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


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.26 | 739 ratings

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4 stars The world of Canterbury prog was a pretty incestous one with groups like Caravan, Soft Machine, Gong, Delivery, Egg, Matching Mole, National Health, Khan and Gilgamesh all sharing members, and as such Hatfield And The North might seem to be "just another Canterbury" supergroup. It's a little hard to describe the two lovely mid 70s albums crafted by Richard Sinclair (lead vocals/bass), Phil Miller (guitar), Dave Stewart (keyboards) and Pip Pyle (drums) as ground-breaking because these musicians came to the band with a well-established blueprint for music-making (albeit one they had all contributed to). There is however, little doubt that they are among the most memorable recordings to emerge from the scene ...

This fascinating debut is an hotch-potch of brief "sound effect" tracks like The Stubbs Effect, a handful of charming jazzy ditties like Going Up To People And Tinkling, Lobster In Cleavage Probe and the punchy Rifferama, and two monumental jazz-rock anthems written by drummer Pyle called Son of "There's No Place Like Homerton" and Shaving Is Boring. The album is largely instrumental although there are a fair amount of wordless vocals flying around (contributed by Sinclair, Canterbury icon Robert Wyatt as well as a trio of female singers that includes Amanda Parsons). Henry Cow's Geoff Leigh also drops in to add a few brassy touches.

As you might surmise from the titles of some of the tracks, Hatfield And The North aren't the sort of group to take themselves too seriously, but the standard of musicianship is extremely high with Stewart (mainly in electric piano mode) leading the way most of the time. What's more, the album is superbly paced, so that the music ebbs and flows perfectly to sustain one's interest. Psychedelic swirls, goofy humour, elegant jazz-rock, Sinclair's mournful singing (the Big Jobs songs have great melodies!) and the odd moment of controlled passionate playing are all present in acceptable doses.

Hatfield And The North's subsequent album The Rotter's Club is generally given more attention because of the presence of the group's greatest work Mumps on that album, but this album matches it for quality. The CD features the wonderful Let's Eat (Real Soon)/Fitter Stoke Has A Bath single as bonus tracks, and they just add to the fun. ... 78% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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