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The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.97 | 665 ratings

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5 stars The beginning of so much...

A truly original, iconic album. Far better than the first Caravan album, this one really set the stage for the Canterbury scene that was to come (well, they both came from the Wilde Flowers, but that band hadn't released any album). The Softs were true innovators. I picked this up at a teenager without having heard any of the music or knowing what it sounded like, just on the basis of hearing that they played with Floyd at the UFO club. Of course, it doesn't sound anything like Floyd, but I really loved it, and then began searching out other Soft Machine albums. Every new album (and I picked them up almost in perfect sequence) was so different from the previous one. Although you can easily date this to the late 60s, and the sound quality is less than stellar, the music is so full of life, energy, and soul. Wyatt's vocals, even when out of tune, are so emotive, and very unique. Ditto for Kevin Ayers ultra-low vocals, and Ratledge's distorted rapid organ solos filled up the sound. "Hope for Happiness", the opener, is a classic summer-of-love anthem (so much so that Frank Zappa includes a reference to it in his own brilliant album 'We're Only In It for the Money'). The song "A Certain Kind", originally a Wilde Flowers tune, is very soulful, and "Why am I so Short?" is an iconic political statement. "Why are we Sleeping" helped Kevin Ayers forge a music career after he left the band, and he has a number of versions of this recorded (often under different names) on his own solo albums. Each of the songs here seagues into the other via impromptu improvisations, since they recorded this very quickly and so basically just played their set list in the studio. It flows seamlessly. The result is an album that is highly authentic and original, brimming with counter-culture energy, and containing the seeds of a world of great music to come. A fantastic document up there with the other great albums of the era (like Sgt. Pepper's, Are You Experienced, etc). I give this 9.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 5 PA stars.

Walkscore | 5/5 |


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