review by Rick Ossian
Sounding very much like children of the 60’s and 70’s psychedelic hotbed of rock, prog and heavy metal, Iceland’s Vintage Caravan are very much lodged in the here and now. Their music, their ouvre, if you will, hell, even the cover of the album is completely entrenched in the halcyon days of yore. What, then, makes me think they are all about today? Who knows? I DO know that ever 20 years or so (80’s/90’s, the oughties and the naughties), the trend to lean towards this vicious brew of psych, blues, prog and Metal pops up very much like clockwork. I have heard it in The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Fu Manchu, Clutch, Kharma to Burn, Monster Magnet, and, of course, the original purveyors such as Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, hell, even Sabbath and Purple contributed to this musical goo.
Immediately from the off, we are hammered by taut, psychedelic blues boogie from the mountain. Craving is a wonderful get-down guitar boogie, full of bluster and bravado. ‘Now this is more like it’, I found myself muttering musically to myself time and again whilst listening to this amalgamation of pounding riffs and psych tendencies. Let Me Be is another full-throttle boogie number. A bit sludgy at points, but very cool nonetheless. It is a full-on psych boogie, slamming hard with busy drums and a wah-drenched guitar solo at 2 minutes in.
Do You Remember, by contrast, is more of a plaintive, mellow Bluesy ballad. It also has that classic 70’s heavy rock groove, with some very slinky guitar work all the way through, especially the bluesy bits at the opening, and the guitar solo at the 3-minute mark.
Expand Your Mind (check out the video below) is more hammering psych for your motor-bending brain, sounding for all the world as if the 60’s (or 70’s) were alive and well. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t get sunk down into the proverbial psych time machine here; these three cats are NOT what I would call retro. They provide their own twist on a tried and true formula, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that! I am watching the video as I type for the umpteenth time, and I am definitely blown away by how young these fellows look. Plenty more to come, then, let’s hope!
M.A.R.S. W.A.T.T. is more psych-blues, even power rock at times. Wicked solo at about 2 minutes in. It is numbers like this one and the one before it that belie the youth of these lads. Watch the video from Expand Your Mind again – heck, watch it a few times if you have time. Where did these fellows come from? Oh, Iceland – sorry I forgot. My mind has been distracted since I put this collection on. Perhaps I was transported back to the halcyon days of yore (broken record, Rick, move ON!)…also reminded of The Sword on several of these tracks, as was pointed out to me by Dr. J.
Cocaine Sally is a much shorter number by comparison. It is a raw, bluesy psych-rock boogie of less-than-epic proportions. But it is very good. Winterland, on the other hand, is fairly epic (6:00), and reminded me distinctly of Camel, especially during the introductory segment. It also reminded me of some faraway distant ancient Viking journey, or something like that! I was literally transported, AGAIN! While watching Game of Thrones, no less! The good stuff kicks in at about 3 minutes, and is followed by a wicked cool guitar solo at the 4-minute mark, turning to distant desert sky ( a la Uli Jon Roth‘s stuff) blues lead. I was also reminded of early Scorpions, circa the Lonesome Crow album.
Midnight Meditation is more heavy blues, very retro, as discussed above, but NOT. It is very simple as well, but still stylish. Definitely stylish, if you include 70’s blues-rock amongst your style repertoire. Simple but powerful. Another excellent guitar solo at the 3-minute mark. It is psych as it’s supposed to be, no matter what time zone (or decade) you happen to prefer your music to be from! It is fantastic, it is potent, it is sublime — but it has nothing on the last track. See below, if you dare.
The King’s Voyage is, indeed, just that; an epic of behemoth proportions (just shy of the 12-minute zone), featuring an eerie, powerful intro that conjured up visions of Hawkind days gone by, then WHAM – they pummel us in the ribcage with some distinctly Sabbath-like power chords. At the 4-minute mark is another glorious wah-drenched solo, very cool by the way – did I mention that? At about 5 minutes in, the proceedings change groove/shift gears into what could only be described as a strutting metal blues, then back to some very doomy stylings. About 5:30 in, there is a brief bass solo, followed by more of the sky solo guitar work. The middle and ending guitar sections are by far the best on the whole she-bang, so well worth listening to. Things kick in AGAIN at the 8-minute mark, and before you know it – before you WANT it to be — it’s over. Sadness and poverty will truly reign in the kingdom until the next Vintage Caravan release!