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The Soft Machine - British Tour '75 CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.81 | 32 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars. Another killer live album from SOFT MACHINE.This one is from the "Bundles" tour but Holdsworth has just left unexpectantly and so we get John Etheridge on guitar. John was actually recommended to the band by Holdsworth and was hired after a short audition.Yes John can play. He relates in the liner notes : "The main challenge was to develope my stanima for soloing that I hadn't hitherto required.The "Bundles" album that we were promoting,contained some lengthy guitar features that needed to be reproduced live. We were not using guitar effects at the time, so there was no hiding behind talent- boosters !". The band is in amazing form here after doing a 30 date tour of Britain in the summer with Etheridge, they then went off to Europe in the Fall with seven other bands on the "Star Truckin" tour. Some of the bands included MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, CARAVAN and WISHBONE ASH. So by this time in October the band was a well oiled machine playing mostly cuts from the "Bundles" album but also a couple of tracks that would appear on their next record "Softs". It should be noted that the live album "Floating World Live" was from earlier this same year but with Holdsworth. Back then Jenkins was playing more aboe and sax,while here he's pretty much on the keyboards the whole time making this a dual keyboard band with Ratledge. As usual with this band most of the tracks blend into one another as they put their heads down and play.

"Bundles" opens with applause then the drums come in followed by a full sound. Man this sounds so amazing. "Land Of The Big Snake" continues with that same sound then a calm arrives 3 1/2 minutes in as it also blends into the next track "Out Of Season". It slowly picks up 1 1/2 minutes in then here we go ! Marshall is so impressive not only here but throughout this concert. It settles back 5 minutes in and blends into "The Man Who Waved At Trains. Is he the same guy who waves at the dots on the shore ? Great sounding song and it turns intense after 5 minutes.

"JVH" is experimental sounding almost like an Electronic band. It blends into "The Floating World" where it changes quickly to a laid back sound. "Ban-Ban Caliban" would show up on "Softs". Nice bass from Babbington before 3 minutes. Guitar comes to the fore around 5 1/2 minutes then it all settles back late to the applause of the crowd. "Sideburn" is Marshall's drum solo. "Hazard Profile" is divided into five parts as usual. Love the theme from NUCLEUS' "Song For The Bearded Lady" which was a Jenkins composition so he can use it. Just an incredible suite ! "Song Of Aeolus" would also be part of the future "Softs" record. Fantastic ! The encore track is the almost 15 minute "Sign Of Five" where Etheridge in particular shines.

If your a fan of "Bundles" or "Softs" you really need to check this album out.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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