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The Soft Machine - Grides CD (album) cover

GRIDES

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.41 | 59 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars Yet another pristine-sounding (or almost) live Soft Machine album from the impeccable Cuneiform label. Yet again!! The least we can say is that the market is flooded with live albums from the Machine, notwithstanding some of the awful craps being released by Voiceprint, and it becomes a bit of a problem choosing which live release you should have from Cuneiform. What could distinguish this album from the previous same (and most appreciated) line-up Machine? Well Cuneiform figured it out: they included a live DVD from the Radio Bremen back in early 71. So I will not spend much time discussing the live Cd as it is nothing special if you already own or two others. The sound is good (taken from Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in late 70) and the set is the "average one" they used to play back then. No this release would not have much to propose to the fan if it was not for the DVD.

I am not really aware if there are many films of Soft Machine's concerts, but this one (a bit too short for my appreciation) is splendid as we see these four musicians truly deliver a mesmerizing performance: although the jazz-rock fusion (with some free jazz in the opening track) is not always known for the groups playing tight and concise, I can tell you that the Machine smoked on that evening. It is a little funny for this writer, who had never seen any previous film footage of the group, to see that both fuzzy hairs Hopper and Dean were playing on one side of the stage and the other two straight hairs (Wyatt and Ratledge) occupied the other side of the stage. Anyway, this short DVD is essential to see how these guys functioned as a group and were incredibly tight. Particularly interesting is seeing how Dean and Ratledge shared the keyboards. And if you had doubts on Ratledge's virtuosity, this DVD should dispel it quite quickly.

Of course this release comes after a long list of other Machine live gigs, so the average fan is likely to have at least one other album, thus making this one a bit painful (as well as double use) to acquire. But if you have the "luck" of not having another live album, but wished for one, by all means walk, run, crawl or jump to your local favorite vendor and order it.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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