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Hatfield And The North - Hatwise Choice - Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 1  CD (album) cover


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.00 | 29 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars At last!

It's easy to overlook Hatfield and the North, because their music refuses to be pompous. Not for them the grand dramatic gestures of Yes, Genesis or ELP. Even when you compare them with other Canterbury bands, they may seem anonymous, since they didn't have a vocalist singing moving little ballads, like Robert Wyatt from Soft Machine or Pye Hastings from Caravan. When their bass player Richard Sinclair (who had also appeared with Caravan) bursts out in song, he sounds almost apologetic.

Nevertheless, the longer you live with the Hatfields' studio albums, the more you realise how original and how enjoyable their music is, and the more you wish there were more! Two studio albums (now re-released with bonus tracks) isn't much to go by, but fortunately we also have the Hatfields' true musical heirs, National Health, and there seems to be a new French band (Forgas Band Phenomena) who have resurrected the Hatfield spirit. (Not just a tribute band, mind you).

Even more fortunately, we are now also able to enjoy two retrospective releases of live-performances and BBC-recordings, of which HATWISE CHOICE is the first. Occasionally, sound quality is a little rough, but you're talking about a few isolated moments (out of a total of 69 minutes) and the playing is so delightful the listener doesn't get annoyed at all.

So there you are: nearly 70 minutes of top-drawer jazzy prog, thoroughly English, neatly orchestrated and an absolute treat for anyone who enjoys intricate but subtly poetic playing. When you hear the Hatfields' studio albums, you may sometimes get distracted by their wonderful guest players, but here it's just the original Hatfields quartet, and listening to them reminded me of what superb players they all were. Sinclair (on bass) and Pip Pyle (on drums) measure up to any rhythm section in prog. Phil Miller has a totally distinctive guitar sound (there's no-one remotely like him) and Dave Stewart simply used to be one of the most accomplished and inventive keyboard players in progressive rock.

In my mind there's no doubt people will still be enjoying this music a hundred years from now.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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