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The Soft Machine - Live 1970 CD (album) cover

LIVE 1970

The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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2 stars There has been a lot of excellent live albums releases after Soft Machine was disbanded in the beginning of the 1980s.

This is not one of them.

This live album starts with a painfully bad bootleg quality extracts of Facelift and Moon In June with the Wyatt/Hopper/Dobson/Ratledge setup. My fingers is aching to push the "Stop" button. These 1/4 extracts of these two tracks is painful listening.

Thankfully, the sound picks up a bit with the next setup. It is the classic Wyatt/Hopper/Dean/ Ratledge setup and this should give good quality. The sound quality is still not acceptable compared with Noisette, Grides and Live At Henie Onstad Centre. All those three records are miles better than this one. This setup runs through songs from the Third/Four/Fifth era. Facelift is still given a bit bad treatment here and lacks some of it's vitality. The rest is OK, but nothing more. There are some sporadic glimpses of the greatness of Soft Machine throughout this album. But there are not enough of them to really impress me.

This is not a particular enjoyable Soft Machine live album. The sound is too bad and the dynamics of a great Soft Machine gig is missing here. The inclusion of those two opening tracks is simply not acceptable on an album bearing the name of Soft Machine. Hence my two stars.

2 stars

Report this review (#261109)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have always had a strong soft spot (no pun intended) for Soft Machine. Their unique playing style mixed with their use of my Avant Garde and more awkward structure gives them a feel like no other. Listening to all of their discography was a treat to go through, learning how their sound evolved more and more. It was definitely a fun experience. I figured that I should give them another spin for old times sakes. It's always good to hear one of your favorites play live is it not? A lot of times live material can improve an already great song ten folds, so when I saw the track listing for this album, I was pretty excited to get back into that weird Soft Machine groove. However, I was met with something quite, different instead.

Let's start with the positives first, it definitely feels like they are trying to improve on the songs found on their last 3 albums at the time, The Soft Machine, Volume 2, and Third. They play a lot more loudly, and they definitely sound more exciting. Not only that but the charm the songs have definitely do get increased a bit more compared to their studio version. Out-Bloody-Rageous definitely goes pretty strong especially I'd say, despite it being an excerpt. Not only that but I do like the new more jazz like interpretation of their older songs like Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging and Orange Skin Food, making these more bland to decent songs into much more intricate and almost beautiful at times.

However that is where I think the good stuff ends since this album, isn't really that good. One of the biggest things that stick out like a sore thumb is the production quality. The quality is not really that good, heck in the first two songs, the two excerpts of Facelift and Moon In June has some of the lowest quality I have heard in a live concert, and even for the 70s this is low. It does improve after that though, but I still hear some after feedback in the recording still. Not only that but they sound a bit too bombastic for my taste. It sometimes gets way to ear grating to where I was almost tempted to just skip the songs entirely.

We should also take note of the more shorter songs on the album. While they can be interesting, a lot of times they feel like filler, especially Pig and A Door Opens And Closes. Heck the filler can persist to more longer songs like the 11 minute version of Facelift and especially the reprisal of 10:30 Returns To The Bedroom. It's filler that is highly unnecessary, it's to where I wonder why they didn't just make it a live album of Third with a few extra songs like Hope for Happiness, We Did It Again, Dara Was Here, and or Hibou Anemone and Bear. A lot of it is very unnecessary and just makes me scratch my head.

I cannot say I like this album, though I do not loathe it. It is a unique and it does have it's moments, however it feels like the less than favorable aspects of this album out way a lot of the good stuff on the album. To me it's pretty mediocre.

Report this review (#2690429)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2022 | Review Permalink

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