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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover

THIRD

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 688 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

progismylife
4 stars Out-Bloody-Rageous!

This is the quintessential band from the classic Soft Machine line-up. This is the height of the Robert Wyatt era Soft Machine since he left after the next album and the band went on a more jazz rock fusion road than the avant free form jazz that can be heard here.

The first track starts out with some heavy experimental noise. But don't let that deter you. Once the noise bit has past (I personally find it enjoyable) it goes into a nice jazz tune with great playing from Hugh Hopper and Mike Ratledge here. Elton John's playing (saxophone and saxello) is superb as it is a perfect compliment to the organ and fuzz bass here. Around the 10 minute mark the song changes style (this is probably where the two live recordings that make up this track merge, a bit abruptly too). We are then treated to some great flute playing and a good continuation of the jazz theme that was present in the first half of this song, but toned down a bit.

Slightly All The Time, the next track, is a bit easier to handle than the first one. It is one of my favourite Soft Machine songs. It starts off with a great bass line from Hugh Hopper and we are soon greeted by the sound of saxophones. Elton Dean, Nick Evans, and Jimmy Hastings do a good job of creating a pleasant melody over the bass guitar and organ playing. This was one of the songs I dared to show my parents and they even liked it, maybe a better way of putting it is they could stand this one for the whole 18 minutes. Because of the intricate playing on this song, my parents felt "everyone was soloing at once." But that is not the case; it is just extremely well composed music.

Next comes my favourite track on the album, Moon in June. This is Robert Wyatt's main contribution to the album as he plays most of the instruments on this track and sings on here too. The vocals take some time to get used to, but once you do it is magnificent. The lyrics are in the typical Canterbury style, which is English humour. This is my favourite part of this record. That may have to do with the fact that for one week straight I played this song everyday, when I woke up, after lunch, and just before I went to sleep. The melody is quite nice but I think the focus is on Robert Wyatt's vocals. My favourite lyrics from here are these two sections:

The sun shines here all summer Its nice cause you can get quite brown Ah, but I miss the rain - ticky tacky ticky And I wish that I were home again - home again, home again...

And this before the next part of the song:

Just before we go on to the next part of our song Let's all make sure we've got the time Music-making still performs the normal functions - background noise for people scheming, seducing, revolting and teaching That's all right by me, don't think that I'm complaining After all, it's only leisure time, isn't it?

Then after the vocals the song goes into an instrumental piece that is reminiscent of the previous section, and it retains some of the heaviness of the first part of Facelift. It is rather enjoyable and the height of this album and retains that special Canterbury feel that I have learned to enjoy. There is one problem with this song. At around 16 minutes it feels like it is ending and then seems to drag on for another 3 minutes. This was very disappointing as I thought they could have come up wit ha more satisfying ending.

Finally the sounds of Out-Bloody-Rageous reach out from the speakers. It starts off quite, well, quiet. The wind instruments seam together to make a wall of psychedelic-like music. This continues for a few minutes before the rest of the band starts playing a highly enjoyable jazz number. Hugh Hopper plays some great tunes here on his bass and once again the wind instruments play a great melody over the piano and bass and drums. The opening piece of this song is reprised before the final end of the song.

Now the above description may sound appealing to you (I certainly hope it does) but be warned. This album does take some getting used to. Give it a week or two before making any rash decisions on the album, and certainly take a break between each song if you feel you need to. The music is supposed to be enjoyable (well it is to me) so don't make it a hassle to listen to.

Overall this album is a great album, and as I said at the beginning of this review, it is the quintessential Soft Machine album. It is highly enjoyable, but I do not think it is a masterpiece, for a few reasons. First the noise in the beginning of Facelift might not be enjoyable to lots of people, and second, the last two minutes of Moon in June seem to drag on for too much as if the band was trying to make the song as long as possible - which seemingly detracts from the last few minutes of the song, but not too much. This band is more the jazz rock side of the Canterbury scene and is a great addition to any album collection. 4/5 stars.

Hope you enjoy the music!

progismylife | 4/5 |

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