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The Soft Machine Alive in Paris-1970 album cover
4.34 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 59% 5 stars

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DVD/Video, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Facelift (18:57)
2. Eamonn Andrews (7:17)
3. Backwards/Mousetrap reprise (4:08)
4. Out bloody rageous (15:45)
5. Robert Wyatt vocal improvisation (2:53)
6. Esther's nosejob (9:53)

Total Time: 62:00


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Hugh Hopper / bass guitars
- Robert Wyatt / drums, vocals
- Mike Ratledge / lowrey organ
- Elton Dean / Alto saxophone, saxello
- Lyn Dobson / Soprano saxophone, harmonica, flute, voice

Releases information

Filmed 2 March 1970,Theatre de la Musique,Paris,France

Thanks to psarros for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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THE SOFT MACHINE Alive in Paris-1970 ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(59%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (6%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Alive in Paris-1970 reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Well Cuneiform had hit it big with their Grides release, where the second disc was a DVD, the first of any kind about Soft Machine, let alone this period, their most eagerly awaited during their expansion to a quintet. When I encountered thiis release on Voiceprint, I first cursed them for putting this out on the market (instead of others), because Voiceprint is the first offender when it comes to putting second rate SM material (the realease of Facelift, anione?). Not being able to resist buying, I secured a deal with the shop owner that if I thought the content was bad, I could return it (it isn't cheap either). Well I was well inspired to have jumped on this, as this cioncert is absolutely pristine both sound-wise and image- wise, if you'll except one of two exception when one of the two blower is way too much in the background. Apart from that these tapes were shot by the French TV and a producer that was obviously aware of the group's set (SM was probably the UK band most popular in France, getting numerous gigs) and the tapes were kept at Institut National des Archives.

Actually if SM was a quintet at this time, they had trimmed down from a septet, as there were four hornmen that joined them at first, some that most progheads had seen through Crimson and Keith Tippett. Mark Charig and Nick Evans left fairly quickly, leaving Lynn Dobson and Elton, Dean at the forefront of SM, and Dobson would hang on much longer either. So this absolutely stunning concert with Lynn Dobson is a rare document and unusual: ever heard a flute or harmonica in early SM?? Well Dobson indulges a few times on the flute (quite well actually), but only once (thankfully) at the harmonica. The track list is the one that was usual in 70, so no surprises there. All of the interest is coming that for the second time only, we're able to QSEE this group play, and furthermore in a rare formation where Dobson shines (even outshines a bit Elton) because of his multi-instrumentalist role, propelling him at the forfront of the stage.

If I said the quality was pristine at the top of this review, I was exaggerating, as there are a few jumps and quick glitches and between tracks, the levels are not always well controlled. And of course Voiceprint is back at their usual tricks, not being able o produce the same track list sequence in the DVD menu than on the back cover. Old habits die hard, but at least this DVD is definitely worth your investigations, although the full price is a hefty investment.

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars If I could go back in time to see various concerts when I wasn't alive, I would easily choose this gig. Or at least one in this time frame.

Soft Machine circa 1970 are often regarded as one of the best line ups SM produced, and this DVD shows why. From start to finish is a wild ride featuring everything you love about Soft Machine (and maybe even more)...Wyatt's frantic (and subdued) drumming, top notch sax solos, constantly engrossing basslines, Wyatt's freeform vocals, and the man with the sun glasses. In addition to all this, we get some lovely flute work (and some curious harmonica work) courtesy of Lyn Dobson (and may I add it's a shame he didn't stick around longer in the Machine). I would have to agree with Mr. Trane that Dobson steals the shows from Dean, who isn't a slouch in his own right.

The show starts off with a killer rendition of Facelift (perhaps my favorite SM song). The duel sax lineup is perfect for that almost hard-rockin' main riff. This is supported my the audiance. Yes, it is true. Part of the audiance (what seem to be young 20 or so year olds) is doing all but moshing! Hilarious, in my humble opinion. Anyway, this is our first look at the excellent and aforementioned flute work of Dobby. My only complaint is that Facelift ends quite abrutply. After this, the track list on the back gets punched out. A seemingly unplanned cut to Robert Wyatt's Vocal Improv takes place next, which breaks the continuity of things a bit. Following this comes Ester's Nosejob, which is again indicated incorrectly by the back of box. Part II is played straight through, starting out with a nice version of Out-Bloody- Rageous (sadly missing the beginning keyboard madness as is on the studio album). However, this contains the better of the two flute solos, in my opinion. Afterwards, the DVD rolls along nicely with with some Eamonn Andrews and what seems to me as a particualar fun version of Backwards/Mousetrap Reprise.

With all the excellent things one can say about this DVD, there is one glaring error as seen my this reviewers eyes. The camera work. Perhaps its a French thing, perhaps they were trying to make it theatrical, or conform to some period of art/video, but for me its mostly distracting/hilarious. I can understand shots of the audiance (especially when they were being as exciting as I noted eariler), but shots of Wyatt's elbow and cymbal stand, a really zoomed in shot of Dean/Dobson's face, or the back of Ratledge's head, I don't understand. Additionally, there are few (if any!) shots of the entire band on stage. (At one or two points its possible they all make it in the shot, if only the top of Ratledge's head or the left side of Hopper.) Instead, they choose to shoot a wide shot from the back of the stage so all you could see is Wyatt's back, and some heads sticking out. While that isn't a bad thing in itself, being the panoramic view of band is a bit disconcerting. However, that is not by biggest complaint. There is a part of the show where the camera decides to move behind some speakers or equipment boxes and the entire screen is black, or at least five seconds. This is the worst thing to do, IMHO, being I'm watching this to actually SEE the band, not just hear them. But, aside from these two horrid decisions, the cameras are mostly chuckle producing and don't detract much if any from the show.

All in all, this is a great document of a great band during what could be considered their artistic peak. Despite the camera woes, there is little to fault here. The music is excellent and entertaining, the song selectiong is pretty damn good, and for a band that many believe excelled in the live setting having this certainly backs that claim up (and being there considerable lacking in visual edvince of SM out there, and certainly this line-up of it, this is made all the more essential). Soft Machine fans have no reason not to own this. 4.5 stars. Thoroughly recommended!

Review by crimson87
4 stars Essential=Masterpiece???

Soft Machine fans had to wait such a long time to get live material from they beloved band. And finally , this Alive in Paris satisfies our needs offering us the band in full regalia. 1970 was probabll the best year in the history of the group and we have quite an amazing show here. It's quite funny to watch some frenchmen go nuts when "Facelift" begins , but I was headbanging with them as well!! Here we have two tracks from Third like "Out Bloddy Rageous" and the already mentioned , plus "Esther's nose job" and some improvisations in which you can tell what's to come in Fourth.

Musically , the only letdown of the show were Robert Wyatt vocal improvisations , they seem really whimsical and don't fit well with the rest of the set. Before Esther's. begins we are faced with a critic taliking about the band and personally , I find two negative aspects in here. The first one is that this section is very bad placed , It would have been better if we could access to it as a bonus feature and not as part of the show. And the second one is that we have no subtitles here so I cannot understand what this bloke is saying.

In the second section of the show the music is outstanding , there is a sax solo during "Out Bloddy Rageous" that I love , Elton Dean goes insane!! Also , Wyatt's (drumming) performance is top notch. But if there is someone to blame here are the cameramen , this guys chose the weirdest places to film! Examples: Behind Wyatt's shoulder , behind the sound equipment and never , I repeat never they come up with a full close up of the whole band. I don't know if this problem affects all 70's videos since I ve found the same problem or even worse in VDGG's "Godbluff Live". It's a pity since the shots they take and the angles they use can really affect your appreciation here.

Now , according to the site a 5 stars qualification means the following: Essential , a masterpiece of progressive music". For the moment Alive in Paris 1970" is an essential release for Soft Machine fans and Canterbury freaks in general. But it has major flaws that prevent me from giving that qualification.

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