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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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Symphonic Team
4 stars 'Hatfield and the North' is a stunning debut from the darlings of Canterbury. The album is a milestone of the genre and features some incredible musicianship from the likes of Dave Stewart of Egg and Khan on keyboards, Phil Miller from Matching Mole on guitar, Pip Pyle of Gong on Drums and Richard Sinclair from caravan on bass and vocals. Guests include Robert Wyatt singing 'Calyx'.

The album tracks fly along at breakneck speed, 4 of which are less than a minute long, and it soon launches into a jazz improvisation on 'Going up to people and tinkling'. A great deal of Caravan and Gong's humour is injected into the music and it is wildly experimental throughout. In reality every track is glued to each other rather than a separate entity and it would have been interesting as one long suite rather than a bunch of snippets as it is. It certainly works well on CD without having the breaks a vinyl experience forced upon the listener.

'Calyx' is Wyatt's vocal intonations, and not too bad overall. This is segued immediately into "Son of 'There's no place like Homerton''. The sweet backing vocals are sung by "The Northettes" and it has a jazzy keyboard line and some wonderful sax; one of the best tracks on offer here, clocking over 10 minutes. The flute at 4 and a half minutes is a fabulous embellishment.

'Aigrette' is a showcase for Phil Miller's guitar prowess and Sinclair's vocals; one of the highlights. 'Rifferama' follows with Miller's blazing guitar in all its glory and some manic vocals, including canned laughter at the end. I like the experimentalism and telephone section in 'Fol De Rol', and it has a Gentle Giant vocal technique.

Another definitive highlight is 'Shaving is Boring' with experimental jazz sections and Krautrock nuances, running for 8:46. It has electronic keyboard melodies and changes signature almost at will. The cool effect of footsteps running flat out of someone in a corridor opening up a series of doors is fascinating. Each door that opens reveals a section of music and the protagonist opens each until the right riff is discovered; a very innovative playful moment of the album.

Other tracks are instrumental based and very short at times, not as good as other tracks, though I love 'Lobster in Cleavage Probe' with the female angelic voices and chimes. It ends with the bonus tracks including the popular 'Fitter Stoke Has a Bath' driven by Sinclair's quirky style. Overall the album is essential Canterbury, though a bit hit and miss but then most Canterbury is. One of the greatest debuts in rock history, it is definitely worth hearing and ranks as one of the quintessential Canterbury albums along with 'The Rotter's Club'.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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