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CANTERBURY SCENE

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Canterbury Scene definition

With many other types of English progressive music developing mostly in London, it may at first seem strange that the old pilgrimage centre and relatively quiet cathedral city of Canterbury, became the centre of this very English form of progressive music and jazz fusion. Originally the Wilde Flowers, a teenage band of members living in and around Canterbury, playing a mix of pop, R'n'B and band members with a developing love of jazz, was formed in the 60's and became the seedling from which the Canterbury Scene grew. Australian beatnik Daevid Allen during a long stop-over at Robert Wyatt's parent's home, a refuge for many left field artists, was to catalyse the evolution of the Wilde Flowers into the fledging Soft Machine and the development of some avant music during the English psychedelic and underground period. From 1963 to 1969, the Wilde Flowers included most of the figures who later formed Canterbury's two best known bands, (The) Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper) and Caravan (Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Richard Coughlan).

Canterbury was then to be the cradle for several of the more freewheeling British bands of the post-psychedelic era. While fans would suggest this is the home of an English musical quirkiness tempered with quite a bit of whimsy, within the Canterbury Scene's musical spectrum any similarities between Canterbury's major bands, (e.g. Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hatfield & the North, Egg, National Health), are not immediately obvious*. Most bands will be found employing a clever fusion of rock rhythms and jazz improvisation with intellectual song-writing and varying strengths of psychedelia - some would too include folk elements (e.g. Spirogyra), others blues (e.g. Carol Grimes and Delivery). In addition, a number of bands employed various elements from classical music, for instance those bands with Dave Stewart playing keyboards. Whilst there have been a handful of excellent and distinctly different guitarists to play with Canterbury bands (e.g. Andy Summers, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller), the lead instrument of choice has been keyboards. One English peculiarity of Canterbury is what the late John Peel called the 'School of Anti-song' because of particular Wyatt, Ayers and Richard Sinclair's approaches to vocals and perhaps the whimsy. More recently Richard Sinclair's vocal style has perhaps accurately been labelled as 'English jazz singing' by Jazzwise (i.e. singing jazz with an English rather than the usual American accent). In addition Canterbury musicians have experimented as avant garde, free jazz players, e.g. instance Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller.

(*However, once you've heard some Canterbury bands the commonality becomes more obvious - chord sequencing e.g. Caveman Hughscore's electric piano opening on the tune 'More Than Nothing', the vocals, the lyrics etc.)

Both the Soft Machine and Caravan were popular in England's psychedelic/ underground scene before releasing their first albums in 1968, with Machine completing on level footing with Pink Floyd. However, by the early 70's a series of fragmenting changes of bands' line-ups, (Soft Machine went through about 30) and the subsequent formation of new bands, rapidly broadened Canterbury's range, with many newer musicians with only loose and in fact, no previous Canterbury connections. Early Soft Machine member Daevid Allen formed Gong in Paris. Both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt left the Softs because of musical developments they did not like, to begin their own solo careers. By the mid-70's, most the old and new Canterbury bands had progressed away from psychedelia, developing their distinct forms of progressive rock some embracing jazz fusion, many playing extended jams with now limited lyrical input (e.g. Hatfield and The Norths, National Health, Gilgamesh). Caravan became more folky. However, as the 70's progressed several Canterbury bands would lose most of the rock element from their music. Gong retained their psychedelic side longest, but with the departure of Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage in the mid 70's, the band evolved into the percussion-oriented, jazz rock group Gong, which eventually became the modern day Gongzilla. Daevid Allen regained Gong's name in the 90's and through his solo work and with his University of Errors, is still evidently producing psychedelia. Steve Hillage's form of psychedelia evolved into the glissando rock of his own band and then into electronica, by the end of the 70's. In particular, Hillage through his work as a successful record producer of new bands from the 80's, develop his form of electronica through other bands. This music lost much of its complexity e.g. few riffs played over and over, rather than dozens per tune that previously had often typified prog, into a very popular form that is the antithesis of prog, i.e. the various forms of house music, with associated remixing/turntablism. For instance, Gong's "You" got the remix treatment in the 90's - but then to reflect his range of activities, Hillage has also produced and played guitar for Algerian Rai singer, Rachid Taha for over 20 years.

Many of Britain's better known avant-garde and fusion musicians of the 70's and 80's - including Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Allan Holdsworth (Gong, Soft Machine, UK, Bruford) and Peter Blegvad - were involved during their early careers playing in Canterbury bands. And still new musicians join the Canterbury Scene's ranks, Theo Travis being perhaps the most notable recently (Gong, The Soft Machine Legacy). The Canterbury scene was to have a major influence on musicians in Europe, especially France (e.g. Gong, Moving Gelatine Plates), the Netherlands (Super Sister)and Italy (Daedalus), and more belatedly in the USA (Hughscore). Caravan reformed in the mid 90's, while ex-members of Soft Machine could be found in various avant jazz and straight jazz fusion groups, e.g. Just Us, Soft Heap, Soft Works and most recently The Soft Machine Legacy. From the Canterbury Scene, RIO it its various forms has developed.

FOOTNOTE: As indicated above, many Canterbury Scene bands are acknowledged as having played/are playing jazz rock fusion. However, because of their strong Canterbury affliations are listed under "Canterbury Scene" in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
Based loosely in part on the source: http://www.allmusic.com
(Edition 3, Aug 2009)

Current team members as at 14/02/2014:
Steve (HolyMoly)

Canterbury Scene Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Canterbury Scene | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.27 | 1381 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 670 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.24 | 805 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.26 | 612 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.27 | 543 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.23 | 805 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.21 | 786 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.24 | 313 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.15 | 588 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.18 | 449 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.28 | 231 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.11 | 544 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.13 | 321 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.13 | 331 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.25 | 166 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.22 | 185 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.13 | 287 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.02 | 430 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.03 | 380 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 218 ratings
PICCHIO DAL POZZO
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Canterbury Scene experts team

HOPPER TUNITY BOX
Hopper, Hugh
KEW RHONE
Greaves, John
SPLIT SECONDS
Miller, Phil
GILGAMESH
Gilgamesh

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Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 Gilgamesh by GILGAMESH album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.89 | 124 ratings

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Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

3 stars In 1972, a keyboardist Alan Gowen, previously of the afro-beat band Assagai, Sunship (with King Crimson's Jamie Muir and Allan Holdsworth) and (one year later of) Hatfield And The North teamed up with a guitarist Rick Morcombe, saxophonist Alan Wakeman (the cousin of Rick Wakeman), bassist Jeff Clyne of Nucleus and Isotope and drummer Mike Travis to create Gilgamesh. After various personel changes, Wakeman left and Morcombe was replaced by a guitarist Phil Lee. In 1975, the quartet signed a record contract with Caroline to record their self-titled debut album.

Gilgamesh always remained fairly obscure, breaking up after recording two albums. Their sound is clearly shaped by their contemporaries, mainly Hatfield And The North. The band's sound however does not have the goofiness and the English sense of humor. As much as we could debate whether Hatfield And The North or National Health are fusion of progressive rock, Gilgamesh is a bit like Soft Machine - it's pretty much just straight-up jazz fusion. Unlike Soft Machine though, the quartet does not use jazz instrumentation like saxophones, but rather typical prog rock instrumentation of keyboards, a guitar, a bass and drums. The musicians are definitely very good at their craft. Alan Gowen's sound is dominated by an electric piano and a clavinet as well as a Chick Corea-like synthesizer. His style is inspired by previously mentioned Chick Corea as well as Dave Stewart and Mike Ratledge. Phil Lee's guitar work reminds of that of Phil Miller with pastel-like fuzz guitar. Mike Travis is a very decent drummer, capable of pulling off fantastic grooves, while Jeff Clyne's style is inspired by upright bass.

The album consists of eight tunes, three of which could be called "mini-epics" and two one minute-long piece. All the other tracks are kept between three and six minutes. Despite having a great dynamic variety between them and drawing dreamy soundscapes, they are very forgettable. And so is the whole album for that matter. The dry improvisation-based fusion style is quite boring, monotonous, ho-hum, and "too consistent". Despite the great instrumentalist abilities, every track (maybe with an exception of "Notwithstanding" and "We Are All / Someone Else's Food / Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name") ask to get skipped. And it's a shame, because the band definitely could do much better than that! Just listen to the follow-up of this one!

In conclusion, the self-titled debut album of Gilgamesh presents phenomenal musicianship. However, it is overshaded by rather repetitive compositions, that lead to nowhere. This album is well suited for Canterbury fans and collectors, but not recommended for newcomers and those trying to get a taste of Canterbury scene. Much better things were to come from Gilgamesh. I am struggling between rating this album for two or three stars. Composition would get two stars, while playing would get four. So, the most adequate rating would be three stars!

 DeiÓ...Vu by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.08 | 3 ratings

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DeiÓ...Vu
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Boojieboy

3 stars One of Kevin's most rocking albums (the others being That's What You Get Babe and Yes We Have No Mananas). It's not hard rock or anything, and not prog, but it does show that he could cut loose at times. I think guitarist Ollie Halsall helped contribute towards that.

The fastest song is My Speeding Heart. It kicks the pants off anything from his laid back and slow releases (including The Unfairground). There are several songs with a Caribbean and reggae feel, as is one of his strong points. There's also some humor there as in his earlier career, though it's in a more adult and slightly jaded manner.

Decent rock, with tropical influences.

 Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.40 | 6 ratings

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Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Boojieboy

2 stars Definitely NOT progressive rock, more like new wave. This is one of Kevin's strangest albums. The album was commissioned by someone else, and Kevin basically had to turn over control to the producer (his musicians, his production, his ways, his ideas). The biggest offense is using an early drum machine, keyboard bass, and sometimes electronic drums in place of real instruments and a real rhythm section. They sound quite cheesy at times, and sort of like Devo in areas, which is so not Kevin Ayers. This is almost like 180 degrees away from what he was about.

There are some decent songs on this, including 1) the heavier lead-off track Madame Butterfly, 2) probably his best version of Ollie Halsall's song Steppin' Out, and 3) Lay Lady Lay. There are several versions of those last two songs on other albums, but these might be the best. Probably the oddest song here is Who's Still Crazy? It's such a synthesized departure of Kevin's music, that he kind of rambles on in the vocal booth, obviously trashed and drugged, probably the only way to deal with the difficult situation.

I understand now why this album is so hard to find. I wouldn't be surprised if even some fans have even hidden it or removed them from circulation. There's probably a fear of giving people totally the wrong impression about Kevin.

Despite the criticism, it's still a stronger album than the last two bland duds that he released (Still Life With Guitar and The Unfairground). There's still some energy there and some life, even though it stuffed under a synthesized mess. There's more rock and drunkenness too, which is missing from his later albums.

I gave it 2-stars for the prog and rock community at large. For Ayers fans though - those who get him - I'd give it 3 stars.

 Shapeshifter by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.53 | 59 ratings

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Shapeshifter
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars I love this album. After about 20 years the inhabitants of planet GonG are back to Earth with all the crazyness of the Flying Teapot trilogy. It was a great surprise for me when I bought it. I didn't even know that actually GonG were still alive, and after the jazzy albums like Shamal or the Pierre Moerlen's solo works, I wasn't expecting anything like this, especially at the beginning of the 90s.

Shapeshifter deserves to be considered a classic album in GonG's discography. Even without Hillage of the Bambaloni Yoni's weird vocals it's a natural follow up to the trilogy. Like George Lucas with the Anakin's trilogy 20 years after Star Wars, the epic story of Radio Gnome restarted. The world the teapot is flying on is different from the swinging London. This makes more difficult producing a so intelligent psychedelia and this is another point in favor of the recently passed away genius that was Daevid Allen.

Who is not familiar with this side of early GonG, can expect an album made of short length songs tied together by a concept, very skilfully played and arranged with an excellent clean production and influences from rock, jazz, indo, beat... well, influences is not the right word. Allen was a master in mixing all the ingredients into his musical teapot.

No track by track description. This is simply a 4 stars album and one of the GonG's best.

 Present From Nancy by SUPERSISTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.00 | 166 ratings

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Present From Nancy
Supersister Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars Despite a relative success of Soft Machine's and Caravan's debut and sophomore albums, the Canterbury scene bands didn't get a lot of attention in the United Kingdom. They soon found, though, a great following in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Netherlands in particular was a vibrant place at that time - a perfect place for a young, inspired musician. A young conservatory student, who specialized in keyboard instruments Robert Jan Stips teamed up with a bass player Ron van Eck, a vocalist and a flautist Sacha van Geest and a drummer Marco Vrolijk. That's how Supersister came to life. Soon after releasing a single in 1970, the band was offered to play Kralingen Music Festival (also known as "the Dutch Woodstock") alongside acts such as Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Caravan, Soft Machine, The Byrds, Mungo Jerry, Fairport Convention and Stone The Crows, just to name a few. With plenty of material, they decided to release their debut album Present From Nancy.

Supersister's sound is to a very high degree shaped by Canterbury scene bands such as Soft Machine, Caravan or Delivery. Even a bit of Egg influence is to be heard. However, their music goes beyond just these influences, it's notably different. Without the goofiness of Caravan and improvisational factor of Soft Machine, the group has a distinct sound only of their own. The psychedelic aroma is almost entirely absent. Furthermore, the band incorporates a flute, making a particularly good use of the instrument on smooth dreamy passages. Machine-like fuzz organ, reminiscent of Egg and Emerson Lake & Palmer is commonly used, giving this organ-driven quartet a welcome variety from lush, well-known Hammond organ sounds. A fuzz bass tone as used by Hugh Hopper is also present. Similarly to their Canterbury contemporaries, Supersister utilizes odd time signatures. As I mentioned, improvisation and jams do not play an exceedingly important role in their music, as opposed to Soft Machine.

Present From Nancy consists of 10 tracks, some of which are linked together. What is worth attention is that all of the tracks are different from one another. A good part of them is instrumental, only some include vocals, which remind a bit of Richard Sinclair's voice. The title track, "Present From Nancy" presents the jazzy, Soft Machine-inspired style, "Memories Are New" and "11-8" are kept in odd time signatures, sharing similarities with some of Egg's pieces, "Dreaming Wheelwhile" has a dreamy ambience to it, while "Corporation Combo Boys" features harmony vocals, in a similar vein to Gentle Giant. "Eight Miles High" is a 25-second tune with a lyrical allusion to "Summertime", a widely known jazz standard. "Metamorphosis" is probably the most experimental of all, based on a rapid "Sabre Dance"-like tempo. Together, the pieces create a beautifully twisted whole, so much that none of the tracks could justifiably be regarded as a "highlight" of the album.

Although I consider myself a Canterbury scene fan, I often find many bands' material a bit sterile and therefore uninteresting. That is definitely not the case with Supersister's debut album Present From Nancy. For a debut album, this is a very solid and consistent effort, which does not show musical indecision. Highly eclectic and more importantly unique, this is an essential album of the sub-genre, capturing the true spirit of Canterbury scene's early days. A one-of-a-kind work, recommended! 4.5 stars!

 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.62 | 191 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars Robert Wyatt, the Canterbury mastermind was done with Soft Machine. The band's radical turn towards jazz proved to be a bit too much for Wyatt with his more psychedelic or progressive-oriented sensibilities. Dave Sinclair, a keyboard virtuoso, formerly of Caravan also happened to have just parted ways with his group. Joined by a few other musicians, namely Phil Miller, Bill McCormick and Dave McRae, they teamed up to create Matching Mole. The name "Matching Mole" comes from French "machine molle", which means Soft Machine.

Matching Mole's debut is a quintessential Canterbury scene album. All the ingredients are there. In comparison to Soft Machine's works of the period, this is a lot more musically organised. It also does not rely as much on improvisational factor. However, that does not mean the sacrifice of jazz qualities. A wide variety Robert Wyatt's fixtures is detectable as well. Dave Sinclair brings a bit of Caravan's sound himself. In addition to Sinclair's smooth organ textures and Dave McRae's electric piano parts, Wyatt introduces a Mellotron, which I consider to be perfectly utilized. It proves to be irreplaceable on experimental symphonic passages such as on the closing track - "Immediate Curtain". The instrument supplies Matching Mole with a very distinct, unique majestic sound, which fits perfectly in their style.

The material is made up of light melodic pieces and ballads supported by a piano (often played by Robert Wyatt himself), which resolve into sophisticated jazz rock jams, frequently in sophisticated time signatures and one full-on avant-garde tune ("Immediate Curtain"). Occasionally, the tracks are linked, the first three for example, with every one having a slightly different mood and feel.

Overall, I believe this to be a prominent Canterbury scene album, a significant, one-of-a-kind work. It shows a transitional period of the subgenre - nearly free from psychedelic noodlings, but far from full-on jazz fusion that it would become later on in the decade. Very highly recommended. 4.5 stars!

 Cold Cuts by GREENWOOD, NICHOLAS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.54 | 23 ratings

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Cold Cuts
Nicholas Greenwood Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars A solo effort from a sidekick, who never got out of shadow.

Nick Greenwood was a bass player who played alongside Arthur Brown or Steve Hillage in Khan. He released only one solo album throughout his career - "Cold Cuts". He recruited his fellow Khan drummer Eric Peachey, Frank Zappa's saxophone player Bunk Gardner, Chris Pritchard from a folk group Silly Wizard, Bryn Howarth, a guitarist who would later be known for his religious projects and a few other musicians, who were only to be known through this project. The main wonder of this album is the incredible keyboardist Dick Henningham, who made his only appearance on this album.

Music of "Cold Cuts" does have strains of early Canterbury scene acts, however what comes to mind as soon as you put on the record is the influence of Colosseum. The opening track "A Sea Of Holy Pleasure", which I consider the best and most representative of the album, could very well be recorded by Colosseum. Following tunes are kept in a similar mood with soul-jazz elements being put on the first plan. Brass instruments appear here an there and even some strings (track "Hope Ambitions"). "Cold Cuts" doesn't quite have a feel of being a strict progressive rock record, but rather psychedelic rock with sparkling jazz and blues-rock passages. The musicianship throughout the whole work is amazing and Greenwood's voice is qutie unique with an interesting color, perfectly suited for the music.

It's a shame that Nick Greenwood's only solo effort has been lost in time. "Cold Cuts" has a very strong potential and it would be great to see a follow-up of this one. Albeit lacking in places, this is a very solid release made by phenomenal musicians, who have not had a lot of luck. Highly recommended!

 Mainstream by QUIET SUN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 231 ratings

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Mainstream
Quiet Sun Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars Quiet Sun is a one-album project by big names before they were very big. Music on "Mainstream" could be best described as eclectic jazz-rock. Soft Machine and Gong influences first come to mind. You soon find out that Quiet Sun's music is much more than that. The music is mainly based on psychedelic jazz jams with "odd" time signatures, very typical of so called Canterbury sound. Other detectable flavors include those of Henry Cow with a hint of Mike Oldfield-esque ambience in some places.

It took me quite a few listens to find out what is the deal with this album. At times I still do not feel like the music leads to anywhere. However, that can be forgiven. The material on this work indeed is very complex and will only be properly digested by experienced prog fans (and even some of those might not find it enjoyable). The listener is quickly soaked in by difficult jams, that seem familiar. Namely, Phil Manzanera's fuzzy guitar tone is very much like the one heard on Hatfield And the North's debut album. Fuzz organ a la Mike Ratledge and Dave Stewart are also to be heard on "Mainstream". And (again) fuzz bass is a sign of clear inspiration of Hugh Hopper and Mont Campbell. The band draws countless amounts of beautiful musical textures, thanks to skilled use of many keyboard instruments and synthesizers, some of which were played by Brian Eno. The rhythm section provides the excellent canvas for the rest of the band to paint on it. "Rongwrong" is for me the best piece on the album with a bit more structure than other pieces, while "Sol Caliente" is the true essence of the album - featuring jazz rock jams with a taste of psychedelia.

The album is a really difficult work, a complex piece of art. Still, after aproximately 5 listens to the whole album, I find it very demanding. Naturally, it won't please newcommers. However, it should find itself on a shelf of every prog nut. Recommended!!!

 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.80 | 25 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle

3 stars This album is as close as you can get to real Robert Wyatt. This archival release shows some fascinating cuts from the master himself featuring the ultimate guitar god (you guessed it, Jimi Hendrix), Mike Ratledge and Hugh Hopper. Some of the tracks are quite sloppy-sounding, which gives the album a very "home brew" sort of feeling. Some of the tracks, namely well, everything besides "Moon In June" are songs only to be seen on this album. "Slow Walkin' Talk" is that track that features Hendrix on bass and magically, it immediately sounds like something that after a polish could appear on "Are You Experienced?". To me, the coolest thing about the album is a take on what would later become Soft Machine's proggiest song - a multimovement suite "Moon In June". Note that as the name suggests, this was recorded in the year of 1968 (when the group toured USA with Jimi Hendrix) when the piece was to be released two years later on "Third".

Overall, despite holding a strong archival and historical value, I feel like the album is not very enjoyable, because of the poor recording quality as well as the fact that these tracks were not previously released for a reason. However, this is highly recommended to any Canterbury collector and fan. 3 stars!

 Blue Dogs by MANNA/MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Blue Dogs
Manna/Mirage Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars With a bit of a Canterbury Style music revival picking up steam it is no wonder that the USA's only true contributor to the sub genre, The Muffins would chime in with a contribution of new music. Only, mid- production one of the band's members had to excuse himself, leaving Dave Newhouse, Billy Swann, Paul Sears and friends with the decision of whether or not to move forward. Under the guise of the clear reference to the parent band's 1978 debut album of the same name, Dave and company decided to go ahead and finish the album in progress. Apparently revived by their recent work with Cuneiform label stable mate GUAPO and AltrOck Productions' HOMUNCULUS RES, as well as Richard Wileman's KARDA ESTRA projects, Dave and Paul, respectively, have gathered enough impetus and support to self-produce this album of seven songs which come in at a rather brief 36 minutes in length. And boy are we fortunate and am I happy that they did! I've been dancing around the house and in my car to the likes of the ear candy opener, "Canterbury Bells" (4:50) (10/10), ever since! Everytime I play this in the house my wife says, "That's so Seventies!" And I say, "So?!" The bass, drums, and steady yet-syncopated piano chords bounce us along at a nice walking pace while an odd array of horns and percussion build unusual chord and harmonic layers over the top. Just brilliant! Should be a soundtrack to a video/commercial! One of my favorite songs of the year!

2. "Duke Street" (4:47) opens a little more playfully, with a piano playing a little two-bar ditty over and over in a kind of 50s/60s be-bop style?like Duke Ellington (for whom the song is named and who is present via a tape recorded sound clip from an interview of his at the end of the song), Thelonius Monk, or even Paul Desmond. The foundation established, the jazzy brush-played drums, double bass, and multiple horns play in a kind of big band style?playing as a group in chordal unison while single instruments take turns soloing over the top. If I have any complaint about this song it's that there really is no significant shift of the foundation. (9/10)

3. Muffin Man Redux" (7:23), we find out toward the end, is a jazz song that is built over the ditty that we know as "Do you know the muffin man?" Until the avant shift at the 2:20 mark, the song presents itself as another small-scale big band song?not far from the Glenn Miller or Stan Kenton style. At 3:25 a drum interlude preps us for a kind of carnival-atmosphere in which, at the 4:13 mark, the "Muffin man" theme is presented. At 4:30 the music moves into a very catchy, melodic section with piano, electric bass, and jazzy drums laying another steady foundation over which the At 5:46, the lone piano seems to be beginning a return us to the muffin man melody?but no! another pretty melodic variation picks up and plays on until the final twenty seconds when a single microphone is used to pick up a man and his ukelele playing and singing out the "muffin man" nursery rhyme before saying "bye bye, everyone" in a condescending as-if-to-children voice. Some great sections to this humorous song. (8/10)

4. "Lost in a Photograph" (4:21) opens with a slow jazz big band foundations, double bass and flute gently standing out the most. At 1:10 a shift brings forth a "chorus" melody from the horn section before a sax takes on the lead duties over the original opening foundation. An eminently enjoyable little dirge that even takes on some nice STEELY DAN hues and in the third and fourth minutes. No complaints here! (As a matter of fact, I would not mind at all if this one went on longer!) (9/10)

5. "Blind Eye" (4:57) is the first song on the album that, to my ears, really sounds like an avant/RIO/Canterbury song. The initial rhythm and sounds established are familiar to me in a kind of BRUFORD/YUGEN way. The guitar soloing that begins in the second half of the second minute is quite angular and discordant. The section that begins at 2:15 is pure avant/RIO in a kind of UZED/PRESENT way. The ensuing section uses some very Middle Eastern or klezmer-type melodic sounds and structures?which is then varied and embellished over for the fourth and first half of the fifth minutes before fading away to leave an electric piano to delicately play out the final 40 seconds. An interesting song but not my favorite. (8/10)

6. "Shwang Time" (4:58) opens with a kind of Pink Panther-meets-James Brown kind of feel as double bass and snare drum play with and off of each other. At 0:49 the rest of the little big band joins in with multiple melodies and being represented simultaneously but woven together in a fun, 1960s kind of way. At 1:55 there is a shift into a more insistent, ascendant bass and chordal progression giving the song a kind of YES-like feel! A tom-only drum section allows for some different horn interplay?eventually morphing into what sounds and feels like a 1920s jazz dance piece (with a film-noire detective theme playing within.) Odd but fun song! (9/10)

7. "Rovian Cue" (4:10) obviously refers to Karl Rove's cue ball shaped head. Regardless of the meaning of the title, the song has a kind of slap-happy, fun feel like one of Sweden's DUNGEN's happy songs or something from Sicily's current Canterbury revivalists, HOMUNCULUS RES. The piano play in the final minute feels so much like that of VINCE GUARALDI (jazz pianist most famous for the original Charlie Brown television specials' soundtracks). Next to the album's opener, this is my favorite song on the album. (10/10)

A late comer to the 2015 catalogue of albums, this is one that is well worth everyone's listen and patience?it'll grow on you in a very pleasant way!

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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
DAEVID ALLEN Australia
AMOEBA SPLIT Spain
ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS United Kingdom
KEVIN AYERS United Kingdom
THE BOOT LAGOON United Kingdom
BRAINVILLE United Kingdom
CARAVAN United Kingdom
CLEAR FRAME United Kingdom
COS Belgium
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