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The Soft Machine - The Untouchable Collection (1975-78) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.23 | 7 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Castle cobbled together a solid collection from SOFT MACHINE's Harvest catalog -- Bundles, Softs and Alive and Well -- for the double-album compilation "The Untouchable" (aka "The Collection"). By the time SOFT MACHINE had signed to Harvest, much of the band's original strangeness had departed (along with their original members), but they were still a formidable fusion outfit. Led by original keyboardist MIKE RATLEDGE and relative newcomer KARL JENKINS, the band lays down some impressive grooves punctuated by solos from Jenkins and guitarists ALLAN HOLDSWORTH and JOHN ETHERIDGE. The five-part "Hazard Profiles" (from Bundles) is excellent, at times invoking the pent-up power of KING CRIMSON (circa "Starless and Bible Black"). Ratledge's lone contributions to this collection, "The Man Who Waved at Trains" and "Peff", feature some equally frenzied music. At times, SOFT MACHINE's mix of steady riffs and dizzying solos is mesmerizing, as on "One Over the Eight" and "Huffin." But the band is equally capable of creating subdued settings; Jenkins' "Song of Aeolus" and "Soft Space" are fine examples of this. If the compositions occasionally evade recollection, the solos do not: JOHN MARSHALL's percussive interludes and John Etheridge's awe-inspiring guitar work are highlights (the two even share the spotlight for a rare guitar-drum solo on "Camden Tandem").

Altogether, "The Untouchable" is a nice sampler from the band's later days, and proof that the band was still a breeding ground for good ideas and great playing until the end.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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