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The Soft Machine - Fifth [Aka: 5] CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.36 | 234 ratings

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3 stars When after release of Fourth founding Soft Machine member Robert Wyatt gone unhappy with too jazzy band's direction,he was replaced soon by Elton Dean's collaborator Australian jazz drummer Phil Howard.Band played with new drummer on tour (the live material was released by Moonjune Records in 2009 as "Drop" album)and started to record Fifth album.

Phil Howard was capable but egocentric free-jazz influenced drummer (you can hear all his drumming pros and cons on above mentioned "Drop" live album in full),bringing serious improvisational element to band's music.Hoper and Ratledge were unhappy with such trend and fired Howard somewhere in between of Fifth recording sessions.As a result, first three songs on an album are recorded with Howard (all side A of original vinyl release), and all other songs - with new drummer John Marshall, recruited during recording sessions.

Musically album continues pure jazz fusion direction of Fourth,with two serious differences. First, Ratledge uses generally Fender Electric piano on all album instead of organ of previous releases,as a result all sound is more smooth and jazzy-relaxed.Second,there are plenty of free form sax soloing of Elton Dean on this albums,obviously influenced by electric period of Miles Davis.Album in whole sounds more relaxed and classically jazz fusion than any previous band's work. I prefer three first compositions with Howard on drums - his more complex and free-form drumming brings some adventure in sound, Marshall's work is competent,but too predictable.

Really competent jazz fusion album,but not of the highest Soft Machine standard's level.My rating is 3+.

snobb | 3/5 |


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