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View Poll Results: How would you rank the album?
Horrible! 0 0%
Bad 0 0%
Mediocre 1 12.50%
Good 3 37.50%
Very good 1 12.50%
Brilliant! 3 37.50%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-24-2011, 11:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
 
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Default Hatfield and the North - Hatfield and the North (1974)

This thread is for discussing the Canterbury album Hatfield and the North by the band by the same name. It was homework in our Prog & Fusion Album Club in January 2011.

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Originally Posted by tore
Hatfield and the North - Hatfield and the North (1974)



Hatfield and the North's debut is, for me, the quintessential Canterbury album. It has Richard Sinclair singing on it (as Anteater has called him, the "voice of Canterbury") and a guest appearance by Robert Wyatt, whimsical song themes, avant-gardeness with a jazzy flavour sometimes coupled with a Caravanish pop sensibility and a very .. Canterbury-ish sound.

For me, at first it came across as a bit of a chaotic album. They have a lot of strange ideas pulling the songs in different directions. Still, the album is very comfortable on the ears. As the album becomes just a little more familiar and some order is structured from the initial chaos, it becomes a magnificent record, a true Canterbury classic.
So, what do you think?
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Old 01-24-2011, 11:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This album is actually my favourite Canterbury record at the moment. It wasn't immediate, though. A long time ago, I gave it a few spins without it quite catching. Most Canterbury albums are like that, I find. Their appeal is not always in your face and this one's not that different in that respect. However, after a spin or two, the vocal performances from tracks like Calyx or Son of There's No Place Like Homerton had snuck their way into my conscious and after they had stewed there for quite a while, I suddenly found myself with a strong want to listen to it again. They had to stew for a while though, we're talking months!

When I listened to it again, I felt like the album really opened up to me. It's a gorgeous thing. Although it shares quite a few similarities with other Canterbury acts (as I mentioned in it's description), I feel like they've found their own aesthetic and it's not quite like anything else I've heard. The bits I like the most are definetly the vocal parts, like Robert Wyatt's performance on Calyx or Barbara Gaskin's sung part on Lobsters in Cleavage Probe. As the regular singer in the group, Sinclair is the perfect man/voice for the job. On the compositional and instrumental side of things, I love the often intricate-but-comfortable songs and the warm sounds. There's not a single song on this album that I don't like.

My favourite track right now is Son Of There's No Place Like Homerton and part of that is because of Gaskin's performance on the track. As a whole, side A is preferable to side B for me (which starts with Fol De Rol), but as I wrote, there's nothing here that I don't find enjoyable. The only negative thing I can think of is that it might eventually feel a little long-winded, but letting it run it from start to end is still a joy to me. One of the finest albums we've covered so far in the PFAC club in my opinion!

edit :

By the way, my version also has two bonus tracks, Let's Eat (Real Soon) and Fitter Stoke Has A Bath. I'm usually not too crazy about bonus tracks (The Other Stubbs Effect is obviously meant as an album outro and then they glue more tracks onto it after?), but both these are brilliant The latter of the two also features Sinclair's classic underwater-gurgle singing gimmick which is always fun!
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Definitely one of the best Canterbury albums of all time (alongside Caravan's In The Land Of Grey and Pink and National Health's debut). I agree about the vocal performances in particular, but what really strikes me about this debut is how each track segues flawlessly into the one after it. Just goes to show you how great Sinclair and the rest were at conceptualizing their compositions.

Another interesting thing - Hatfield's sophomore release The Rotters' Club ended up inspiring a really awesome novel back in 2001. Here's a link for the curious-

The Rotters' Club (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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what really strikes me about this debut is how each track segues flawlessly into the one after it. Just goes to show you how great Sinclair and the rest were at conceptualizing their compositions.
Yes, another good observation which I definetly agree with

Interesting trivia about that book too by the way. Wonder if it's any good?
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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By the way, literally five minutes ago, I saw that there's a 2009 rerelease of this album by Esoteric Recordings which has yet another bonus track on it .. I checked it out and wow, it's another stunning track. I've got to get my hands on that.

Here it is, the bonus track "Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut / Oh What A Lonely Lifetime"

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Old 01-25-2011, 10:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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One notable track on this album is Shaving Is Boring: there is a deliciously warm tone to the instruments (as already mentioned) and a complex, extended jam that is suddenly interrupted with the not-very-innovative device of footsteps, doors opening, etc. For me that track is representative of the album as a whole; pieces of exquisite musicianship are spoiled by touches of whimsy or tracks like Fol De Rol, which, for me, are interesting, clever, but somehow inconsequential.

tore sums up my attitude to the album very well :

Quote:
For me, at first it came across as a bit of a chaotic album. They have a lot of strange ideas pulling the songs in different directions. Still, the album is very comfortable on the ears. As the album becomes just a little more familiar and some order is structured from the initial chaos, it becomes a magnificent record, a true Canterbury classic.
As he says, the ideas here often pull in different directions, but nonetheless the musical ideas are always aimed at the head - there is nothing on this album that really gets me in the heart or the gut, so I`m just going for a vote of Good - at least until I follow tore`s advice and play it enough times to join the ranks of the true admirers like anteater.

Finally, I just wanted to ask a question about the beautiful, delicate opening to the track Lobster: does anyone else feel that Eno must`ve listened to it very carefully and used it as a basis for a few similar-sounding songs of his own ?
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Finally, I just wanted to ask a question about the beautiful, delicate opening to the track Lobster: does anyone else feel that Eno must`ve listened to it very carefully and used it as a basis for a few similar-sounding songs of his own ?
That's certainly a possibility! He had some strong Canterbury ties so he definetly knows the record well Hope the album will grow on you too Lisnaholic!

I should mention that the Fitter Stokes song which might be found as a bonus track on the debut is also found on their second album Rotters Club although it seems they might be separate recordings. Also, that last bonus track which I posted the youtube link to, part of that song (or songs) is definetly found in their prog epic from Rotters Club, Mumps! No wonder it caught straight away .. I'd heard it before, kinda.
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Old 01-26-2011, 11:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tore View Post
By the way, literally five minutes ago, I saw that there's a 2009 rerelease of this album by Esoteric Recordings which has yet another bonus track on it .. I checked it out and wow, it's another stunning track. I've got to get my hands on that.

Here it is, the bonus track "Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut / Oh What A Lonely Lifetime"

This is a great track ! It has a more robust, no-nonsense style than some of the original album tracks, though I`m not quite the fan of the underwater-gurgle singing that you are, tore !

In case you`re wondering, the title of the first part comes from a Monty Python comedy sketch : "Your majesty is like a cream donut - your arrival brings us pleasure and your departure only makes us hungry for more."
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I've been a fan of Monty Python most of my life, but I didn't remember that one. Interesting trivia

I like the lyrics a lot. They really showcase a Canterburyan quality which I like :
From Big Jobs (Poo Poo Extract)

Here's a song to begin the beginning
A few notes which are arbitrary
But we try our best to make it sound nice
And hope that the music turns you on to our latest L.P.
So do have a laugh certainly
Not that it's a grand piece of poetry, but I get the impression that the Canterbury guys are living their worryless lives while blissfully unaware of the tragedies out there in the bigger world. I get the general feeling that they don't have anything important to write about (like political stands or world tragedies) and, in a way, I find that highly refreshing.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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^ You make a very good point about the lyrics that I never really noticed before.There is a kind of care-free, innocent charm about them, and who cannot love the line, "We try our best to make it sound nice" ?

So I went back and listened to "Lonely Lifetime" again and realized that the chorus there has the same style that you mentioned. It`s homely, honest and undramatic:

...and sometimes, when I`m on my own
gigging far from home
I get so lonely.
I realize I need something else, other than this
It`s you I miss
Oh What a lonely lifetime !


As you say, it makes a very pleasant change from the over-serious declarations of some artists.
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