Sunday, October 6, 2013

40 Year Itch : Legs & Thighs, Hellos & Goodbyes

Though consistently good, Caravan's sound could be so inconsistent  they were often losing fans at every sharp turn in their musical enthusiasms. On 1971's In the Land of the Grey and Pink they were fey and frilly. On 1972's Waterloo Lily, with the addition of keyboardist Steven Miller, Caravan sounded like a jazz fusion band. Miller had left by the time Pye Hastings and his mates entered the studio to record their fifth album, For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night. 

      The result is a more commercial album but not one lacking depth. It's a return to the sound of Grey and Pink but meatier in places, still brimming in silly sexual innuendos ( what is the pretty girl supposed to be holding that's sweet enough to eat in "The Dog, The Dog is at it Again"?) and adorned with newcomer Geoff Richardson's viola playing. Small wonder it's a favorite among Caravan's fans. In fact it may be 1973's ultimate "grower"--the more you listen to it, the more you like it. ( as opposed to Bowie's Pin Ups). 

Well they've come along way from the Yardbirds. By the time Renaissance recorded their fourth album, the break-out Ashes Are Burning, Birdmen Keith Relf and Jim McCarty has departed, leaving the spotlight to the five octave vocalist Annie Haslam whose operatic training clearly puts her in a league of her own among rock singers. She's earnest. She's theatrical.  And , if you're a punk, she just might put you off Renaissance for good.

 If you want to give Renaissance a chance, as millions of people did, begin with Ashes Are Burning . The title cut is spectacular. As is the single"Carpet of the Sun".

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