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The Soft Machine - Grides CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.41 | 58 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

There have been by now so many new releases of SOFT MACHINE live recordings these last years that it is getting very difficult for the fan to choose which one to buy as many of them come from the same period.Unless you are a SOFT junkie, you don't want to buy all of them as there are quite a few similarities between them . Even me, i don't buy all those recordings though i own all their studio CDs and some live as well . How many more versions of FACELIFT or EAMON ANDREWS can you have? You've got to draw the line somewhere.

What makes me get GRIDES is like for a lot of other people, the inclusion of a DVD. Not that everyday you can have the chance to view (and better to own) a concert from the 'classic'' line up. Allright, the DVD is not very long, only lasting 25 mns! but that's better than nothing, right? and that didn't make the price of the set more expensive anyway.

We had in the past many live releases of this line-up RATLEDGE-WYATT-HOPPER-DEAN on great CDs such as NOISETTE, BACKWARDS, SPACED and a few more, but this one GRIDES is a good one as well, especially now that we have also a DVD. This concert was performed in the autumn of 1970 in AMSTERDAM after the release of THIRD. SOFT MACHINE was very big in continental Europe and were touring France, Belgium and the Netherlands many times a year being in such great demand.

This document showcases one more time the declining role of ROBERT WYATT whose voice is completely shut down, except for a vocal improvisation on the DVD.On their next album to come FOURTH, WYATT would perform only exclusively as a drummer leading next to his departure.The tracks including on this album are taken from THIRD , FOURTH, even one from FIFTH. ELTON DEAN adds another one, he would eventually release on a solo album NEO-CALIBAN GRIDES , a track i could live without, just an experimental free jazz tune going nowhere, better than his own FLETCHER'S BLEMISH on FOURTH.But that's easy as nothing else can be as bad as this FLETCHER thing.

Most of the THIRD tracks are shortened versions of the album but are vey lively, full of energy and the band sounds very tight.Once again, the king of the show is keyboardist MIKE RATLEDGE whose electric piano and organ playing has to be listened religiously. Even the 2 tunes taken out of the cold FOURTH sound better on GRIDES as HOPPER does a great job with his fuzz bass to warm up the place.However, TEETH and VIRTUALLY have not become instant masterpieces yet, but that's better than the studio versions.

Another great live recording of this band at this time of their career allowing us to follow their progression through the ages from KEVIN AYERS to KARL JENKINS. But i don't think i need another SOFT MACHINE live recording from 1970-1971 in my collection after this one . I think i have an idea by now how they sounded, don't you think so?

I would give 3 stars for the CD, but because of the additional DVD which is a rarity, that makes GRIDES an album to be owned by any SOFT MACHINE aficionado. But that's still not easy listening music, oh no!!! Be warned!!!


febus | 4/5 |


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