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The Soft Machine - Fifth [Aka: 5] CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.36 | 234 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

After the disappointing FOURTH ,ROBERT WYATT has definitely left the SOFT buliding and would be replaced by PHIL HOWARD on drums who won't last too long due to personal incompabilities with the boss MIKE RATLEDGE as he played only on the first side of the album. Another NUCLEUS ex-member will join the band with JOHN MARSHALL a very talented drummer who will stay with the band until the end. Another look-alike serious college professor with a moustache!! Long time ago the groupies of KEVIN AYERS are no longer around.

What we have on FIFTH is somehow a little bit different that what we had to endure with its predecessor, as this album is a little more energetic than FOURTH. Not that there is anything new as we are deep into this avant guard/jazz feel , but the music is a little bit more inspired -in its own style.

When i listen to the opener ALL WHITE, i wonder if this album FIFTH had any influence on the jazz musicians who will be part of the ECM label a few years later. This is very moody, very dark jazz , very cold some would say well in the manner saxophonist JAN GARBAREK or guitarist TERJE RYPDAL would play later on.ALL WHITE or the HOPPER penned'' M C'' sounds like coming from a GARBAREK album.

If you like this ECM european jazz school, you will love this album; this is very athmospheric,very sad music for a winterish bleak scenery, but that can be majestic like on the wonderful AS IF, a nice RATLEDGE 8mn trip with a beautiful and moving performance from the double acoustic bass of future SOFT MACHINE bassist ROY BABBINGTON who is once again guesting on this album.

As i said there is no real warmth through this recording as the black simple cover design matches perfectly with the sound of the music. But the compositions are way more inspired than on FOURTH. DROP and PIGLING BAND are 2 MIKE RATLEDGE up-beat with great themes and wonderful inspired saxo playing by ELTON DEAN.

Even ELTON DEAN penned a better tune than his horrible FLETCHER'S BLEMISH from FOURTH for this album. The very, very moody melancholic BONE with DEAN playing a sad sounding saxello only accompanied with cymbals and depressing synth noises in the background.A very nice tune, indeed !This is no ''WHY AM I SO SHORT'' anymore by any means.

Last remark: I don't know what was written in the contract of KARL JENKINS when he joined the band, but starting already with FIFTH, he is getting the privilege of ''composing'' a drum solo in all future SOFT MACHINE releases, so we have here a not so great 1mn 54 MARSHALL performance named LBO ....with many more to come!

FIFTH didn't bring any new fans to the band, maybe even losing more of the old ones, but that doesn't mean it's a bad album. If you like contemporary old europe sounding dark Jazz, this is an album to consider and i am sure to enjoy!

If you only live by SUPPERS' READY, please move on! this is definitely not for you! Not an important album in the SOFT MACHINE discography , but a pleasant one ....if you are in the mood, a very dark mood!!


febus | 3/5 |


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