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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 7/1/2022:
Scott (Evolver)
Phil (Man With Hat)
Mike (siLLy puPPy)
Maciej (HarryAngel746)

Canterbury Scene Top Albums


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

4.31 | 1928 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.29 | 968 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.26 | 1103 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.28 | 867 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.29 | 794 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.25 | 1147 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.28 | 503 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.19 | 1112 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.22 | 637 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.17 | 847 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.27 | 309 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.15 | 748 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.15 | 445 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.13 | 470 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.31 | 185 ratings
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.10 | 482 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.10 | 440 ratings
BUNDLES
Soft Machine, The
4.12 | 359 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.05 | 571 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.11 | 302 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

BEFORE A WORD IS SAID
Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins
JOHN GREAVES, PETER BLEGVAD & LISA HERMAN: KEW. RHONE.
Greaves, John
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
CHRONOMETERS
Muffins, The

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 De Lorians by LORIANS, DE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.90 | 57 ratings

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De Lorians
De Lorians Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars

A new Canterbury-oriented Jazz-Rock Fusion band from Japan, of all places.

1. "Daytona" (6:14) opens with a little cacophony similar to the musics of MAGMA and the 1960s free jazz innovators like Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Pharoah Sanders before settling into a multi-tempoed groove that could be something The Soft Machine could've done in the mid-1970s. In the fourth minute things slow down to an almost childish, tongue-in-cheek pace and style (like a National Health maneuver) before clicking into overdrive again. Sax and electric guitar are doing most of the work up top while the bass and drums are working hard to provide the solid base below. Interesting and complex if not always enjoyable. (8.75/10)

2. "Magso" (3:59) opens with some of the drama of one of countrymen BONDAGE FRUIT's dinosaur homages. The tribalistic drums and synth "vocal" diatonic growls are cool. In the second minute, things smooth out into the purer sound of jazz-rock fusion à la CARAVAN. Then things slow down into a more hypnotic groove to the racous thirty- second end. (9.25/10)

3. "A Ship Of Mental Health" (5:21) Quirky, bouncy lounge jazz with saxes and keys enriching another CARAVAN-like soundscape before a beer-and-chip break inserts itself into the song for a bit. (I'm reminded of ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS.) The guitar-led two chord groove that follows is great but then it dissembles into a spacious stop-and-go interlude before restarting with the sax taking a turn screaming out the lead. A switch into more John Coltrane sound turns quirky-pop with angular guitar and sax interplay. (8.75/10)

4. "Gomata" (2:01) back to some of the jazzier BONDAGE FRUIT music before a CARAVAN-like groove establishes itself while synth "saw" solos over crazy weave of all of the other instruments. (5/5)

5. "Roccotsu" (3:29) quite reminiscent of some of the most memorable CARAVAN passages: slow and deeply emotional with its melodic lead saxophone. The kind of stuff that Picchio Dal Pozzo made such a great debut album off of. The second part picks up the pace with a 1970s film score type of rhythm and keyboard tracks. Most excellent. (9.75/10)

6. "Himalia" (3:06) opening with a militaristic drum and bass pulse, keys, guitars, and sax punctuate their melodic inputs over the top in robotic fashion. In the second minute there is a shift in tempo and foundational structure as space opens up for treated sax, ebowed guitar, and wacky synth play off one another in crazy King Crimsonesque melodies. (8.75/10)

7. "Daytona - Reprise" (0:34) nice non-percussive weave of the Daytona theme.

8. "Toumai" (7:19) another classic jazz opening--almost big band-like--which settles into a slow groove for a short while before shifting into a HOMUNCULUS RES-like quirky pop weave followed by some more CARAVAN/SOFT MACHINE soundscape motifs. I feel as if CARAVAN sound palettes are common yet the structures are arranged into styles and forms that are more consistent with mid-1970s SOFT MACHINE. (13.25/15)

Total Time 32:03

Overall an enjoyable listening experience both for the sounds and styles but also for the complex tapestries pulled together by this band of tightly collaborating skilled musicians. A-/4.5 stars (rated down for brevity); an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you like the Canterbury side of Jazz-Rock Fusion.

 Live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering by GONG album cover Live, 2021
4.88 | 5 ratings

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Live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars It is safe to say that anyone who can state which Gong members played on what albums, and what line-ups were deemed 'official' and possibly even name all the offshoot bands would be a certifiable but paid-up member of the Gong fan club, and probably made every effort to be at The Gong Family Unconvention at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam in November 2006. This was a unique 3-day event where all the surviving original members of the band came together (drummer Pierre Moerlen had died the previous year) to form a new line-up which I am sure had never previously shared a stage. After performing sets with their own bands, they came together to play for well over 2 hours, and anyone who enjoys this band is bound to find their own favourite on this set. 15 years to the day from the performance, this was made available both in audio and DVD, and while I only have the former I do already have plenty of Gong DVDs in my collection so was just able to sit back and really savour this.

For the aficionado, the line-up that night was Daevid Allen (guitar, vocals), Gilli Smyth (vocals, space whisper), Steve Hillage (guitar), Didier Malherbe (flute, soprano sax, duduk), Theo Travis (tenor sax), Tim Blake (synthesiser, vocals), Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser), Mike Howlett (bass), Chris Taylor (drums), and together they concentrated on the classic albums 'Camembert Electrique', 'Flying Teapot', 'Angel's Egg' and 'You' with just one song from 'Zero To Infinity' and nothing else. 18 tracks, classics all, with the band combining and creating something incredible special in the way that only Gong can. We get plenty of glissando, Gilli provides her poetry, and this is far more of an event or happening than just a gig. By concentrating on the second album and then the three which form the 'Radio Gnome Invisible' trilogy the band were giving the fans exactly what they wanted, even though the most recent of the albums was already more than 30 years old (and now nearly 50), yet it is striking at just how relevant and exciting they are even today.

Gong were a very special band indeed (yes, I know they are still in existence as Daevid Allen wanted them to continue after his death), and although there have been multiple line-ups over the years, for me it is when Daevid, Gilli and Steve were all playing together that this band became something very special indeed and this live recording captures all that and so much more. If you consider yourself a proghead but have never seriously investigated Gong, then this is the place to start.

 Butterfly Dance / Puis-je? by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Butterfly Dance / Puis-je?
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Bassist and singer-songwriter Kevin Ayers (1944 - 2013) was a founding member of THE SOFT MACHINE, and his participation on their eponymous debut (1968) was essential. He left the band before Volume Two and started a solo career with a delightful album Joy of a Toy (1969). No singles were released from the debut.

The second album Shooting at the Moon (1970), which was credited to "Kevin Ayers and The Whole World", starts with an elegant song 'May I?' with lyrics dealing with the male protagonist asking a beautiful girl at a café her permission to stare at her for awhile. On this single the lyrics were translated into French, and this really gives the serene, chanson- like song an extra charm. The listener easily associates Ayers to Serge Gainsbourg; the low, laid back vocals have a spoken section too which perfectly fits to this ironic song, and the instrumentation with some accordeon and sax brings a Parisienne atmosphere.

The B side has a non-album song 'Butterfly Dance'. It starts gently but soon the arrangement reveals its wide dynamics (including also a female choir) and, with the faster tempo, takes everything to a cheerful and highly vivant level. The very outgoing song is bursting with joy of playing, especially on percussion. I however don't like it very much personally. 'Puis je?' is alone worth three smiling stars. Both songs appear as bonuses on the 2003 remaster of Shooting at the Moon.

 Paradise Filter by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.19 | 116 ratings

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Paradise Filter
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After The Battle of Hastings, Caravan would settle into a pattern of only producing one all-new all-original studio album per decade; Paradise FIlter is the one they put out in the 2010s. Mark Walker takes on the drums here, band co- founder Richard Coughlan having been too unwell to participate in the sessions. (He would die shortly before the album's release). As a result, Pye Hastings is the only original member left at this point, though the other band members aside from Walker are all Caravan veterans of a fairly reasonable vintage.

For a good long while - at least since the mid-to-late 1970s, I'd argue - Caravan have been more interested in cultivating their poppy soft rock side than their prog side; they still play their old prog standards in concert, but they show little inclination to produce new ones, instead producing mellow, grown-up pop-rock with Canterbury accents. For some listeners, that probably sounds terrible - but those listeners likely jumped off the Caravan bandwagon back around Better By Far. If, on the other hand, you don't mind Caravan's poppier moments, this will likely be a pleasing continuation of that direction.

For the most part, the album is fairly mellow, though there are some pieces like Dead Man Walking which incorporate enough drama and foreboding to be exciting even if they aren't that complex, so as far as Caravan's pop album goes, it's one of the more adventurous in terms of mood and tone.

 Man Out of Time by MANNA / MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.22 | 19 ratings

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Man Out of Time
Manna / Mirage Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars When it comes to Canterbury-style music there are few who can compare to Dave Newhouse, who first with The Muffins and now with Manna/Mirage somehow manages to keep producing wonderful songs over a career which is now 50 years in the making. This album is somewhat more diverse, with quite a few different musicians (I note his Moon Men compadr' Jerry King is on a few), so I wonder if it was taken from different sessions or if it is a clean-up, but whatever it is, we have yet another wonderful album which contains plenty of jazz mixed in with the Canterbury sounds. Dave is wearing multiple hats on this one, with keyboards as well as multiple woodwind and brass instruments, and even adds some vocals and drums as well.

This is less of a band album and more of a Newhouse release, as he is very much at the centre of everything, adding in different musicians as the need arises, and the result is something which is compelling, diverse, fascinating, and full of focus. I have been listening to quite a lot of Dave's material in recent years, in different bands, and as well as being a consummate musician, he also has a wonderful compositional style which makes for albums which are always intriguing. On the last Manna/Mirage album, 202's 'Face', I said I was pleased that 'Fly Away' was at the end of the album as it was so very different to the rest, and yet again here we have another piano-led piece which is wonderful yet removed with the delicate 'These Days'. Newhouse produces albums which are timeless, yet current, wrapped in space, delivered with care, and this is yet another wonderful example of his work. Essential for any fans of the genre.

 The European Tour 2011 - Live at Shepherds Bush Empire by CARAVAN album cover Live, 2012
2.38 | 13 ratings

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The European Tour 2011 - Live at Shepherds Bush Empire
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This Caravan live release sees Mark Walker take over as the band's live drummer - though co-founder Richard Coughlan was still officially a member of the band, he was suffering from ill health at the time and would pass away shortly before the release of the next album, Paradise Filter. By and large it draws its track list from the band's classic years, with only a small proportion of recent picks - as has largely been the case for Caravan live shows for the past few decades - but with material this good and performed this well it's hard to go wrong.

That said, the set comes perilously close to going wrong. The original issue of this was through Concert Live, who also were responsible for the recording. Concert Live's schtick is "instant live recording" - they take the soundboard feed and use it to knock out a live album right there on the spot, burning the first few CDs in time for punters at the concert to buy on their way out. This is a fun gimmick in theory, but in practice it means that there really isn't any time for any care and attention to be given to adjusting the mix or performing any of the other functions which can make a live recording sound better. In addition, it seems like their technology didn't work perfectly this time - other reviewers have reported glitches on the original CD issue of this live set, including one of the songs (Why? Why? Why?/And I Wish I Were Stoned) cutting out at 1:16.

As far as tracks being cut off, the latest rerelease of this live set as part of the Who Do You Think We Are? box corrects this, so perhaps a corrected standalone release is on the cards. Still, there's the odd bit of feedback and other technical glitches which are still here, and which largely seem to be artifacts of the way Concert Live's recording practices don't really leave much room for later corrections.

Interesting though it is to have Mark Walker playing on some of these tracks, the fact is that as far as the vast majority of this set goes, there's already plenty of better live recordings of the songs - and the newer material isn't enough to make this one a keeper. Perhaps a more polished presentation would help, but the speed-over-quality approach of Concert Live dooms this one.

 Fourth by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.57 | 393 ratings

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Fourth
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by HandelBach1968

5 stars Indeed, the top of Canterbury. Usually, the album most praised by many is precisely the "third", but contrary to this frequent opinion, I have to disagree, considering this particular record the best in the entire discography of the band (at least during its free jazz experiments of the Wyatt-Ratledge era), and, in accordance with my great love for the band, the pinnacle, the culmination of all Canterbury Rock. First of all, because this album is extremely balanced, and, of course, less experimental than the previous two works, which contributed to the fact that in the end, by 1971, the band became a benchmark in its genre. Unlike, for example, "the third", I find this album less stretched in duration, and, accordingly, more "dry", more material-rich. In it you will not find such avant-garde revelations as, for example, from the organ introduction on Facelift. To a lesser extent, this album will be a dissonantly sharp improvisation on 7/8 as in Ester Nose Job, and in general it is not so experimental. But here it will be important to note that precisely because the group stopped going into life experiments, this work therefore came out so - very high-quality, without noise and excesses - a kind of diamond. Speaking in detail about the compositions, the album opens with one of the leading numbers of the album - "teeth" - which immediately sets the tone for the record with its initial contrabass intro. Next comes the general interaction of the collective, built on a dense groove of percussion and rich polyrhythmic threads of rhythms. Improvises a violently roaring saxophone. He creates his phrases under the general instrumental hum, and the resulting sound is saturated with both beauty and energy. The band is already setting the bar on this track. Following the compositional pattern of "fast/slow", on the second track - "kings and queens", the band takes a more "Andante-", in musical terms, tempos and in an uncomplicated 3/4 measure, it seems to build its material from a simple ostinate Hopper riff - a simple but memorable octave motif that is so characteristic of it. The composition itself is moderate in nature, and allows the listener to relax a little after the "tooth-crushing". Perhaps this number will even seem boring to someone, but I think it is very indicative for the group - moving away from rigidity and assertiveness, here it explores another side, a different mood of its genre, giving birth, in fact, to a gloomy and slightly "closed" thing. Here you can clearly hear the abundance of additional wind instruments, with which, in the person of cornetist Mike Charig and trombonist Nick Evans (if these names seemed familiar to you, but you can't remember where they came from, then I will note that these two, as well as the saxophonist of the band - Elton Dean - played in the sextet of pianist Keith Tippett), with whom the band experimented a lot at that time. "Fletcher Blemish" is probably the most radical track of the album. Frightening with its unrelated atonal and chromatic passages, the lack of a clear rhythmic section, indeed, this spot, drawn with bold and very dense strokes from instrumental parts, seems to look back a couple of years and can become a worthy competitor to the "facelift" or some particularly avant-garde numbers from "volume two". The work is really frightening - a kind of jazz musical expressionism inspired (conditionally) by some Schoenberg or Berg. "Virtually" is a four-part twenty-minute suite, the authorship of which, I believe, belongs to the whole group. This is an excellent example of a compositional improvisational material that is good in size, divided into many small subsections. Here you will find unison saxophone/organ solos, and a blurred electric piano with a long distance to ambient. And the rebellious rhythms of the skillful Wyatt game, and again the complicated Hopper parts. And in general, "Virtually" is a very substantial thing, which, despite the predominance of gray, minor shades in it, will definitely not let you get bored. I give the album a strong five, justifiably forbidding it to be the best album of the band and, as I said, representing it - one of the best albums of Canterbury. This is a very mature work, recorded in the best composition for the group - stronger than the already brilliant "third". Perhaps, and I won't hide it, the reason lies in my so strong love for the band, but in my three-part review I tried to point out the merits of this work objectively and I hope that you understand me
 Mainstream by QUIET SUN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.12 | 359 ratings

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Mainstream
Quiet Sun Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For many years I thought Quiet Sun was a spinoff of Roxy Music and Matching Mole, but in reality this group predated those groups having formed in 1970. But then they broke up before anything was recorded with Phil Manzanera going on to Roxy Music and Bill MacCormick to Matching Mole. Dave Jarrett was (and still is) an unknown to me, I know little of him, and Charles Hayward was later in This Heat. By 1975 Quiet Sun reunited likely because Phil made it big with Roxy Music, and Bill in Matching Mole, while obviously nowhere as commercially successful as Roxy Music, had their devoted fans thanks to Robert Wyatt devotees and fans of the Canterbury scene in general.

Mainstream was their only album, released on Island's HELP budget subsidiary (has that black label with the pink "i", a throwback to the 1969-'70 pink label but in reverse) and it's pretty ironic to name it mainstream as it's not particularly mainstream. It's a Canterbury album, think of a more rock-edge Hatfield & the North at times and that's what you get, hard-edged guitar playing from Phil Manzanera, and Dave Jarrett providing organ and electric piano. Eno provides some electronic treatment, I think I hear a little on "Mummy was an Asteroid, Daddy was a Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil" (humorous title that could have easily been on a Hatfield & the North album). "Bargain Classic", and "Mummy Was an Asteroid" shows the more rocking side of the band, while "R.F.D." is dominated by rather dreamy sounding electric piano which is pretty common in the Canterbury scene. "Rongwrong" is full of great arrangements but my least favorite piece on the album as there are vocals demonstrating Charles Hayward is a drummer, vocals not exactly his strong point. Luckily they are sparse but this is one album that would get the full five stars if it were 100% instrumental, or perhaps Eno sings on "Rongwrong", because while he isn't the greatest singer, I had no trouble hearing his voice. Regardless this album is a classic and really deserved to be heard!

 Live At The Paradiso by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Live, 1995
3.60 | 44 ratings

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Live At The Paradiso
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Mirakaze
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

2 stars Among the myriad of Soft Machine live albums released since the 90s, this one, recorded around the release of their Volume Two album and being (if I'm correct) the only one to capture a live performance of the band at this crossroads moment after the departure of Kevin Ayers but before the advent of their transformation from psychedelic rock into jazz, is indeed a valuable historical document. Unfortunately, this does not automatically translate into an enjoyable listening experience. Surely enough, the audience at the show must have had a great night because the musicians are in (mostly) great form and are giving it their all, but the sub-par audio quality on this record sadly ensures that disappointingly little of it can be made out here: Hugh Hopper's famous fuzzed-up bass is barely audible and Robert Wyatt's vocals can only be heard intermittently (although they may have done him a favour there with how tired and slightly hoarse his singing sounds, in stark contrast with his drumming).

That leaves Mike Ratledge to save the album: he most certainly tries his best, producing sublime free-form noise assaults during his solo spots and otherwise holding down all the lead parts with great skill, but it's a tall order to recreate the entire Volume Two album using only a single tinny-sounding organ. Even on the studio album, the band relied on multiple keyboards and a group of wind players; in the end, this recording can only seem monotonous by comparison. I can only recommend this for a one-time listen to big fans of the band or fans of general noise rock.

 Cold Cuts by GREENWOOD, NICHOLAS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.64 | 51 ratings

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Cold Cuts
Nicholas Greenwood Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars NICHOLAS GREENWOOD ( born Sean Nicholas Greenwood ) is a British musician who had his day in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the heyday of the early evolution of the English progressive rock scene. As Sean Nicholas he was the bassist for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and appeared on that band's hit album of 1968 and stuck around until the next year when the band broke up but quickly moved on to join ranks with Steve Hillage and the crew in Khan in time to release that band's lauded prog classic "Space Shanty" in 1972 while the same year also contributed bass and vocals to the newly formed Jonesy which released its debut "No Alternative the same year.

The year 1972 was a busy one as GREENWOOD also found the time to recruit an interesting group of musicians and record his one and only album COLD CUTS which also came out in the year. Some of the recruits from GREENWOOD's past included members from Khan: drummer Eric Peachy and keyboardist DIck Henninghem as well as woodwind maestro Bunk Gardner who played with Frank Zappa and Tim Buckley. Henninghem also played with GREENWOOD along with Atomic Rooster founder Vincent Crane with Arthur Brown. All in all GREENWOOD had a very productive late 60s and early 70s but after this album he completely disappeared from the music scene altogether but as far as i know he is alive and well in his native UK.

COLD CUTS featured GREENWOOD on vocals and bass but also hosted eleven extra musicians who contributed two guitar parts, keyboards, woodwinds, violins, viola, cello, percussion and harmonic vocal additions. While many of these musicians had played together many times in the past, COLD CUTS sounded nothing like any of the bands that any of these guys had played in. While lumped into the British Canterbury Scene due to GREENWOOD's involvement in Khan, this album does not come off as an immediate candidate for that quirky subgenre that mostly focuses on off-kilter jazz-rock however many artists such as Steve Hillage himself, Khan and others somehow got lumped into the Canterbury crowd by mere association rather than musical stylistic approaches.

This is one of those albums that has a varied approach ranging from proto-prog bluesy rock to orchestrated prog with heavy emphasis on keyboards sounding something like a mix of Atomic Rooster, Hillage's first band Arzachel and well, the brass rock style of bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears. This is a Hammond organ dominated album mostly with strong rock guitar and bass led grooves along with heavy psych keyboard heft. A careful listen though will reveal moments of Canterbury stitched into the overall tapestry of the musical flow albeit subtle and fleeting but then again i would never associate Steve Hillage's "Fish Rising" or even Robert Wyatt's "Rock Bottom" as Canterbury jazz-rock either and yet they sit comfortable in that pigeon-holed subgenre.

For all the sophisticated arrangements and instrumentation this album has a lot of soul as there are lots of funky grooves and best of all GREENWOOD himself delivers excellent vocal performances with a wide range which is a surprise considering his career was as a bassist. His singing style is actually better than many supposedly "real" singers in various prog bands! While the album sounds a tad retro in some ways especially following in the footsteps of the cutting edge Khan project, COLD CUTS is chock filled with excellent musicianship with tight knit playing that delivers a beautiful mix of prog rock, blues and jazzy brass rock. Add to that the atmospheres are impeccable. They excel at creating a certain mood without ever sounding cheesy, forced or insincere. Perhaps not the top of the heap of what the Canterbury artists had to offer, COLD CUTS is a fascinating and unique contribution to the world of prog where several stylistic approaches intersect.

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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
BIG HOGG 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
GOWEN - MILLER - SINCLAIR - TOMKINS United Kingdom
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
NICHOLAS GREENWOOD United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH United Kingdom
HENRYTENNIS Japan
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HOMUNCULUS RES Italy
HOPPER - DEAN - TIPPETT - GALLIVAN United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
THE KENTISH SPIRES United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
DE LORIANS Japan
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
MANNA / MIRAGE United States
MASTER CYLINDER United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOLESLOPE Japan
MOOM United Kingdom
MOVING GELATINE PLATES France
MR. SIRIUS Japan
THE MUFFINS United States
NATIONAL HEALTH United Kingdom
OCARINAH France
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PICCHIO DAL POZZO Italy
THE POLITE FORCE United Kingdom
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
SUPPLY DEMAND & CURVE Ireland
TORTILLA FLAT Germany
TRAVELLING France
VOLARÉ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
THE WINSTONS Italy
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZOPP United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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