Caravan – Cunning Stunts (1975)

FrontCover1Caravan are an English band from the Canterbury area, founded by former Wilde Flowers members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings, and Richard Coughlan in 1968. The band have never achieved the great commercial success that was widely predicted for them at the beginning of their career, but are nevertheless considered a key part of the Canterbury scene of progressive rock acts, blending psychedelic rock, jazz, and classical influences to create a distinctive sound.

The band were originally based in Whitstable, Kent, near Canterbury, but moved to London when briefly signed to Verve Records. After being dropped by Verve, the band signed to Decca Records, where they released their most critically acclaimed album, In the Land of Grey and Pink, in 1971. Dave Sinclair left after the album’s release and the group split up the following year. Hastings and Coughlan added new members, notably viola player Geoffrey Richardson, continuing on before splitting in 1978.

The band reformed several times in the following decades, and Caravan still remain active as a live band in the 21st century, despite Coughlan’s death in December, 2013.

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Cunning Stunts is the sixth studio album by the progressive rock band Caravan, released in 1975. It was their first album with the bass guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Mike Wedgwood. The title of the album is a spoonerism for “Stunning Cunts”, which is typical of their cheeky use of language. Three previous Caravan albums with titles that are also sexual plays on words are If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You (1970), In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971) and For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973). (wikipedia)

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“Cunning Stunts” is another superb Canterbury prog release from CARAVAN mixing all the right elements throughout. Songs range from more pop orientated (side A) to the side long epic “The Dabsong Conshirtoe” which shows a more progressive side of CARAVAN ( a six part movement). “Cunning Stunts” in many ways is actually my fav of CARAVAN’s output with some great gentle CAMEL-like canterbury keyboards and songs. Vocals are picture perfect with great harmonies and thoughtful backing vocals. The reason why I love this album is that although “Cunning Stunts” carries all the trademarks of classic CARAVAN they involve more CAMEL imagery than say SOFT MACHINE influences. A beautiful album worthy of your (by loserboy)

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The last of the great Caravan albums. The school playground humour of the title, and the rather nondescript sleeve disguise an excellent work which features many fine moments. The jazz influence which came to the fore on “Waterloo Lily” is seldom in evidence here, the album being among the band’s most accessible releases, while retaining a significant depth of Canterbury prog.

“The show of our lives” is a majestic opener, complete with chiming bells contributing to a veritable wall of sound. The stately pace and choral vocals give an almost stage show feel to the track. “Lover” and “No backstage pass” combine well to form a beautiful 10 minute piece which was to become a regular feature of their live set.

The “Dabsong concerto” occupies virtually all of side 2 of the LP. It carries many of the Caravan trademarks, with some fine instrumental work. It does tend to drift a bit midway through, but is brought back together by a reprisal of “The show of our lives” to end the track.

Overall, a slightly more commercial album than their previous offerings, but another classic Caravan release nonetheless. (by Easy Livin)

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Personnel:
Richard Coughlan (drums)
Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals)
Geoffery Richardson (viola, guitar, flute, whistle)
Dave Sinclair (keyboards)
Mike Wedgwood (bass, percussion, vocals, moog brass on 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Show Of Our Lives (Murphy/Sinclair) 5.49
02. Stuck In A Hole (Hastings) 3.08
03. Lover (Wedgwood) 5.06
04. No Backstage Pass (Hastings) 4.35
05. Welcome The Day (Wedgwood) 4.01
06. The Dabsong Conshirtoe (Murphy/Sinclair) 18.00
06.1. The Mad Dabsong 2.15
06.2. Ben Karratt Rides Again 2.42
06.2. Pro’s And Con’s 2.29
06.3. Wraiks And Ladders 0.58
06.4. Sneaking Out The Bare Quare 4.25
06.5. All Sorts Of Unmentionable Things 5.11
07. Fear And Loathing In Tollington Park Rag (Richardson) 1.11
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08. Stuck In A Hole (single version) (Hastings) 3.11
09. Keeping Back My Love (previously unreleased) (Hastings) 5.14
10. For Richard (live 1974) (Coughlan/Hastings/D.Sinclair/R.Sinclair) 16.55

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What a great cover:
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