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The Soft Machine - The Untouchable Collection (1975-78) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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3 stars Castle cobbled together a solid collection from SOFT MACHINE's Harvest catalog -- Bundles, Softs and Alive and Well -- for the double-album compilation "The Untouchable" (aka "The Collection"). By the time SOFT MACHINE had signed to Harvest, much of the band's original strangeness had departed (along with their original members), but they were still a formidable fusion outfit. Led by original keyboardist MIKE RATLEDGE and relative newcomer KARL JENKINS, the band lays down some impressive grooves punctuated by solos from Jenkins and guitarists ALLAN HOLDSWORTH and JOHN ETHERIDGE. The five-part "Hazard Profiles" (from Bundles) is excellent, at times invoking the pent-up power of KING CRIMSON (circa "Starless and Bible Black"). Ratledge's lone contributions to this collection, "The Man Who Waved at Trains" and "Peff", feature some equally frenzied music. At times, SOFT MACHINE's mix of steady riffs and dizzying solos is mesmerizing, as on "One Over the Eight" and "Huffin." But the band is equally capable of creating subdued settings; Jenkins' "Song of Aeolus" and "Soft Space" are fine examples of this. If the compositions occasionally evade recollection, the solos do not: JOHN MARSHALL's percussive interludes and John Etheridge's awe-inspiring guitar work are highlights (the two even share the spotlight for a rare guitar-drum solo on "Camden Tandem").

Altogether, "The Untouchable" is a nice sampler from the band's later days, and proof that the band was still a breeding ground for good ideas and great playing until the end.

Report this review (#22142)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a good compilation but the only reason I gave it four stars because some snogs are better then others,and this cd didn't have some of the good ones, like One Over The Eight and Etika. But Untouchable features the whole Hazard Profile and most of Softs. Soft Space is shorted about two mintues,and the album has most of Marshall solos which can get somewhat boring. I wish they took out Peff,Four Gongs and songs and some others to make room for Land of Bagsnakes,The Floating World and Tales of Tansien. You should get this album or The Harvest Years to have the best of both worlds. But still an addtion to and colletion.
Report this review (#38294)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This compilation album covers the three studio albums Bundles, Softs and Alive & Well. The latter one is actually a studio album although it was recorded as a live album by the dead broke band who by this time had been ripped off so many times by gigs promoters (in Italy) that they could no longer afford the studio costs. All is described in the Graham Bennett bio on Soft Machine.

All the Hazards pieces is here and most of Softs. The glaring omissions is though the best three Soft Machine songs from this period; Bundles, Floating World and The Tale of Taliesien. Why omitt these songs ? I am speechless......... Besides of those omissions, this compilation album is a good compilation album which sums up the band which now also included the likes of Allan Holdsworth. Soft Machine anno Bundles and Softs was a totally different band than the band who released the masterpiece Third. Not to mention the band that once included Daevid Allen. And thankfully; a different entity than the one who released Rubber Riff.

Song Of Aeolus is the best song here, but the rest of the songs are good too. Besides of the glaring, incomprehensive omissions of the excellent songs mentioned above, this is a good compilation album.

3 stars

Report this review (#464508)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permalink

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