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The Canterbury Scene

A brief guide to one of prog's most important movements. The Canterbury scene was a movement that emerged in the late 1960's from the city of Canterbury in Kent, England. The Canterbury sound was primarily influnced by jazz fusion and 60's psychedelic rock.

Arguably the album that started it all, Caravan's debut may not match up to the two albums which followed, which are now regarded as Canterbury classics, but it remains one of the scene's most historically importnat albums.
2Soft Machine
The Soft Machine

Along with Caravan, Soft Machine helped pioneer the movement. Their first two albums are largely different in style to their later releases, having more of a psychedelic rock influence than the more jazz flavoured albums that followed.

Much like early Soft Machine, Arzachel were primarily a psychedelic rock band. The band provides a key part of the history of the scene, not least because it introduced the world to guitarist Steve Hillage, who would go in to be one of the leading musicians in the Canterbury movement.
4Kevin Ayers
Joy of a Toy

Kevin Ayers was originally a member of Soft Machine but left to embark on a solo career following the band's debut. This was likely one of the causes of the band's slight change in style. Joy of a Toy, his first solo album, doesn't depart too much from the sound of Soft Machine's debut, sounding typical of the sound of the scene's early days.

Egg were formed by former members of Arzachel. Their sound was a mix of the scene's typical jazz and psych influnced sound and the more symphonic style of band's like The Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
6Soft Machine

The first of Soft Machine's more jazz-fusion based material and one of the scene's most highly regarded albums.
If I Could Do it All Over Again...

A big step up from their debut, If I Could Do it All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (to give it it's full title) features some of the band's best known songs including the title track and the two longer pieces, 'And I Wish I Were Stoned/Don't Worry' and 'Can't Be Long Now/Francoise/For Richard/Warlock'
8Kevin Ayers
Shooting at the Moon

A lot more experimental that his debut, Ayers' second solo album saw him incorporate different influences into the Canterbury sound such as Avant-Garde and even Hard Rock.
In the Land of Grey and Pink

Perhaps the most well known Canterbury album, In the Land of Grey and Pink defined the Canterbury sound with it's gentle and upbeat melodies combined with excellent jazz influnced musicianship.
Space Shanty

Formed by Steve Hillage follwing the collapse of one album wonders Arzachel, Khan incorporated space rock influnces into the Canterbury sound, something that would remain in most of Hillage's work throughout the 70's.
Flying Teapot

Gong were undoubtedly one of the most unique bands of the movement, with a sound that leaned heavily towards psychedelia. Flying Teapot was effectively the band's breakthrought album and the first to feature guitarist Steve Hillage. The album singalled the start of a trilgoy of albums called the the Radio Gnome trilogy, which was completed the excellent Angel's Egg and You albums.
12Hatfield and the North
Hatfield and the North

Hatfield and the North were a supergroup of sorts featuring members of Gong and Caravan and not suprisingly their sound defined the Canterbury style.
13Robert Wyatt
Rock Bottom

One of the most unique albums from the Canterbury Scene, Robert Wyatt's second solo album was released shortly after he sufferred a life changing accident in which he lost the use of his legs, and remains the most emotional album the former Soft Machine man ever made.

One of the more overlooked Canterbury albums, Gilgamesh emerged towards the second half of the movement's heyday, their debut is an excellent jazz flavoured album that features some very impressive musicianship.
15Steve Hillage
Fish Rising

Steve Hillage's first solo album was released while he was still a member of Gong. The album remains arguably the highlight of his solo career.
16National Health
Of Queues and Cures

National Health arrived fairly late on the scene but still managed to release two genre defining albums, this, their second album, being the best of the two.
17Steve Hillage

Hillage's fourth solo album, released in 1978, signalled the end of his contributions to the Canterbury scene, bosting a more modern and electronic approach, something that Hillage would build on for his next album, Rainbow Dome Musick. By this time the scene's heyday was more or less over.
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