Hatfield and the North2nd-Generation Canterbury Prog
Relentlessly whimsical prog-rockers.
One of the two great '70s bands named after British road signs (Ian Dury's pub rock outfit Kilburn and the High Roads being the other), Hatfield and the North were the second generation of the Canterbury scene. The band's four key members came out of Caravan (singer and bassist Richard Sinclair), Gong (drummer Pip Pyle), Robert Wyatt's short-lived Matching Mole (guitarist Phil Miller) and the comparatively unknown Egg (keyboardist Dave Stewart), coalescing long enough to record a pair of uniquely odd albums before splintering in mid-1975. Heavily influenced by the more whimsical side of Canterbury's earlier bands, 1974's Hatfield and the North and 1975's The Rotters' Club featured 40-second songs with titles like "(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw" next to longer, jazz-influenced instrumentals and the occasional oddball pop song. They were seemingly incapable of avoiding deliberate oddness: Sinclair sings a verse of the otherwise earnest love song "Oh What A Lonely Lifetime" while strumming his index finger back-and-forth across his lips in the manner of a schoolboy imitating Porky Pig. (Frustratingly, that track -- possibly the group's most immediately-appealing tune -- only ever appeared on the 1975 Virgin Records compilation V and has never been reissued.) Stewart had the highest-profile career afterwards, first in jazz-rock supergroup National Health and in the '80s as half of synth-pop duo Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin. (Though a surprising number of sources make this mistake, he's not the Dave Stewart who was half of Eurythmics.)