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

THE ROTTERS' CLUB

Hatfield And The North

 

Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 570 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars The second and final Hatfield effort that fails for lack of consistently high quality compositions (too much filler and fluff), unacceptably poor sound engineering, and disappointing neglect and underuse of one of the high points of the previous album, the Northettes.

1. "Share It" (3:02) is a poppy tune that opens with some very CARAVAN-like music--complete with Richard Sinclair's unique voice taking center stage from the opening note through to the end (aside from a synth solo in the song's C part). Nothing too special here. (7.75/10)

2. "Lounging There Trying" (3:10) is an instrumental that sounds quite like an instrumental practice session for the opening song. A little more enjoyable than the opener due to the prominence of the instruments--especially the bass and unusual syncopation on the drums. Plus, it gets better as it goes along. (8.25/10)

3. "(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw" (0:46) sounds like a brief intro or overture into something else. (2/2.5)

4. "Chaos at the Greasy Spoon" (0:30) which is another intro into something else. (2.5/2.5)

5. "The Yes No Interlude" (7:02) is an odd, fast-paced instrumental piece with impressive performances from the musicians but it totally lacks any engaging melodies or exciting events. (12/15)

6. "Fitter Stoke Has a Bath" (7:38) employs Richard Sinclair's now-famous underwater vocal technique while flutes, vocal scat and keyboards take turns weaving the melodic tapestry. In the fifth minute guitar is given its time--a rather Ernie Isley sound (if not the technique or effect). A pregnant time standstill occurs in the sixth minute as the instruments wind things down before a psycho-dream plays out to the end. Overall, the five-part song leaves one fairly empty and bewildered, void of any desire to come back to it. (12/15)

7. "Didn't Matter Anyway" (3:03) seems to complete the previous song--flute and Richard singing to take us out of the nightmare sequence of Fitter Stoke's bath. Again, rather innocuous and forgettable. Nice flute performance. (8.25/10)

8. "Underdub" (3:55) is a fast-paced jazz dittie that feels like some of the work being done in American R & B-influenced jazz fusion of the time. Great Fender Rhodes work, grooving upbeat rhythm section--not unlike some of JOE SAMPLE's great stuff of the time. I like the fact that some great team-play melodies are established and perpetuated throughout. One of my favorites from this album. (9/10)

9. "Mumps" (20:06) the highlight of the album is the (extremely) long playing "Mumps" suite--complete with the voice play of The Northettes and the inimitable Richard Sinclair.

a) "Your Majesty Is Like a Cream Donut (quiet)" (1:59) is a kind of keyboard chordal study with The Northettes' simple, breathy vocalise at play far in the background. (2/2.5)

b) "Lumps" (12:35) has the full band jumping into full gear. Some really nice clarity in the recording of this section--guitar, bass, keys, and drums are all sounding like they're right in front of you in the same room. In the middle section a three-part vocal weave from The Northettes gets featured with some bassoon! Then Richard sings for the first time at the 10:20 mark. The lyrics here found here sound rehearsed, not extemporaneously spewed forth as others of his do. The music remains interesting beneath and around Richard's vocal work--which is, to me, quite remarkable. By 12:42 he's done, drums kick into full and multiple tracks are devoted to guitar soli. Sax takes a turn with yet another, different (flange) effect on the soloing guitar. (22/25)

c) "Prenut" (3:55) notes a complete shift into a softer sound, flute, electric piano and female vocals filling the delicate, tension-filled soundscape. Very nice. Best section of the song and best passage on the album. (10/10)

d) "Your Majesty Is Like a Cream Donut (loud)" (1:37) (2/2.5)

Overall, "Mumps" is truly a masterpiece of performance and composition--showing a maturity that is sometimes missing in the earlier Canterbury works. (36/40)

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any Canterbury-loving prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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