HATFIELD AND THE NORTH — Hatfield and the North

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HATFIELD AND THE NORTH - Hatfield and the North cover
4.33 | 24 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1974

Tracklist

A1 The Stubbs Effect
A2 Big Jobs (Poo Poo Extract)
A3 Going Up To People And Tinkling
A4 Calyx
A5 Son Of 'There's No Place Like Homerton'
A6 Aigrette
A7 Rifferama
B1 Fol De Rol
B2 Shaving Is Boring
B3 Licks For The Ladies
B4 Bossa Nochance
B5 Big Jobs No. 2 (By Poo And The Wee Wees)
B6 Lobster In Cleavage Probe
B7 Gigantic Land Crabs In Earth Takeover Bid
B8 The Other Stubbs Effect

Line-up/Musicians

Bass, Vocals – Richard Sinclair
Drums – Pip Pyle
Guitar – Phil Miller
Organ, Piano, Keyboards – Dave Stewart
Pixiephone – Jeremy Baines
Saxophone, Flute – Geoff Leigh
Vocals – Amanda Parsons, Ann Rosenthal, Barbara Gaskin

About this release

Virgin ‎– V 2008 (UK)

Recorded at The Manor Studios in 1973

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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siLLy puPPy
The Canterbury Scene is without a doubt an incestuous one with virtually every representative band having members engaging in the ole switcheroonie with one another throughout the style’s heyday in the 1970s. While many bands came and went, none would be able to exemplify this particular type of whimsical jazz-rock-fusion more than the supergroup HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. This band meant business and was in effect a culmination of all the Canterbury styles that came before. A sifted, refined and filtrated jazz-rock-fusion enigma that still sends shockwaves into the first-time listener by impregnating the casual progressive rock lover’s ears with music so flirtatious and sublime that if one is not addicted to this particular brand of music yet, the gravitational forces of such magnanimous music will surely be the boon or bane to one’s finances, for this particular album in general is one of my utmost gateway drugs into the extremities of the progressive rock archives and beyond the comfort zone from the more familiar and accessible sounds of Yes, Pink Floyd and Genesis. My bank account has never been the same since :P

This is one of those albums that really demands multiple listens for the magic to unfold. Upon first listen i was only dumbfounded. I was not at all accustomed to music like this. This takes the most adventurous of both the jazz and rock worlds and melds them together seamlessly which is a testament to the top notch musicians involved in this rarest of projects, one that is so daring and oblivious to contemporary trends that it actually succeeds in transmogrifying the listener’s consciousness into a state of sonic bliss that feels as if it is taking place in a dream state or in an alien setting far away from the mundaneness of the every day world. While i would have never even dreamt of this existing in my top tier of musical pleasures upon first listen, this eponymous debut album with the equally magnanimous followup “The Rotter’s Club” have only recently gained enough mojo to blossom into new musical arenas in my world, one where musical genres blur in a sonic firestorm that only tintinnabulates the most pleasant of musical expressions.

Let me speak a bit about this unbelievable music. This is music for the gods and of the gods, for this is truly a prog supergroup of the highest level. This eponymous album comprises the absolute best in the Canterbury jazz-fusion scene and although the music itself focuses more on intricate instrumental prowess, there is more than enough comedic lyrical whimsy to suck the ego out of the transpositional chromaticisms and instead create a beautiful universal sound of surrender where the musical deities take the rei(g)ns and lead to one splendid sounding piece of work. The main players in this game are Phil Miller (Delivery, Caravan, Matching Mole), Dave Stewart (Arzachel, Delivery, Egg, Khan), Richard Sinclair (Wilde Flowers, Caravan) and Pip Pyle (Delivery, Gong) but the subordinate cast is JUST as essential for this brilliant soundscape which is deviously melodic with occasional touches of pure surrealism.

These subordinate entities include Robert Wyatt on vocals, Geoff Leigh (sax, flute), Didier Malherbe (sax), Jeremy Baines (pixiephone, flute), Same Ellidge and Cyrille Ayers (vocals) and the beautiful enchantresses called the Northettes: Amanda Parsons, Barbara Gaskin and Ann Rosenthal. All the tracks connect like an early Soft Machine album and elements of all the contributing players unfold here into a frenzy of some of the most sophisticated music ever to exist in the rock world. HATFIELD AND THE NORTH just nails it. I have to emphasize that this is an acquired taste but just like triple IPA beer or certain stinky varieties of cheese, one that is well worth the effort. This kind of music is truly unparalleled at this point of time and still to this very day remains some of the most demanding yet satisfying music that exists. A veritable masterpiece of the ages that just hasn’t been discovered by everyone yet. Inaccessible like the tombs of a long lost undiscovered Pharaoh but beckoning the progressive rock love to explore the nooks and crannies of some of the most sophisticated music ever. Can you tell? I love this one :O
Warthur
A true Canterbury supergroup, Hatfield and the North brought together the qualities of its various members previous bands - combining the whimsicality of Gong, the sense of humour of Caravan, the jazz-rock chops of Matching Mole and the complexity and flair of Egg. The group blend all of their musical styles perfectly to create a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts, with a mood that ranges from the tranquil (Calyx, Fol de Rol) to the frenetic (Shaving Is Boring).

The instrumentalists are at the peak of their game - Phil Miller's guitar playing and Dave Stewart's ever-charming keyboard are particular treats. On top of that, the band shows an appreciation for the use of the voice as an instrument; Richard Sinclair proves willing to make the most unusual voices as part of his singing, the Northettes add an extra layer to the music with their angelic backing harmonies, and pal of the band Robert Wyatt puts in a guest appearance on Calyx (marking, incidentally, his return to professional musicianship following the life-changing accident which put paid to Matching Mole). Finding a perfect balance between the jazz fusion direction explored by Canterbury elder statesmen Soft Machine and the more whimsical approach of the likes of Caravan and Gong, the first Hatfield and the North album is a vital album for anyone exploring the Canterbury style of fusion.
Sean Trane
A Canterburian supergroup made from members of Matching Mole (guitarist Phil Miller), Egg & Khan (keyboardist Dave Stewart), Caravan (bassist Richard Sinclair) and GonG (drummer Pip Pyle) - and amazingly enough no-one from Soft Machine- Hatfield (for short) certainly made two of the most transcendental albums in the genre, starting with the self-titled debut in 73. Taking their name from a traffic panel somewhere North of London, the South-of-London combo chose a pink-filtered picture of an unremarkable suburb and added some savage scene of pillage in the clouded sky, a symbol that remains a mystery to this writer even today. On top of the famous Robert Wyatt appearance in Calyx, the group benefits from the help of the Northettes (a trio of female singers that includes Spirogyra's Barbara Gaskins), some sax from Henry Cow member Geoff Leigh and a un-credited Didier Malherbe (source: the Calyx site and the innergatefold picture) of GonG on flute. One can see this album as a variance of a concept album with not one but two book-ending tracks: the electronic pieces called Stubbs Effect and more ex-centric (because asymmetric) Big Jobs, where Sinclair announces the colour signing about "the song to begin the beginning, a few arbitrary notes, which they try to make sound right and that their music on their latest Lp will please us and should certainly be a laugh" in a very Wyatt-esque manner. Another way to look at this album is as if two giant nameless suites (one per album side), since all tracks are melted into in each other (from Stubbs to Rifferama and from Fol De Rol until Other Stubbs) and it's pretty difficult to see where each song starts, even, if the Cd certainly made this easier.

Describing Hatfield's music is rather difficult other than saying it fits the Canterbury mould that we know today without sounding like any other band in that category. It's definitely not rock music anymore (like Gong or Caravan), it's not Jazz (through the bossa nova) either, but to call it jazz-rock is only partly satisfying because applicable only 15% (roughly) of the time. Mostly instrumental, but when sung it is either stunning or completely silly lyrics, often courtesy of drummer Pip Pyle (humour-wise, Hatfield is typically Canterburian), the quartet is simply amazing with mastery of their respective instruments and the numerous tempo changes and tricky time sigs are simply head-twisting and can be a bit of a repellent for the normal attention span.. There are some remains from Caravan, sometimes from Egg or Gong, but you mostly have to look at the future National Health to have an idea of what they sound like. Little wonder since three of the four Hatfield will be involved in NH. To make matters worse, the album is filled with short unpredictable songs that generally don't respect any rules and end up melting into each other, much like the superb Wyatt-conscious Calyx leads directly into album-climax Homerton. Another strong track is Shaving Is Boring, which grabs a space rock (ala GonG) repetitive rhythms and Caravan soundscapes (the organ theme seems from Grey & Pink) and later on Bossa Nochance is a clear wink at Caravan's rhythms.

Hatfield is probably the first of the three most difficult groups to "dig"/get into after or with Gilgamesh and National Health and are an acquired taste that comes with multiple listens. The Virgin reissue comes with a non-album single of which both sides are sung by Sinclair, the Fitter B-side will find its way on the next album in a different version. These two stick out a bit from the rest of the album (different sound), but there is nothing shocking either. The new Esoteric label "remastered" reissue brings a two more bonus tracks (, more like work-in-progress), but present on TRC as well in the Mumps track, and the booklet has been revamped. While on the scale of the site and prog's greater spectrum, this first Hatfield album might not be essential, in the Canterbury skyline circles, it certainly is.

Ratings only

  • Fant0mas
  • Phrank
  • MoogHead
  • St Tree Fun
  • KK58
  • nebol
  • Lynx33
  • chrijom
  • EntertheLemming
  • Ponker
  • yair0103
  • progshine
  • Eärendil
  • trinidadx13
  • GMs
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • Drummer
  • toitoi2
  • kostasprog
  • AtomicCrimsonRush
  • richby

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