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The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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The Soft Machine The Soft Machine Collection [also released as: Volumes One and Two] album cover
4.38 | 52 ratings | 8 reviews | 60% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

The Soft Machine - 1968: (36:57)
1. Hope for Happiness (4:22)
2. Joy of a Toy (2:56)
3. Hope for Happiness (Reprise) (1:31)
4. Why Am I So Short? (2:33)
5. So Boot If at All (2:33)
6. A Certain Kind (4:06)
7. Save Yourself (2:26)
8. Priscilla (1:05)
9. Lullabye Letter (4:26)
10. We Did It Again (3:40)
11. Plus Belle Qu'une Poubelle (1:05)
12. Why Are We Sleeping? (5:26)
13. Box 25/4 Lid (0:48)

Volume Two - 1969: (33:20)
Rivmic Melodies:
14. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. I (1:00)
15. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. I (0:10)
16. Hibou, Anemone and Bear (5:58)
17. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. II (0:12)
18. Hulloder (0:52)
19. Dada Was Here (3:25)
20. Thank You Pierrot Lunaire (0:47)
21. Have You Ever Bean Green? (1:23)
22. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. II (0:50)
23. Out of Tune (2:30)
Esther's Nose Job:
24. As Long as He Lies Perfectly Still (2:30)
25. Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening (2:30)
26. Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging (1:50)
27. Pig (2:08)
28. Orange Skin Food (1:52)
29. A Soor Opens and Closes (1:09)
30. 10.30 Returns to the Bedroom (4:14)

Total Time: 70:17

Line-up / Musicians

The Soft Machine:
- Kevin Ayers / bass, vocals
- Brian Hopper / saxophone
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Mike Ratledge / piano, organ
- Tom Wilson / percussion
- Robert Wyatt / drums, vocals

Volume Two:
- Hugh Hopper / bass, alto sax
- Mike Ratledge / keyboards, flute (10)
- Robert Wyatt / drums, vocals

Guest musician:
- Brian Hopper / tenor & soprano sax

Releases information

2LP ABC Records ABCD 602 (1973 UK)
2LP Probe 3C 154 - 50185 (1973 Italy)
2LP Command RSSD 964-2 (1973 US)
2LP Atlantic 60 113 (1976 France)
2LP ABC Records DL-0013/14, 23.0059/2 F, 23.0059/2 G (1976 Spain)
CD Big Beat Records CDWIKD 920 (1989 UK)
CD Big Beat Records CDWIKD 920 (1989 UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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THE SOFT MACHINE The Soft Machine Collection [also released as: Volumes One and Two] ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(60%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE SOFT MACHINE The Soft Machine Collection [also released as: Volumes One and Two] reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is The Soft Machines first two albums released on one CD. This is a great opportunity to get both these excellent early prog rock / canterbury scene albums for the prize of one. This is a highly recommendable purchase.

The Soft Machine ( Vol. One):

The Soft Machine is the selftitled debut album from one of the two groups that emerged after the demise of The Wilde Flowers. Soft Machine and Caravan, which was the other band to emerge after The Wilde Flowers ceased to exist, were both very influential forces on the Canterbury music scene and they are widely aknowledged as the creators of that particular subgenre to progressive rock. While Caravanīs debut album didnīt impress me much itīs a whole other story with Soft Machine. This is a beautiful album and itīs got all the characteristica of early Canterbury scene. The whimsical singing style and humorous lyrics and the soft jazz/ rock approach to music.

The music on this debut album is very experimental which was a common feature on many recordings from 1968, but I think Soft Machine was a bit different. First of all this is not regular psychadelic music IMO even though itīs pretty strange at times. itīs rather intellectual if you ask me.

Robert Wyattīs drumming needs to be mentioned as it is very adventurous and his vocals are also along with the vocals from Kevin Ayers are defining for the Canterbury Scene. In my review of the debut from Matching Mole I was very critical towards Robert Wyattīs voice but itīs great here. Very fragile but great never the less.

The songs are short witful statements that at times can seem a bit underdeveloped which is a real shame as some of them definitely invites to longer sections ( there are some pretty cool intrumental sections, so donīt worry). That doesnīt mean that these songs donīt sound great as they are though. If you like Canterbury scene music this one is a must IMO. I wonīt mention any songs in particular as I like them all and I think that all the songs together is what makes this such a great album. There is a sort of concept like cohesiveness to the songs.

The musicianship is outstanding and above all innovative and adventurous. I really enjoy the interplay between the musicians.

The production is charming even though itīs not the best sixties sound quality I have heard. Itīs way better than Caravanīs debut album though.

Soft Machine has taken me by surprise with this album, and I must declare myself a fan from this day forth. At least of this brilliant album. I have been debating myself if this is a masterpiece but I have come to the conclusion that I will rate it 4 stars now and maybe later upgrade it to 5 if my excitement doesnīt stop. This is a highly recommendable album for Canterbury scene fans and for fans of sixties and early seventies prog rock in general too.

Volume Two:

The second album from The Soft Machine just called Volume Two continues the intellectual psychadelic late sixties prog rock style from their debut. Kevin Ayers has left the band to be replaced by former roadie for the band Hugh Hopper. The change is instantly heard as the distorted bass from Hugh Hopper is heard for the first time. It must have been quite a revolution to hear a bass so heavily distorted as this one in 1969. Hugh Hopperīs dominant distorted bass is one of the great things about this album.

Overall the style of the music is pretty much a continuation of the style Soft Machine introduced on the debut. Witful lyrics and pretty short psychadelic rock songs with exciting twists. There are lots of small interludes between the longer tracks which works as bridges between those songs. It means that Volume two sometimes has a kind of concept feeling to it.

The instrumentation is keyboards, bass, drums and vocals and some sax from Hughīs brother Brian Hopper. Since Daevid Allen ( Gong) wasnīt admitted entrance into Britain after a vacation and had to leave the band because of that there hadnīt been a guitarist in the band. There are sporadic guitar playing, but no one is credited for playing the guitar. You donīt miss the guitar though as Mike Ratledge is very good at filling out any empty space with his keyboards and the both the bass and the drums are very dominant too. The vocals from Robert Wyatt are very good on this album. Really enjoyable.

The production is pretty similar to the one on the debut album which means a good sixties sound quality.

Volume Two is an excellent canterbury scene album that deserves 4 stars. Even though there are similarities between volume one and two I still think Volume two is a bit better than the debut. This is highly recommendable music.

Conclusion: Everyone should have this CD in their home. Itīs beautiful and ahead of itīs time in many respects. As I have given both albums 4 stars I will also give this compilation 4 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I have to admit that I prefer Soft machine's later, instumental albums, but for 1968 and 1969, when these two albums were originally released, they were great albums. The two albums are filled with early Canterbury jazz fusion explorations, quirky vocals, and off-time explorations.

I've always found "Volume One" to be good. Soft Machine was definitely breaking new ground in their music, creating the foundation for the entire Canterbury crowd, but the recording is a bit rough, and there are some moments that just don't click with me.

"Volume Two" however features more soloing, and shows the band pushing more toward the Canterbury fusion niche that would soon inhabit, and rule over for years.

Between the two albums, I must give them 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
5 stars A fantastic, high-value compilation of the first two Soft Machine albums, capturing the very best material from their psychedelic era with their later jazz-rock experiments creeping in just a little towards the end. As well as being good value for money, the CD is actually a good way to listen to the two albums, since they flow together quite well; the final track on the first album, Box 25/4 Lid, in fact features a guesting Hugh Hopper on bass, so it actually acts as an appropriate little marker to signify the changeover from the Ratledge/Wyatt/Ayers lineup to Ratledge/Wyatt/Hopper. Both albums are, of course, enormously important to the Softs' discography, and were also fairly well-received in the psych underground at the time, making this compilation a landmark of where psych and jazz-rock met to spawn Canterbury. Bring two five-star albums together, don't make any serious blunders with the presentation, and what you get is a five-star compilation.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Their first two albums for the price of one. That's a bargain. Both albums is from their spaced out avant-garde pop era before they became a fully fledged jazz/avant-garde band. The first album is pretty mad with some avant-garde totally spaced out trippy pop. This recording was partly writte ... (read more)

Report this review (#241854) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Excellent, the two first album on 1 CD and for the price of 1 album, at first i didetn even know where one album ended and the next began, thats how similar they are they fit very good toghter, the sound is very simmilar to early pink floyd and not strange since the band toured toghter. Soft mac ... (read more)

Report this review (#146120) | Posted by Zargus | Saturday, October 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I got a little bit dissapointed with these record in the way i expected a lot more "fusion" in it, however, that 60's flavor, and that strange psychodelic-prog feeling, makes a great ride for the ears. It seems that this record (well this TWO RECORDS) are the last to be involved with prog as i ... (read more)

Report this review (#41316) | Posted by arqwave | Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's kinda strange why they add this particular edition of these 2 records in the discography instead of the more common early-90's 2-fer CD-release Volumes 1 & 2. That aside, this is imo the best Soft Machine release, combining their first 2 albums on 1 comfortable, satisfying disc filled with ... (read more)

Report this review (#22083) | Posted by Kaztor | Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Considering that these two albums have very little in common with the the following Lp's, they are very superb in a different way. If you are interessted in Kevin Ayers/ Robert Wyatt's second musical adventure after the Wylde Flowers, this is it! All lyrics are "toung in cheek", but the compositions ... (read more)

Report this review (#22079) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 23, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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