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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 | 1297 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.29 | 630 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.24 | 755 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.28 | 499 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.24 | 749 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.26 | 564 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.21 | 747 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.15 | 558 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.23 | 289 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.18 | 415 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.29 | 210 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.10 | 512 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.12 | 316 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.26 | 150 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.12 | 268 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.22 | 162 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.10 | 289 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.05 | 408 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.04 | 364 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 205 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

CHRONOMETERS
Muffins, The
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
THE BRUISED ROMANTIC GLEE CLUB
Jakszyk, Jakko M.
ABBIAMO TUTTI I SUOI PROBLEMI
Picchio Dal Pozzo

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Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 Volume Two by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.04 | 364 ratings

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Volume Two
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

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

5 stars Gone are founding members DAEVID ALLEN and Kevin AYERS. The remaining members decide to produce an album as a trio with Robert WYATT on drums and vocals, Mike RATLEDGE on keyboards and flute, Hugh HOPPER on bass and alto sax, and special guest, Hugh's brother, Brian HOPPER on soprano and tenor saxes. What unveils is a masterpiece of supremely melodic and humorous exercises and experiments in modern and psychedelic jazz pop. I find the album eminently enjoyable to this day--one of my favorite start-to-finish 'adventures' in music listening. Each song is interesting for its experimental nature as well as for its lyrical content and instrumental performances. Robert is quite a talented drummer, Mike a wonderfully melodic piano and keyboard player, and the Hopper boys add quite a bit of colour and harmonic beauty. I don't really want to go through each of the seventeen songs, nor do I want to name my favorite or the "five star" songs as to my ears and mind the album is one continuous play experience, but if you really twist my arm I'd go out there to say that "Dada Was Here" is a wonderful composite example of all of the best qualities of this album--with the additional highlight of having Robert singing in Spanish! and that Side One is more engaging and more melodic than the more experimental and more instrumental Side Two--and yet I find the jazzier experimentations fascinating!
 Of Queues and Cures  by NATIONAL HEALTH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.23 | 289 ratings

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Of Queues and Cures
National Health Canterbury Scene

Review by The Frontal Cortex

4 stars National Health is one of those bands I had no idea existed until now. First album of theirs I'm listening and I was really impressed.

The first track "The Bryden 2-Step (for Amphibians) Part 1" is really good and it opens up the album in a way that makes you wanting more which is always important. I just loved the way the keys sounded from the very start and the rhythm which was constantly changing though complicated and hard to follow if you're not used to these kinds of brilliant composition, was in the end more than rewarding.

"The Collapso" was next and it makes me feel like it's continuing a story with the music being similarly confusing. The synths really made a difference but the drums were also exceptional with a very progressive sound. It's one of those tracks I don't enjoy as much but it's still one heck of piece.

The almost 12-minute "Squarer for Maud" has a nice progression from a soft starting sound to the strong and complex one of the previous tracks. The alternation between the guitar and the keys as the lead is really well placed and I especially liked the solo after the spoken words which btw weren't random. Apparently "Maud" is a computer programmed to measure the "numinosity" mentioned. The cello is just excellent choice of a lead for this particular piece. It fitted perfectly and the last one and a half minutes or so were an especially well crafted closing. This one just grows on you.

"Dreams Wide Awake" just captures you from the title alone. Ofcourse the keys here are amazing and the first time I heard it with my eyes closed I was almost certain it would be my favorite track of the album (it turned out it wasn't though). The different sounds created by the keys were incredibly rhythmic and it helped a lot because of the fact that it wasn't as difficult to follow as the previous pieces. The guitar sound here was good too.

"Binoculars" is my favorite one of this album, and it's not only 'cause I always like my tracks with some lyrics in them. It's got a nice little orchestra playing with all the wind instruments after the lyrics. The flute and the trombone were a great choice for the theme of the song. The drumming and particularly the closing guitar were something else and they convinced me that this one was the best in the album. "Phlakaton" is probably the shortest separate track I've ever seen in an album, the only thing I have to say is that it brings back the absurdity of the previous pieces and it leads to the last one.

Finally "The Bryden 2-Step (For Amphibians) Part 2" is kind of a reprise of the first one (also, kind of obvious). I enjoyed it as much as the first one. The keys sound fantastic and the drums are once again showing off. A great way to end the album, with a reprise of the one that started it.

My closing thought is that it's a very difficult album to listen to and although I might need to update this review in the future I'm giving this a 4/5 star rating because it kind of grows on you and I wouldn't call that essential but DEFINITELY Excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.70 | 175 ratings

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Egg
Egg Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars I came into knowing Egg with the followup to this one, The Polite Force, which is one of my favorite Canterbury albums. So, the self-titled debut had a bit of a hill to climb to please me. But it does! I love hearing some of the sounds and rhythms that will later come into make the amazing music of The Polite Force! "I Will Be Absorbed" (5:12) (9/10) is an incredible song: great melodies, great singing, pretty tight musicianship. Definitely a favorite! The Bach "Fugue in D minor" (2:45) (9/10) and their own Stravinsky-influenced "Concerto" (20:41) (8/10) are both quite enjoyable--even the trippy, experimental parts of "Blane" are interesting. But the highlight for me is the piano/organ experimental piece, "They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano" (1:21) Perhaps a little autobiographical? The two other vocal pieces, "While Growing My Hair" (4:03) (8/10) and "The Song of McGullicudie the Pusillanimous" (5:10) (8/10) sound a bit dated but, again, this is amazing stuff for 19 year olds! This album is especially noteworthy in that within the next nine months you have the release of the much more 'mature' The Polite Force! Amazing! Also, I like Mont Campbell's voice! 3.5 stars rated up for astonishment factor. (Dave Stewart was Uriel's original guitarist?!!!)
 Waterloo Lily by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.74 | 416 ratings

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Waterloo Lily
Caravan Canterbury Scene

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

3 stars Having come to know Caravan (and, indeed, the entire Canterbury Scene of music) only in the last ten years, I am still struggling to catch up with all of the albums I have yet to hear--including this one. I've listened to snippets over the years but I've only just indulged in ownership of this collection of diverse songs--some of which sound like they came out of vaults ("Aristocracy"), some as if hardship efforts to make hits ("World Is Yours"), some as if the studio's record button was left on all day and then the better parts were spliced together ("Nothing At All/It's Coming Soon," "Songs and Signs"). The only songs that, to my ear, sound as if they are worthy of the Caravan hall of fame are the two that sound as if some real thought and sweat went into them. "The Love in Your Eye/To Catch Me a Brother/etc." is, as most of my fellow reviewers have noted, worthy of "masterpiece" status if not quite on a par with "Nine Feet Underground" and "For Richard..." and the album's title song actually has some real thoughtful, well- rehearsed, well-played and well-recorded music throughout. It is a song that has really grown on my and to which I look forward. Overall, however, Waterloo Lilly falls short of the expectations I've come to associate with Caravan-- especially after getting to know For Girls Who Plump in the Night and If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (which did take more time than In the Land of Grey and Pink).

3.5 stars rated down for inconsistency and a seeming lack of freshness/inspiration.

 Present From Nancy by SUPERSISTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.00 | 151 ratings

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Present From Nancy
Supersister Canterbury Scene

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Sporting a dreadfully embarrassing band photo, this looks like it could be the stuff of nightmares.

Pleasingly they use a variant of 'Futura Light' as the header font which is always pleasing to my eye and one typeface that name droppers 'Nurse With Wound' have used with dramatic effect for over 35 years.

Typography tomfoolery out of the way, I have to admit that this is an excellent album which detonates into life almost immediately. Full of quirky upbeat piano, fulsome flute and a drummer with his head firmly screwed on sideways.

Dutch Prog bands aren't exactly at the top of many lists but this just hits all the right buttons for me. It's very 'Canterbury' in sound and the 'Dutch' sounding 'Robert Jan Stips' has a set of vocal cords guaranteed to NOT upset English listeners despite singing in this language. The jammy gits somehow get away with it. I guess it's the soft affected vocal style. Considering this was recorded in in 1970 (The month in which I was born!), I have to say that it's stood the test of time very well. (Unlike me).

'Present from Nancy' is playful and experimental, with some passages sounding like Floyd's 'Ummagumma'. There's also quite a lot of use of that weird stylophone keyboard sound used to great effect by 'Egg' and 'Caravan'. There's a nice airy and light feel to most tunes where you feel you're floating on candy-floss clouds. At times it all gets quite manic as on 'Metamorphosis' which keeps things fresh and lively.

Of particular note is the wonderfully po-faced 'Mexico' which has a superb combination of keyboards and big stompin' drums which hammer away before those cool vocals and complex bass guitar lines frantically batter everything in sight like the big bully in the school playground.

Supersister comfortably deal with odd time signatures in a way that sounds completely effortless which is a commendable achievement in itself. It's also very surprising to hear such a well produced and clear recording from this era when many similar bands sounded like they were playing inside a closed cardboard box with the microphones on the outside.

'Present from Nancy' is their most energetic release. A cheery upbeat album, which at the same time displays a lot of originality and experimentation. It's made all the better by the distinct lack of guitar which was quite uncommon for Prog bands of this era.

 The World Of Genius Hans by MOVING GELATINE PLATES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.36 | 76 ratings

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The World Of Genius Hans
Moving Gelatine Plates Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars MOVING GELATINE PLATES followed up their debut album only a year later with the phenomenal THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS. This was the pinnacle of the first wave of progressive rock when every band was trying to one-up the other and by the time we get to 1972 we have some of the most complex musical machines pumping out some of the most creative and bizarre music ever. MGP were particularly ambitious in their approach as even to this day, albums like THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS remain as some of the most ambitious and progressive music to ever hit the market. Like many similarly minded musical acts of the day who were pushing themselves so far and evolving musical ideas at the speed of light, the band found it impossible to coax the album buying public to hop onto their prog train and ended up breaking up after this album due to lack of sales, however time has been very kind to MOVING GELATINE PLATES and both of their first two albums have become regarded as two of the most adventurous musical extravaganzas to be had in the early years of prog and all of prog history for that matter. This is super complex music that takes time to seep in. There is simply too much to take in on after one, two or even ten listens but the rewards for the dedicated lover of complex music are immense due to the fact there are more than 450 developments leading to a fast and non-repetitive musical motif.

The distinct influences on board are from Soft Machine and Frank Zappa's jazz-fusion era only everything here is on steroids taking everything in the Canterbury Scene and jazz-fusion world and increasing the complexity manyfold while jettisoning the irritating solos of the debut album leaving behind a cohesive and mind-bending musical masterpiece. Despite the band only being a four-piece unit of Gerard Pons (drums), Didier Thibault (bass), Gerard Bertram (guitars and vocals) and Maurice Helmlinger (trumpet, saxes, flute and hammond organ)and a few additional guests that add trombone, bassoon, vibes and backing vocals, the music sounds more complex than an entire symphony in a music hall as it is the themes are elaborate offering instantly catchy melodies that turn into the hundreds of combinations of themes, instrumental tradeoffs and ridiculously labyrinthine song structures that keep this whole affair on a seemingly different musical plane.

This is for the seasoned prog lover and would surely alienate the uninitiated abecedarian. As much music as i have consumed in my ever growing addiction i would have to rate THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS to be one of the most challenging and difficult-to-grasp albums that i have ever heard, yet it is not so far out as to not be able to pick melodies up from first listen, it's just that the sheer number of melodic developments, their brevity and overall musical structure is a staggering affair. I love these kinds of albums and wish there were more of them. MOVING GELATINE PLATES is a band that has gained recognition over time due to their being so ahead of the pack at the time of release. Thanks to Musea Records for bringing this kind of music into the current era for this music is timeless. On the CD releases there are five extra tracks that are half of the third MGP's release that came out in 1980 only under the moniker MOVING. They are randomly distributed between the first two albums and although not anywhere near the complexity of the first two releases still make for a decent listen. THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS is a mega-masterpiece in my world and a desert isle pick for sure since even after a gazillion listens i can still listen to this at any given moment.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars (This is my amateurish translation of a chapter from my Finnish-language prog book published in 2013. "Aforementioned" refers to a chapter on MATCHING MOLE. Now I must confront the question of rating. I believe it would be 4½ stars, but because in the end I haven't listened to this album so often, I round it down. To be changed later if I come to realize how wonderful this album really is.)

Matching Mole collapsed after two albums mainly because of the lack of leadership. The winter of '72-'73 Robert Wyatt spent in Venice where his girlfriend participated in making of the film Don't Look Back. Unaccustomed to have nothing to do, he passed his time writing songs with a tiny keyboard, and after the return to London gathered a new version of Matching Mole (featuring e.g. Francis Monkman who had left Curved Air). The day before starting the rehearsals occurred the aforementioned accident, with a consequence of Wyatt being hospitalized for eight months. After three months of lying in bed he was given a wheel chair, and rather than participating in therapeutic activities he spent some time on the piano in the guest room and continued shaping the songs he had started in Venice.

The paralysis from the waist below brought inevitable changes into the musician's career, but the optimistic Wyatt turned them to a freedom: without gigging he could concentrate on album-making and use various musicians on each track if he wanted to. Rock Bottom, recorded early in 1974, was released the very same day when Robert Wyatt married Alfreda "Alfie" Benge, who was also responsible of the cover art. [Side note: there are two versions of the cover, the other one is a colour-drawing of a dive.]

Wyatt's ethearal keyboard and vocal style is accompanied on two tracks ('Sea Song' and 'Alifib') by a bass guitar only, whereas other tracks feature a variable cast of musicians and articulators. Laurie Allan's plentiful use of hi-hat underlines the jazzy esthetics of 'A Last Straw', and the fast-tempo 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road' gives a central role to a trumpet. On 'Alife' that starts with slightly dissonant bass clarinet sounds, Wyatt's word play is affectionately answered by the love song's object herself. On the intense final track Wyatt's lyrics are articulated by a Scottish poet Ivor Cutler sounding like a loonie. This album produced by the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is by far the most appreciated classic in Wyatt's long and respected solo career. it was met with a fairly good reception, even though Wyatt's only hit was the Neil Diamond cover 'I'm a Believer' two months later.

In 1975 appeared rather uneven Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, after which the discography expanded in the 80's with politically coloured albums Nothing Can Stop Us (1982; covers only) and Old Rottenhat (1985). Recommended albums for those who enjoy Wyatt's airy and chamber-jazzy style might include Shleep (1997), Cuckooland (2003) and Comicopera (2007).

 Moving Gelatine Plates by MOVING GELATINE PLATES album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.09 | 67 ratings

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Moving Gelatine Plates
Moving Gelatine Plates Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars MOVING GELATINE PLATES was a short-lived band formed by Gérard Bertram (guitarist) and Didier Thibault (bassist) who met in 1966 when they were both wee teenagers at 14 years of age in school. These guys had a huge interest in the jazz-fusion scene that was blossoming in the late 60s and were especially influenced by Soft Machine and Caravan. MOVING GELATINE PLATES are also notorious for being the first non-English band to fall into the Canterbury Scene. These guys came from from Sartrouville, France but because of their strong influences and willingness to eschew the political leanings of the early 70s and worship the whimsical and predominantly instrumental instead, they have been lumped into the Canterbury Scene labeling. The music sounds very Canterbury and yet maintains a strong uniqueness at the same time.

After acquiring the extra talents of Gérard Pons (drums) and Maurice Hemlinger (organ, trumpet, soprano and tenor sax, flute) the band found the right chemistry and talent to create one EXCELLENT debut album. This album is so packed full of musical integrity that it is hard to believe that it is only slightly over 36 minutes long. These guys hit all the right notes and created all the best aspects of rock and jazz-fusion with tight sophisticated melodic compositions. This is one of the most energetic albums i've heard from 1971. The band is simply on fire with all the hooks, leads and infectious grooves that somehow maintain an accessible and seductive melodic systematic approach married with the extreme complexity that every progressive rock band of the day was striving to create in order to outdo the others. This is catchy enough to keep you entertained but complex enough that you keep coming back for more.They simply created a perfectly balanced sound that took all the complexities of progressive rock, all the addictive melodic approaches of jazz and classical musical, put them in a blender and dished them out like the tastiest of fresh pastries on the Champs-Élysées.

Despite this being a brilliant debut album that blows away most of the competition, i am in agreement with everyone else who feels that the drum solo on "Last Song" is waaaaaaaay too long for its own good, but other than that one faux pas (and really it isn't bad, it just ruins an otherwise perfect album) we have a ridiculously consistent album that more than stands the test of time. In a perfect world this band would have made the cover of Rolling Stone. Yeah, that perfect world that i wish i was in, but hey! This album is real. It was made and believe it or not, the next one is even BETTER :P

If you own the CD you will find that in addition to the original 5 tracks there are 4 bonus tracks that come from their comeback album under the truncated band name MOVING. For some reason someone deemed it wise to disperse these tracks in no particular order between the debut and album and the second "The Genius Of Hans." Makes no sense but if you own the first two albums on CD you will essentially own the third one as well. No it's not as good as the first two but not totally shabby either. 4.5 rounded up!

 Now is the happiest time of your life by ALLEN, DAEVID album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.26 | 35 ratings

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Now is the happiest time of your life
Daevid Allen Canterbury Scene

Review by sl75

4 stars This continues in a similar direction to the preceding album, Good Morning, using some of the same musicians (though not the full ensemble), with similar European folk influences, and still avoiding drumkit for the most part, although there is a greater role for percussion. The Planet Gong mythology returns here, though still mixed with the more direct moral language of Good Morning. There is also the incorporation of performance poetry, I rather enjoyed "Poet For Sale", and though I see it's divided reviewers here, I rather liked the inclusion of Daevid's children on "Tally & Orlando Meet The Cockpot Pixie". There is no standout highlight this time (like "Wise Man In Your Heart" on the last album), and a couple of slightly jarring moments (like "See You On The Moontower" which almost turns into conventional rock n roll), but generally I think anyone who enjoyed Good Morning should like this almost as much. A low four stars (probably more 3.5).
 Caravan by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.66 | 394 ratings

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Caravan
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Born out of the implosion of the Wilde Flowers which was pretty much the big bang of everything Canterbury Scene, CARAVAN took the opposite approach of their other band mates who became The Soft Machine and steered their approach more into the realms of the psychedelic pop rock world of the 60s rather than retreating into the free-for-all jazz fusion world. The band was started by Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals), Richards Coughlan (drums), Richard Sinclair (bass) and David Sinclair (keyboards). The two bands stayed amicable after the split. The Soft Machine was gracious enough to lend the band all the necessary equipment to record this album while on tour with Jimi Hendrix and the result was this eponymous debut album which was released in 1968 and really sounds like it belongs to that era.

While not reaching any particular progressive heights like they would venture into on their second album, album number one is an interesting mix of Barrett era Floydian psychedelic pop songwriting sensibilities glossed over with Procol Harum sounding keyboards and nice jazzy psychedelic jazz guitar leanings. The songs are all well crafted and this has become one of my favorite albums of the era. It blows away other strictly blues rock bands of the era like Jefferson Airplane by adding mild progressive touches such as slightly off time sigs, nice wah- wah guitar action and contemplative vocals. There is also a slight The Doors feel in some of the jamming methodology without sounding like them. This album has a slightly spacey psychedelic feel, a touch folky with the Tullish flute and a heavy psych feel in the drum department which is pretty technical for the era.

I have always considered CARAVAN to be one of the least Canterbury sounding of all the bands that are categorized under that banner but they are clearly in that camp with their humor albeit more subtle than say Hatfield And The North or Quiet Sun. There is an overall feel that connects the dots. I am rotating on an opposite spin than most CARAVAN fans in finding that their magnum opus "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is overrated while finding this debut to be woefully underrated. I actually choose to listen to this over that one any day of the week. There is a sophistication of the sound heard here that is above and beyond the contemporaries of the day with possibly only the exception of the other half to the Wilde Flowers, The Soft Machine. Personally i find this to be a great melodic moment of the late 60s that shows a band carving out its distinct path in the progressive rock world that was in its infancy.

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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
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