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The Soft Machine - BBC - Radio 1967 - 1971 CD (album) cover

BBC - RADIO 1967 - 1971

The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.07 | 39 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars An excellent compilation of Peel Sessions from the Robert Wyatt era of Soft Machine (and a more complete one than the "Peel Sessions" release from 1990). The sessions range from a 1967 one featuring Kevin Ayers, from before the group's debut album even came out, to a session from June of 1971 - recorded a mere month before Wyatt quit over the group's refusal to allow his whimsical musical ideas and his vocal contributions to make a return to the band's sound.

A particularly interesting transition is the one between the first session and the second - from Strangest Scene to Facelift - in which time the group transitioned from Canterburyish psychedelia to fully-fledged fusion. What's even more interesting is that this session took place in June of 1969 - a mere three months after the recording of the Live at the Paradiso 1969 album, which showcases a sound still in line with that of Volume Two. The session makes it clear that the transition from psychedelia to fusion took place extremely suddenly - within the space of three months or so - making it particularly startling how good the 1969 session sounds.

In addition to the scorching live-in-the-studio performances here showcased, there's also a few rarities - for example, a version of Instant Pussy as a solo Wyatt song (the piece would later be reimagined in a free jazz-ish spacey instrumental version by Wyatt's next band, Matching Mole), and an early rendition of Moon in June with modified lyrics praising the BBC's facilities and giving shoutouts to Pink Floyd and Caravan.

As a whole, this double album set is a fine compilation, which will be of interest both to fans of the band and to anyone interested in the group's work - if you want a taster of the full range of the band's sound from the debut to Four, this is a great sampler which, unlike a conventional compilation, won't end up redundant if you go on to buy the original studio albums.

Warthur | 5/5 |


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