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The Soft Machine - Softs CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.89 | 259 ratings

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Squire Jaco
4 stars There were primarily two albums from Soft Machine that really interested me: "Bundles" from 1975, and "Softs" from 1976. Despite the departure of Allan Holdsworth and Mike Ratledge after "Bundles", the quality of the compositions and playing on "Softs" continues to impress as much as its predecessor. Both albums are 4-1/2 stars.

Critics of this album often compare it to elevator music or light jazz. Listen up: forced to suffer through endless hours of listening to Muzak as a security guard during my summer job in my college days (the late 70's), I feel supremely qualified to quash that hideous "light jazz" accusation! (Don't get me humming the clarinet version of "Penny Lane" again! Aarrgh!!!)

To be sure, this is not the aggressive, "Look what I can do" jazz/rock fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra, U.K., some Brand X, or other contemporaries of the band. There is a dreamier atmosphere that pervades "Bundles" and "Softs"; but that background is supplemented with catchy bass riffs, searing and soaring guitar solos, great drumming, and interesting melodies interspersed with some great jamming. Actually, if you combined the pre-Brand X "Marscape" album with Camel's "The Snow Goose", you'd have a pretty good idea of the sound of "Softs".

I realize I'm kind of reviewing both albums here, but "Bundles" and "Softs" really are kindred albums that bookend a unique phase of Soft Machine. They share a similar feel and scope between them, while still managing to differentiate themselves with new melodies and perspectives.

These are very good, interesting, entertaining and - dare I say - ESSENTIAL albums for the serious progressive rock/jazz fusion aficionado.

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |


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