This title was initially issued in 1976 as a two-LP compilation of the Canterbury progressive rockers' output between the years 1970 and 1974. Additionally, as a "value for money" enticement for those who had already purchased Caravan's back catalog, the set also included a previously vaulted live version of "For Richard" taken from the band's U.S. tour warmup gig on September 1, 1974, at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, U.K. Fast-forward nearly two decades to the advent and subsequent proliferation of the extended and sonically superior compact disc medium. In those early days, the band was haphazardly represented by only a few difficult-to-locate and sonically disappointing European best-of titles that not only poorly characterized the band's work, but in a few cases were actually mastered from vinyl (gasp!). In 1994, Canterbury Tales: The Best of Caravan became the first and -- prior to the release of Where but for Caravan Would I? in 2000 -- the most accurate collection of the group's eclectic styles. On any given performance, these could and often would range from fully orchestrated epics ("Love in Your Eye") to ballsy rockers ("Headloss") as well as the occasional compact pop tune ("Golf Girl"). This set also comes with a 24-page booklet that includes rare photos, discographical information, as well as an historical essay by Ed Strait. At the time this set first became available, enthusiasts were separated by over half a decade from the exhaustive remaster and reissue campaign that would commence in 2001. This series ultimately yielded pristine reevaluations of all seven Caravan long-players replete with bonus material as well as the entire Croydon show -- Live at the Fairfield Halls, 1974. For the curious, this collection arguably bests its remastered replacement, Where but for Caravan Would I?, as these are the tunes the way they were first issued -- without the double-edged benefit of the remixed, lengthened, and otherwise revisionist look at much of the same material.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2