Soft Machine
Vols. 1 & 2
Third
Gong

Pop/Rock » Art-Rock/Experimental » Canterbury Scene

A fraternal collective of musicians clustered around the Kentish tourist town that is home to the Church of England's Archbishop, the Canterbury Scene provided the cradle for a half-dozen of the most freewheeling British bands of the post-psychedelic era. Though the direct musical similarities between Canterbury's major bands -- the Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hatfield & the North, Egg, National Health -- aren't overwhelming, each featured a clever synthesis of jazz improvisation and rock rhythms with clever, intellectual songwriting tied to psychedelia. It's no wonder the Canterbury bands became so close, since many of its major figures began their musical careers in a beat group called the Wilde Flowers. Together from 1963 to 1969, the Wilde Flowers included most of the figures who later formed Canterbury's two best bands, the Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers) and Caravan (Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Richard Coughlan). After both the Soft Machine and Caravan released their debut albums in 1968, they became popular in England's psychedelic underground. By the early '70s however, a series of fragmenting lineup changes and the subsequent formation of new bands soon multiplied the force of the Canterbury scene. Early Soft Machine member Daevid Allen formed Gong, and both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt eventually left the Softs to begin their own solo careers. The musicians that led the new incarnation of the Soft Machine, including Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, began pushing the band in the direction of instrumental jazz-rock. By the mid-'70s, many of the remaining Canterbury bands had progressed from psychedelic and prog-rock to embrace extended fusion jams with few lyrics. Many of Britain's better avant-garde or fusion musicians of the 1970s and '80s -- including Fred Frith, Allan Holdsworth, and Peter Blegvad -- also began their career playing in Canterbury bands.

Canterbury Scene Artists Highlights

Soft Machine
Soft Machine
Gong
Gong
Robert Wyatt
Robert Wyatt
Kevin Ayers
Kevin Ayers
Hugh Hopper
Hugh Hopper
Phil Miller
Phil Miller

More Canterbury Scene Artists

Canterbury Scene Album Highlights

Vols. 1 & 2
Soft Machine
Vols. 1 & 2
Third
Soft Machine
Third
French Gigs
Lol Coxhill / Fred Frith
French Gigs
Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt
Rock Bottom
Introducing Steve Hillage
Steve Hillage
Introducing Steve Hillage
Pre-Modern Wireless: The Peel Sessions 1971-1974
Gong
Pre-Modern Wireless: The ...

More Canterbury Scene Albums

Canterbury Scene Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
10:30 Returns to the Bedroom Soft Machine
Out-Bloody-Rageous Soft Machine
Sea Song Robert Wyatt
Activation Meditation/The Glorious Om Riff Steve Hillage
L' Auberge du Sanglier/A Hunting We Shall Go/Pengola/Backwards/A Hunting W Caravan
Low Levels, High Stakes Allan Holdsworth
You Can't Kill Me Gong
Why Are We Sleeping? Soft Machine
Hibou, Anemone and Bear Soft Machine
Virtually, Pt. 2 Soft Machine

More Canterbury Scene Songs

Other Styles in Art-Rock/Experimental