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The Soft Machine - British Tour '75 CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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4 stars I really enjoyed the live versions of pieces from "Softs" and also how well Etheridge handles the Hazard Profile pieces replacing Holdsworth. Very tight band. I will be reviewing this is an upcoming issue of Expose Magazine whom I write for regularly and also interview many Canterbury musicians including Etheridge, Marshall, Hopper of the new SM Legacy.

Sideburn is a pretty good solo from marshall and it compares to many of his other pieces from the era.

Jeff Melton Staff Writer,Expose Magazine Expose website:

Report this review (#50251)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3,5 stars

Following "Floating world live", here's another Soft machine live circa 1975, with fairly good sound quality. Featuring material from both "Bundles" and (future) "Softs", the record is long (73 minutes). This document proves one more time that the (second) Soft machine was still a major jazzrock band with impressive technical skills. Among others, an excellent version of "The Man Who Waved at Trains", a more atmospheric mood with "The Floating World" and a fifteen-minute closing jam, "Sign of Five".

Report this review (#131590)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Bundles Live: Etheridge's Version

When I came to ProgArchives looking for Soft Machine, I found they were in the Canterbury sub-genre(which I had no idea what type of music it was), having been this my first Soft Machine album and the only album I had then, I thought Canterbury was Jazz Fusion, so I bought Caravan albums and more of Soft Machine, I had a unexpected surprise that was that they really didn't sound like Jazz Rock, well that's going a bit far, but really nothing alike this album that's for sure. I then knew that Soft Machine had changed into a straight-forward Jazz Rock outfit with a guitarist in the mid 70's.

British Tour '75 represents Soft Machine in that phase, their Jazz Rock phase or you can also call it the ''Guitar'' phase of Soft Machine. With new guitarist John Etheridge replacing the unmatchable Allan Holdsworth which had just left after playing on Bundles, which John had admired and found difficulty to play his solos, yet in this album he shows that he's capable of it and even sounding unique. The only original member on this one being legendary Prog keyboardist, Mike Ratledge, which is now more of an additional musician rather than the leader of the band as he had been in the early days, since the keyboard role had been split between him and Karl Jenkins two years prior to this, but besides that, the songwriting department is mainly focused on Karl Jenkins' compositions .

Anyways back to the album, this live album compromises most of the Bundles album plus a jam called Sign of Five, some solo spots and future material from the up-coming album, Softs. The songs from Bundles feature improvements and some changes from the original, plus the fantastic live sound which adds a special atmosphere in which Bundles was lacking of. Also the fact that almost in it's entirety it barely features applauses from the audience and that each song flows directly to the other, is one big bonus. The solo spots on the other hand are a bit too extravagant and a bit noisy; JVH with excessive use of electronics, while Sideburn is another endless drum solo by John Marshall.

All in all, British Tour '75 is one splendid straight-forward Jazz Rock live record, in which if you're a fan of the genre you definitely must check this out since Soft Machine plays a very singular type of Jazz Rock not in the likes of Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra neither Weather Report. If you're a Soft Machine fan of the early more jazzy and spacey era, this might be a great entrance to the new sound Soft Machine have been developing already since the release of Six.

4 stars. Excellent addition to any Jazz Rock/Fusion collection.

Report this review (#199793)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This review is based on the sad fact that I have not had time to listen to Softs and Bundles in dept yet. This live album is my first in dept exposure to that material. I stil feel that I am able to review this live album.

I was recommended this album in my Soft Machine thread in PA and went ahead and purchased it. I love the Floating World album and it was a major positive that British Tour '75 album is from the same period. Although with a different guitarist. No Mr. Holdsworth, I am afraid. But that does not make any difference at all. This live album is a blast from start to finish. The music is The Soft Machine's take on jazz/fusion. In other words; not normal jazz/fusion. This band has always done their own thing in solid contempt for the rest of the music scene. This band also very much has their own sound. A sound which is impossible not to recognise from miles away. This is what makes this album so special. This and the superb sound quality. Which makes this live album a true gem and one of the better live albums out there.

The opening songs Bundles, Land Of The Bag Snake and Out Of Season really swings like only The Soft Machine at full flow is able to do. The Man Who Waved At Trains and JVH follows. The Floating World is an interlude before The Soft Machine weaves their magic wand again with Ban Ban Caliban, Sideburn and Hazard Profile. This is truly magical stuff. The last song Sign Of Five [Soft Machine] is a jam and shows this band from both their best and worst side.

I am pretty much a newbie in the world of The Soft Machine and I feel that I am being dragged further and further into their world. I am truly under the spell of their music. For me; this live album is feeding my appetite for this band. Besides of that; the sound quality is excellent and the band is at full flow. This is also the only recording with John Etheridge too. I would say this is one of the best prog rock live albums I have ever heard and that is why it deserves 4 stars.

4 stars

Report this review (#239068)
Posted Sunday, September 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Another killer live album from SOFT MACHINE.This one is from the "Bundles" tour but Holdsworth has just left unexpectantly and so we get John Etheridge on guitar. John was actually recommended to the band by Holdsworth and was hired after a short audition.Yes John can play. He relates in the liner notes : "The main challenge was to develope my stanima for soloing that I hadn't hitherto required.The "Bundles" album that we were promoting,contained some lengthy guitar features that needed to be reproduced live. We were not using guitar effects at the time, so there was no hiding behind talent- boosters !". The band is in amazing form here after doing a 30 date tour of Britain in the summer with Etheridge, they then went off to Europe in the Fall with seven other bands on the "Star Truckin" tour. Some of the bands included MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, CARAVAN and WISHBONE ASH. So by this time in October the band was a well oiled machine playing mostly cuts from the "Bundles" album but also a couple of tracks that would appear on their next record "Softs". It should be noted that the live album "Floating World Live" was from earlier this same year but with Holdsworth. Back then Jenkins was playing more aboe and sax,while here he's pretty much on the keyboards the whole time making this a dual keyboard band with Ratledge. As usual with this band most of the tracks blend into one another as they put their heads down and play.

"Bundles" opens with applause then the drums come in followed by a full sound. Man this sounds so amazing. "Land Of The Big Snake" continues with that same sound then a calm arrives 3 1/2 minutes in as it also blends into the next track "Out Of Season". It slowly picks up 1 1/2 minutes in then here we go ! Marshall is so impressive not only here but throughout this concert. It settles back 5 minutes in and blends into "The Man Who Waved At Trains. Is he the same guy who waves at the dots on the shore ? Great sounding song and it turns intense after 5 minutes.

"JVH" is experimental sounding almost like an Electronic band. It blends into "The Floating World" where it changes quickly to a laid back sound. "Ban-Ban Caliban" would show up on "Softs". Nice bass from Babbington before 3 minutes. Guitar comes to the fore around 5 1/2 minutes then it all settles back late to the applause of the crowd. "Sideburn" is Marshall's drum solo. "Hazard Profile" is divided into five parts as usual. Love the theme from NUCLEUS' "Song For The Bearded Lady" which was a Jenkins composition so he can use it. Just an incredible suite ! "Song Of Aeolus" would also be part of the future "Softs" record. Fantastic ! The encore track is the almost 15 minute "Sign Of Five" where Etheridge in particular shines.

If your a fan of "Bundles" or "Softs" you really need to check this album out.

Report this review (#325911)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink

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