Recorded at the Manor Studios in 1973
Tracks 16 & 17 originally released as the A & B side of the first Hatfield And The North single.
Hatfield and the North were the supergroup of England's Canterbury progressive rock scene, with bassist and vocalist Richard Sinclair from Caravan, guitarist Phil Miller from Matching Mole, keyboardist Dave Stewart from Egg and drummer Pip Pyle from Gong and Delivery. This brilliant and inventive debut album is a cross between sophisticated, precisely executed jazz-rock and dry-humored, often surreal pop. The album consists of short pieces blended into a Zappa-like collage which provides a thematic work that bests even the most eccentric jazz-rock by bands like the Soft Machine.
All Music Guide
This album is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, though I perhaps might just prefer their next masterpiece, Rotter's Club. Still, I find myself playing this one all the time, a truly imaginative, unconventional and sweetly relaxing slab of shimmering prog-fusion. Every musician on the album turns in an amazing performance, especially the core quartet of Sinclair, Stewart, Pyle and Miller. Perhaps a little more downbeat, breezy, and relaxed than Rotter's Club but still very much in a similar style. The self-titled is perhaps a little more ornate, more guest musicians provide for a consistently wider instrumental palette, as opposed to a relatively stripped down and more energetic approach on the next release. The album flows together as sort of an extended suite, with exquisite, melodic solos, crisp rhythms and interlocking parts. Wonderful vocal textures drench the album, from Richard Sinclair's distinctively off kilter poetry, to wordless chanting, soothing female backing vocals courtesy of the "Northettes". "Calyx" features Robert Wyatt's enchanting wordless vocals, before segueing into the keyboard romp of lengthy "Son of 'There's No Place like Homerton", which in turn segues back into nonsensical chants in "Aigrette". Sinclair's bass playing on "Rifferama" is so perfect, employing punchy lines the weave flawlessly in and out of the various solos, extraordinarily complex yet seemingly effortless. The whole album is linked together in this fashion, making it difficult, not to mention pointless, to distinguish between the different tracks. The album is a long piece of truly wonderful, melodic, jazzy progressive that is unimaginably rich in texture, emotion and just plain fun. You won't even come close to grasping it in a few listens, as themes and motifs crop up unexpectedly throughout. This is an album you really need to explore gradually, every listen has become more and more enjoyable as I've been able to latch on to and anticipate various themes. I've had this album in my changer for weeks and look forward to fully unraveling its brilliance. If you're into the Canterbury sub-genre, you probably already have this album. If you aren't yet, you should be, and you should probably pick this one up right after The Rotter's Club.
- Greg Northrup [May 2001]