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Hatfield And the North - Hatwise Choice (Volume I)

Hatfield And the North - Hatwise Choice (Volume I)Few bands are loved in quite the same way as 'The Hatfields'. From the first gig in January 1973 to the end in 1975, and with only two studio albums to their name, Hatfield And The North captured audience's imagination with their humour, occasional silliness, serious and seriously good music, all bundled together in what can only be described as quintessential 'Englishness'.

Of course, Phil Miller, Pip Pyle, Richard Sinclair and Dave Stewart were experienced musicians prior to The Hatfields, with bands such as Delivery, Caravan, Egg and Matching Mole, so had immediate credibility.

So what is Hatwise Choice all about? No doubt aware of the continued popularity of the long defunct band and renewed interest following the one-off concert recorded in Central Television's east Midlands studio in the early 90's, they finally decided to dust off those old unreleased (mostly live) recordings and BBC radio broadcasts (thanks to John Peel, Gawd bless him!) and release this collection.  Packaged in a CD sized digi-pack with extensive sleeve notes recalling the band members' memories, the booklet includes a foreword by acclaimed British author, Jonathan Coe, which will echo to some degree the experience and memories of many of us who embarked on the heady journey of progressive rock back in the 70's.

Many of the tunes on this disc will be familiar to Hatfield fans though the (naturally amusing) titles and lyrics may not; The band often 'altered' songs for a performance and, presumably, aired new ideas prior to recording an album so the studio albums are the polished articles.  Around half the tracks on Hatwise Choice are live recordings made at various gigs, the other half being extracts from BBC radio sessions, except for one track, 'K Licks' which was a demo made prior to the recoding of the first album.

From the catchy melody and delicate whimsy of Absolutely Wholesome (which could easily have been from Caravan's Back To Front album) to the scrumptious complexity of Thanks Mont! and the mind boggling of Amsterdamage 11/19, one thing is very clear - the band were in their element when performing live.

Sure, I suspect that the younger generation may comment that the sound is dated, but nobody can deny that the music is as fresh today as it was back then.

The question many people are asking is, is the band reforming and will there be a new studio album?  Well, the band minus Dave Stewart will be performing at London's Mean Fiddler on 18th March 2005 but all the chaps are involved in various projects these days so it is extremely unlikely that the original foursome would reform. Besides which, the essence of Hatfield And The North is a happy memory that we can return to at our leisure.

The good news is that this CD has the tag 'Volume I' which would imply that there is more archive material to come in the not too distant future.

(To purchase this CD, click on the Burning Shed link below.)

Jem Jedrzejewski

Hatfield And The North

Burning Shed

Phil Miller

Dave Stewart

Pip Pyle

Richard Sinclair



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