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CANTERBURY SCENE

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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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 | 1478 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 721 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 866 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.27 | 656 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.28 | 587 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.24 | 854 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.21 | 832 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.26 | 339 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.19 | 475 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.15 | 627 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.26 | 255 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.11 | 568 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.14 | 347 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.23 | 207 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.12 | 359 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.25 | 181 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.13 | 309 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.38 | 101 ratings
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.02 | 461 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 235 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

KEW RHONE
Greaves, John
GILGAMESH
Gilgamesh
CHRONOMETERS
Muffins, The
SOFT HEAP
Soft Heap

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 Transmission from Sogmore's Garden by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.09 | 41 ratings

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Transmission from Sogmore's Garden
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On their second album, Magic Bus continue their style of psychedelic-oriented, Canterbury-influenced music, once again producing material reminiscent of the angle that Land of Grey and Pink-era Caravan or Khan produced in the early 1970s. This time around, a bit more West Coast hippy folk rock influence is brought into the mix, with the album opener Sunflower in particular being rooted in that style, which makes this a bit more a mixed bag of an album. This isn't quite the amazing eye-opener that the band's debut was, but it's an interesting consolidation on the foundations laid there and I remain interested in seeing where the Magic Bus takes us next.
 Magic Bus by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.49 | 21 ratings

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Magic Bus
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Magic Bus' debut album is an absolutely delightful excursion into mildly Canterbury-flavoured hippie prog. Take Caravan at around the time of In the Land of Grey and Pink and imagine where they would have gone if, instead of taking their sound in a jazzier direction as on Waterloo Lily, they had instead looked back to their psychedelic roots and injected the fairytale tone of Grey and Pink with a bit of West Coast sunshine and maybe a slice of early Steve Hillage; the place you end up may well be along the Magic Bus's route.

This debut album is a charming excursion into a realm of warm, comfy, psychedelic Canterbury-flavoured prog whose benign nature conceals some really neat instrumental chops. It's fantastic to hear some new musicians taking up the baton of this side of prog, and I can only hope there are many more stops for the Magic Bus along its journey.

  Split Seconds by MILLER, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.61 | 16 ratings

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Split Seconds
Phil Miller Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Split Seconds is Phil Miller's followup to Cutting Both Ways, and just like that release it's split between band tracks performed with In Cahoots and more intimate pieces recorded with the help of Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin, who'd been forging their own skewed pop sound since the disintegration of National Health.

At its best, it's more of the same; however, there are a few too many moments where the songwriting is thin enough that the thin 1980s production standards really show, and they have dated quite poorly. (I'd be interested if anyone knows just why so many Canterbury artists in particular seemed to come unstuck in the production department in the 1980s.) This feels, in fact, like an album consisting of off-cuts from Cutting Both Ways, and whilst that one manages to overcome the difficulties of the era, this one can't quite escape their gravity well. As it turns out, one course of 1980s In Cahoots is enough for me - I can't manage seconds, even if I split 'em.

 Softs by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.78 | 185 ratings

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Softs
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Greta007

4 stars Just forty years late in making this review and rediscovering this album after having owned the vinyl disc back in the Paleozoic Era, which I wasn't wild on at the time TBH. In retirement I've been catching up with old music that I'd missed. Unlike most, I find much of Soft Machine's much lauded, and more progressive, albums almost unlistenable and their Harvest period much more approachable without ever selling out.

Track by track:

1. Aubade (1:51) - a gentle pastoral guitar / alto sax duet - enjoyable background without being naff

2. The Tale of Taliesin (7:17) - Jenkins's atmospheric and hypnotic keyboard ostinato leads to an exotically tuneful head. This sails along gorgeously for a while before being abruptly interrupted by a brutally-shredded odd time guitar solo section.

Once the listener is beaten into submission the band slows back to the head, leading to a grandiose outro. (At the time of writing there is an outstanding YouTube live clip of this tune with a young Alan Holdsworth playing superbly, as John Etheridge does on this version). At this point they are sounding like an instrumental prog band with fusion influences). My favourite track on the album.

3. Ban-Ban Caliban (9:22) - the other epic-y piece, starting with a stereo-toggled electro synth sequence. This early early part of the the track reminds me of Passport's Ataraxia album - if Jazz Krautrock fusion isn't a category, it probably should be. New saxophonist, Alan Wakeman, soon enters and has his first chance to stretch out on the album, with some fine soprano work.

As the tune progresses the album for the first time sounds like the old Soft Machine of old before a bizarre, jarring change heralds in John Etheridge for another fast, old-time shred-fest duel with the similarly hyperactive Marshall.

Bassist Roy Babbington continues to play selflessly, holding the mayhem together akin to Rick Laird's anchor role on MO's Birds of Fire. Then a return to the "Krautrock fusion" Passport feel leading to the end with added drive and marimba. Excellent.

4. Song of Aeolus (4:31) - slow, atmospheric 6/8 tune in the vein of Jeff Beck's Goodbye Pork Pie Hat cover or John McLaughlin's The Unknown Dissident (which almost certainly took the same inspiration) but with more of a Floydish spaceyness. Luscious, soulful music. Excellent.

5. Out of Season (5:32) - Karl Jenkins loved beautiful, stately, hypnotic piano ostinatos, seemingly inspired by Philip Glass's minimalism. Etheridge joins with a melodic and sophisticated head and the rest of the band work around the ostinato. Nice.

6. Second Bundle (2:37) - starts with more of Karl Jenkins's psychedelic new-agey keys (move over Miquette Garaudy) - enjoyable background music without being naff

7. Kayoo (3:27) - drum solo piece by John Marshall. Musical use of bells and space early gave way to cacophonous shredding. At this length, it would probably work well live but is wasted in the studio IMO (maybe should have been a coda consisting of just the first minute)

8. The Camden Tandem (2:01) - drum duet between the two Johns - Etheridge on guitar and Marshall on drums. I guess it wouldn't be Soft Machine album without at least some fierce harshness. This tune is seemingly inspired by Mahavishnu Orchestra's Noonward Race and, especially so, by King Crimson's Groon (which I much prefer to either).

9. Nexus (0:49) - a lovely grandiose introduction to the next tune. Why did they make it a separate tune? No one knows.

10. One Over the Eight (5:25) - let's get down, baby, it's Funkytime! Well, it started out funky and again reminded me of Ataraxia's edgy moments with a stylish and intelligently-built sax lead. The jam gradually loosens and intensifies until a new bass riff is introduced and, with Wakeman's tenor by now honking, wailing and squawking we're sounding more like the old Soft Machine again before the entire thing falls into a horrid cacophony that thankfully, bot not too soon, shifts into a 6/8 outro. As a drummer, I find that cacophony is far more fun to play than to listen to. Otherwise excellent.

11. Etika (2:21) - during this era it was fashionable to let the guitarist have an acoustic tune for variation. This is that track, arguably better than most, and enough edge to be more than background.

 The Winstons by WINSTONS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.99 | 56 ratings

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The Winstons
The Winstons Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars THE WINSTONS for me have been a breath of fresh air in 2016. These three Italians share a love for Canterbury and late sixties psychedelia and have created an album that honours these styles of music. I have to say I wondered if this would be a paint by numbers record but man, not even close. By "paint by numbers" I mean trying to make an album that ticks the right boxes but not really knowing and loving the music like I felt Todd Rundgren did with his UTOPIA project that really felt to me like he was just trying to jump on the band-wagon. THE WINSTONS have really captured that Canterbury spirit I'll say that, and it's easy to tell they love this type of music because of the lengths they went to do it right. The little nods to certain bands and albums really brought me joy.

The cover art certainly conveys that joy and it was done by Japanese artist Gun Kawamura and it's so surreal along with the other art work that comes with this album. Oh, and Gun also wrote the lyrics to two tracks and THE WINSTONS actually sing those two tracks in Japanese! Love the distorted organ and keys, so good! Back to the band, these three multi-instrumentalists/ vocalists are well known in Italy's Indie scene playing in different bands yet touring across Italy with each other doing a series of concerts with their respective bands. These guys are long time close friends who I think have played their share of Canterbury and Psychedelic records.

"Nicotine Freak" is infectious to say the least. The focus is on the multi-vocals to start, some organ as well. A horn joins in before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals step aside until before 2 minutes then it kicks in with a fairly heavy beat and pulsating organ. Man this sounds incredible! The vocals join in with harmonies. I love this track. "(Diprotodon)" is the first track with the Japanese lyrics. I like the melancholic organ/ drum intro as the vocals and horns kick in. The vocals do stop as the organ solos before 1 1/2 minutes and the drums continue but not for long as the horns and vocals return. A change before 2 1/2 minutes as the drums, bass and horns lead the way. The vocals and horns are back. "Play With The Rebels" opens with flute and man I'm in heaven right here as the bass and drums help out then the reserved vocals join in. The chorus is more powerful and quite uplifting as contrasts continue. I like the pulsating organ before 2 1/2 minutes.

"...On A Dark Cloud" opens with organ and atmosphere then it starts to pick up some, trumpet here too. I like this a lot. The vocals join in after 2 1/2 minutes sounding very Robert Wyatt-like. It then drifts off with organ, horn, a beat and vocal melodies as this is all repeated over and over. Nice. It then starts to wind down before we get a 1 1/2 minute instrumental to end it. The ending by the way is really cool as we get this excellent instrumental display including organ, flute, piano and drums. "She's My Face" has pulsating organ as bass, horns and a beat join in then vocals. So 60's sounding. Love it! We get a calm before 2 minutes with organ, vocals and more. A scream after 2 1/2 minutes as it kicks back in without vocals this time. Check out the guitar after 3 minutes! It then kicks back in with vocals.

"A Reason For Goodbye" is a fairly relaxed tune with vocals that come and go and more. Horns lead before 1 1/2 minutes as the they join in this instrumental section. The tempo starts to pickup and the horns blast before 2 1/2 minutes. Check out the electric piano, bass and driving beat that follows. The vocals return at 4 minutes then they stop as it gets fairly heavy with horns. "Dancing In The Park With A Gun"is such an uplifting and feel-good tune with those whimsical vocals and sound. A change before 2 minutes though as it changes completely to an experimental sound then this urgent rhythm takes over. It's experimental again when the rhythm stops at 3 1/2 minutes. It's spacey and insane at the same time. A melody is back at 4 1/2 minutes as the drums, electric piano, bass, and horns lead the way until the end.

"Viaggio Nel Suono A Tre Dimensioni" opens with sampled spoken words in Italian before this surprisingly heavy guitar kicks in then a full sound with pulsating organ. The organ starts to light it up then it all stops around 3 minutes as the sampled spoken words return. Dogs are barking along with many strange and experimental sounds. "Tarmac" is slow moving with melancholic piano and a repetitive but slow beat. Vocals are mournful bringing Wyatt to mind. It ends with floating organ and a beat. "Number, Number" is the final track and the other song with Japanese lyrics. There's lots of depth with organ over the top as multi-vocals join in and they are relaxed. A bass horn joins in as well. It turns uplifting before 2 minutes with vocals then the tempo picks up around 3 1/2 minutes, piano as well.

THE WINSTONS did something really special here in my opinion. I think it's funny that these three guys go by the pseudonyms of Linnon Winston, Enro Winston and Rob Winston. They certainly are brothers when it comes to music.

 The Winstons by WINSTONS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.99 | 56 ratings

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The Winstons
The Winstons Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Don't even think that this version of THE WINSTONS is the American funk and soul band that scored a top 10 hit way back in 1969. This band of the same name may SOUND like they've been sent here through a time machine from the past but they are in reality a contemporary animistic assembly of like minded individuals adamantly and unapologetically putting the CAN back in the Canterbury Scene by channeling the classics of the past while whipping up the whimsey, rousing the zeitgeists of the jazz-rock rabble and simultaneously sewing the different seeds of the 60s together into so far unforeseen ways thus proving (along with a few other contemporaries such as Amoeba Split) that the classic sounds of Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Gong and Caravan have long since left the jurisdiction of the River Stour in the English historic cathedral city and has in this case possessed three indie rock Italians from the modern metropolis of Milan. This power trio are all multi-instrumentalists going by the pseudonyms of Linnon Winston (Lino Gitto - vocals, organ, drums), Rob Winston (Roberto Dell'Era - vocals, bass) and Enro Winston (Enrico Gabrielli - organ, sax, bass clarinet, electric piano) but there is also a fourth guest musician: Roberto D'Azzan who brings some mean trumpet to this party!

Let the raucousness commence! As it all begins as an early Soft Machine reference with Robert Wyatt intonations then quickly leads to an organ drone with a sultry sax seeping in. Soon thereafter the organs are joined by the bass and it's party time! A beefy brash bass bellows out a grooviliscious pop hook with a Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd keyboard run that screams 1967 and the Summer Of Love with Soft Machine harmonies creating a melodious cantabile and oh yeah! Did i mention that organ? Perhaps the strongest instrument on board doubling as a time machine to the swinging 60s. This is a pure Canterbury tribute on this one with healthy doses of 60s psychedelic and garage rock all dancing happily together around the campfire with visions of paisley and tie-dye along for the ride. I can smell the patchouli! This is some serious retro-prog let loose and it's utterly amazing how this self-titled debut by THE WINSTONS gives nary a clue to the true time and date when this was released a mere five decades later in 2016.

While the two starters are hellbent on psychedelic 60s cross-pollinating with all things Canterbury Scene, the beauty of this album is how different the ten tracks laid out are from one another. "Play With The Rebels" brings more of a Procal Harum vibe to the mix while "...On A Dark Cloud" eschews the short song norm of the album for a longer more jam based psychedelic freakout frenzy. Once again the organs debut the oscillating rhythm while the bass picks up allowing the trumpet to add a slight Mariachi feel to the mix. And this just wouldn't be a proper Canterbury Scene genre inclusion if it didn't contain ample amounts of whacked out whimsy and adroit crapulous quirkiness. The first noticeable head scratching moment comes from the two tracks written and sung in the Japanese language. "カンガルー目 (Diprotodon)" and "番号番号 (Number Number)" were in fact written and by Gun Kawamura who also created the mondo bizarro album cover artwork and with hysterically named tracks such as "She's My Face" and "Dancing In The Park With A Gun," you can almost taste a Daevid Allen seal of approval.

While nostalgic purists may find this album in bad taste and too derivative of sacred cows, i find THE WINSTONS to take many puzzle pieces of the past and simply place these elements side by side in fresh creative ways. The Canterbury Scene is amongst progressive rocks greatest treasure trove of musical gems and oft cited as one of true prog lover's most beloved subgenres, therefore it seems quite the shame that this particular quirkily subset of jazzy rock has nearly gone extinct in recent decades. THE WINSTONS prove beyond a doubt that it is indeed possible to pay tribute to all the greats who came before and still come up with new ways of breathing some resuscitated life into the oldies but goodies. Brash and daring yet respectful and reverent. Despite not being English themselves, THE WINSTONS achieve in going to where even native Brits have gone over the years in faithfully capturing all those wonderful sounds that erupted in the 1960s UK without missing a beat.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 721 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars The story is told in M. O'Dair's wonderful biography, "Different Every Time" (the title is of course taken from the lyrics of "Sea Song") : when they were on their way to that fateful party on June 1st, 1973, Robert Wyatt, who was more or less chronically depressed since he'd been thrown out of Soft Machine two years earlier, told Alfie something he had not said for a very long time : "I'm happy". That's how he ended his first life, his life as Robert-the-half-naked-drummer, and started his second life as a legend.

Most of the material recorded here was written in Venice, Italy, the previous winter, where Alfie worked as an assistant director to some avant-garde film maker and he spent his days alone on Giudecca Island with a small toy-organ she'd offered him. This is really important, and keep it in mind next time you listen to "Rock Bottom" : It was conceived by a man who could walk, run, and play the drums, and recorded by a cripple in a wheelchair, who had to be carried up to the studio (access ramps didn't exist). If you think about this, you will listen and enjoy the album in quite a different, and probably darker, mood.

Read the other reviews for a description of those 6 eternal jewels. I'll only say a few words about one : "Alifib" is probably the most beautiful love song ever written. Picasso used to say that he had spent most of his life learning to paint like a little child (he finally succeeded, as shown in some of the "Menines"), Wyatt did the same here.

The whole album was played and recorded live by "Wyatt and friends" on the wonderful album "Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974", which is also a must for all Wyatt (and prog) fans.

One last word : no serious discography, not only of rock n' roll or pop music, but of the whole 20th century music, will ever be complete if it doesn't include "Rock Bottom".

 Hatfield And The North by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 656 ratings

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Hatfield And The North
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars I sat at my keyboard to write a nice review, and then thought : what could I say about this album that hasn't already been said in all the previous reviews?

Nothing really.

So, just a little story then, one that will perhaps appeal to those who are visiting this page only because they wonder who's the band with the funny name.

The year is 1980, the place a middle-sized provincial town near the small provincial town where I was born. In those blessed times, there were still records shop (I don't know about your place, but they vanished from french provincial towns ages ago), and I was coming out of my weekly pilgrimage to the town's biggest records mall when I realized there was a tiny used-records shop next door. I wandered in and spent a few minutes rummaging through the stacks of albums and singles, and I finally extracted two battered-looking LPs and bought them at a ridiculously low price. As I was at a boarding school, I had of course no record-player, and I had to wait until going home the following Saturday to listen to them.

And it was love at first hearing, not with one of them, but with both! They're still around somewhere, probably gathering dust in the attic, but in due time their CD versions have replaced them. They're still in my heart, I listen to them almost every week, and they're still at the very top of my list of favorite albums.

Well you probably guessed that one of them was "Hatfield and the North" (and Jonathan Coe was wrong, it's so much better than "The Rotters' Club"). The other one was Wyatt's "Rock Bottom". Not bad for a few minutes of improvised shopping, eh?

 Of Queues And Cures by NATIONAL HEALTH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.26 | 339 ratings

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Of Queues And Cures
National Health Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars Despite some slight personnel changes (Greaves for Murray on bass, and the vanishing of the heavenly Amanda "Northette" Parson), there is such a continuity from "National Health" to "Of Queues and Cures" that they could almost have been released as a double. This review (and the 5 enthusiastic stars that go with it) is therefore meant for both works. So many nice (and true) things have been said here about NH's first two albums that all I can do is add my little voice to the choir of praise. Yes, this music is incredibly brilliant and complex, so full of surprises and time and tone changes, so brimming with ideas at every turn of a bar, that you can never get tired of listening to it. Yes, those guys are so good that they don't need to show off with never-ending solos, the way some jazz musicians do. And yes, this music is funny and joyful (to call it "cold" is deeply absurd) to the point that you could almost call it "feelgood music", to echo the concept of the "feelgood movie". To all intents and purposes, National Health is essentially Hatfield and the North under another name, and without Sinclair's songs (the same way Soft Machine got rid of Wyatt's songwriting and singing in 1972, although with far less interesting results). What you have here is the quintessence of Canterbury sound. Whatever began at the Simon Langton school in 1963 with the Wilde Flowers (although of course none of NH members were there at that time) reached its summit in 1978, at a time when prog was almost beaten senseless by the punks, with those two eternal albums.
 Pudding En Gisteren [Aka: Pudding & Yesterday] by SUPERSISTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.96 | 102 ratings

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Pudding En Gisteren [Aka: Pudding & Yesterday]
Supersister Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars This is the third album from Supersister and they continued to be on a roll, although the album is a bit uneven. "Radio" starts off really deceptively in early '70s easy listening territory, but then there's a totally unexpected twist where they go all wild on us, sounding nothing like the first have. The lyrics seem to be an attack on mainstream radio (in America mainstream radio was AM, FM was still underground, but won't be by 1975 when it went commercial, and going the AOR route since then). "Psychopath" has a bit of a Caravan feel going on, complete with Richard Sinclair-like vocals, with Robert Jan Stips providing harpsichord, as well as Mellotron (an M300 that happened to belong to Phonogram Studios in Hilversum, Holland, which the album was recorded in, and was the same Mellotron heard on Earth & Fire and Ekseption albums until 1973). "Psychopath" isn't a favorite, but not bad. "Judy Goes On Holiday" is a great instrumental jazzy piece, which ends with the silly doo-wop of "Love Me in the Morning" (I own the original Dutch pressing on Polydor, there's a one minute silent gap between "Judy Goes on Holiday" and "Love Me in the Morning", which leads me to believe the latter was an afterthought and the band didn't intend that to be there, or perhaps the gap was there so people can switch to side two if they felt it was lame). The title track is also instrumental, and takes up all of side two, proves that Supersister can pull it off. It's just another album I can highly recommend.
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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
DELIVERY United Kingdom
EGG United Kingdom
THE GHOULIES United Kingdom
MICHAEL GILES United Kingdom
GILGAMESH United Kingdom
GONG Multi-National
MILLER, SINCLAIR, TOMKINS GOWEN United Kingdom
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
NICHOLAS GREENWOOD United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH United Kingdom
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HOPPER DEAN TIPPETT GALLIVAN United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
MANNA/MIRAGE United States
MASTER CYLINDER United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOOM United Kingdom
MOVING GELATINE PLATES France
MR. SIRIUS Japan
THE MUFFINS United States
NATIONAL HEALTH United Kingdom
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PICCHIO DAL POZZO Italy
PIP PYLE United Kingdom
QUANTUM JUMP United Kingdom
QUIET SUN United Kingdom
SHORT WAVE United Kingdom
RICHARD SINCLAIR United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MACHINE LEGACY United Kingdom
THE SOFT MACHINE United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
STUBBS Japan
SUPERSISTER Netherlands
TORTILLA FLAT Germany
TRAVELLING France
VOLARÉ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
THE WINSTONS Italy
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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