The unique and hugely influential Canterbury music scene of the 60s and 70s

Originally published at: The unique and hugely influential Canterbury music scene of the 60s and 70s | Boing Boing


Whoa, dang went straight to a acid flash back, stop it BB, needs a pre warning thingy…


Worth it for the opening minute alone, just to confirm that you can be renowned as a prog-god and still make noodly “tweedly-tweedly-wah” noises, just as any normal person would when describing a bit if music.


Good name for a band. Really.


I spent so much time in “high” school (70-80’s) smoking hash and listening to Soft Machine, like it was a sacrament. That was my go-to soundtrack for the start of a sesh, that usually wended it’s way through Genesis, Pink Floyd and more esoteric fare like The Residents and Zappa.


In addition to the musicianship and fascinating composition, what I most love is how happy the music is. You can’t listen and stay depressed.

My favorite musicians among them: Dave Stewart, keyboards, Richard Sinclair, vocals and guitar (I think), and Pip Pyle, drums. Pyle has passed on, alas.

For a CD collection, Dave Stewart redid The Collapso from National Health and changed the name to The Apocalypso. I like the latter better.


Welcome to BoingBoing!


Robert Wyatt seems like a good bloke.


I love Robert Wyatt. Not gonna lie I’ve been dreading bad news for years and inevitably thinking “oh I was just listening to him the other week” because I will always have been just listening to him recently.

Doesn’t mention above but Matching Mole was his band when he was kicked out of Soft Machine (it sounded like Machine Molle for some French gigs) for the kind of alcohol abuse that led to his disabling accident. Find any interview you can of him also. He’s always great, whether it be on his disability, why he joined the particular communist group he did, or whatever. Just a great guy. And despite having retired some years ago he recently turned up on a Mary Halvorson record.


Anyone here have recommendations on which album(s) to start with for someone just beginning to dip their toes in the Canterbury scene?
Are there any worthwhile anthology albums related to the scene?


Not often that I get a chance to share a bit of first hand info on Boing Boing but here goes.

As a storied and aging sound guy I was on the road with Caravan back in the late 90’s. The late Richard Coughlan, a truly unique and verbal drummer gifted me with the moniker "Cool Hand’, not sadly for my resolve under pressure bit because I was often first to the beer fridge in the green room. I also managed to lock the band in a lift at The Cavern Club for half an hour, as you do.

I would recommend checking out Jim Leveron, the current bass player for Caravan. Fat Mattress are more psychedelic band but cut from similar cloth. Noel Redding was the lead guitarist.

I also worked with Hugh Hopper from Soft Machine. A genuine artist who stayed with his musical ‘ethos’ and was driven by anything but the ‘industry’. I miss him a lot.

That’s enough name dropping. Gonna listen to The Land of Grey and Pink and get my hand cool. Good times!


Edit. Virtuoso rather than verbal, though Richard was both :smiley:

i was just commenting to a friend the other day how i’m constantly amazed to come across new posts from younger writers talking about music i’ve loved for 50 years…


I don’t really think of Henry Cow as being part of that scene; they were from Cambridge not Canterbury, they also had an edge that the standard Canterbury groups didn’t have.

The best album Egg ever did might be the early one-off psych exploito LP they did with Steve Hillage.


I’d suggest anything by Caravan, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, but that’s because they are just some of my favorite bands. :grinning:


Agree. You mention Egg – nice stuff! One of Dave Stewart’s first bands.


Most people think that “In The Land of Grey And Pink” Is Caravan’s best LP.

The first Soft Machine LP is seminal. By their 4th LP they were doing kind of average experimental jazz. The 1st Hatfield and the North LP is also a fan favorite.

I don’t usually think of Gong as a Canterbury band because they were formed in France, even if Daevid Allen was in the original Soft Machine, but the first several Gong LPs are all great, “You” is a masterpiece of space jazz freakout nuttery with really flashy but tasteful guitar shredding from Steve Hillage.

(Full disclosure-- I’m not really a fan of that scene in general, I have listened to and owned a lot of the LPs but I don’t find I come back to them often. There’s something very “twee” about the sound on studio recordings that I think probably came off better live in a club.)


It’s an interesting decision to put Miles as the background music in the last few minutes of this.

Thanks very much for the suggestions, folks.

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Dave Stewart was also in a band led by Bill Bruford, called, interestingly, “Bruford.” I don’t know if you’d call it Canterbury, but again great music. Stewart did a lot of the composition. My favorite album is “One Of A Kind.” E.G.