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Soft Machine Legacy - Live Adventures CD (album) cover


Soft Machine Legacy

Canterbury Scene

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3 stars The new Soft Machine Legacy live album......

It is debatable if Soft Machine Legacy is a new band with ex Soft Machine members or a continuation of Soft Machine. It is my view that they are a new band. Where Soft Machine was very intense, Soft Machine Legacy has a far more laid back jazz sound. Their new live album proves my point.

The songs here are mostly Soft Machine standards, but slowed down a couple of notches. After a very slow start with Has Riff and Grapehound, this live album comes alive with Nodder. From there on, this live album is a good healthy fare of jazz rock. Mostly jazz, though. Facelift gets....... sorry the pun..... a facelift. The musicianship is great throughout, this band consisting of four of the best ever musicians to come from these shores. This live album also gives each of them plenty of spotlights in their solos. Hence, this live album is a pretty relaxed album and the quality is good throughout. Good but not barnstorming great.

This is a good live album and well worth checking out. I on the other hand prefer the more intense Soft Machine live albums to this album. But this live album is a great advert for Soft Machine Legacy and their upcoming gigs and tours.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#305545)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Although earlier releases by Soft Machine Legacy seemed to continue the music of parent band Soft Machine, 'Live Adventures' finds the band returning to a style that was popular just before Soft Machine decided to go jazz fusion back in 1970. This live CD is pure jazz rock the way it was invented by young Brits like John McLaughlin, Brian Auger, Ian Carr, Colloseum and Jack Bruce. Early jazz rock was rooted in the blues and hard bop, but was given heavier accents with electric guitars and Fender Rhodes pianos. A typical jazz rock song from this early era often matched a heavy blues-rock riff, played by a unison of saxophone and guitar, with a semi-free swingin hard bop beat. In America that style was picked up by Larry Coryell, Charles Lloyd and Jeremy Steig, but as more American veteran jazz musicians became involved, influences such as Latin jazz, funk, and popular African music led to jazz rock becoming fusion.

Although Soft Machine Legacy is invoking an earlier style here, this CD does not sound dated at all. Drummer John Marshall adds some nice subtle contemporary hip-hop swing to his beats, as well as some of that modern drum line approach in his snare fills. All three of the other members seem to have access to modern atmospheric digital effects that are used very sparingly and always in good taste. On 'The Relegation of Pluto', the combination of spacey echoed flute lines and ambient electronics recalls some of the quiet moments on Miles' 'Agharta' album. Other riff oriented albums that come to mind while listening to this include McLaughlin's 'Devotion' and 'Extrapolation', as well as Miles' 'Jack Johnson' and 'We want Miles'. Speaking of the classic British jazz rock sound, on "Aeolus', Legacy plays one of those heavy diminished scale sax-guitar riffs that were featured on tunes such as King Crimson's 'Pictures of a City'.

This is an excellent CD, classic jazz rock played with an updated sound and modern rhythms, one of the best jazz rock CDs I have heard in a long time. I know there are other people out there still playing this style, but they don't get it right, too much high speed playing and too many 'squeal' harmonics. Legacy has some things going for them that are missing from most modern jazz rock bands; a sense of moderation, a lot of soul, and most importantly, a disdain for 'flash'.

Report this review (#458607)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Soft Machine were formed in 1966, and have long been seen as one of the most influential of all of the 'Canterbury Scene'. Over the years they had quite a few musicians through their ranks, but by the early Eighties it appeared that it was finally over with everyone going their separate ways. However, in 2002, four former Soft Machine members - Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, John Marshall and Allan Holdsworth - toured and recorded under the name Soft Works. From late 2004 onwards, with John Etheridge replacing Holdsworth, they have toured and recorded as Soft Machine Legacy. Elton Dean passed away in February 2006, and the band continued with British saxophonist and flautist Theo Travis (formerly of Gong and The Tangent). In 2008 Hopper was sidelined by leukemia and the band continued live performances with Fred Baker, although following Hopper's death in 2009, the band announced that it would continue with Roy Babbington once again stepping into the role formerly held by Hopper, as he had done previously in 1973 after the release of 'Six'.

It is this line-up that was recorded at two dates in October 2009 that makes up this album. Apart from Theo, all of those involved had played and recorded with the Softs in the Seventies so what we have here is not some hackneyed tribute band, but one that is truly valid and able to bring the incredible jazz and fusion of the band's history back to life. These guys know the songs intimately, as well as each other, and the result is a seamless electric performance that will delight fans of any era of the band. They certainly progressed and changed over the years, yet they have refused to rest on the history and instead the vast majority of the songs are from 'Steam' with just a few such as 'Facelift' and 'Song of Aeolus' from the distant past.

My personal favourite is probably 'The Nodder' which contains a delicacy and control that is sublime, with John getting some wonderful notes out of his guitar. If you enjoy your fusion then this is very much for you.

Report this review (#912451)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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