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

HATFIELD AND THE NORTH

Hatfield And The North

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 491 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars First album from this Canterbury supergroup. Featuring former members of Egg, Caravan, Matching Mole and Gong. On this album we are introduced to the Northettes, female singers who usually do wordless vocals. Richard Sinclair does the main vocals and both his singing and bass playing here is an improvement over what he did with Caravan. Originally him and keyboardist Steve Miller (brother of Hatfield guitarist Phil) left Caravan to form this more jazzy group. Eventually Miller was replaced by Dave Stewart who brought along with him some unfinished ideas from Egg.

All the songs are linked together and the whole album flows as one piece. It's more consistent in general compared to Rotter's Club, but that album's best moments are superior to anything here. It sounds like they spent a lot of time on this album. Apparently, they spent a lot of money on it as well; the band members owed money for decades after recording it. The MiniMoog is used here more than it is on RC. Sinclair likes to occasionally alter his voice for a word or two. The album begins and ends with sequenced piano-like sounds on MiniMoog. There are two "Big Jobs" songs. I like the first a little better but it's less than a minute. The second version is more of an actual song and is performed in a smoother way. It features a great solo on fuzz-organ or maybe even MiniMoog.

The songs vary in length from 20 seconds to 10 minutes. "Going Up To People And Tinkling" has some chords here and there which forshadow the side-long "Mumps" on Rotter's Club. "Calyx" features Robert Wyatt on wordless vocals. In fact, this whole song sounds like one of the mellower and spacier Matching Mole songs. I'm not sure if Wyatt recorded this song before or after his accident; I'm assuming after. "Son Of 'There's No Place Like Homerton'" begins with some electric piano which reminds me of Soft Machine. Great drumming and organ work after 1 1/2 minutes, followed by some sax from Geoff Leigh. Not sure if he was still in Henry Cow at this point. This part sounds Zappaesque.

Some electric piano arpeggios follow along with a little bit of MiniMoog. Guitar, bass and drums join in. Then the Northettes enter. The music stops and then some menacing Canterbury sounds before it gets more subdued. Northettes and overdubbed Geoffs finish it. "Rifferama" shows the group at it's best, jamming away in jazz-rock mode including some Gong-like sounds in the middle. "Fol De Rol" is one of the stand out songs. Sinclair and the Northettes sing scat-like gibberish in harmony. Interesting drumming from Pip Pyle. Nice wah-bass solo. Love the part where a phone rings; someone answers it and you now hear the singing on the phone!

"Shaving Is Boring" begins with the person hanging up the phone. You can listen to this song here on PA. Perhaps the best song on the album. Constantly changes and goes through different sections. At one point you hear running and doors opening and closing; each door when opened plays a few seconds of earlier songs from the album. Great tones here from all the non-percussion instruments. Sounds like a little bit of Mellotron in there somewhere. Up to this point the album has been fairly strong. "Licks For The Ladies" and "Bossa Nochance" bring down the album's momentum. Closest thing to filler on the album.

"Lobster In Cleavage Probe" features counterpoint vocals from the Northettes. About halfway changes to a jazzy instrumental section. "Gigantic Land-Crabs In Earth Takeover Bid" (you gotta love some of these titles) sounds a lot like Egg. Great playing from all. Most if not all CD versions feature the groups first single "Let's Eat (Real Soon)" as a bonus track. A very upbeat and poppy song, but would sound out of place on the album itself. This album could be a good introduction to the Canterbury Scene. It's definately one of the better albums in that sub-genre. Hatfield is a band that I wish made 2 or 3 more albums than they did. This is pretty close to a masterpiece but not quite. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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