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Hatfield And The North - Hatfield and the North CD (album) cover


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.28 | 849 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This classic band - named after a road sign - is a good example of the way the Canterbury bands are inter-related through their line-ups. The group was formed in 1972 when Richard Sinclair and keyboardist Steve Miller left CARAVAN after their Waterloo Lily album, in order to join DELIVERY, in which already played Steve's guitarist brother Phil Miller and drummer Pip Pyle. Steve Miller was replaced first by Caravan's Dave Sinclair (so turns the roundaobout! At this point the group was re-named as Hatfield and the North). And when he eventually returned to Caravan, enter Dave Stewart from EGG! As a Stravinsky fan he brought some art music influences and as a player had to adopt a jazzier touch than before. The group soon found their unique style full of both challenging complexity and warm, witty humour, and was among the first artists in Virgin Records. The working on the debut began in November 1973 with engineer-producer Tom Newman.

For any lover of jazzy Canterbury prog this band is absolutely essential. There are over a dozen of tracks (running times vary between 0:23 and 10:10), but the album flows smoothly and the seams are very unnoticeable. In this sense it reminds of early SOFT MACHINE (vols. 1 and 2). The sound is a bit different though, one could describe it as an airier and jazzier version of Caravan from 1971, featuring the elegant vocals of Richard Sinclair. Stewart has changed his organ tone of Egg into lighter approach favouring electric piano. Phil Miller's recognizeable guitar style brings thicker tones into the sound. A female vocal trio on few tracks brings yet another link to Stewart's, Miller's and Pyle's next band, NATIONAL HEALTH.

Robert Wyatt's vocalise input on 'Calyx' is a certain Canterbury classic, and so is this whole instrumental-oriented album with many funny track titles such as 'Lobster In Cleavage Probe'. Perhaps the nicest song on the CD is 'Let's Eat (Real Soon)', originally appeared as a single. The album received some warm reviews, but the studio sessions (delayed by some technical problems) were more expensive than what the album sold. The follower album, equally recommendable The Rotters' Club actually made it into No. 43 in the charts, surprisingly. It also gave the name to Jonathan Coe's fine novel, in which progressive rock has a central part in its picture of the 1970's.

Matti | 5/5 |


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