they toured extensively, including a series of dates in Australia, accompanying Slade, Lindisfarne and Status Quo. The reissue of this album on Universal in 2001 does include versions with the Evans/ Austin line up, including a completely new track, 'Derek's Long Thing'.

In February 1973, another shake up occurred. John Perry, who Pye had previously invited to join the band, signed up on bass and Dave Sinclair agreed to rejoin to make an album and take part in the tour to follow. The album, 'For Girls That Grow Plump in the Night' was a return to form, with practically every track written by Pye Hastings. The New Musical Express described the album as, 'Superior pop music, full of taste, craftsmanship and hard work.' Melody Maker pitched in, 'There's no track that's less than satisfying. A chart album I hope: the band deserve a break.'

The band then got the chance to try something a little different and recorded an album with the New Symphonia, for which Pye wrote a couple of new tunes. Simon Jeffes of Penguin Cafe Orchestra arranged some of the music, with the bulk of the 'charts' arranged by Martyn Ford, with contributions from Don Gould. Martyn was the conductor. Rehearsal time was 6 hours only! The album showed the band in full flight and gave Geoffrey Richardson to show his talents and for him to expand on the earlier versions of the songs. By July 1974, John Perry had moved off to play with Quantum Jump, to be replaced by Mike Wedgewood who had played previously in Curved Air.

With Dave Sinclair firmly re-established in the band, an album was put together. Richardson, Coughlan, Hastings, D.Sinclair, M.WedgewoodThis was originally to have been titled 'Toys in the Attic', but they were beaten to it by Aerosmith and had to make do with 'Cunning Stunts', which featured Dave Sinclair's songwriting far more heavily. Two tours of America took place and at one stage the album was the fastest selling import in San Francisco.

Once again wanderlust got the better of Dave Sinclair and he was replaced by Jan Schelhaas who had played in the 'National Head Band'. An album 'Blind Dog at St Dunstans' resulted, with positive reviews again. Melody Maker gave a detailed review of the recording and added, 'This is a distinguished work, with Coughlan's driving drums revealing his painstaking craftsmanship. Caravan possess all the attributes: good musicianship, strong songs, an imaginative stage show. They remain one of our most competent bands and eventually will be recognised as such even if takes them another decade.' Soon after this Mike Wedgewood departed to be replaced by Dek Messecar, and Dave Sinclair returned temporarily to play on a tour to help promote a 'best of' compilation from Decca.

A change of label to Arista produced an album, 'Better by Far'. Despite a good deal of promotion, Caravan were now struggling to maintain the level of support they had previously enjoyed and the advent of punk was rendering bands such as Caravan surplus to record company's requirements. Even the loyal Geoffrey Richardson decided to go as session work began to come his way- he left on April 14th 1978.

Terry King the band's old manager signed them up to his own Kingdom Records and a tour and album followed: 'The Album', which was released in November 1980. With Dave Sinclair in tow and Geoffrey Richardson guesting, they managed a few prestigious dates including a full house at London's Dominion Theatre.

All went quiet again however and the band went to ground, although a reunion album was released in July 1982 entitled 'Back to Front', featuring the original line up augmented on some tracks by Mel Collins on saxophone. No longer were the band members in music full time. The only dates of any significance were an appearance at the Marquee in 1983 for the club's 25th celebrations and a 'final' gig in Canterbury in 1985.

And so that was that..........or was it? In 1990 Central TV were putting together a series of concerts to focus on bands from the 1970's and through the efforts of Richard Sinclair, the original bass player, the very first line up got back together to record a set. As a warm up, Caravan played the Canterbury Festival in June 1990, followed by the concert recording at Central Studios in July in front of 400 fans who had discovered what was afoot.

The most unlikely outcome was a gig held that September at Old Buckenham High School in Norfolk where, through persistent and determined advertising, 650 people attended, with many others unable to get tickets. A small number of successful gigs followed, including of course a triumphant return to Old Buckenham in 1991.

With the band members concentrating on other pursuits, it was inevitable that things would quieten down again and the departure of Richard Sinclair on other musical projects added to this. The discovery of old tapes left over from a recording session in 1977 (with Richard Sinclair on Bass), led to a revival of interest and the release of this material under the title of 'Cool Water' in 1994. Pye Hastings and Dave Sinclair had done some live dates with a band called Mirage and were therefore 'up for it' at the suggestion by HTD records to record a brand new Caravan album.

'The Battle of Hastings' emerged in the Autumn of 1995, with the participation of Pye Hastings, Richard Coughlan, Dave Sinclair, Geoffrey Richardson, plus Jim Leverton on bass- an old friend of Geoffrey's. This marked a true return to form for Caravan, with the songwriting of Pye Hastings back to its very best and the contribution of Dave Sinclair on keyboards, plus his songwriting ability evident on a cracking song, 'Travelling Ways' which ultimately gained radio airplay in Britain as well as turning up in Ireland's Top 40 as a charity single recorded by a group of High School students. A further Caravan recording was released in April 1996, a remake of early classics entitled 'All Over You'.

To show that the band meant business this time, an Autumn tour was set up, but Geoffrey Richardson was unavailable. This resulted in the return of Jimmy Hastings on saxes and flutes and the addition of Simon Bentall on percussion and Doug Boyle on lead guitar. Jim Leverton, who had already appeared on 'Battle of Hastings' was still on board. It was evident from the first rehearsals that this new line up was giving the band a real kick: Simon was bringing out the best in drummer Richard and the stunning guitar work of Doug Boyle was giving Pye a new lease of life. As Pye said at the time, 'This will give us the chance to extend and vary our songs: Doug Boyle is a powerful player who will add so much and it's like a breath of fresh air. I'm just the rhythm guitarist and my position is as leader, songwriter and co-ordinator- I'm not the star of the band!'

The concerts took place to a mixed reception. The promotion of the gigs was appalling, which resulted in the cancellation of three of the gigs. However the reception elsewhere was good and the London Astoria had around 1,000 fans calling for more. Confidence was growing and in 1997 a return to the Astoria was accompanied by two successful gigs in Holland organised by Jasper Smit who runs the European Fan Club, plus a date in Dublin. Geoffrey Richardson was now back in the fold.

In 1997 a live album of the Astoria concert was issued and a storming gig took place at the Park Hotel in Diss, Norfolk in May 1998 to a full house, as well as visits to Holland and Germany. Hux records also issued two volumes of live material recorded at the BBC in the 1970's. Return concerts to Diss and to the Astoria in 1999 confirmed the rise of Caravan, most notably in the number of new and younger fans now following the band. The resurgence continued and in the summer of 2002, Caravan made a triumphant return to the US, playing a gig at Nearfest, New Jersey in front of a sell- out, adoring audience. This was followed by two gigs in Quebec, one of which featured Caravan playing a version of For Richard alongside an orchestra conducted by Martyn Ford.

The departure of Dave Sinclair in late summer 2002, mid way through recordings for a new album, was not a happy situation for either the band or Dave. The 're-arrival' of Jan Schelhaas after an absence of 23 years did at least give the band a new impetus, which led to the completion of the new album, 'The Unauthorised Breakfast Item' for release in February 2003. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Bruce Eder @ All Music
Caravan was one of the more formidable progressive rock acts to come out of England in the 1960s, though they were never much more than a very successful cult band at home, and, apart from a brief moment in 1975, barely a cult band anywhere else in the world. They only ever charted one album in their first six years of activity, but they made a lot of noise in the English rock press, and their following has been sufficiently loyal and wide to keep their work in print for extended periods during the 1970s, the 1990s, and in the new century.

Caravan grew out of the breakup of the Wilde Flowers, a Canterbury-based group formed in 1964 as an R&B-based outfit with a jazzy-edge. The Wilde Flowers had a lineup of Brian Hopper on guitar and saxophone, Richard Sinclair on rhythm guitar, Hugh Hopper playing bass, and Robert Wyatt on the drums. Kevin Ayers passed through the lineup as a singer, and Richard Sinclair was succeeded on rhythm guitar by Pye Hastings in 1965. Wyatt subsequently became the lead singer, succeeded by Richard Coughlan on drums. Hugh Hopper left and was replaced by Dave Lawrence then Richard Sinclair, and Dave Sinclair, Richard's cousin, came in on keyboards. Finally, in 1966, Wyatt and Ayers formed Soft Machine and the Wilde Flowers dissolved. In the wake of the earlier group's dissolution, Hastings, Richard Sinclair, Dave Sinclair, and Richard Coughlan formed Caravan in January of 1968.

The group stood at first somewhat in the shadow of Soft Machine, which became an immediate favorite on the London club scene and in the press. This worked in Caravan's favor, however, as the press and club owners began taking a long look at them because of the members' previous connections. A gig at the Middle Earth Club in London led to their being spotted by a music publishing executive named Ian Ralfini, which resulted in a publishing deal with Robbins Music and then, by extension, a recording contract with MGM Records on their Verve Records imprint, which the American label was trying to establish in England. Their self-titled debut album was a hybrid of jazz and psychedelia, but also enough of a virtuoso effort to rate as a serious progressive rock album at a time when that genre wasn't yet fully established; along with the the Nice albums on Immediate and The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp, it planted the roots of progressive rock.

The Caravan album never sold in serious numbers, and for much of 1968 and early 1969, the members were barely able to survive -- at one point they were literally living in tents. And then, to add insult to injury, the record disappeared as MGM's British operation shut down in late 1968. Out of that chaos, however, the group got a new manager in Terry King and, with the help of a fledgling producer named David Hitchcock (who'd seen the band in concert), a contract with England's Decca Records, which was a major label at the time. Their Decca debut album, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You, released in early 1970, was a major step forward and, indeed, a milestone in their history, establishing the mix of humor and progressive sounds, including classical, jazz, and traditional English influences that would characterize the best of their work over the next six years. Moreover, with Decca's then-formidable distribution behind it, the album got into stores and was heard and even sold well on university campuses.

Suddenly, Caravan was an up-and-coming success on the college concert circuit, even making an appearance on British television's Top of the Pops. With national exposure and a growing audience, the group was at a make-or-break moment in their history. They rose to the occasion with their second Decca LP, In the Land of Grey and Pink, which showed off a keen melodic sense, a subtly droll wit, and a seductively smooth mix of hard rock, folk, classical, and jazz, intermingled with elements of Tolkien-esque fantasy. The songs ranged from light, easy-to-absorb pieces such as "Golf Girl" to the quietly majestic "Nine Feet Underground," a 23-minute suite that filled the side of an LP. One of the hardest-rocking yet musically daring extended pieces to come out of the early progressive rock era, "Nine Feet Underground" didn't seem half as long as its 23 minutes and it was a dazzling showcase for Pye Hastings' searing lead guitar and Dave Sinclair's soaring organ and piano work. Although few observers realized it at the time, the suite's length pointed up a problem that the group faced fairly consistently -- in contrast to most progressive rock outfits of the era, Caravan was inventive enough to justify extending even the relatively simple songs in their repertory to running times of six or seven minutes, and they were also extremely prolific. Those two situations meant that they were frequently forced to leave perfectly good songs off their albums and to edit those that they did issue. Most listeners didn't find this out until a wave of Caravan reissues arrived in 2001 with their running times extended 10-25 minutes each by the presence of perfectly good, previously unissued songs and unedited masters of previously released songs.

Keyboard player and singer Dave Sinclair left the group's lineup in 1971, joining his ex-Wilde Flowers bandmate Robert Wyatt in the latter's new group, Matching Mole, and he was succeeded by Stephen Miller of the jazz-based band Delivery, who lasted through one album, Waterloo Lily (1972), moving them in a much more bluesy direction. Friction between the members resulted in Miller's departure and the exit of Richard Sinclair, who subsequently put together Hatfield and the North. When the smoke cleared, Caravan was back as a five-piece which included Geoff Richardson on the electric viola, which added a new and rich timbre to their overall sound. By the time they cut their next album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, Dave Sinclair was back on keyboards. The album was a success, as was its follow-up, Caravan & the New Symphonia, a live 1973 performance accompanied by a full orchestra, released the following year.

The group was poised to try for a breakthrough in America and, toward that end, took on Miles Copeland as their manager. They ended up on a 50-date tour of the United States and Canada where the response was positive. They also released a new album, Cunning Stunts, that became their first chart LP, not only in England but also in America (albeit at number 124) and most of Europe as well. Unfortunately, Cunning Stunts, for all of its sales success, was an ending rather than a new beginning -- the group parted company with Decca Records after its release. 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.

Their history seemed to have ended, and then in 1990, the original quartet of Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair, Dave Sinclair, and Richard Coughlan were reunited for what was supposed to be a one-off concert for a television special. The performance and the sales of an accompanying live album proved so encouraging that Caravan came together once more for a second career. The group has been back together in one lineup or another ever since, (mostly filled out by ex-members of Camel, among other latter-day personnel), with new recordings emerging steadily. Equally important, someone at English Decca (by then part of Polygram, which became part of MCA) took it upon themselves to raid the vaults in 1999-2000 and prepare vastly expanded reissues of the group's entire Verve/Decca catalogs. The result was the availability of more Caravan music and more of their classic '60s and '70s recordings than had been in print at any time in their history. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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@ Wiki
Caravan are an English band from the Canterbury area, founded by former Wilde Flowers members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan. 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 remain active as a live band in the 21st century.

Biography
A regular cult favourite, the band's chart performance in the UK and US was minimal, charting one album, "Cunning Stunts" at US#124. In the UK "Cunning Stunts" (#50) and "Blind Dog at St. Dunstans (#53) were their only hits. A loyal following has ensured steady back catalogue sales and a lengthy live career for the band, who continue to this day featuring founder members Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals, songwriting) and Richard Coughlan (drums). Caravan's best-known recording is the 1971 set In The Land of Grey and Pink, their second album for Decca.

It has been said of that album that it "showed off a keen melodic sense, a subtly droll wit, and a seductively smooth mix of hard rock, folk, classical, and jazz, intermingled with elements of Tolkien-esque fantasy".[1] A fair summary of Caravan's late sixties to late seventies work. Prolific and inventive, the band appeared to have too many ideas to produce direct, radio-friendly singles. 21st century reissues of their albums featured lengthy tracks, previously unissued, demonstrating the huge amount of releasable material that had failed to make their 1970s albums.

The band were largely dormant in the eighties until a 1990 reunion, planned as a one-off for television, restarted their career. Latterly they have also achieved steady sales and a fan following with the support of the more eclectic corners of radio, like BBC Six Music's "Freak Zone" and the growing re-emergence of progressive rock. =>>>>>>>>>>>


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@ Calyx Club
Caravan was originally formed in early 1968 from the ashes of the legendary Wilde Flowers. All four members of Caravan were, at one time or another, in that band. "Caravan" was however a big change in terms of musical direction. The earliest Caravan composition was a number entitled "Where But For Caravan Would I", co-written with Brian Hopper, which was 10-minutes long and had several sections in it. It appeared on the band's eponymous first album, the other tracks of which were lighter poppy songs with a little psychedelic touch.

Things became serious with the second album, "If I Could Do It All Over Again...". Here, most of the material was organised in suites, the most notable of which is surely the classic "For Richard", written by David Sinclair and dedicated to his cousin. Pye's elder brother, Jimmy Hastings, made a major contribution, on both saxophone and flute, as he would on most of Caravan's subsequent efforts, though he never was a permanent member of the band. The material was a very original mixture of styles, a very successful amalgam of pop, jazz and classic music, close in many ways to what other 'progressive' bands were doing at the time, but surely the most typically 'British' of all.

Caravan were lucky to have in their ranks two very talented and complementary singers, Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair, and a keyboard player, David Sinclair, who could play lightning-fast fuzz organ solos, and write long, complex, and carefully arranged pieces of music. This recipe was used to great success on the next album, "In The Land Of Grey And Pink". Basically, the record was divided in two parts : the first side contained only Richard Sinclair compositions (with the exception of the very poppy "Love To Love You" by Pye Hastings), while the second was one long suite entitled "Nine Feet Underground", entirely composed by David Sinclair. This compositions remains the definitive statement of Caravan's originality. Once again, the soloing was shared between Sinclair's organ and Jimmy Hastings' wind instruments, while vocal parts were split between Pye and Richard. Quite simply one of the greatest progressive rock classics.

Apparently, Dave Sinclair felt that Caravan had reached its peak, so he left in August, 1971. The band would never be the same again, never achieving stability and progressively moving to more accessible and commercial material, under the influence of Pye Hastings, who always considered himself more a singer than a guitarist (he very rarely played solos).

Yet, Richard Sinclair's influence was clearly apparent on the first side of "Waterloo Lily", which marked a clear step towards jazz. The choice of pianist Steve Miller (not particularly keen on playing the trademark organ) as replacement for Dave Sinclair was already a sign, but with the guest participation of sax player Lol Coxhill and guitarist Phil Miller (Steve's brother) on the long jam "Nothing At All", which along with Richard Sinclair's composition "Waterloo Lily" filled most of side one, the music wasn't really Caravan anymore. Neither were Pye Hastings' short poppy songs. The only link with the band's previous records was the long, multi-part suite, "The Love In Your Eye", which featured string arrangements and a wonderful flute solo courtesy of Jimmy Hastings.

Naturally, when Richard Sinclair and Steve Miller got the opportunity to join Phil Miller in a new band venture with drummer Pip Pyle, eventually leading to the formation of Hatfield And The North, they left Caravan, leaving Hastings and Coughlan to re-organize the line-up. Their first decision was to recruit a violin-player, Geoff Richardson, to bring fresh air in the band's sound, an addition which was initially not very well received by fans (Richardson later added flute and guitars to his instrumentation). Two other new members, Derek Austin and Stuart Evans, proved temporary, and left after the subsequent tour, just before sessions for the fifth album were due to begin. Bassist John G. Perry joined in time, but as no new keyboard player could be found, Hastings and Coughlan asked Dave Sinclair to guest on the album, which he did, eventually staying (for purely financial reasons) for the promotion tour. Apparently, Sinclair began to feel comfortable within this new line-up, and finally decided to come back permanently.

"For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night" was a fine return to form, although it was a further step away from Caravan's classic style. Pye Hastings wrote all of the material, except for sections of the "A-Hunting We Shall Go" suite which closed the album, one of which was a cover of Soft Machine's "Backwards" (originally on the Third album from 1970). Although going in a more commercial direction than previously and lacking in real 'group' feeling, For Girls... was still quite good.

In October 1973, Caravan were asked to play one special concert at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, with backing from a classical orchestra. Excerpts of the set (which turned out to be under-rehearsed and not completely satisfactory) were compiled on the "Caravan and the New Symphonia", which was released in April 1974, a few weeks before John G. Perry decided to leave and was replaced by Mike Wedgwood, previously of Curved Air among other bands.

With that line-up, Caravan recorded "Cunning Stunts", which benefitted from a more democratic songwriting policy : David Sinclair wrote the long suite, "The Dabsong Con-Shirt-Toe", and the opening song "The Show Of Our Lives" (sung beautifully by Mike Wedgwood), with his colleague John Murphy; Wedgwood himself wrote two, more commercial tunes, the romantic "Lover" and the more energetic and 'funky' "Welcome The Day"; this left Pye Hastings with only two songwriting credits. Cunning Stunts marked something of a move away from Caravan's original 'British' style to a more 'Californian' approach to the production and arrangements, possibly under the influence of Steely Dan.

But just after the album's release, David Sinclair decided to leave once again, to pursue other projects which unfortunately came to nothing. He was replaced by Jan Schelhaas, a very good keyboard-player who, unfortunately, would rarely be given the opportunity to contribute to the writing. Consequently, the next album, "Blind Dog At St. Dunstans", was perhaps not as good as the previous one, although more consistent. Hastings composed everything bar one Wedgwood song. On the whole, the album was more pop-oriented, although it contained two medium-length suites, "A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik" and the lyrical "All The Way", which featured Jimmy Hastings on flute, clarinet and alto sax.

In November-December 1976, Caravan went on an extensive British and European tour to promote a compilation, "The Canterbury Tales", released by Decca. David Sinclair briefly rejoined on this occasion, sharing keyboard duties with Schelhaas, most notably on the revived "Nine Feet Underground". The French leg reunited Caravan with two other Canterbury veterans, Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers. This would be Mike Wedgwood's last tour with the band - he soon left to settle in America, and was replaced in February 1977 by Dek Messecar, a former member of Darryl Way's Wolf.

With production credits by Tony Visconti, "Better By Far" was released in September 1977. Unfortunately, its title was no indication of its musical quality, as it was for the most part a collection of very catchy poppy tunes, with only a couple of more ambitious tracks. On the whole it left listeners wondering if this was still the same band which had released the landmark early-70's albums... However, Caravan kept touring in Britain and Europe throughout 1977. But a European tour in early 1978 would turn out to be the last for almost two years. The company run by the band's manager, Miles Copeland, went bankrupt, and Caravan was left to face huge debts. There was nothing left to do but break up the band. In 1978-79, Pye Hastings worked on solo projects, Richard Coughlan played in local Canterbury bands, Geoff Richardson worked extensively with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and John G. Perry, while both Schelhaas and David Sinclair joined Richard Sinclair in Camel for the "Breathless" tour. Eventually, Schelhaas stayed in Camel (until 1981) and the Sinclair cousins left.

In October 1979, Caravan reformed with the same line-up as before, with the exception of David Sinclair, back home once again. The following year, "The Album" was released, and was largely in the same 'pop' direction as the previous one, although this time the writing was more collectively shared. It included several songs from David Sinclair's unfinished solo project, undertaken in the mid-Seventies, in particular the moving "Piano Player".

More British and European touring followed, until plans for yet another album developed. Apparently, Richardson and Messecar weren't available to take part, so Richard Sinclair was summoned back, thus re-creating the 'magic' original line-up. The result, "Back To Front", has its moments, on tracks such as "Back To Herne Bay Front", "All Aboard" or "Proper Job", but also contained some rather weak songs.

There was no touring in support of the album, although Caravan reformed for two gigs at the Marquee in July 1983 (with a line-up of Hastings, Richardson, Schelhaas, Sinclair and Coughlan) and the following year for a reunion gig at the Canterbury Festival. Apart from those Caravan was not to be heard of again until 1990... As a matter of fact, the band was asked to reform, under its original form (plus Jimmy Hastings), for a TV show screened by Central TV. After a warm-up gig in Canterbury, the band recorded a performance that consisted mainly of compositions from their classic albums, "If I Could..." and "In The Land...", including both "For Richard" and "Nine Feet Underground" in their entirety. A CD from this gig was released in 1993 on Demon Records.

Caravan continued to play gigs for the next two years, touring in the U.K. and Italy mainly. Apparently, Pye Hastings then grew tired of playing mostly old material, and started work on a solo album. Richard Sinclair concentrated on his solo activities with his band Caravan Of Dreams. Eventually, Hastings dropped his solo project and decided to record a Caravan album instead. After taking part in the Mirage tour in December 1994, Pye, David Sinclair and Jimmy Hastings joined forces with Geoff Richardson, Richard Coughlan and veteran British bassist Jimmy Leverton to record "The Battle Of Hastings", a nice collection of poppy tunes retaining the classic Caravan sound (organ, violin, flute, sax and Hastings' inimitable vocals), released on HTD Records in September 1995.

When plans for a tour had to be shelved, Pye Hastings and Geoff Richardson started work on a new album which was to contain acoustic versions of Caravan classics. It was eventually released as a band effort (although David Sinclair and Richard Coughlan only appeared on one or two tracks each, the remainder of the album using sequencers and drum machines) under the title "All Over You". Songs from the 'classic' era (1968-73) were given a 'modern' treatment with varied results.

Plans for a series of live appearances eventually became a reality in October/November of 1996. Unfortunately Geoff Richardson couldn't escape his busy touring schedule with French singer Renaud and was 'replaced' by guitarist Doug Boyle (ex-Robert Plant Band), while a percussion player, Simon Bentall, was also added. The setlist for the short tour included classics as "Nine Feet Underground", "For Richard" (in its new controversial arrangement), "Place Of My Own", "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again", "Hoedown", "Memory Lain, Hugh" and "Behind You" along with most of the songs from The Battle Of Hastings. In September 1997, Caravan hit the road again for a London gig and a mini-tour of the Netherlands, this time with Richardson as well as Boyle and Bentall. On this occasion, "Place Of My Own" was deleted from the setlist and replaced by "Cold As Ice" from "The Battle Of Hastings".

In 1998, Pye Hastings started work on a solo project, with Caravan continuing to play the occasional gig in Britain and Holland. Hastings has left that project aside for now to record a second volume of reworked Caravan classics, released in autumn 1999 under the title "All Over You Too". In addition to his fellow band members (this is Doug Boyle's studio debut with the band), this features Hugh Hopper, whom he'd played with in the Wilde Flowers and on Hopper's first solo album 1984.

The year 2000 saw the beginning of renewed activity - on the live front, the first edition of the Canterbury Festival, followed by a 5-date UK tour and Caravan's first concert in France for twenty years, in November at the Bataclan; and the release of a superb double-CD anthology, "Where But For Caravan Would I", including unreleased and rare material - announcing an ambitious reissue programme of the band's Decca/Deram catalogue by Universal. In February 2001, all the albums from "If I Could..." to "Cunning Stunts" were reissued with a wealth of bonus tracks and carefully remastered sound. Standouts in the programme were "For Girls...", with 25 minutes of never heard studio recordings by the 'lost' line-up with Derek Austin and Stuart Evans; and "...New Symphonia", restoring the full concert with the non-orchestral first set and the encore, "A Hunting We Shall Go". One year later, the eponymous debut (with the much better-sounding mono mix) and the "Live At Fairfield Hall" previously released as "The Best Of Caravan Live" in France only, followed.

Live activities in 2002 included an Italian tour in April and North American festivals in June/July. All the while Caravan had been busy working on a new studio album which was to include a majority of songs penned by Dave Sinclair. However in October, a press release announcing the departure of Dave came as a shock. Once again Pye and Dave disagreed on the musical direction, and once again Jan Schelhaas declared himself available to replace him. The new album eventually appeared in 2003 as "The Unauthorised Breakfast Item", consisting mostly of Pye Hastings songs with one contribution each by fellow bandmembers Doug Boyle and Geoff Richardson, plus one Dave Sinclair song, "Nowhere To Hide", from the initial sessions. Caravan's first studio album of new material since 1995's "Battle Of Hastings", it received critical acclaim and has since been promoted by extensive touring worldwide (Europe, USA, Japan etc.).

As of writing (December 2005), Caravan have been off the road a few months due to health problems from Richard Coughlan but, according to their management, concerts are currently being arranged and their upcoming tour itinerary will be announced in late January, 2006. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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