Rarely do reformations of classic rock bands equal the work of the unit to gain initial notoriety. Since their semi-permanent reunion in the '80s, Caravan have not only reworked some of their most beloved works on studio releases such as All Over You and the follow-up, All Over You Too, but the band has also made numerous live recordings highlighting enthusiasts favorites as well as newer material, such as Pye Hastings ballad "Cold As Ice." Canterbury Comes to London is one of the better live performance recordings to feature core band members (Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson, Dave Sinclair and Richard Coughlan) as augmented by other non-Caravan alumni. Notable for their tenure in this incarnation is lead guitarist Doug Boyle -- who is probably best known as Robert Plant's post Robbie Blunt solo axe man. Jim Leverton is another addition whose long and varied residencies include Fat Mattress, Savoy Brown, and Juicy Lucy. Sadly, percussionist Simon Bentall's augmentations seem consistently out of place. The glaring chime crescendos during "Golf Girl" or the needless, yet incessant, tambourine fills and bongo fury which obscure an otherwise striking rendition of "Memory Lain, Hugh" and "Headloss" bear the deepest scars. Conversely, his restraint on "Nine Feet Underground" is duly noted. Enthusiasts whose interest began to wane in Caravan's post- Cunning Stunts era will, at the very least, be pleasantly surprised at the residual intensity and attack which are readily displayed throughout this live set. Immediately the togetherness of the band is demonstrated during the multi-rhythmic passages of "Headloss," as well as throughout "For Richard." There are no lagging tempos, forgotten lyrics, or neglected solos here. Caravan's motifs of musical economy while providing multi-hued sonic canvases are alive and well as Canterbury Comes to London.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer