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Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club CD (album) cover


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 668 ratings

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5 stars I'm not that familiar with the Canterbury Scene, but if there's an album from that camp that surpasses this one, it could very well be the greatest prog subgenre. Well, in terms of style "The Rotters Club" would fit quite comfortably into the jazz fusion section as well (although the same could be said about most Canterbury artists). Dave Stewart is apparently the leader here, but the lineup is really a star-studded with legends from Caravan, Soft Machine and other monumental groups. As a result, the album is a work of considerable complexity, but it's profoundly melodic nature and humorous side make it easy to swallow, even for a casual listener.

The highlight here is undoubtedly the 20-minute "Mumps", which represents a rather rare occurrence in which such epic length is completely justified. After an excellent, wonderfully melodic intro aided by pleasant la-las from the Northettes, a sharp atonal interlude briefly breaks up the relaxed atmosphere before giving way to lyrical guitar soloing; after a while, the keys take over and head into a more intense direction. Keep in mind that this is not tasteless noodling, but fusion jamming of the highest caliber. Later in the song, we get catchy verses, more great improvisations, along with a reprise of the wonderful intro section - and none of all this is ever boring. Overall, the track encompasses all the major approaches the band takes to writing and performing their music. Stewart and the rest of the band certainly deserve a generous round of applause for delivering this masterpiece.

Not that the rest of the disc is weak in any way - it still has a lot to offer in terms of both quality and diversity. There are lots of the fascinatingly complex jazz harmonies throughout the album, notably in the guitar-dominated "Lounging There Trying" and "The Yes No Interlude" (which is enhanced by great horn contributions), as well as "Fitter Stroke has a Bath". The opening track and "Halfway between Heaven and Earth" would easily find a place on a Caravan or Camel recording. Meanwhile, the short "Oh, Lens Nature!" is heavy and sinister enough to be classified as progressive metal. Speaking of the short tracks, they are of reasonable quality as well and never degrade to filler, even when repeated twice. As a matter of fact, filler material is virtually non-existent on "The Rotters Cub".

As usual, I had my doubts about giving "The Rotters Club" the full 5 stars. However, on repeated listenings it kept growing on me to the point that I know consider it one of my all-time favorites.

4.51 ;)

Pafnutij | 5/5 |


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