Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Soft Machine Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) album cover
3.84 | 54 ratings | 9 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Live, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Floating World (4:52)
2. Bundles (4:53)
3. Land Of The Bag Snake (5:07)
4. Ealing Comedy (6:08)
5. The Man Who Waved At Trains (4:56)
6. Peff (6:29)
7. North Point (4:05)
8. Hazard Profile Part One (4:49)
9. J.S.M. (10:13)
10. Riff III (8:42)
11. Song Of Aeolus (4:16)
12. Endgame(6:39)
13. Penny Hitch [Coda] (2:40)

Total Time: 73:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / electric guitar, violin
- Mike Ratledge / Lowrey organ, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers
- Karl Jenkins / oboe, soprano saxophone, recorder, electric & acoustic piano
- Roy Babbington / electric bass guitar
- John Marshall / drums, percussion

Releases information

CD Moonjune Records #: MJR007 (2006)
Recorded live on Radio Bremen, in Bremen Germany, on 29th January 1975. Machine perform material from "Bundles", with some improvisational and solo

MoonJune Records (, Cat No. MJR007 (released date 21st March 2006). Also released by Musea Records in Europe 10th April 2006, under cat no.: FGBG4651

Thanks to dick heath for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE SOFT MACHINE Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) Music

THE SOFT MACHINE Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prognut
4 stars OK Kids!! I have found the best buy for me in 2006 (darn! and is just 3 months into 2006). It is as good as last year "Hatwise Choice" archival release!! If not better. I got finally "Bundles" on a CD format, a few months ago from an e-bay auction, almost impossible to get in some other form. And I was, wishing to hear these guys live during that era. This is a gift from the Gods!! A fantastic archival release for Soft Machine fans. 73 minutes of just heaven, Bundles live performance and lots of improvs. I do not know how many copies they made, but guys you better hurry! Since I will get a second copy right now!!!

Sorry if I do not get into the music of the release, but I do not want to spoil the surprise..... Amazing stuff, you have to hear to believe! Absolutely essential!!! 4.99 Stars just because is a live set!

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3,5 stars

A stunning live album from 1975 -Bundles era-, with good sound quality. Soft machine shows here a more electric side than usual, with Allan Holdsworth exhibiting his talents through fantastic guitar solos, both virtuoso and expressive. While listening to this record, I was thinking that Soft machine was still one of the very best jazz-rock bands at the time. It's extremely technical without being too cold.

Review by VanderGraafKommandöh
4 stars This is the classic and short lived "Bundles" lineup of Soft Machine, featuring three former members of Canterbury-related jazz rock/fusion band Nucleus (John Marshall, Karl Jenkins and Roy Babbington) and the wonderful talents of the effervescent former Tempest and 'Igginbottom guitarist, Allan Holdsworth.

The highlight of this live set - recorded in Bremen, Germany in 1975, to an appreciative and seemingly laid-back audience - is Allan Holdsworth's guitar and violin playing. Of course, he is naturally complimented in great style and aplomb, by the rest of the band, including veteran Softs member Mike Ratledge on Synth, Lowery and Fender Rhodes.

We have classic tracks here, such as Bundles, Hazard Profile Part 1 (but not the other parts, alas, due to a commercial break in the radio broadcast) and The Man Who Waved At Trains, as well as a few more improvised cuts, such as Ealing Comedy - a wonderful piece consisting of Roy Babbington playing an enigmatic bass solo - and J.S.M. which is a 10 minute plus drum solo by John Marshall (hence the track title). Another highlight is Riff III, where Holdsworth once more steals the limelight with his wonderful searing guitar work that gets a welcome round of applause. The highlight track for me though is Land of the Bag Snake, where Holdsworth takes over precedings and plays an amazing solo full of every trick he knows.

Holdsworth even brings out his violin (he is no slouch with this instrument either) on The Man Who Waved at Trains, which is another favourite of mine and which is a totally reworked version to the guitar and sax orientated version on "Bundles" (which is much shorter too) and "B.B.C. Radio 1971-1974". A slower piece, featuring the rolling bass of Roy Babbington and later on, the sax and oboe of Karl Jenkins which segues into Peff (a rare sax and oboe solo outing for Jenkins).

Every member has their turn for soloing. As mentioned, Babbington and Marshall have tracks to themselves and Holdsworth has many great moments on both violin (only on the one track) and guitar throughout. Karl Jenkins is not Elton Dean, but he is still a wonderful player and he shines on Peff and adds some piano on many pieces, including Song of Aeolus (an early version of the track from "Softs", with John Etheridge, rather than Holdsworth). Ratledge himself has an enticing solo on North Point (compare this to the BBC Radio 1971-1974 version).

Compositionally speaking, this lineup of Soft Machine were at their best. Jenkins and Ratledge working together, made a huge difference to the sound. Gone was the free-jazz of Hopper and Dean and instead, it was replaced by excellent and tightly played compositional tracks, which in many respects digress from the jazz realm (e.g. The Floating World). Both Jenkins and Ratledge would abandon jazz music later in their careers and this era of Soft Machine is quite possibly where they started to change their style. Jenkins also started to play the saxophone and oboe a lot less and subsequently became a keyboard player instead. Holdsworth took over the solo duties on guitar, whilst Jenkins and Ratledge preferred to compose and virtually abandoned soloing on their instruments.

This is an album for all Holdsworth, Nucleus and late-era Soft Machine fans, as well as anyone who appreciates wonderful jazz/fusion guitar playing. This is not anything like the original (and still wonderful and eclectic) early Soft Machine with Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean, but some would arguably say this was their finest lineup, especially in terms of their jazz fusion period and I probably would agree with them. Alas, Holdsworth only stayed with Soft Machine for a short time and only played on one studio album "Bundles" and was replaced by John Etheridge. However, Holdsworth can also be found on the second disc of Soft Machine's "B.B.C. Radio 1971-1974" release, as well as numerous solo albums and guest work with such jazz luminaries as Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke and even Derek Sherinian.

For me, this is an essential live album and I only wish there were more Soft Machine live albums featuring Allan Holdsworth.

4 stars from me.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spirited performance by the legendary jazz-rock platform, an animal that always seemed more interested in making music than crafting art. This radio broadcast from 1975 can have a jam session feel but the material is so good and the players so skilled that it becomes more, and it marked yet another transformation for the chameleon group, this time touring the 'Bundles' album with Allan Holdsworth on guitar and violin. There are a few inconsistencies; the bass is a bit prominent in the mix and Mike Ratledge's keys a bit low, and a couple solos go too long... but hey, it was 1975. For the most part Ratledge, Jenkins, Marshall, Babbington and Holdsworth do a bang-up job kicking out melodic, warm and weighty jazz-rock, doing the thirteen tracks real justice and outplaying their colder, high-brow peers in Fusion. 'The Floating World' is a smoker as is 'Bundles'. 'Ealing Comedy' stretches on a bit but 'The Man Who Waved at Trains' sports a rare violin solo from Holdsworth, 'Peff' rocks long and jazzes hard at 6 1/2 minutes, and 'North Point' bubbles with electronic explorations and ping-pong soundgames while staying musical. It opens into the high-power and pulsing grooves of 'Hazard Profile', a smashing cut that is sadly incomplete due to a poorly-timed radio commercial break. The fluid drums and Chinese percussives in 'J.S.M.' next, followed by the aptly named 'Riff lll', an eight-minute spontaneity. Holdsworth accents with guitar perfectly, not having fully honed his signature style yet but still beyond most axmen of the day. And the rhythm section of Marshall/Babbington does an admirable job holding the whole show together. 'Song of Aeolus' laments nicely and 'Endgame' bops something fierce. If you can get past the brown sound and low-key attitude, this is a great set of English jazz-rock by the band that more or less invented it.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is the first release of a live performance from the "Bundles" lineup featuring Allan Holdsworth. The "Bundles" album was finished but not yet released when they did this live radio broadcast for "Bremen" in The Netherlands. Quite a big difference in the sound of SOFT MACHINE from "Seven" to this one. Obviously Allan Holdsworth has a lot to do with that as his guitar is very prominant in the mix here. There is so much great information in the liner notes from interviews held at that time with the different band members. Roy Babbington had this to say about Holdsworth : "Allan blew the pants off anybody.There was nobody to touch him. You had to be around at the time to suffer the shock of hearing him". One of the roadies also relates a story about going down to the CBS studios where they were mixing the "Bundles" album. He went into the men's restroom at one point and : "As I walked in, Allan was standing in front of the wall mirror over the wash basins, playing his guitar at blinding speed. My first reaction to myself was : "What a wanker, he's posing in front of the mirror !". Afterwards, when I went back into the studio to hear the mixdown, and I actually heard what Allan was playing on "Hazard Profile", my jaw dropped ! I then realized that he hadn't been posing in the bathroom, he was practising scales and modes backwards in the mirror, to make the boredom of practising more interesting !" Allan would leave after the "Bundles" release to join TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME band, an offer he felt he coudn't turn down at the time. I can attest that Holdsworth is absolutely incredible on that record too, it's called "Believe It !".

"The Floating World" opens with spacey keys as flute joins in. Bass before 3 minutes then electric piano arrives followed by drums. A lot of dual keyboards on this one from Jenkins and Ratledge. An apt title as this one is very spacey and atmospheric. "Bundles" opens with prominant guitar and drumming. Keys come in and bass as they lead for a while. It's the amazing guitar and drums though that stand out on this one. Allan is just ripping it up here. Great tune ! It blends into "Land Of The Bag Snake" where this similar sound continues. It settles after 3 1/2 minutes. "Ealing Comedy" opens with a bass solo that continues almost throughout. Some fuzz here too. Spacey keys, bass and drums end it as it blends into "The Man Who Waved At Trains". Holdsworth comes in with his violin on this tune and gets an ovation when he's finished.

"Peff" is more uptempo with keys, bass, aboe and drums standing out, although aboe leads the way here. Deep bass 4 minutes in as it settles.The aboe stops to applause late. Take a bow Karl Jenkins ! "North Point" is basically a Ratledge solo that sounds like your listening to a video game. Not a fan at all. "Hazard Profile (Part One)" is another gem with a fairly heavy soundscape. Love the guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes. "J.S.M." is over 10 minutes of Marshall giving us a drum solo. Like the Ratledge solo this is a disappointment.10 minutes ! "Riff III" is led by drums and bass early. Keys and guitar come in. A good rhythm here. Love when the guitar starts to solo over top. Fantastic tune. "Song Of Aeolus" opens with piano then some beautiful guitar joins in. Some distorted keys after 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar returns. "Endgame" features Holdsworth just ripping it up after Marshall finishes beating the hell out of his drumkit. "Penny Hitch (Coda)" is fairly laid back with flute a minute in. Liquid keys 2 minutes in. Some noise late though.

Apart from the two songs that feature the synth and drum solos this is pure bliss for me. Just a pleasure to hear how good this lineup was live.

Review by Warthur
4 stars This live performance by Soft Machine took place after the studio sessions for Bundles, but before that album came out; Allan Holdsworth is still with the band, and the setlist is very much focused on material from that album plus additional improvisations, rather than delving to any great depth into the band's back catalogue - a symptom, perhaps, of their radically reconfigured musical direction, with Holdsworth's guitar being brought to the fore.

To my ears, there's only one real clunker here, and that's JSM - a drum solo from John Marshall which manages to be everything everyone dislikes about 1970s drum solos. Sure, sure, it's technically adept, but it's fairly soulless stuff, a demonstration of dextrous proficiency without any compositional substance behind it, and it drags on for ten horrid minutes. Trim it off and you'd have four and a half stars easy, because the rest of this absolutely cooks - as it is, it's at the low end of the four star range.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This live album is basically Bundles played live. Hence my four stars. I rate Bundles very highly and this live album is therefore essential in my record collection. I have probably been listening to this album too much because I really find it so enjoyable. The Bundles line-up also plays on ... (read more)

Report this review (#251544) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars OK, OK...I understand why people like this record. Especially fans of the Holdsworth era of the Softs...or just Holdsworth fans in general. Personally, I found it difficult to get through the entire record. I can't say that it's bad...musically, it's quite good! The sound quality is pretty nic ... (read more)

Report this review (#173570) | Posted by themootbooxle | Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my favorite period of Soft Machine (which frequently puts me in the minority among my colleagues), I'm a huge prog/jazz fusion fan, and Allan Holdsworth is one of my favorite guitarists. Unfortunately, this cd does not live up to much of the hype associated with it. Do not buy this cd ... (read more)

Report this review (#125669) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THE SOFT MACHINE "Floating World Live (Bremen 1975)"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.