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The Soft Machine Grides album cover
4.41 | 67 ratings | 8 reviews | 48% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

First Set (Concertgebouw, 25-10-70) - 79:12
1. Facelift (6:59)
2. Virtually (15:34)
3. Out-Bloody-Rageous (8:12)
4. Neo-Caliban Grides (10:12)
Second Set (Concertgebouw, 25-10-70)
5. Teeth (8:03)
6. Slightly All The Time (10:34)
7. Eamonn Andrews (1:36)
8. Ester's Nose Job (11:22)
Encore (Concertgebouw, 25-10-70)
9. Slightly All The Time/Noisette (6:43)

DVD (Beat Club, recording made 23rd March 1971) - 20:36
1. Neo-Caliban Grides (5:16)
2. Out-Bloody-Rageous (6:57)
3. Robert Wyatt's Vocal Improvisation (2:22)
4. Eamonn Andrews (1:36)
5. All White (4:25)

Total Time: 99:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Elton Dean / alto saxophone, saxello, electric piano
- Hugh Hopper / electric bass
- Mike Ratledge / electric piano, organ
- Robert Wyatt / drums, voice

Releases information

CD/DVD Cuneiform Records RUNE230/231
A double: CD and DVD, of the first jazz rock fusion line-up of the Softs in performance, respectively at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands on 25th October 1970, and a TV performance for Radio Bremen's TV Series Beat Club, in their TV Studios in Bremen 23rd March 1971.

Aymeric Leroy (yet again) provides the excellent liner notes.

Thanks to Dick heath for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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THE SOFT MACHINE Grides ratings distribution

(67 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(48%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Grides reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dick Heath
5 stars I've said it before: where do they (and particularly Cuneiform Records), keep finding these excellent live recordings of Soft Machine? It seems each subsequently released live recording is better than the previous! Most recently we were offered two separate CDs of 1975 recordings with both their line-ups in very good form and the recordings of the very best quality, i.e. 'Floating Worlds' with a revitalised Machine and Holdsworth full integrated made, in early 1975, and the Nottingham University Rag gig from November 1975 (i.e. 'British Tour'). With the latest, 'Grides' disinterred from the archives we slip further back in time to a pair of recordings of the original jazz rock fusion line-up of the Softs, made in 1970 and 1971 on CD and DVD respectively. And WOW!

The CD provides the full performance heard from the stage of the Netherlands' Concertgbouw in 1970, about 6 months after the release of Third. And then the real rarity, DVD footage of Machine playing to the TV cameras of Radio Bremen for a Beat Club session in early 1971. It is rare that I give any "new" album 5 stars immediately upon release; there is a personally need to savour the music and see if it stands thet test of time. However, one advantage here is that the tunes are familiar, while of importance most clearly the arrangements, improv and the playing is as good you'll hear on record from the joint-company of Wyatt, Ratledge, Hopper and Dean. Listening to the CD right through, with speakers loud, I found myself joining the Dutch audience from 35 years ago, applauding at the end of 80 minutes of a well oiled Machine in action, at its productive best - hey the last time I applauded like that was at the cinema when Ben Hur won the chariot race...... And of course on the second DVD disc, we have a very long last moving pictures of Soft Machine to own - surely pushing the whole to 5 and half stars!!

Music on 'Grides' comes from 'Volume 2' (significantly jazzier versions of selected elements of Ester's Nose Job), 'Third' , 'Fourth' and 'Fifth' (okay All White is found on 'Six' too), plus the old work horse of live performance(and now live recordings) Eamonn Andrews. All four musicians are up for the gig (cf. 'Floating Worlds' where Ratledge seemed to have merged into the background). Robert Wyatt skitters around the drumkit (reminding me of the suggestion, in the nicest way, of being Elvin Jones crossed with Ringo Starr), one moment rock musician the next swinging. Hugh Hopper's bass is both the expected understated instrument (but you would miss it if it wasn't there), and then on a number of occasions the nominate voice, changing the direction of the band and out there in front. Ratledge's keyboard work is amongst the best (if not the best), I've heard from him. It reminds me that his playing skills, a great ability to improv, and also move the band in explosively different directions, was never matched by those more famous prog keyboardists who never risked major changes from concert to concert. However, this CD is a monument to the (prematurely) late Elton Dean. Who needs a guitarist with Dean fronting the band with such energy and ideas? Saxello and alto sax work are scintillating, while his interplay with Ratledge here is at the peak of the two playing together.

Aymeric Leroy again provides the liner notes. And I must admit I'm chuffed that he reiterates and confirms what I've been writing from a very long time, wrt to the independent and equally important directions American and British jazz rock took around 1970, with Miles Davis and Soft Machine respectively.

'Grides' is most surely for all those people who reckon 'Third' is their favourite Soft Machine or Canterbury scene album.

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Yet another pristine-sounding (or almost) live Soft Machine album from the impeccable Cuneiform label. Yet again!! The least we can say is that the market is flooded with live albums from the Machine, notwithstanding some of the awful craps being released by Voiceprint, and it becomes a bit of a problem choosing which live release you should have from Cuneiform. What could distinguish this album from the previous same (and most appreciated) line-up Machine? Well Cuneiform figured it out: they included a live DVD from the Radio Bremen back in early 71. So I will not spend much time discussing the live Cd as it is nothing special if you already own or two others. The sound is good (taken from Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in late 70) and the set is the "average one" they used to play back then. No this release would not have much to propose to the fan if it was not for the DVD.

I am not really aware if there are many films of Soft Machine's concerts, but this one (a bit too short for my appreciation) is splendid as we see these four musicians truly deliver a mesmerizing performance: although the jazz-rock fusion (with some free jazz in the opening track) is not always known for the groups playing tight and concise, I can tell you that the Machine smoked on that evening. It is a little funny for this writer, who had never seen any previous film footage of the group, to see that both fuzzy hairs Hopper and Dean were playing on one side of the stage and the other two straight hairs (Wyatt and Ratledge) occupied the other side of the stage. Anyway, this short DVD is essential to see how these guys functioned as a group and were incredibly tight. Particularly interesting is seeing how Dean and Ratledge shared the keyboards. And if you had doubts on Ratledge's virtuosity, this DVD should dispel it quite quickly.

Of course this release comes after a long list of other Machine live gigs, so the average fan is likely to have at least one other album, thus making this one a bit painful (as well as double use) to acquire. But if you have the "luck" of not having another live album, but wished for one, by all means walk, run, crawl or jump to your local favorite vendor and order it.

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4,5 stars

A fine offering from the excellent "Cuneiform" label which combines an excellent CD, -a 1970 concert with superb sound quality- and a fantastic DVD. The concert CD shows the band at its peak, the performance is excellent and the sound is awesome, perfectly balanced and with a superb presence.

The DVD is a 1971 performance filmed in multi-camera at the German TV. The band is still at its peak, and features Wyatt. The sound is as good as the CD, and the picture quality is fantastic as well! Moreover, some psychedelic effects are displayed in the background, and it becomes even more impressive with the very intense Wyatt singing part. An absolute must-have at all levels; this movie is just 20 minutes of heaven for any Soft machine fan.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

There have been by now so many new releases of SOFT MACHINE live recordings these last years that it is getting very difficult for the fan to choose which one to buy as many of them come from the same period.Unless you are a SOFT junkie, you don't want to buy all of them as there are quite a few similarities between them . Even me, i don't buy all those recordings though i own all their studio CDs and some live as well . How many more versions of FACELIFT or EAMON ANDREWS can you have? You've got to draw the line somewhere.

What makes me get GRIDES is like for a lot of other people, the inclusion of a DVD. Not that everyday you can have the chance to view (and better to own) a concert from the 'classic'' line up. Allright, the DVD is not very long, only lasting 25 mns! but that's better than nothing, right? and that didn't make the price of the set more expensive anyway.

We had in the past many live releases of this line-up RATLEDGE-WYATT-HOPPER-DEAN on great CDs such as NOISETTE, BACKWARDS, SPACED and a few more, but this one GRIDES is a good one as well, especially now that we have also a DVD. This concert was performed in the autumn of 1970 in AMSTERDAM after the release of THIRD. SOFT MACHINE was very big in continental Europe and were touring France, Belgium and the Netherlands many times a year being in such great demand.

This document showcases one more time the declining role of ROBERT WYATT whose voice is completely shut down, except for a vocal improvisation on the DVD.On their next album to come FOURTH, WYATT would perform only exclusively as a drummer leading next to his departure.The tracks including on this album are taken from THIRD , FOURTH, even one from FIFTH. ELTON DEAN adds another one, he would eventually release on a solo album NEO-CALIBAN GRIDES , a track i could live without, just an experimental free jazz tune going nowhere, better than his own FLETCHER'S BLEMISH on FOURTH.But that's easy as nothing else can be as bad as this FLETCHER thing.

Most of the THIRD tracks are shortened versions of the album but are vey lively, full of energy and the band sounds very tight.Once again, the king of the show is keyboardist MIKE RATLEDGE whose electric piano and organ playing has to be listened religiously. Even the 2 tunes taken out of the cold FOURTH sound better on GRIDES as HOPPER does a great job with his fuzz bass to warm up the place.However, TEETH and VIRTUALLY have not become instant masterpieces yet, but that's better than the studio versions.

Another great live recording of this band at this time of their career allowing us to follow their progression through the ages from KEVIN AYERS to KARL JENKINS. But i don't think i need another SOFT MACHINE live recording from 1970-1971 in my collection after this one . I think i have an idea by now how they sounded, don't you think so?

I would give 3 stars for the CD, but because of the additional DVD which is a rarity, that makes GRIDES an album to be owned by any SOFT MACHINE aficionado. But that's still not easy listening music, oh no!!! Be warned!!!


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I dedicate this review to the legendary Hugh Hopper.

This live recording took place in Amsterdam on October 25th 1970. This is the classic SOFT MACHINE lineup of Hopper, Ratledge, Dean and Wyatt. They had actually taken a break from the recording studio where they were recording "Fourth" to do a mini tour. The songs here are pretty much all from "Third" and "Fourth", although the songs from "Fourth" will sound different from the studio versions because they really weren't completed as yet. The accompanying DVD is like the holy grail for SOFT MACHINE fans because there just isn't any other video of this lineup that has been released yet. And while it may be only 20 minutes long it still gives me goosebumps to see these legends play. I'm just going to focus on the cd for this review.

The first set begins with "Facelift" and check out the fuzz to open ! It settles quickly though with piano, drums and sax while Hugh's bass throbs along. Wyatt really impresses me here. A fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in and Ratledge is on fire ! Wyatt is relentless while Dean adds some piano here. Sax after 6 minutes as it starts to wind down. Each of the songs during this first set blend into one another. "Virtuality" features lazy sax melodies as Hopper plays tastefully. Here we go 3 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up and the sound gets fuller. This continues until around 8 1/2 minutes when it settles as Wyatt and Hopper continue. Sax and fuzz before 11 minutes. It's pretty laid back the rest of the way as sax and fuzz continue. Some nasty fuzz to end it. "Out-Bloody-Rageous" is more uptempo and jazzy with Dean leading the way until Ratledge comes in around a minute. Elton takes over 3 1/2 minutes in. "Neo-Caliban Grides" is a Dean track from the "Fourth" sessions that was left off that album. It's a little experimental early as sounds come and go. The main melody arrives around 2 minutes. Again Wyatt is so impressive. The melody stops and we get some wicked fuzz 6 minutes in. Chunky bass after 6 1/2 minutes. Dissonant sax and odd metered drumming to end it. Applause ends the first set.

The second set begins with "Teeth" which is sax led for a minute then everyone joins in. Sax is again all over this one 2 1/2 minutes in. Ratledge brings the fuzz after 6 1/2 minutes. "Slightly All The Time" is where Wyatt shows how intricate he can be as Ratledge creates some atmosphere. Sax, bass, piano and cymbals follow. This sounds so cool. Fuzz before 7 minutes as the tension builds slightly (haha). Nice bass after 9 minutes. Fuzz to end it. "Eamonn Andrews" is a short jazzy track. Some killer fuzz a minute in. "Esther's Nose Job" is such a good title. It opens dramatically then sax comes in. The tempo picks up before 2 minutes. Love the bass sound before 5 minutes then the fuzz returns. Elton's turn to lead. It's the Dean / Wyatt show before 10 minutes. A big applause ends it. The encore song is "Slightly All The Time / Noisette" and it's my favourite. They bring it big time for the encore. Such a deep rich sound to open before the fuzz crashes in with electric piano and drums. It settles before 3 minutes. Crazy sax 4 1/2 minutes in then it calms right down after 5 minutes. Heaviness and chaos ends it.

Thanks for all the music Hugh !

Review by Warthur
5 stars I'm always more interested in Soft Machine live albums that capture complete sets rather than snippets, so Grides already had my attention since it offers on CD the two Concertgebouw sets they performed in October of 1970, and includes as a wonderful bonus some rare television footage of the band playing a short set in Radio Bremen's TV studios.

What particularly blows me away about the Concertgebouw material is how it not only has absolutely superb recording standards - the mix is pitch-perfect, unlike other Soft Machine live releases where often one instrument or another will either be entirely lost in the mix or dominate proceedings uncomfortably - but how the set opens my eyes to a new way of looking at both the older material in the set (mainly from Third, but there's also a version of Esther's Nose Job from Volume Two reworked to remove vocals), as well as the new material which would eventually see a release on Fourth.

Quite simply, the CD provides an absolutely red hot fusion performance from the four-piece that recorded Third, in which a new vigour is applied to the Third material (which was quite languid in the studio version), and a big dose of rock energy is injected into the material from Fourth, that album being so skewed to the jazz side of jazz-rock that it's basically just a jazz album. (I tend to view it as an attempt to curry favour with the jazz establishment, but I'll save that for my review of it.) Put on a DVD of rare live footage of the band as a bonus on top of that, and you have a fantastic package which Cuneiform should be proud to bring to the public. I'd say, in fact, that it's the absolute best live Soft Machine album from their archival series. Five stars, no question about it.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Another excellent posthumous live album from Soft Machine. This album starts with the barking of Hugh Hopper's bass and we are into Hazard Part 1. The sound is superb. The playing is flawless throughout from this, the classic Hopper/ Wyatt/Dean/Ratledge setup of Soft Machine. The songs are tak ... (read more)

Report this review (#263259) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One dayi was in my fav record shop and i realy wanted a new sof machine album i hade 1, 2 & Third and was thinking about buing fourth and fifth since i hade seen em included on the same album before but the one and only copy of it they hade was sold so i saw this album and it looked good. I rea ... (read more)

Report this review (#137337) | Posted by Zargus | Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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