Xhol Caravan, one of the earliest Krautrock groups, was a strange blend of jazz and psychedelic rock. This double CD of archival material offers two almost hour-long live sets, as well as a short bonus CD with covers by Xhol fans David Tibet (Current 93), Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound), and Christoph Heemann. Rather than bother with indexing, each CD has just one long track, a bit of a nuisance. The first CD includes their entire set known as Freedom Opera, recorded in 1968 when the group was still known as Soul Caravan and still transitioning from more conventional R&B to the weird sounds of their first album, Electrip. Fortunately, the group comes off as more Xhol than Soul on this strange mix of jazz, soul, improvised rock ,and vocalist James Rhodes' freeform poetry, along with plenty of organ, electric sax, and electric organ solos. The music is quite well-recorded given the time period, except for Rhodes' vocals, which come through a bit distorted and harsh. There is a long version of Donovan's "Season of the Witch" which is not in the same crazed realms of "Love Potion 25" from the third record, but still quite wild. The second CD with the band pared down to a four-piece of bass, drums, organ, and tenor sax was recorded live on WDR Radio in 1969, probably soon after Electrip. This is one long, improvised instrumental jam, moving seamlessly from cosmic rock to loose free jazz to psychedelic freakouts and everything in between, and with even better fidelity than Freedom Opera. As for the bonus disc, which is only about 15 minutes long, Current 93's synth-beat version of a Soul Caravan track is particularly effective. Nurse With Wound simply extends the radio static with short song bits from Motherfuckers GMBH's "Radio," whereas Heemann's piece lacks the off-the-wall goofiness of the original from Electrip.
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