Caravan's classic second album If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You, released in 1970, along with their next album In the Land of Grey and Pink, is quintessential Canterbury progressive rock. Their vast songwriting talents are at their peak as memorable melodies are present throughout the album. On most songs these melodies blend seamlessly with extended jazz-tinged instrumental sections featuring fuzz-organ solos over driving rhythms. Caravan started on this album to join several songs into one extended track, something they would do again and again throughout their career. One of these extended tracks is one of their best and would become one their most famous.
Following the catchy title song that will stick in your mind forever, is the wonderful "And I Wish I were Stoned/Don't Worry." On the first part the vocals are shared by Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair, whose voices complement each other so well. Sandwiched between two similar vocal sections is one of many David Sinclair organ solos on the album. Bridging the two parts is a brief but touching guitar solo. "Don't Worry" has Hastings singing one of the most charming and unforgettable vocal melodies that these ears have ever heard. All the better is that he sings it twice, the first time gently and then quickly following is the identical vocal line, only this time he and the band have picked things up a bit.
The bulk of the rest of the album consists of two songs in the four to five minute range and two medleys. The better of the single pieces, "As I Feel I Die," starts out slowly and builds to yet some more excellent David Sinclair soloing over Richard Sinclair's jazzy bass lines and the hard and complex drumming of Richard Coughlan, who's banging away with all he's got. "Hello Hello", the most overt pop song on the album, is sung by Richard Sinclair, which in itself makes it enjoyable.
"With an Ear to the Ground...," the shorter of the medleys, has all the ingredients that appear throughout the album - the enchanting lyrics, the soft vocal passages, the great melodies, and meaty instrumentals with keyboard soloing over driving rhythms. Added to the mix is a pastoral dimension to the soft passages provided by some Jimmy Hasting's flute playing. The mostly instrumental, the only vocals are in the first few minutes, "For Richard," named after one of the sections, is one of Caravan's best and most famous pieces. After a quiet opening a sudden musical explosion is followed by several solos, including a couple tasty sax solos by Jimmy Hastings. The whole thing culminates with one of Caravan's heaviest moments, as for several minutes they are all playing their hearts out.
The following year Caravan would go on to release their generally acknowledged crowning achievement In the Land of Grey and Pink, though from start to finish If I Could... is the more satisfying one to me. The album, along with the other Caravan albums, has recently been remastered on the Decca label, with restored artwork and some informative liner notes touching on the history of the band and the background of the album's recording. The sound quality is excellent and there's a really good previously unreleased track as well as some demos of several songs on the original album.
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