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Hatfield And The North: Access All Areas

On CD and DVD, a rare TV outing for the Canterbury legends.

The appearance of Hatfield And The North on a 1990 TV music show (Bedrock) came as much of a surprise to the band as it did to their fans, both at the time and in 1993, when this concert was first issued on CD.

The group, defunct since 1975, hastily reconvened, though without the participation of Dave Stewart. With Sophia Domancich providing keyboards instead, Pip Pyle, Phil Miller and Richard Sinclair blow the cobwebs off one or two old favourites while also grasping the unexpected invitation to tackle new material. Aside from Pyle’s penchant for smashing crockery on stage, even at their 70s peak, Hatfield weren’t an especially visual band, keeping their heads down by necessity in order to navigate the complexities of their music. On DVD they seem slightly ill at ease before the cameras, though any kind of footage of these players is a rarity and therefore welcome, no matter how circumspect. Miller is on especially good form, strangling notes while pulling suitably strangulated guitar-face expressions to match during a scorching rendition of Halfway Between Heaven And Earth. If there’s a criticism of this reconstituted quartet, it’s that they sound slightly tentative. Whereas Stewart’s keyboards rocked deep and hard into the material, the jazzier Domancich tends to skate across the surface, lending them a more ephemeral and tangential air. With only one day of rehearsals before the recording, it’s perhaps not surprising the line-up aren’t quite as played in as they might have wished. Buyer beware: although Underdub is listed on both the DVD and CD, it’s entirely absent from either disc, with the tail end of Shipwrecked being incorrectly indexed and mistitled. The video is the draw here, but best hang on to the first 1993 CD release in order to enjoy the full set as originally broadcast.