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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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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Cheers to the debut album of Hatfield and the North, one of the most accomplished Canterbury acts ever. Band formers Richard Sinclair and Dave Stewart already bore an interesting pedigree, as well as their partners Phil Miller and Pip Pyle. The band's main goal was just to create good music both amusing and cleverly arranged, with a jazzy flair that provides a special swing to the main melodic themes and the subsequent jamming. Scatological humor is evident from some explicit titles, as well as the self- referring lyrics and the intended puerile chanting of 'Fol de Ral'. Positive mood recycled through an exciting musical vision, this is all that Hatfield and the North is about. Regarding the band's sound, the electric piano and the bass guitar happen to be the most consistently featured instruments in the mix, which doesn't mean that Miller can't have noticeable room for leads and harmonic phrases. Miller isn't really loud, yet his musical personality is quite distinct within the spectrum of Canterbury melodic facet - IMHO, his best solo is comprised in en 'Gigantic Laud Crabs in Earth Takeover Bid'. Pyle's typical percussive dynamics is, in no small degree, a basic ingredient for the energetic feel that the band seeks for both the calmer and faster passages of the album. The repertoire consists of two continuous series of tracks, sequenced as if there was an intention of keeping the fun working: the first series starts like the second one ends, with a tone generator sequence. Robert Wyatt's vocal interventions in 'Calyx' are simply eerie, portraying a captivating magic, and so are the Northettes' efforts in en '(Son of) There's no Place like Homerton' and 'Lobster in Cleavage Probe'. 'Rigrette' and 'Rifferama' show some very interesting interaction between organ and guitar. The maximum energy is found in 'Shaving is Boring', which includes a magnificent spacey sequence that seems to float in the air as some sort of imaginary vision that fills every spot in the atmosphere: imagine a cross between the most bizarre side of Soft Machine's "Third" and your typical Gong electronic explorations and you can get the picture accurately. The guitar and organ effects that go passing by on and on enhance the lysergic mood, while the rhythm section sustains the whole thing with infinite precision. All this muscular display is carried out by the band without losing a single ounce of its performative elegance - formidable! The CD edition brings two bonuses, 'Fitter Stoke has a Bath' and 'Let's Eat (Real Soon)' sound to me a bit closer to what Caravan used to do in their first albums, and that's a curious thing, since the reason why Sinclair left Caravan was that he wanted to do something different. The first of these bonuses will reappear in a more sophisticated guise in the band's sophomore effort. In conclusion, "Hatfield and the North" is an exquisite gem of Canterbury, a musical delicatessen that deserves to be labeled as a real prog masterpiece. No less can be expected from this assembly of masters.

[Review dedicated to the memory of Pip Pyle]

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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