Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday's Playlist: The Canterbury Scene

This Friday we're zooming on Canterbury, a city in Kent, England and the birthplace of several of the most celebrated progressive rock bands of the late sixties/seventies. Bands like Caravan, Hatfield & the North, Soft Machine...

As always, the scene is a little less cohesive than the legend says, despite the fact that some of those bands shared several members. Egg sounds little like Kevin Ayers who has little in common with Robert Wyatt... except that all shared a love for jazz and a desire to push the "pop" idiom into something less formatted.

The term "progressive" has been much maligned and it still chafes some of the protagonists (some prefer "art-rock") but it has one great advantage: it helps establish the scene. We know we are talking about the sixties/seventies and we know we are talking about England.

And that is another thing that the Canterbury bands have in common: they are all quintessentially English. Even though some of the musicians come from different areas (Daevid Allen, for example, was Australian) there is a very strong Englishness that informs the compositions. Sometimes it's the sense of humour. Sometimes it's the pastoral quality that permeates the song. This music couldn't have come out of anywhere else.

As always, enjoy, comment and share!

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