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The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

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The Soft Machine The Peel Sessions album cover
4.05 | 44 ratings | 6 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: (47:03)
1. Moon in June (13:00)
2. Esther's Nose Job (11:57)
3. Mousetrap/Noisette/Backwards/Mousetrap Reprise (8:47)
4. Slightly All The Time/Out-Bloody-Rageous/Eamonn Andrews (13:19)

CD2: (46:50)
5. Facelift (11:55)
6. Virtually (9:55)
7. Neo Caliban Grides (7:32)
8. Drop (6:57)
9. As If (7:47)
10. Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening (2:44)

Total Time: 93:53

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Ratledge / keyboards
- Robert Wyatt / drums
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Elton Dean / alto sax, saxello
+ Lyn Dobson / soprano sax, flute
- Mark Charig / cornet
- Nick Evans / trombone

Releases information

2CD Strange Fruit SFRCD201 (1990 UK)
2CD Dutch East India Trading DEI8501-2 (1990 US)
2LP Strange Fruit SFRLP201 (1990 UK)
Cass Dutch East India Trading DEI8501-4 (1990 US)
2CD Strange Fruit WMD 672009 (1991 France)

Material recorded at the BBC from June 1969 through November 1971.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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Buy THE SOFT MACHINE The Peel Sessions Music

THE SOFT MACHINE The Peel Sessions ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE SOFT MACHINE The Peel Sessions reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Besides of 13 studio albums (few of them are Soft Machine albums by the name only),there are plenty of archival live releases and compilations of previously unreleased broadcasts flowed the market.Some of them are really valuable,another just interesting and many - of very average value (usually bad sound quality and not very original material).

For everyone interested in Soft Machine legacy and ready to start listening their archival releases it's important to know where to start. I expect "The Peel Sessions" is one of great entrances.

The album contains previously unreleased recordings from BBC John Peel radio (Top Gear)broadcasts archives with quite acceptable sound quality and really interesting materials recorded. Compilation's opener is great "Moon In June", recorded at 10/6/1969. The musicians play as Wyatt/Hopper/Ratledge trio with Wyatt singing lyrics,specially prepared for this recording.Thirteen minutes long psychedelic pop composition with Wyatt's vocals mixed in front of the mix.

Next two compositions were recorded for another Top Gear broadcast at 10/11/1969 and are very interesting: besides of classic Soft Machine trio,on these recordings participates Keith Tippett's brass section (Elton Dean - alto sax,Nick Evans - trombone,Mark Charig - cornet,Lyn Dobson - soprano sax).Both them sound very unique - closer to brass free jazz combo,but with rock heaviness added. Excellent sax free jazz improvs on these compositions are between the best you can find on any Soft Machine's album at all!

Fourth (and last on disc 1) composition was recorded by Soft Machine as quartet with Elton Dean as band's member. Dean's soloing there is excellent - he has much more freedom and space for improvs than on any studio release.

Disc 2 opener Facelift comes from the same 1969 session as Moon In June.Virtually was recorded at 15/12/1970 by Soft Machine as quartet,Neo-Caliban Grides and Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening both were recorded by same line-up,but later (1/6/1971).Rest Drop and As If were recorded at 15/11/1971 by quartet,but with Phil Howard instead of Robert Wyatt on drums.

It's great that even compositions ,played without additional collaborators (as trio or quartet) are seriously different from their studio versions and generally are much more free-jazz influenced,improv-based, often with excellent Dean's and Ratledge soloing. In all,big part of album sounds as live recording of free jazz with some pre-composed material!

Album's recordings cover best band's period and are recorded in great atmosphere of John Peel broadcast sessions. Music sounds really inspired, material comes from band's best compositions, and two songs with free jazz brass section are really delicious.

One between band's best albums beside of few studio works of the same (classic) period.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was one of many released highlighting the significance of John Peel's radio shows, from 1967 to 2004, featuring performances by a very wide variety of British bands. The Soft Machine must have been one of his favorites, as they appeared no less than ten different times between 1967 and 1973. These two disks were from shows recorded between 1969 and 1971, and capture the band as they were becoming Canterbury fusion legends.

The album consists primarily of songs from "Volume Two", "Third" and "Fourth", and contain very few vocals. And actually, for vocal songs, I like this version of Moon In June, with lyrics altered to honor Peel and his Top Gear radio show, better than the original, which was played mostly by Robert Wyatt alone.

The recordings are good quality, but the tapes show some distortion and wear from years of storage. The performances are wonderful, with all band members (and guest artists) playing at full bore.

While I would recommend the studio albums of the time over this album for listeners new to Soft Machine, I still have to give it a four star rating.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Essential Soft Machine recording. This is the BBC recording with Wyatt singing new lyrics to "Moon in June", which many feel is the penultimate version, and definitely a (if not THE) top example of the Canterbury sound. This set also includes the version of "Mousetrap" with with the three-piece b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1697023) | Posted by Walkscore | Sunday, February 26, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Another nice Soft Machine compilation album.... John Peel was a legendary English DJ who invited a lot of bands to do sessions in his BBC studios. These sessions was recorded and most of them has been released on CDs/LPs now. In short; Peel Sessions is a British institution. Soft Machine ... (read more)

Report this review (#396308) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, February 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is less a review, more a footnote to the wise words from other contributors. The crown jewels of this collection are the John Peel session Soft Machine recorded as a septet with four horn players borrowed from Keith Tippett. It is the only available recording of this line-up. The themes a ... (read more)

Report this review (#61943) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first CD in this double set includes the BBC sessions of the legendary 'septet' and Wyatt's 'BBC' version of Moon in June. This stuff is excellent and absolutely required listening for SM fans (also released as the second vinyl disc on 'Triple Echo'). The second CD is good, but not brilliant, ho ... (read more)

Report this review (#22126) | Posted by | Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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