Author:Hamish Kuzminski / Andy Boot / Laura Shenton
I spy with my little eye something beginning with C – well, three things actually, Camel, Caravan and Curved Air, all bands who had their heyday in the halcyon years of the early seventies.
I have a lot of time for Camel – albums like Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness and Nude still make for some good listening. This book, which boasts an introduction from Steve Rothery of Marillion, takes an in depth look at the band’s fifty years and counting career, covering all fourteen studio albums, as they persevered against extreme adversity in the form of the dearth of founder Peter Bardens and the serious illness of Andy Latimer, to carve an enduring niche in British rock music. I really enjoyed relistening to the cream of their albums while gaining some interesting insight into the composition and recording of the key pieces of music. A good one for fans of this perennial band, and as the author mentions, it would be interesting to hear Steven Wilson tackle some of their early albums.
Was there ever a more English sounding band than Caravan? Their rather whimsical vocals and music often put me in mind of Syd Barrett, and I always thought of In The Land of Grey and Pink as being their defining work – after all, what’s not to like about songs such as Golf Girl, Winter Wine and of course the title track. I rather lost touch with them after 1975’s Cunning Stunts set, but after fifty years and any number of reunions the band still continues to this day, although studio recordings have become ever more sporadic as the years have passed. When they were on peak form in the early seventies though, their prog infused sound really could carry you away, and this book takes a track by track at their fourteen studio albums, giving a potted history of the band along the way, and even finds time to delve into their live recordings and BBC session releases. Like Camel, their longevity is a fitting tribute to the music they created at their zenith, and fans will no doubt already be aware that a huge thirty seven disc box is due to arrive in August.
Curved Air was always a bit of a hit and miss band for me. Again, their best work came in a relatively short period in the seventies. I recall first coming across them on Top of the Pops when they played Back Street Luv with the exotic Sonja Kristina on vocals and Darryl Way on violin, not an instrument you saw too often on that programme! For me, their best two albums are their 1970 debut Air Conditioning and 1973’s Phantasmagoria, but by the middle of the decade it was pretty much all over as in-band fall outs and line up changes led to them disbanding. I’m not sure their music as a whole has stood the test of time that well apart from a few pieces here and there, but this is a well researched and put together account of the band’s activities in that key decade, which makes extensive use of vintage interviews to drive the author’s own narrative.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The careers of these bands.
One thing you’ve learned
I wonder how many people out there fondly remember these bands and still listen to their music now and then – those days all seem so long ago now, a different time, a different world.