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The Soft Machine - Face And Place Vol. 7 (also called Jet Propelled Photographs and At The Beginning) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.18 | 19 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

No this is not the ''real'' first SOFT MACHINE album as they are a bunch of demos, mostly recorded live in a studio by the great producer GIORGIO GOMELSKI back then one year before the release of the official first album.Nevertheless, this is an interesting audio document giving us the possibility to finally hear the original band featuring DAEVID ALLEN on guitar. Of course, ROBERT WYATT, MIKE RATLEDGE and KEVIN AYERS complete the line-up.

I have never seen a definitive edition release of this album as i think there are as many covers designs or titles as there are countries in the world. Usually, this recording is named JET-PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPH in many places, sometimes it has no name or just THE SOFT MACHINE. As for the cover designs , that might be the most lousy woks i have ever seen.! My american edition shows the band, yes but with the line-up of.....SIX with KARL JENKINS! I own also a French copy which our friend ELTON DEAN gracing the cover!!!!

Also depending where you live, the song order might differ greatly from my edition! It would be nice if some original members of the band gather together one day and worked on a definitive edition of this album, but i am not sure who owns these demos anyway! But i would like to see that with more tracks such as LOVE MAKES SWEET MUSIC and others which were released as singles, but never made it on an album until they were featured on the great TRIPLE ECHO, a 3 LPs best-of boxset that was released many, many years later.....and is out of print now, anyway!

There are 9 songs, mostly short in the 2-3 mns range, some sort of psychedelic pop songs in the same vein a man named SYD BARRETT was composing at the same time for another young underground band named PINK FLOYD. They all dominated by the voice of ROBERT WYATT with its already recognizable distinct sound. Curiously, KEVIN AYERS, even as the composer of 3 tracks on this album, just joins WYATT for one track JET-PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPH.

There is only one 'challenging' song here, the longest one, the 7:27 mn I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN very psychedelic with a rather long freaky solo guitar from DAEVID ALLEN reminding me some stuff the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE was doing at the same time followed by yes, a no less freaky drum solo from ROBERT WYATT.This is actually the only song where you really notice the work of ALLEN.

MIKE RATLEDGE just add in the background haunting organ soundscapes and doesn't participate really as there are absolutely no writing credits from him. Curiously, HUGH HOPPER who was still only a roadie for the band back then came up with 3 songs for this album including the sweet melancholic ballad MEMORIES, DAEVID ALLEN would cover again on his solo album per-GONG BANANAMOON.

There are really no original tracks you haven't heard before as a lot of them will wind up on their next official releases. 2 of them, yes 2 THAT'S HOW MUCH I NEED YOU NOW and YOU DON'T REMEMBER will be used for the writing of the fantastic MOON IN JUNE from THIRD. JET PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPH will be re-recorded by KEVIN AYERS on his solo album SHOOTING AT THE MOON. SAVE YOURSELF will be featured on their debut album as well as some parts of I SHOULD'VE KNOWN.

This album is an excellent listening but nothing as great as their first 3 albums; this is still a young, rough sounding band full of talent and creativity whose high potential would only be reached with the debut album one year later, then VOLUME TWO and THIRD. Of course, it's a must- have for all SOFT MACHINE fans as it give them a chance to hear finally DAEVID ALLEN playing with the band. An historic document from the past of a great band. But i am still waiting for a better, more complete release, more ''official''.


febus | 3/5 |


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