Caravan - Unauthorised Breakfast Item (Music CD)
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In the band's heyday, Caravan let loose with stunning instrumental passages on extended suites like "For Richard," "Nine Feet Underground," and "The Love in Your Eye." Certainly this pegged the group as a prog rock outfit, but unlike most others in this much-maligned style, Caravan never stalled the momentum or became heavy-handed in their sometimes intricate extended jams -- they rocked out with grace and power even when orchestrated. Here, the brief instrumentals "Wild West Street" and "Linders Field" might toss a bone to those who would like the bandmembers to step back from the mikes and just play for a bit, but the band's spacy instrumental interludes often seem less than fully developed, tending almost toward smooth jazz with an adult contemporary or new age sheen. The hottest soloing is reserved for the aforementioned youngster, guitarist Doug Boyle, whose blues-rock approach (he's a former Robert Plant axeman) passes for street cred in this group and also suggests he's a big fan of Andy Latimer. The Unauthorised Breakfast Item has enough heartfelt vocalizing, driving rhythms, hooky choruses, burning solos, contemporary jazz overtones, and atmospheric production effects to give some satisfaction to those Caravan fans of yore who are still among the living. But newcomers should seek out the band's discography from about 30 years or more ago -- back when the term "progressive rock" could actually mean something -- to experience stronger doses of excitement. (Most of the band's classic early LPs were reissued on CD with bonus tracks in 2001.) The members of Caravan acquit themselves reasonably well here -- and might even have some tricks up their sleeves in the future -- but this album sometimes suggests a meal partaken closer to sunset than sunrise. ~ Dave Lynch