Both these veteran English prog-rock bands conspicuously lack a sense of urgency--their laid-back music gets there when it gets there. They seem to belong in another age, in all likelihood an imaginary one, when people could actually sit still while somebody recited the Iliad. I've always found that approach delightful: sure, life is short, but rushing from one jump cut to another won't make it any longer. Alas, making unruffled music doesn't necessarily translate into smooth sailing in real life. Has anybody ever quit his own band as many times as Caravan coleader David Sinclair? True to form, the organist is gone again on the group's most recent album, last year's The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (Eclectic Discs), leaving guitarist and singer Pye Hastings holding the reins. "Smoking Gun (Right for Me)," "Revenge," and "Nowhere to Hide" make horrid paranoia seem almost genteel, dressing it up in mellow melodies, and even celebratory tunes like "It's Getting a Whole Lot Better," "Straight Through the Heart," and "Head Above the Clouds" are more daydreamy than Dionysian. All that said, this stuff does rock, however gently.
Coheadliners Nektar have finished but not yet released Evolution (Dream Nebula/Eclectic Discs), the first album of new material in two decades from founding members Taff Freeman, Ron Howden, and Roye Albrighton, who's in fine form despite a liver transplant in 1999. For the time being they're selling reissues of their classic early-70s dream-rock LPs. Sunday 19, 8 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494, $27 in advance, $29 at the door.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Deborah Rothenberg.