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The Canterbury Scene

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    The Canterbury Scene

    Inspired by a revisit to Camel by way of Snow Goose, Mirage and now Moonmadness as I type. This scene has always been referenced about bands like Hatfield and the North, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt. Even Camel, Caravan and Gong. Bands I've never really heard. Now over on prog archives, reading threads about the Canterbury Scene as a genre, many arguments for and against a band like Camel even bein' in the genre and not just in Symphonic Rock. Seems many bands swapped personnel and influences. It's all a bit murky.

    So you Brits with a deeper understanding and long fan ship can enlighten us about the history and claims. Seems it was a rich artistic scene by well educated people playing rich wry whimsical challenging beautiful music.

    For eg. Egg. No, that was just a joke, Joyce. Take Moonmadness. Great melodies. Flute. Synths. Piano. Vocalist is a bit non descipt and flat for me. Tho I may come to warm to his relaxed delivery. Great guitar and very Bruford like drumming. Most Yesfans would dig this band, methinks.

    So excited to explore the classic bands National Health, Egg, HatN, Gong, Robert Wyatt. All from this quiet SE corner of the UK. Experimental, jazzy, poetic dudes that never went mainstream but seemed to have created somethin'special. Under the Cathedral's shinin' spire...apologies to Ash if he already started a thread, had a look but couldn't find one.

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    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 04-06-2022, 09:04 PM.


    Soft Macine 1968

    With due deferance to a certified Canterbury Scene band. Robert Wyatt on drums and vox.
    Kevin Ayres on bass and vox. David Allen (an Aussie ) on guitar , Mike Ratledge on organ.

    Wow. Brave. Uncompromising psyche jazzy rock. Often compellin' and kooky. Musically muscular, the drums especially. Scat singin'. Strange lyrics. Far out, man. Was recorded in NY after they toured with Hendrix. The playin' is wild at times.

    Can't say I enjoyed the experience. Still compellin' out there sixties rock. Dudes doin' what they want. UFO regulars with the Floyd and others. Not my cup of chai, but intriguin'stuff. The " really got me bassline " is cool!

    Oh and Andy Summers soon joins followed later by Allan Holdsworth. Members come and go. The cathedral spires shone in the Spring sunshine.

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    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 04-07-2022, 03:37 PM.


      Was checking out National Health link on the other thread and liking it a bit. On a whim, decided to go to the only used CD store in my area to see if they had some Natoinal Health or Caravan, just killing time on a work night. Something I can listen to right away, something I don't have to wait for an Amazon delivery. Don't have too much Canterbury in my collection and probably wouldn't like every related thing released, but I could do with some Canterbury. Unfortunately, nothing. They didn't have them. So I ended up going home with Todd Rundgren's 'Acapella' (1985) instead.


        Thinkin' about the CS today and wonderin' why I'd never heard much of it as it is quite lauded, though quality varies . I read NME and MM back in the day and followed mostly the Big 5 and cool acts like Gabriel, Bowie, Bush. Radio didn't play CS acts and anyway there was no youtube to check stuff out. You had to buy actual records at sometimes high prices. Imports from UK etc.

        So wasn't on my radar. Would not have been able to buy a lot of it. There are loads of stuff like Nick Drake, Zappa, KC, Richard Thompson that I've never heard much of. Had a chance to rediscover Marillion recently via youtube.


          I guess compared to the most popular progressive rock bands of those days (Yes/Genesis/ELP/Tull/Floyd/Crimson), the Canterbury groups maybe were thought of as either second tier prog bands or niche/cult groups with more of a local following? The same could be said of bands like Nektar, Triumvirate, etc. The only one that crossed my radar was Camel, and they are usually regarded as not a 100% Canterbury band.

          Only heard about 'sub-genres' much later, and never really investigated too much of Canterbury stuff, but read about it all the time in rock/prog magazines. So much to listen to, so I never got around to exploring it completely. Instead, I usually went for stuff like Zappa, UK 'neo-prog', American new wave and German electronic/Kosmiche music and left the Canterbury pocket largely unexplored. I know the names but not much of the music. I like the jazziness of a lot of it.



            Another bona fide CS band. Mainly instrumental. Again uncompromisin' dark psych jazz rock. Intermittent choral or relaxed vocals. Quite intriguing music. Experimental. Freely expressive. Long solos. Drivin' rythms.

            Only made 2 albums. Again members come and go between other bands. So no ordinary songs, choruses, verses. Long jams with intriguing instrumentation.

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            Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 04-09-2022, 01:37 PM.


              Cool thread. Brilliant!
              Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
              Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip itโ€™s been.


                Inspired by all this mention of Canterbury bands on these threads, I went an ordered National Health (1st album) on Amazon yesterday and it actually came thru the mail slot today. Already listened to it and like it - whimsical and jazzy instrumentation, female vocals but no lyrics really, nice shimmery keyboards. Dave Stewart sounds great here, I know he played in Bruford's band in the late 70's and I believe he was in Hatfield & The North. I like his sound. Glad I bought it.


                  OK. Will checkout the National Health 2moz.

                  Been fun so far as it's out of my comfort zone Prog wise. It's more jazzy and free-form. No big choruses to sing. I gravitate to songs, ELO,YES,UK,Clannad, Genesis etc but I also like thrillin' instrumentation and you get that in spades. I go over to Progarchives for reviews and opinions. The Hoffman forum.

                  Now, at least at the pub when discussing the latest Prog release over a tankard of mead, I can casually drop in "Well, it's OK but it's not Hatfield and the North!" And the Pamela Progsnobs will nod along sagely. ๐Ÿ˜Ž
                  Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 04-09-2022, 08:48 PM.


                    Listening to a Caravan live BBC 1975 concert on YouTube...


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                      NATIONAL HEALTH

                      National Health 1978

                      Oooooo am diggin'this.

                      Beautiful music. The bass and drums drive like the first UK album. Not surprised Bruford was in this band briefly. The woman's voice is hypnotic and yeah, haven't a clue what she's singin'.

                      Keys and guitar are cool. Great tones.

                      Very Nevermore, the UK song. So another group with ex gilgamesh members. Dave Stewart. Steve Hillage joins later. So gotta say this and Camel are my CS faves so far.

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                      Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 04-10-2022, 03:44 PM.


                        I have been a huge Caravan fan for years. Was lucky enough to have seen them live twice back in the '70's. They put out a new release in late 2021 (called It's None Of Your Business) which I like quite a bit. ARW band member Lee Pomeroy was the guest bassist on the new album. Very good band, laid back, nice vocals, great musicianship, clever lyrics, song and album titles. They don't sound like any other band I know but while I have heard of all of the other Canterbury bands, I really don't know their music but I think I'll check them out now.

                        I have seven Caravan albums on vinyl released between 1970 and 1976. I kind of lost track of them after that but I see they put out seven more albums between 1977 and 2013. I also never bought or heard their first self-titled album that came out in 1968. Per Wikipedia, they also have a number of other live albums recorded over the years.
                        Caravan (band) - Wikipedia

                        The seven albums on vinyl that I have are:

                        If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You - 1970
                        In The Land of Grey and Pink - 1971
                        Waterloo Lily - 1972
                        For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night - 1973
                        Caravan and the New Symphonia (live album) - 1974
                        Cunning Stunts - 1975
                        Blind Dog at St. Dunstans - 1976


                          I take it Caravan and Soft Machine are the two most known Canterbury bands maybe? Members hoppin' around like frogs between bands.

                          I was also listening to some Hatfield & The North which was pleasing to the ear, with that jazzy electric piano/vibes sound. Might have to pick that up as well. Richard Sinclair features on that.


                            I must be missing something. I started listening to Hatfield and the North, following the mentions here, but didn't persist. On the other hand, I do have some Camel and Caravan albums, which I find fantastic. Not so familiar with other bands, though. I should put that right.


                              Even though many don't classify Camel as a canterbury band, I find them wonderful and delicious music for the soul. I'm due to listen to some Camels soon. Weather's finally starting to become spring-like here in Maryland, perfect time for some Camel. Rain Dances, maybe Mirage. I'll usually withhold 'Breathless' for some cozier evening w/ orangey skies and all. Enriches the soul. 'A Live Record' almost spoils the listener with great content, especially the expanded version with a yacht-load of extra tracks.