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The Soft Machine

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The Soft Machine Virtually album cover
3.76 | 46 ratings | 8 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

Set One: (32:14)
1. Facelift (10:04)
2. Virtually (8:17)
3. Slightly all the Time (8:12)
4. Fletchers Blemish (5:41)
Set Two: (45:02)
1. Neo-Caliban Grides (9:26)
2. Out Bloody Rageous (9:59)
3. Eamonn Andrews (4:29)
4. All White (3:16)
5. Kings and Queens (3:37)
6. Teeth (9:20)
7. Pigling Bland (4:55)

Total Time: 77:16

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Cd. Cuneiform RUNE 100

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Joren for the last updates
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Buy THE SOFT MACHINE Virtually Music

THE SOFT MACHINE Virtually ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Virtually reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars In the last two weeks I have reviewed a few posthumous live recording of SM , and found a few superb albums that every Machine fan shopuld own! However I do not think this is one of them although the line-up present here is a classic one. The recording date should be among the last that Robert Wyatt played with them, before getting "sacked" (on his own admission Wyatt realized later that SM was the band that made him miserable) by Ratledge who did not like his singing.

I think that this night in Hamburg was definitely not one of their best unless you are into Elton Dean's work. Clearly he had taken over the band - maybe not in writing credits , but certainly in influences and he will soon be responsible for the hiring of Phil Howard as replacement of Wyatt, the band taking an even worse twist towards free-jazz , before Howard getting fired by Hopper and Ratledge. In theses tapes Dean is all over with his sometimes disciordant sax improvs and his rather good El piano in doubling Ratledge, but really , the track listing however interesting it might be is unfortunately very deceiving (IMHO) and most tracks being played in a much better version elsewhere but on this album. For once , Cuneiform releases a sub-par album (this remains a personal view point , because I have met fans who think this album is one of their best) , but this ios an exception. IMHO , you might want to try Noisette or Live In France.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. This was recorded live in Germany March 23,1971 by Radio Bremem with the classic SOFT MACHINE lineup. Hopper, Ratledge, Wyatt and Dean. Of course the sound quality is excellent since it was a Radio Bremen recording. Most of the tracks blend into one another.This is just a pleasure to listen to as all four guys seem to be at their best, plus we get some of SOFT MACHINE's legendary songs.

Things get started with "Facelift" which starts slowly with fuzz and some sparse sounds that come and go. It starts to come to life more after 2 minutes.This is so good. "Virtually" opens with drums, sax and fuzz then the tempo picks up before a minute with drums, bass and sax out front. Piano joins in too.They just jam here, seemingly with their heads down. A calm before 5 minutes and check out Hopper ! "Slightly All The Time" settles in before a minute with piano, sax, bass and drums.The sax stops briefly around 4 minutes. The fuzz comes to the fore 5 1/2 minutes in. Great sound. "Fletcher's Blemish" settles in with vocal expressions from Wyatt along with other sounds.This is experimental sounding. "Neo-Caliban Grides" features more insanity with the sax leading early. Drums and fuzz to the fore then the sax returns. Check out Hopper again.

"Out-Bloody-Rageous" opens with bass and piano as sax joins in with drums. Some vocal sounds after 9 minutes echo. Very cool. "Eamonn Andrews" continues with the vocal expressions.Very psychedelic. The tempo picks up after 3 minutes and the vocals continue to echo until after 4 minutes whe the drums and fuzz kick in. Sax too. "All White" is a great sounding tune where they jam with some ferver. "Kings And Queens" settles with sax leading. Drums are more prominant before 3 minutes. "Teeth" kicks in with power but the tempo will shift often here. A very interesting song. Check out the organ and sax together before 3 1/2 minutes. "Pigling Bland" features keyboards, bass and drums as sax plays over top. The tempo picks up around 3 minutes. Ratledge's turn to let it rip then Hopper digs deep to end it.

I highly recommend this life release from one of the greatest live bands ever. The sound quality lives up to the performance as well.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Among the first of many archival Soft Machine releases to be put out by the Cuneiform label (it was preceded by Spaced, an odd set of tracks knocked out to accompany a dance performance), Virtually presents a performance originally recorded for Radio Bremen in March 1971. We're coming right towards the end of Robert Wyatt's tenure in the band here - no more vocals, and perhaps a certain tension in the group exists as a result, but he's giving it all with his drumming here.

A lot of archival stuff from this period has emerged since, but Virtually is a pretty strong set with good sound quality, and that might explain why both Cuneiform and others keep going back to this well - Soft Machine in this period absolutely cooked. Once it became apparent that treasures like this were lying around in the vaults, the hunt was on, so perhaps we should give Virtually credit for setting the bar for this sort of release.

Latest members reviews

2 stars No newcomer should start here, since Virtually contains several of the band's fatal flaws and not so much of it's good sides. Soft Machine was a band equally powerful live as it was in the studio, but with Dean's constant use of the saxello by the end of 1970, Ratledge's less time with untreated ... (read more)

Report this review (#452376) | Posted by JackFloyd | Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars My house is full of Soft Machine albums, I have just noticed. I love the band when they attacks songs like Facelift with a massive force of drums fuzzy bass, fuzzy organs and various woodwind instruments. For me; what makes Soft Machine so great is the power balance in the sound between the ... (read more)

Report this review (#423957) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, March 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album of all Soft Machine albums was my second purchase, after the critically aclaimed Third. I've decided to take time and break it down into good qualities and bad qualities: GOOD -Improvational skills were incredible for all 4 players. Especially for Elton Dean. He could even be be ... (read more)

Report this review (#66092) | Posted by | Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Live board of SOFT MACHINE announced in 1998 "Virtualy". Work recorded in Bremen in Germany in March, 1971 that immediately after announcing "4". It is a composition of almost the same album as common "BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert" at the recorded time. However, this album is performed only by ... (read more)

Report this review (#49234) | Posted by braindamage | Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While this might be a difficult place to start for newcomers (and 'difficult listening' for those not into free improvisation), for those of you who are long-time fans (and I am one) I can say that this is the very best SM recording out there. This is the Softs playing for themselves, improvising an ... (read more)

Report this review (#22137) | Posted by | Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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