Part of the late 1960’s Canterbury music scene the technically accomplished, jazz influenced
Hatfield and the North were the acceptable face of 70s prog-rock.
The musicians who started Hatfield and the North in November 1972 were previously all members in other Canterbury Scene bands. The band consisted of Richard Sinclair (bass/vocals, Caravan), Phil Miller (guitar, Matching Mole), Pip Pyle (drums, Delivery, Gong) and Dave Stewart (keyboards, Uriel). La, La, La’s and background vocals courtesy of The Northettes: Barbara Gaskins, Amanda Parsons and Ann Rosenthal. Also contributing at times to the groups’ sound were Henry Cow members, Lindsay Cooper (oboe) and Geoff Leigh (saxes/flutes).
Signing with upstart label Virgin Records the band’s music fell
somewhere between the stoned-output of Gong and the earnest politico-rock of Henry Cow.
In 1974 the band released their eponymous debut album, Hatfield and the North followed by the single “Let’s Eat (Real Soon”/”Fitter Stoke Has A Bath.” While both the album and the single showed what the band was capable of
which was, basically, to sing and solo, mixing catchy riffs with meandering breaks,
the record buying public was less than enthusiastic about the album or the single .
In 1975 the group released their sophomore LP, The Rotters’ Club.
On The Rotters’ Club The Hatfield’s were
careful to avoid the pomposity and bombast of better-known prog rockers of the era, such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes.
Essentially an instrumental album “songs” were “few and far between.” Sung by Sinclair, “in a polite and mellow croon” his vocal style was closer to Bing Crosby than Joe Cocker. As for the songs’, their
rather whimsical lyrical content, (is) perhaps another conscious attempt to steer clear of the pretentiousness of the typically overbearing prog rock song style.
Where the band shines is on the instrumentals; whether it’s the electric piano work of Stewart on the Miller penned “Lounging There Trying” and “Underdub,” Pyle’s propulsive “Yes No Interlude” which melds Stewart’s keyboards with the sax of guest Jimmy Hastings or Stewart’s 20-minute opus “Mumps.”
The Rotters’ Club made a appearance on the UK Pop charts, but believing that their following was limited the band agreed to disband several months after its release.
Following the groups breakup Richard Sinclair joined English prog rock group Camel.
Dave Stewart did sessions work for former Yes and King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford. He became an unexpected pop star in 1981 when he collaborated with ex- Zombies singer Colin Blunstone on a cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?.” For Stewart lightning struck twice when a cover of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party,” he recorded with former Northette Barbara Gaskins went to #1 on the UK Pop chart in September 1981.
In 1989 the group, except for Dave Stewart, his spot being taken by keyboardist Sophia Domancich, briefly reunited for a series of live dates. Those performances were captured on Live 1990, released in 1993.
The band reunited again in the mid 2000s, with Alex Maguire replacing Sophia Domancich on keyboards. Touring in 2005 and 2006 found the band playing Mexico’s BajaProg festival and NEARfest in the United States.
Pip Pyle, at the age of 56, passed away on August 28, 2006 in a Paris hotel room shortly after returning from a Hatfield and the North show in Groningen, The Netherlands.
Hatfield And The North (CD, LP, MP3) (Virgin) 1973
The Rotters’ Club (CD, LP, MP3) (Virgin) 1975
Live 1990 (CD, MP3) (Code 90) 1993
Hatwise Choice: Archive Recordings 1973-1975, Volume 1 (CD) (Hatfield And The North Self-Released) 2005
Hattitude (CD) (Hatfield And The North Self-released) 2006
Singles & EPs:
Let’s Eat (Real Soon) (7″) (Virgin) 1974
Afters (CD, LP) (Virgin) 1980
“Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut” Virgin Collections 1973 ~ 1987 (4xCD) (Virgin Japan) 1988
“Let’s Eat (Real Soon)” Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era (5xCD) (Rhino Records) 1996
“Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut” Progressive Rock (CD, Digital) (ΠΟΠ + ΡΟΚ (Magazine, Virgin) 1997
“Mumps” The Best Prog Rock Album In The World… Ever! (3xCD) (Virgin, EMI) 2003
“Going For A Song” Progressive Rock Trilogy (3xCD) (Music Brokers) 2010
“The Yes No Interlude” Prog Rocks! (2xCD) (EMI) 2011
“Lounging There Trying” Classic Rock Presents PROG: Prog Rocks! (CD) (Classic Rock) 2011
“Fitter Stoke Has A Bath” Prog Rocks! Volume Two (2xCD) (EMI) 2012
“Fol De Rol” Prog Rocks! (Box + 5xCD) (EMI Import) 2013
“Halfway Between Heaven And Earth” The Underground Anthology (DVD-V) (Classic Rock Legends) 2003
The Rotters’ Club (1992)
Playing Time: 63:19
1. Share It (3:03)
2. Lounging There Trying (3:15)
3. (Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw (0:43)
4. Chaos at the Greasy Spoon (0:30)
5. The Yes No Interlude (7:01)
6. Fitter Stoke Has a Bath (7:33)
7. Didn’t Matter Anyway (3:33)
8. Underdub (4:02)
9. Mumps (20:31)
10. (Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw (Bonus Track) (0:43)
11. Chaos at the Greasy Spoon (Bonus Track) (0:20)
12. Halfway Between Heaven and Earth (Bonus Track) (6:07)
13. Oh, Len’s Nature (Bonus Track) (1:59)
14. Lying and Gracing (Bonus Track) (3:59)
Buy The Rotters’ Club from Amazon.com
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