CARAVAN: ALL OVER YOU (1996)
1) If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You; 2) Place Of My Own; 3) The Love In Your Eye / To Catch Me A Brother; 4) In The Land Of Grey And Pink; 5) Golf Girl; 6) Disassociation (Nine Feet Underground); 7) Hello Hello; 8) Asforteri 25; 9) For Richard; 10) Memory Lain, Hugh; 11) Headloss.
Re-recordings of your own classics are not just pitiful: as a rule, they brand you very concisely as a «second-rate» artist — I think Page and Plant were the only ones who could properly get away with this shit, because most of the stuff they did was re-inventions rather than re-recordings, but other than that, Caravan here are joining the league of Blue Öyster Cult and The Animals, for no reason whatsoever — of course, it is understandable if you want to nostalgize in the confines of a studio, but what good are the results for even a dedicated fan? This is not a bad album, just utterly pointless. Unless the point is just admitting defeat: «hey guys, none of you bought The Battle Of Hastings when it came out — so I guess you like the old shit more, here's an acoustic version of ʽThe Love In Your Eyeʼ for you, enjoy».
As you can see from the track list, this is a representative retrospective of the classic years of Caravan, covering every album from the self-titled debut and up to Plump In The Night. The sonic structure is a little weird: about two-thirds of the record is almost completely acoustic (except for a few lead electric parts every now and then), up to the first part of ʽFor Richardʼ — after which the distorted guitars kick in with full force, and the album continues as an electric appearance until the end. The musicianship remains strong through the entire album, and Hastings continues to be in fine voice — and these are all great songs, so, formally, one cannot complain. But I struggle to find any specific points for which these arrangements should be recommended. If anything, there are some weak points — namely, the production, which sounds strangely cluttered and disorienting: lots of gratuitous percussive overdubs, special effects, echoes, sometimes giving the songs a cavernous feel that they really do not deserve.
Additional odd ideas include, for instance, the overdub of fake stadium audience cheer and applause over the last two tracks — well, sure, those Plump In The Night tracks could be played in an arena setting, but why should we be told that? Is it some sort of poorly hidden envy on Pye's part, that he never got to play in a proper arena? Anyway, those crowd noises splattered all over ʽHeadlossʼ are really very annoying and distracting and, might I say, in poor taste.
Thus, unless you are interested in a couple of nice jazzy acoustic solos here and there (with a Spanish touch on ʽThe Love In Your Eyeʼ), it is probably better to just forget this record ever existed. Apparently, that was not the end of the story: a couple of years later, Hastings and Co. followed it up with All Over You Too, featuring a second batch of re-recordings, this time from 1973 to 1976; and that one, according to rumors, was even more tasteless than the first one, so I have not bothered to search it out. All in all, a very silly decision.