Formed in 1973 from members of Canterbury prog rockers Caravan, Delivery and Egg, Hatfield And The North (their full name was taken from the A1 motorway signs in North London) married whimsy to musical contrivance in a similar way to British jazz-rockers Nucleus and Soft Machine with bassist/vocalist Richard Sinclair’s Estuary accent aping the lugubrious tones of Robert Wyatt.
Their self-titled 1974 debut album veered largely into lyrical self-referentiality, while on their 1975 LP, The Rotters’ Club, they achieved an elastic rock whose highlights – The Yes/No Interlude and Mumps – meandered down pathways later explored by the likes of Tortoise.
The album charted very briefly in the UK, but Richard Branson lost a fortune on the record so the second album, The Rotters’ Club, was made in Worthing for just a grand. The band called it a day shortly thereafter.
Most of the band resurfaced in a band called National Health while Richard Sinclair joined Camel and returned to Caravan for a time.
The Hatfields re-formed for a series of gigs in 1989-1990 with the original line-up, minus Dave Stewart whose place was taken by Sophia Domanich. A live album, Live 1990, was released in 1993 to commemorate the event.