413

Hatfield and the North: Hattitude: Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 2

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Hatfield and the North: Hattitude: Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 2 Hatfield and the North is a remarkable group whose music remains familiar, resonant and timeless after three decades. That's even more remarkable, considering the band recorded only two albums during its brief existence and never broke through commercially. But in many ways, the British group was the quintessential Canterbury band. Its complex and progressive music was delivered with a self-effacing sense of the absurd that kept it distanced from the bombastic art rock of many of its contemporaries.

It was great news when Hatwise Choice: Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 1, a collection of BBC radio and live recordings, was released in 2005. While its two studio releases were augmented with assorted Canterbury friends, Hatwise Choice presented Hatfield as a stripped-down four-piece unit that was completely capable of fleshing the music out and was none the less for it—stronger, in fact, in many cases. Hattitude: Volume 2 is defined by more consistent sound quality, thanks to keyboardist Dave Stewart's autumn 2005 discovery of a box full of reel-to-reel live recordings.

There's little in the way of new material here, and there's considerable overlap with Hatwise Choice. Still, Hattitude stands on its own, thanks to the group's energy and spontaneity, and drummer Pip Pyle's outstanding editing work. Pyle, who tragically passed away earlier this summer, took material from fourteen different live and BBC radio dates, creating a largely continuous hour-long set that's the next best thing to having been there. Once again Hatfield plays "Name That Tune" by retitling familiar songs with new titles that reference the originals only obliquely, if at all.

Hatfield in concert was every bit an improvising band, often significantly reshaping its studio material. Guitarist Phil Miller's "Aigrette" (here titled "The Crest") is expanded to include a longer vocal by bassist Richard Sinclair and a definitive solo by Stewart that begins on electric piano and ends powerfully on his signature tone generator. Sinclair's metrically mind-boggling "Rifferama" (here "Pink & Green Machine") is reduced to less than two minutes, but is as potent—and hilarious—as ever.

The majority of the music is culled from Hatfield's eponymous 1973 Virgin debut, though there are small tastes of material from 1975's The Rotter's Club, including the finale to Stewart's epic "Mumps" ("One of Wilde's"), and the segue from Pyle's "Fitter Stoke Has a Bath" ("Drowning Reprise") into Sinclair's bittersweet "Didn't Matter Anyway" ("Goodbye for Now"). Miller sounds as idiosyncratic as ever, while Pyle delivers a richer blend of elegance and power than on his later, more jazz-centric efforts. Sinclair remains an underappreciated but highly imaginative bassist, while Stewart's inventive harmonic approach renders criminal his longstanding moratorium on performing this kind of music.

That there's enough material left for a third volume is great news, and hopefully it will greater emphasize songs from The Rotter's Club. In the meantime Hattitude is a treasure trove that's even better than Hatwise Choice and should continue to generate new interest in this too-often overlooked but distinctively innovative band.


Track Listing: Grosso Lavoro; Drowning in the Bathroom; K Licks (long); The Crest; Pink & Green Machine; Further Dances; La Barbe extract; COnfiture de la Barbe; Born Again Crustacean; Elevenses; Farce Majeure; Spaces Not Notes; Song For All Our Mums; Extract; The Men's One-Metre Dash; K Licks (short); One of Wilde's; Blane Over The Low Countries; Drowning reprise; Goodbye for Now.
Bonus track: Al Clark Presents.

Personnel: Phil Miller: guitar; Pip Pyle: drums, percussion, sheep noise; Richard Sinclair: bass, vocals; Dave Stewart: keyboards, tone generators.

Title: Hattitude: Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 2 | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "When the sleeping fish turn red and the skies start to sing in C major I will follow you to the end" CD/LP/Track Review When the sleeping fish turn red and the skies start to sing...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Dare to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Dare to Be
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "The Complete Syllables Music" CD/LP/Track Review The Complete Syllables Music
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Convallaria" CD/LP/Track Review Convallaria
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 22, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.