Regal Zonophone 2
This is likely the first lp to have mention of "progressive rock " on the sleeve.
The word "progressive" shows up 3 times.
But is the music really nascent prog rock? Can you say it beats out "Court of Crimson King"? Or is the word used merely as a descriptor - meaning something like "improvement" or going in another unexplored direction.
Not sure I'm hearing embryonic prog here. If it is, its HAPPY prog - not the usual template.
Something like "Policeman" sounds toytown popsike to me.
Progressive pop and rock were used as terminology in the weekly music papers from 1967, as a kind of more respectable and acceptable synonym for psychedelia initially.
I don't understand why you make a distinction between 'progressive' as a descriptor and it's meaning when coupled with rock or pop. Moving forward, going into new musical territory is exactly what it meant. The irony is that lots of music made since credited as progressive, is actually the opposite, aping a past style, conservative, regressive.
I know that In The Court Of The Crimson King was considered to be the first prog album but Procol Harum-Shine On Brightly from 1968 had a b-side with two tracks, the second, In Held Twas I, broken up into five sections. If you're going to categorise bands/albums then where does this fit? It wasn't pop or psych, so?
Yeah, those “progressive” albums like Caravan or Family’s “Music in a Doll’s House” are great but still seem pretty close to the general Sgt. Pepper psych template to me partly because the songs don’t clock in too long. Sure, the Caravan album has that long “Where but for Caravan…” song at the end, but that jams out a bit like “Going Home” jams out at the end of “Aftermath” and I don’t consider THAT the first progressive album, even if it’s extending the standard pop three-minute song length.
The Procol Harum song “In Held Twas I” feels like a bit of prog more than the others. It has distinct sections, sort of feels like a suite, takes up a whole side. If it isn’t King Crimson it does seem to be in that arena.
In the end the term progressive (as pointed out in the earlier post) isn’t super helpful and can even end up just meaning regressive or self-indulgent or technically elaborate or whatever you feel about some bands who were labelled progressive. Without stepping into that quagmire too deeply, I’ll close by saying I love that first Caravan album, along with those other albums that were mentioned that feel a bit psych but also have a kind of laid back trippy feel that may well have been “progressive” at the time in the best sense, in that they sound both catchy and inventive, and feel like what pop music had to become with a chemical background.
I think it is important to note if we are talking about the length of a song / suite / cycle, that rock was not the only style of music that was progressive. Isaac Hayes's 1969 'Hot Buttered Soul album has just four tracks on it. One of those is 12 minutes long on side A, whilst Side B sports a near 19 minute long version of Jimmy Webb's 'By the Time I Get To Phoenix'. Thus proving a soul record could be more than three minutes long.
Good point, Paul. Progressive Soul!! Great album, too!!
"I don't understand why you make a distinction between 'progressive' as a descriptor and it's meaning when coupled with rock or pop."
Because when debating the first Caravan as being the first prog lp, "progressive rock" should not be used because this implies a fully-formed genre which of course in this case is ridiculous since the first lp cannot constitute a genre. A genre has to have a canon of releases. Genre implies commonality.
So in the case of the first Caravan it can only be used as a descriptor.
To be a genre, you have to forget about the single initial release unless you include/group it in a list of like-sounding, common characteristic candidates.
The overwhelming consensus is that "Court of the Crimson King" is the first lp that is prog ALL WAY THROUGH. (You can, of course, nitpick that a track like "I talk to the wind" is not prog in the conventional sense.)
But internet posters like to quibble and challenge so I offer a little list of alternatives that some of you might delight in hairsplitting over.
Yes, with the exception of one of the submissions here,I'm playing the devil's advocate , but maybe you can argue one or two of these can beat out COTCK for the honour. All predate the King Crimson (which was released Oct. '69).
An exercise in anorak fixation you say?
Nothing the matter with that.(At least on a discussion forum.)
Other contenders for beating out "Court of the Crimson King" could be these:
NIRVANA - STORY OF SIMON SIMEOPATH ( I'm sure i spelt this incorrectly) Released FEB 1968!
MOODY BLUES - IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD JULY '68 (note that "Days of Future Passed" cannot be called prog since its just pop songs alternating with classical)
PINK FLOYD - SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (psych) JULY '68 As brought up on another forum it is of interest that the early press had "File under POPULAR : Pop Groups" on the back sleeve.)
PINK FLOYD - PIPER AT GATES OF DAWN AUG '67
CARAVAN -SAME OCT '68
NICE - ARS LONGA,VITA BREVIS OCT '68
NICE -THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK MAR 68
CLOUDS "Scrapbook" Aug '69
SOFT MACHINE - 1 OCT '68
PROCOL HARUM - SHINE ON BRIGHTLY FEB '69
DEEP PURPLE - BOOK OF TALYSIN JUNE '69
ART "Supernatural Fairy Tales" November 1967
FAMILY "Music In A Doll's house" July 19 '68 (July 1968)
TOUCH - SAME December 1968
Good afternoon to one and all,and i so hope you are all doing well and keeping well!The most important thing we have is our health...so i hope you ALL have that!!x
Music is such a pleasure,in particular music that we all have our emotions attached too,which can make us feel great ,there's NOT many idioms that can have THAT effect on us as people!!Movies to an extent can....but MUSIC .......WOW!!!!
Before i go any further,this next paragraph appproaches the subject of the music business at the time this album came out.Dodgy con men in record companies and posing as supporting managers .i'm sure Caravan got burnt...like so many others when albums sales in particular where paying big dividends to the majors,new talent was THEE thing.So companies let new talent experiment ,particularly after much of 67 was succesful awash with psychedelics.So if you're not wanting to read the next paragraph,i understand.After that i concentrate more on Caravans DEBUT album.
So things like categorising music can be fun,back in the day ,when MUCH off the music we talk about on here,the music press was STILL a very powerful force on music and the acts in particular where trying to make inroads to a LONDON based business,the old usual YOU HAVE to go to London to make it,to play the "in"clubs,to meet the "right"people,and get a "deal",whether it was a rip off deal,well how many stories we heard about groups or acts making it BIG but absolutely penniless,Small Faces and Bay City Rollers ,are a big 2!!It was a disgustingly grubby business to make a quick buck and EVERYTHING was planned short term,as no group was expected to last 5 years never mind 10 or 50 years ,anyway many off those con men(record execs) where dealing with young,naive teens,who were enjoying this new found freedom for the young,smoking pot etc,and all the other good points about being in a group and being popular,but ALL wanted a record out......so business side off things was off no interest to many off those young musicians who just wanted to write,rehearse and record,and play live.......hence the managers etc were supposed to take care of all that,hence much of it went into their and record exec pockets ......leaving the group with very little......hence sometimes when a group or act makes it,its so short lived ,its BETTER for them to split up........as the deals THEY naively but excitedly signed,did NOT make it worthwhile for them to carry on,it's a shame this con was happening,as so much more great music could've been made,hence it was ALL thought in short term....but THAT mentality did eventually change.
I'm not too sure why i went into THAT long diatribe about an unscrupulous music business,but this was STILL happening when CARAVAN released their self titled debut..and here we are in 2022,where a far too expensive box set is out with ALL their music and different line ups,i think is going for £700,or there abouts,absolutely ridiculous to me!!So those con men back in the 60s,had NO vision,the scams could've went long term as Caravan in one way or another have been treading the boards,and still playing for over 50 years,much like the ever changing Fairport Convention line ups etc.
OK,i know a long way to reach categorising the debut CARAVAN ALBUM,for me one word Pastoral,with a large influence of psychedelia,still being prominent,and not as much jazzing it like other groups who seem to fall under this"Canterbury"categorisation,which many of the musicians involved have said there was NO such thing as a Canterbury sound........but amongst the groups ,it could be a pretty incestuous thing.
The most jazz inspired Caravan to me is their album "Waterloo Lily"which is amongst my LEAST enjoyable from the first/early era off this fine group!!
The debut album to my ears is a very fine album of lateish psychedelia,with a more pastoral vibe and sound being developed within it, sorta like Small Faces after Ogdens Nut Gone Flake album and readying for a follow up, which eventually ended up being odds and sods ands new material" Autumn Stone"album,or "In memoriam",to me they were going a more pastoral in the country vibe,but from London....maybe a big influence from Ronnie Lane??
Of course Caravan had a deal with Verve,for their debut and the material was recorded in October 1968,at the expensive Advision Studios,at this time Psychedelia was still doing good business,i mean the Soft Machine had 2 albums unreleased in their homeland the UK,but was NO longer the FAD it was in 67,so in October 1968,Caravan kept the psychedelia,but ADDED to it,fabulous and at times commercial songwriting,with humour and with a marvellous organ sound and flute runs,they had their OWN sound,but with psychedelia still being a big part off it,and in my opinion the psychedelia became less and the pastoral ,humour and jazz influences got bigger,after THIS debut,as was so common with progressive groups,suites became a major pretence in its sound.
At this time Caravan were playing all the "in undeground"places like Middle Earth,being noticed by a powerful music press,and looking at the sleeve of the album ,dressed up in their kaftans,on a desert like scene,with a camel way in the background,to my eyes makes it look non descript,and uninteresting looking,this was a time when artwork and imagery had become important in presentation off albums as the money being generated by a new concentration on album sales was increasing hugely at this time,but THIS album sleeve,i felt done them no favours,i suppose a bit like Genesis debut album"Fom Genesis to Revelation" ,they just did NOT stick out in what was a world of colour for the last 18 months.
The early Caravan sound had a "feel good"factor to it ,in particular with the first single"Place Off My Own"which really could've been easily a surprise hit,but it was a notice ,we are here,with something less freaky but more comfortable and homey.....thats the vibe i get from this fine debut album.The addition of some lovely flute playing,Jimmy Hastings gives it another extra factor,in particular"Love Song With Flute",and the leslied organ,not to the fore at this time,but does appear,less prominent stages,"Cecil Rons" for me is the song which is clearly highly influenced by psychedelia and dare i say it The Nice,but also an early Floyd/Arzachel vibe.........up to this point i thought the likes of"Ride,Policeman and Love Song with Flute,were not at freak level,but "Cecil Rons"certainly is!!Followed by the just beautiful "Magic Man",is this progressive pop music at its finest?Its a lovely organ number with understated guitar,and those vocals are so warm,you could cook toast,what a wonder of beauty this song is,one off my favourites,and an emerging new mellower,more accessible sound for those NOT into freak!!Maybe an example how this NEW music could croossover from freak underground music land to mainstream TV pop for less freaky teens and 20 somethings??
"Grandmas Lawn"again is awash with treated organ in a kind of wah wah guitar pedal way,but NOT the full leslied cabinet speaker effect that would come shortly after concerning their organ sound.Again this is a more "freak" type of song....but still in a less in your face ,but a nore friendly.less kind of otherwordly experimentation psychedelia did take on board,and could leave a fear...this is not fearful!!
The end of this album,leaves with the 9 minute "Where but for Caravan Would I",This is fabulous stuff,and this is the type off material they would record more off and develop in a more jointed way,its like 3 or 4 different suite of songs in one title.......THIS will be the road they will go down with their follow up "If i Could Do It all over Again,Id do it all Over You"with what i think is a splendid cover this time!!!
Unbelievably this marvellous creation of psychedelia,pop music,progressive,humorous lyrical puns etc was NOT a huge success,but much more was to follow.Maybe not as frivolous as some off the sounds on this delightful debut album with the last vesteges of original 60s psychedelia was being used to good effect....but in Caravans own way.The full force of the leslied cabinet speakered organ sound would become a major recognisable sound for Caravan,as what became knowns as progressive rock,seemed to crop up all over the place
Caravans delightful debut album was in my mind their most psych era sounding album,with some commercial sounding pop in the mix,produced by Tony Cox,who pulled them from under Islands Chris Blackwells feet for THIS album,some frivolous and whimsical moment,and on they went onto their next thing........and to me they became more a "serious"sounding,more "underground grey coated stalwarts for long hairs"type of group...........but again with a SURPRISINGLY melodic commercial sound with the mix of cracking voices within the group,to me their masterwork is" In The Land Of Grey and Pink" which they got EVERYTHING right,even down to the "Golf Girl"pop excellence.Finally i must mention "Hello Hello"which to me is like a Soft Machine dadaish number,but again less freakish than Soft Machines own sound,but showed even on a B side they could give themselves another sound and influence.
CARAVAN DEBUT-RECORDED OCTOBER 1968,PRODUCED BY TONY COX,RELEASED AS VERVE VLP6011-MONO,SVLP6011-STEREO.
My categorisation-Organ dominated soft voiced psychedelia with pop sensibilities,humour not normally associated with "progressive"sound,and freakily unfreaky,this debut album i WILL NOT call a progressive rock album,this along with Kevin Ayers "Joy of a Toy" and Twinks "Think Pink" are examples in my opinion of the last vetiges from the orignal psychedelia that swept the uk in 67,of course THEY are far from being the last psych albums,for me JUST the last of the original era,and i count Caravans debut as one off them,plus of course The Ends "Introspection"released in the dying days of 69,but recorded 18 months prior.
............next phase in my opinion was the likes of what i've called the uk psych/prog crosssover sounds included in pop and folk music,of course another made up name to try and describe that couple of years into the 70s where psychedelia could still be heard,albums by the like of Pussy,Motherlight,Andromeda,Octopus,Pink Fairies,Stray,UFO,Harsh Reality,Hard Meat,Czar,Locomotive,Hawkwind(zoo),Norman Haines Band,Nektar,The Ghost,Bullet(hard stuff)etc.....
I like the first album but I think a few tracks seem to fade out too early.