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The Soft Machine - Middle Earth Masters CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

2.63 | 23 ratings

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2 stars The Middle Earth Masters CD presents concert exerpts from 1967 & 1968 from two Middle Earth shows. The CD is released on Cuneiforme and produced by Michael King who had also mastered the original tapes. The original recordings were made by the famous Bob Woolford, who had taped a lot of concerts in the 60's with his homemade reel to reel machine. So far so good for the mythological side of the 60's ! Back then electric amplification, miking and recording of amplified sounds were in the heydays and most mikes weren't made to deal with such a high sound level not to speak about the voluntary distortion. The main part of the tracks (eight out of eleven) come from the 1968 show and apart from some (few) quiet passages the tracks are completely distorted. Michael King explains his procedures to clean up the source tapes and explains the bad quality of the mikes and his limits to get rid of the distortion in the liner notes. The overall sound is overly distorted and hard to listen to. The vocal parts are so low in the mix, that you can hardly hear Ayers and Wyatt singing. Mike King had already participated on the BBC/Hux Soft Machine 1967-1971 2CD release with five tracks from the same period, recorded in the BBC studios. Four of these five compositions are also on the Cuneiforme release, but the BBC tracks are far superior in audio quality. Two tracks are unreleased, Bossa Nova Express a composition by Kevin Ayers and Disorganisation a composition by Mike Ratledge. The two 1968 tracks have slightly better quality and the last track A Certain Kind is the same as on the BBC/HUX release. There is a short hidden track 12, with some band conversation.

Seen that there exists already live material from this period with Wyatt, Ayers and Ratledge in much better quality and that the two unreleased tracks are only mildly interesting, the bad audio quality makes this CD a collectors only item. BTW the photos on the cover and in the booklett are exatly the same as the one in the BBC/HUX release.

Alucard | 2/5 |


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