torsdag 3 november 2016

Hatfield and The North - The Rotters' Club (Prog. Rock UK 1975) (SHM-CD)

220:- (SHM-CD Limited Remaster Edition. Utgången utgåva sedan 2009. SHM-CD.)

Hatfield's second album's title prompted longtime fan and writer Jonathan Coe to name his best-known book The Rotters Club in describing what was a youth's life in the mid-70's in Birmingham's working class neighbourhood. An excellent book and a recommended read, but not affecting a single bit this album's music or existence, if only giving it a bit more of light. With a weird 50's-like pin-up decorum on the front cover and a crazy semi-mythical drawing/picture of the said Rotters Club on the back, the same unchanged quartet apparently made this "better" second album for a fraction of the cost of their debut album. Outside the returning of The Northettes vocal trio, two more Henry Cow members guest here ( Lindsey Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson), while Mont "Egg " Campbell and Bother Jimmy (Hastings) replaced Leigh and Bloomdido, all four on wind instruments..

Opening on one of Hatfield most conventional song, Share It, Sinclair plays around telling us please not to take it seriously, a fast tempoed tune ending on rather modern Moog sounds, as if Emerson was toying with them, but it is definitely Stewart's playing. Next up is Miller's jazzy Louging There, trying is a superb guitar-lead piece that is almost uncommon to hear him take such a frontman's role? But Phil is on a roll and he almost becomes bigger than Fripp with the Yes/No Interlude over a fuzzed organ and odd wind instruments first than a Fender Rhodes next. Fitter is back in his bath (remember the non-album single) and Sinclair closes the A-side on the superb Didn't Matter Anyway.

The flipside opens on Miller's Underdub, but this piece is a Fender Rhodes-dominated piece where Stewart adapts to Miller's constant key changes and Brother Jimmy chimes in with a superb flute. The other track on the flipside is the Mumps suite. Mumps!! We're there!! We've gotten to Hatfield's crowning achievement, their magnum opus, their meisterwerk uber alles! Starting over just a very calm and subdued Rhodes and distant Northettes choirs, then abruptly falling into a pit filled with tricky time sigs, demented drum patterns, wild fuzzed-out organ and a fantastic bass, able to tackle lead and rhythm at once. 

Miller is there too, but in the background, waiting for quieter moments (usually when Stewart reverts to the Rhodes) to shine in his own manner. The Northettes then lead us to the more Caravan-)esque moment of the two Hatfield album, even if it's clear than I should say Caravan-plus in this case. Solid, intense, but wait until the end of Lumps when everyone but Pip goes contrapuntal and Richard plays with the alphabet. A tad later Brother Jimmy gives up sax bumps down our spine into a fade-out. 

The group takes up again on a stunning Rhodes line, before cooling it up directly with Jimmy's flute and a cool moody almost spooky (but beautiful) jazz-rock that will slowly bring back the organ and the Caravan-plus of the previous movement?.this time with sax. Grandiose. A fitting exit for a short-lasting band

The bonus tracks on the Virgin re-issue are again a tad different than the ones of the newer Esoteric reissue, the first three on Virgin being modified, but the last two tracks being themes from Matching Mole with their titles being anagrams of their previous version. Rooters Cluc is simply an excellent album, whether looking just over the Kent county or overseeing the full prog spectrum. Not flawless, but bettering it would prove an impossible task.

01. Share It (3:02)
02. Lounging There Trying (3:10)
03. (Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw (0:46)
04. Chaos at the Greasy Spoon (0:30)
05. The Yes No Interlude (7:02)
06. Fitter Stoke has a Bath (7:38)
07. Didn't Matter Anyway (3:03)
08. Underdub (3:55)
09. Mumps (20:06)
a) Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (quiet) (1:59)
b) Lumps (12:35)
c) Prenut (3:55)

d) Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (loud) (1:37)

Bonus Tracks: Live versions of
10. Halfway Between Heaven And Earth 
11. Oh, Lens Nature!
12. Lything And Gracing