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Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club CD (album) cover


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.20 | 506 ratings

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3 stars I couldn't stand the so-called Canterbury genre when I was younger, but I can listen to it these days. Jazz-rock fusion is basically what this album sounds like to me, and it's pleasant in places. Sinclair has a nice, friendly voice that fits this laid-back type of music, although I'm not too keen on his slight accent, especially as he seems to be feigning it rather (but perhaps I'm doing the guy an injustice). The lyrics are often complete nonsense; some might call them humorous, but to me they're mostly just silly, albeit inoffensive.

'Share It' has nonsense lyrics and an infectious tune. Try not tapping your foot or humming to this. Nice fat keyboard solo midway too. My favourite track of the album, and I don't care if it is the accessible one. The album title is mentioned in this track without any clue as to what it means. Did the Rotters' Club in Liverpool inspire the album title? Anyway, this is the sort of song I would be listening to in my hammock with a beer on a summer afternoon.

'Lounging There Trying' is an instrumental with electric piano and some nice guitar and bass.

'(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw' pleasantly and rapidly segues into the equally short 'Chaos At The Greasy Spoon' - that distorted guitar sounds almost STEELY DAN-ish - which segues into 'The Yes No Interlude' with some distorted (and, to me, annoying) organ to start, and groovy sax. Think fast tapping drumsticks, meandering sax and some repetitive keyboard. Not so much fun to my ears until the keyboard comes back in, and then it becomes enjoyable again, although the piece is a little too like noodling for my liking.

'Fitter Stoke Has A Bath' is another song with silly lyrics, but pleasant nonetheless, and my second-favourite track on the album. The lyrics are so daft that they sound like Sinclair is making them up as he goes along. It's quite amusing when he starts singing through water ("I'm drowning in the bathroom")! The refrain is very melodic and overall I enjoy this song. Some nice flute and high-pitched male scat over the top of the electric piano. The end of the track becomes purely instrumental with lots of spooky keyboard chirps and whirrs, bubbling away and seguing into 'Didn't Matter Anyway', which consists of Sinclair singing over meandering flute about a break-up. An 'OK' song, quite atmospheric with the floating flute and other instruments in the background towards the end of the track, but nothing special.

'Underdub' is another electric piano-redolent upbeat instrumental that bops along nicely with snares and cymbals tapping away in the background, plus some flute too. The kind of track that would be playing quietly in a plush restaurant or bar.

'Mumps' is the epic track of the album, clocking in at 20 minutes. An instrumental for the first half, it starts off with occasional female vocalisations backing electric piano. At 2 minutes it suddenly ups tempo, and distorted guitar and electric piano come in with a nice thumping bass, again with the tapping drumsticks and snares. The keyboard is a little too distorted at times for my liking, but the piece is generally very good (and the keyboard is very good in places). Nice guitar riff now and again. These guys can really play, that's for sure. They rock it up nicely, and the track is a real foot-tapper at times. Sinclair comes in about halfway through for a couple of minutes and the nonsense lyrics ramble on sedately. The sax also puts in an appearance and the song meanders along like a punt on the Isis, with female vocalisations and flute also lending a hand. The riff that kicks in a couple of minutes from the end of the track is sublime. It's mood music, really, but I'm not complaining.

'(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw' again segues into 'Chaos At The Greasy Spoon' and into 'Halfway Between Heaven And Earth'. More of the same, and although it's still nice, and still laid-back, I find the album starts to get a tad boring at this point. Fortunately Sinclair sings again in 'Halfway Between Heaven And Earth'. It's not a bad tune, although no masterpiece. More bubble blowing sounds as in 'Fitter Stoke Has A Bath'. Nice keyboard solo near the end as the track fades out.

The instrumental 'Oh, Len's Nature' starts heavy and sombre, with distorted guitar, keyboards and thumping bass.

'Lying And Gracing' is another instrumental - this time live - also with some distorted guitar and organ. As it progresses it starts to sound more like a jam than a planned track, but it's quite good; the sort of thing that would be playing on stage in a smoky fusion club.

Well, I'm conscious that this is a well-known and popular album. The production is very good and it's a delight to listen to from that point of view. The whole thing is pleasant and the musicianship evident. I can listen to the album easily if I'm relaxing, either taking it in or as background music. It's not something that I personally would rush out to buy, but I can understand why many rate it highly. To me it's a good album and I will settle for 3 stars (Good, but not essential).

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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