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The Soft Machine

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The Soft Machine Live In France (Paris) album cover
3.30 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1:
1. Plain Tiffs (3:32)
2. All White (6:23)
3. Slightly All The Time (13:09)
4. Drop (7:43)
5. M.C. (2:59)
6. Out-Bloody-Rageous (13:25)

CD 2:
1. Facelift (17:53)
2. And Sevens (8:55)
3. As If (8:30)
4. LBO (6:08)
5. Pigling Bland (6:05)
6. At Sixes (11:00)

Total Time: 105:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Elton Dean / saxello, alto sax, rhodes piano
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- John Marshall / drums
- Mike Ratledge / electric piano, organ

Releases information

2x cd. One Way Records OW 31445

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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THE SOFT MACHINE Live In France (Paris) ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Live In France (Paris) reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Recorded at Paris's Olympia theatre (as part of a one week festival including Magma, Grateful Dead, East Of Eden and The (Morrison-less) Doors, this is yet another very interesting live recording the incredible Cuneiform labels pulls from the cardboards. One of the shortest SM incarnations (that had only managed to record half of 5 album prior to the release of theses tapes, as Phil Howard had been ejected (he was pulling the Machine into a full improv band, much to Ratledge and Hopper's dislike) and John Marshall (originally sensed to be at the drum stool but not available when Wyatt had left) was brought in, but Dean was to leave soon, peeved at Howard's firing. All of the material is from Third and 5 and strangely nothing from 4, maybe as an anti-Howard reaction from the two masters on board. But ultimately Dean's departure (due to the sacking of Howard) will provoke a series of changes where a bunch of Nucleus members will fill the shoes of departing members and changing the jazz-rock Machine into a full fusion butterfly of Bundles and Softs albums. But for this particular release, three of the four tracks from third are present on that night's set-list, but there are tracks that are nowhere to be seen on studio records or even on their official historical releases of that era. Again the sound quality of this Cuneiform is extraordinarily good especially considering Elton Dean was plagued with bad mikes, but it does not affect the sound. Worthy of note, Dean was also playing electric piano that night (this was not usual as far as I know) and his replacement, Karl Jenkins, will also double on Kbs and reeds.

Maybe not essential unless you are a total SM fan, this record is once again the proof that the Machine was a well-oiled one capable of mesmerising concerts.

Review by HolyMoly
4 stars Of all the archival Soft Machine live releases that have come out since the early 1990s (and there have been many), this double CD remains one of my very favorites. This captures the band in their full electric jazz mode circa "Fifth", and is probably the best-sounding live document of the Softs I've yet heard, beating out even the excellent "Virtually" Cuneiform release. On top of that, the performance is highly professional, yet loose and daring.

For this 1972 concert, the lineup was Elton Dean (sax, e.piano), Mike Ratledge (e.piano, organ), Hugh Hopper (bass gtr), and John Marshall (drums). The set list contains all of "Fifth" (minus the experimental studio sax piece "Bone") and most of "Third" (no "Moon in June"). Many Soft Machine fans will lament the departure of original drummer Robert Wyatt, who always added an exciting layer of spontaneity in his drumming and vocal contributions, but what they lost in excitement they gained in superlative technique with John Marshall. With his busy yet rock-solid drumming, the band seems more capable of stretching out than ever before, confident that Marshall will keep things moving forward. This is a welcome relief after the brief but chaotic five month period where original replacement drummer Phil Howard toured with the band -- as exciting as his free-jazz inclinations were, Ratledge and Hopper seemed to be at a loss for playing in that style (as evidenced on the historically worthwhile yet indubitably inferior "Drop" archival release).

The "Fifth" material sounds much like it did on the proper album -- smooth, slow jazz grooves with the "noisy" side of the band kept to a minimum (though still present). The "Third" material is also significantly more mellow than it was in the Wyatt days, and to good effect. At the very least, one can be assured that this isn't "just another version of Facelift" (to borrow a common complaint about the frequent and often similar archival releases) on here; in fact, the song "Facelift" isn't really even recognizable as such until at least halfway through its 17 minute length, getting rid of the crazy organ distortion intro in favor of a slowly bubbling fusion jam that eventually gives way to the song's main theme. Even "Slightly All the Time", which was a fairly mellow jazz piece to begin with, gets a looser arrangement with Elton Dean not so much playing the melody as suggesting it. Maybe he was getting a little tired of playing it; he would soon leave the band, having essentially lost the battle to move the band into more free jazz during the past year. Further confirming the loose nature of the set, the closing number is an eleven minute improvisation called "At Sixes", which blends so easily in with the rest of the set that it's sometimes hard to notice it's a different piece.

Excellent live Soft Machine, highly recommended for fans of their more jazzy side. Superb sound quality (recorded for a radio broadcast, I believe), inspired, expert performances, and some of the band's best tunes in the set list. Not essential, but an excellent addition to any Soft Machine, Canterbury, or Jazz Rock/Fusion collection.

Latest members reviews

3 stars A two CDs set from a gig in Paris, thankfully dug up and released by one of the better labels around. This is from their hard-core jazz era with a lot of improvisations over the song structures. The sound is pretty bad with the woodwinds instruments from Elton Dean pushed in the background ... (read more)

Report this review (#288717) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Live album of SOFT MACHINE announced in 1995 "Live In France". It is a work recorded in France in May, 1972 immediately before "5" is announced. It is selected music from the work from "3" to "5". The performance of the work of "3" such as "Facelift" after John Marshall participates is unusual ... (read more)

Report this review (#49232) | Posted by braindamage | Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars It is unclear when exactly this was recorded, but it would seem shortly after Karl Jenkins joined, as he fumbles many of Elton Dean's lines. The sound quality is not great, and in mono. The only benefit of having this disc, to my mind, is for those who are curious to hear how the Softs with Jenkins ... (read more)

Report this review (#22135) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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