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The Soft Machine - Turns On Vol. 2 CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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2 stars I bought this album because it was recommended in OUT-BLOODY-RAGEOUS, Graham Bennett's invaluable Soft Machine biography. Neither the BBC nor the official recording studios ever did justice to the early Softs' exuberant sound, Bennett says, and he clearly has a point. TURNS ON VOL. 2 is an important historical document which actually captures the power trio of Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt live in their heyday, at their most vibrant and unhinged. If you love the Softs' debut album and VOLUME TWO (as I do) and if you think you KNEW the band but never heard them live (I never had, either) you owe it to yourself to give this a spin, at least once. You'll hear "A Certain Kind", "Lullaby Letter" and all those other psychedelic classics in incarnations you just couldn't imagine!

Whether you'll play this album more than once is a moot point, though. The whole damn thing sounds as if it was recorded on a tiny portable tape recorder, in a huge hall, with dozens of people chatting around the microphone, and with one or more HUGE BRICK WALLS between the tape recorder and the band! In other words: as an aural experience, this album's value is almost zilch. Most Canterbury freaks will find this music fascinating, but even to them I can only recommend the album with reservations.

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Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink

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