Caravan - The Unauthorised Breakfast Item

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Eclectic Discs
Catalog Number: ECLCD 1001
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:11:00

Supertramp had their Breakfast In America. To start the day full of nutrition, our Caravan friends keep it with an honest British breakfast served at the Victoria Café. Whilst the inlay sports plenty of baked beans on toast, the CD itself shows a healthy omelet. Maybe the tomatoes and mushrooms have been reserved for the limited edition? Together with Pye Hastings' soft, whispering voice, it's humour like this that has always been the trademark of Caravan. Sadly this never translated itself into healthy sales although the band's succesful appearance at last year's NEARfest certainly sheds a different light onto the band's popularity.

Looking at the band's line-up over the years, for sure Caravan had a bumpy ride and it's god's gift to find they are still around today. Maybe not so prog-ish as during their heyday, but still interesting enough to get down to the bare essentials. The opening track "Smoking Gun" could be a commercial single for the likes of Camel around their Rain Dances period, including a nice bluesy guitar that could well be that of Andy Latimer himself. Throughout their career it has always been Pye's soft voice that injects the calm into their music, so although some of the guitar chords in "Revenge" contain a little ominous atmosphere, Pye soon brings it all down to earth again. I really love the orchestral ending of the song that also contains a guest keyboard solo courtesy of Dave Sinclair. The rhythm for the title track emulates the rhythm of a train with Doug Boyle sounding ever so fusion like. Fusion, jazz, it has been introduced into Caravan's music as long ago as 1972 when they released Waterloo Lily. Here the jazz is softer, more entertaining as is proved by the saxophone during the soft babbling "It's Getting A Whole Lot Better," also sporting a fine Supertramp-like piano.

Coming of age also means knowing what you want from life, knowing how far you can take certain things. This most certainly is contained in "Head Above The Clouds," which begins in an almost classical manner, featuring a desolate viola before settling into probably the most commercial feel on the entire album. Or maybe if we were to choose a single from this album we'd have to go for the superb "Straight Through The Heart," which even sports some tucked away banjo as performed by the likes of Geoffrey Richardson. In order to create a certain balance, two instrumental tracks have also been added. Written by Richardson, "Wild West Street" is built around acoustic guitar and viola, delivering a repetitive pattern. Composition-wise I think 'Nowhere To Hide" is the most adventurous and the one that goes back most towards the band's creative seventies explosion. The album closes with "Linder's Field," a repetitive instrumental beauty composed by Doug Boyle.

The Unauthorised Breakfast Item is not the kind of album that will change the world overnight; however, compared to some of the band's output, this most certainly is a very nicely balanced album containing some splendid new compositions. You don't need to be an expert to hear that the band fully enjoys playing together, which in the end is all that matters.

Compared to a lot of their contemporaries Caravan has always been more mellow, more song structured, more commercial if you like. Although they flirt with jazzy themes the band is more song oriented rather than delivering technical prowess. This most certainly sets them apart from anyone else although we have to be honest in saying that the new material does not contain a new "For Richard," "Golf Girl" or "Nine Feet Underground," but then again that was then, this is now!

Smoking Gun (Right For Me) (5:36) / Revenge (5:15) / The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (4:44) / Tell Me Why (6:16) / It's Getting A Whole Lot Better (8:56) / Head Above The Clouds (7:21) / Straight Through The Roof (4:40) / Wild West Street (4:47) / Nowhere To Hide (8:54) / Linders Field (3:38)

Pye Hastings - vocals, guitars
Richard Coughlan - drums
Jan Schelhaas - keyboards, backing vocals
Doug Boyle - lead guitar
Geoffrey Richardson - viola, banjo, ukelele, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Jim Leverton - bass, vocals, backing vocals


Dave Sinclair - keyboards (9)
Jimmy Hastings - tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
Simon Bentall ? percussion
Ralph Cross - additional percussion (3)

Caravan (1968)
If I Could Do It Again (1970)
In The Land Of Grey And Pink (1971)
Waterloo Lily (1972)
For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (1973)
Caravan And The New Symphonia (1974)
Live At Fairfields Hall (1974/2002)
Cunning Stunts (1975/2001)
Blind Dog At St Dunstan's (1976)
Better By Far (1977)
The Album (1980)
Show of Our Lives (1981/1998)
Back To Front (1982)
Radio 1 - Live in Concert BBC 1975 (1991)
Live 1990 (1992)
Cool Water (1994)
Battle Of Hastings (1995)
All Over You (1996)
Live: Canterbury Comes To London (1997)
Live In Holland: Back On The Tracks (1998)
Songs For Oblivion Fisherman (1998)
Ether Way (live) (1998)
Surprise Supplies (1999)
All Over You Too (1999)
Headloss (1999)
The HTD Years (2000)
Where But For Caravan Would I? (2000)
Live Tour 1975 (2003) (recorded 12/1975)
The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (2003)
Green Bottles For Marjorie (2004) (recorded 1968-1972)
Here I Am (2006)
Show Of Our Lives: Caravan At The BBC 1968-1975 (2007)
Hunting We Shall Go: Live In 1974 (2009)
The World Is Yours: The Anthology 1968-1976 (2010)
Live At Shepherds Bush Empire (2011)
Recorded Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London (CD/DVD) (2012)
Paradise Filter (2013)
The Back Catalogue Songs (2013)

Live At RoSfest (DVD) (2014)

Genre: Canterbury

Origin UK

Added: December 14th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 793
Language: english


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