Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

BBC RADIO 1971 - 1974

The Soft Machine

Canterbury Scene

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Soft Machine BBC Radio 1971 - 1974 album cover
4.08 | 35 ratings | 8 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Live, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: (44:56)
1. As If (7:45)
2. Drop (6:56)
3. Welcome to Frillsville (10:33)
4. Fanfare/All White/MC/Drop (11:13)
5. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album (3:33)
6. Hazard Profile Part 1 (4:56)

CD2: (34:59)
1. Sinepost (1:47)
2. Down the Road (7:34)
3. North Point (3:00)
4. The Man Who Waved at Trains (5:41)
5. Hazard Profile Parts 1-4 (16:57)

Total Time: 79:55

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Ratledge / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass (tracks 1-4, CD1)
- Elton Dean / saxophone (tracks 1-3, CD 1)
- Karl Jenkins / oboe, saxophone, recorder, keyboards (tracks 4-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- John Marshall / drums (tracks 4-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- Roy Babbington / bass (tracks 5-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- Allan Holdsworth / guitars (tracks 3-5, CD 2)
- Phil Howard / drums (tracks 1-3, CD 1)

Releases information

2CD Hux Records HUX 047 (2003 UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1971 - 1974 Music

More places to buy THE SOFT MACHINE music online

THE SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1971 - 1974 ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1971 - 1974 reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Aside from the first disc of BBC radio sessions (with Wyatt still in the line-ups), much of the BBC sessions that the Machine played are present on this double disc and the four live radio sessions are spawned over four different line-ups and five studio albums released in the meantime. The first three tracks of the first disc are taken from previous 5 album with Phil Howard on drums and you can feel the man's free jazz tendencies, but they are not obtrusive and the tracks played have much more energy than the cold studio versions of 4 and 5, rendering a whole new light on them. The next track is a medley of four tracks from the 6 album, sporting Marshall and Hopper, but also Karl Jenkins (ex-Nucleus like Marshall), this sticking much more with the spirit of the then-current (and half-live I must say) album. The next two tracks are from a year later (and the 7 album) with another ex-Nucleus (Babbington) having replaced Hopper and again show them in particular fine form giving their instrument a full fitness workout!

The second disc starts with two tracks of the same session than on that finishing off the first disc but shows them in a vastly different mood. The short but impressive Babbington bass-droned track leads into a frenzied 6-sounding with Jenkins even blowing shortly into a flute. The rest of the disc is the same musos but augmented by guitarist Allan Holdsworth (yet another Nucleus refugee - this making Ratledge the only non-Nucleus alumni in the Machine at that time) that will make the Bundles album. The first 3 min track is a weird abstract music (noise?) that sorts of ruin the general ambiance, but the following two tracks more than makes up for it especially the multi-movement suite Hazard Profile.

The ting about this double BBC sessions record that makes it very worthwhile is the fact that the tracks from the 4 and 5 albums are so much warmer and livelier. It also has the benefit of shedding a little light on the oft-shunned (forgotten) 7 album.

Like all posthumous Soft machine release , this album is really of interest to confirmed Machinists , but if you are reading this review , you are probably very concerned , right?

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This album features rare live in studio recordings for the BBC being aired on the famous ''JOHN PEEL SHOW'. They cover SOFT MACHINE career from their album FIFTH to BUNDLES through SIX and SEVEN, meaning a lot of personel changes and numerous musical direction shifts in between.This album gives us the opportunity to check some live performances from short lived SOFT line-ups and discover some well known tracks in a different version.

The first disc starts with 3 songs from the FIFTH line-up only first side of the LP with PHIL HOWARD on drums after WYATT left. If you have read my reviews about FOURTH and FIFTH, you know this period is the least interesting for me, especially FOURTH which was a very dull album. Also the sound is very, very cold, no warmth at all. This is the time when SOFT MACHINE has turned into a free jazz band with almost no rock elements. The music is pretext only to mostly ELTON DEAN sax soloing and became completely lifeless and stalled.

Now we know why PHIL HOWARD didn't last long with the band. He doesn't fit at all with the philosophy of RATLEDGE and HOPPER. His drumming is plain horrible, not that he is bad. He is a free form jazz drummer, not a jazz rock one. He was perfect with ELTON DEAN as they would play together in the future, but he was not meant for SOFT MACHINE. The difference can be heard withthe next tracks of the first CD of this set with the apperance of KARL JENKINS on drums and KARL JENKINS taking over ELTON DEAN.

With them, all of a sudden, the music is warming up, just listen to the way the newcomers play the ALL WHITE and DROP studio versions from FIFTH. This is day and night! No wonder SOFT MACHINE will do betterl commercially with their next album SIX than they did with FIFTH. SOFT MACHINE was going to reach the point of no return with their elitist jazz cold sound, you hear on FOURTH and FIFTH. Some fans criticize JENKINS and MARSHALL, but i think they were the new blood the band needed badly.

Starting with track five , ROY BABBINGTON enters the stage after HOPPER left and, him too, would help the band to straighten the sound and bring more life to the rythm section.The first album ends up with a rarity, a very young excerpt of HAZARD PROFILE recorded in 1973 ( 2 years before his official release) guitar yet. The HOlDSWORTH part are played on electric piano and synthetiser by both keyboardists. One of the highlight of this release.

CD 2 opens with a short bass solo from BABBINGTON ( everybody is entitled to have fun!) followed by a 'SEVEN' track with a great oboe ( i think) solo from JENKINS over a very rock bass line. That's nice to see how the SOFT MACHINE music is more pleasant to the ear than during the HOWARD days, getting more structured ,melodic and thematique than it was not a long time ago.

The rest of the CD brings us ALLAN HOLDSWORTH guitar and with him, the sound of the band of course will once again evolve into a classic jazz-rock fusion form which was popular at this time with bands like RETURN TO FOREVER or MAHAVISHNU. The whole HAZARD PROFILE is played here full of beauty, then full of electric fury. Once again on a SOFT machine release, we have a 3mn drums solo from Mr JENKINS as usual.

The only common point through all these recordings is the presence of organist MIKE RATLEDGE who is is the only member playing the whole album. But BUNDLES will be his swansong as well . This is a good recording, well produced with a nice sound showcasing the drastic evolution of a great band, with the good and sometimes not so good.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a retrospective of sorts of the band's BBC sessions from 1971-1974. All but two of the tracks were previously unreleased. I guess you could call the first retrospective "BBC Radio 1967-1971 the Wyatt years while this one covers the band's work from when Wyatt left up to "Seven", although some "Bundles" tunes are here too but that album wasn't released until 1975.

The first three tracks all from "Fifth" have the lineup with Hopper, Ratledge, Dean and Howard.This lineup was very much into improvizing and that sort of Free Jazz style. So "As If ", "Drop" and "Welcome To Frillsville" aren't necessarily the easiest tracks to digest, although "As If " is the one I really dig of the three.

Next up is a different lineup that included Hopper, Ratledge, Jenkins and Marshall which recorded "Six". Interesting that "Six" would be their best selling album since the debut. Here we get a medley of four tracks then one of my favs from this set in "Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album" where we get the same lineup except that Babbington replaced Hopper. So now they were three quartes former NUCLEUS members and ready to record "Seven" one of my favourites. It's interesting that "Seven" was voted third best album of 1974 in the UK's Melody Maker edition, while it's international version rated it fourth best that year. Back to this compilation and this lineup also performs "Hazard Profile Part 1" , "Sinepost" and "Down The Road". All these pieces are so well done and it's cool to hear aboe in that last song from "Seven" and on the final track.

The final lineup consists of the same guys except Allan Holdsworth is added. It begins with an experimental track called "North Point" followed by "The Man Who Waved At Trains" and the 17 minute closer "Hazard Profile Parts 1-4".

This is a must for fans much like the previous compilation. 4 stars.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First Hux Records compilation from 2003 ("BBC Radio 1967-1971") included early recordings and band's "classic line-up" (or let say Robert Wyatt era). Second double compilation retrospects Wyatt-less recordings from BBC vaults.

First two songs come from "Peel Sessions" album, but others are more original material. All compositions are placed chronologically, so one can hear how band's music was changed in quite short period of time (what obviously is more result of personal changes than anything else). Three first compositions (coming from Nov.1971) were recorded still with Elton Dean as band's member and they represent still "classic" Soft Machine's sound with sax free-form improvs, slightly psychedelic atmosphere and great Ratledge keyboards passages).

All the rest songs were recorded participating two ex-Nucleus members John Marshall and Karl Jenkins, who became band's members and song after song demonstrate band changing direction to much more organized composition's structure, less spontaneity. On North Point The Main Who Waived At Trains young Alan Holdsworth added his guitar signature, and in fact all second album's CD is just well played straight ahead plain fusion.

Still comparing with same compositions,recorded on studio albums, this release sounds much more fresh and alive, live recordings help to save good but too predictable music from being boring.

If you own "Peel Sessions" and are interested in Soft Machine's classic period only, this album will hardly be the valuable addition for your collection. For others main interest here is Soft Machine fusion period compositions, sounding more attractive played live. In all, not as good as first BBC compilation, but still one of good band's archival release.

My rating is 3,5, rounded to 4.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Whilst I wouldn't say this is quite as revelatory as Hux's previous 2CD set of BBC sessions from The Soft Machine, this compilation does provide a nice overview of their latter-day fusion-oriented era. Consisting of radio sessions recorded after the departure of Robert Wyatt, the sessions take in the span of time from Fifth (note the presence of transitional drummer Phil Howard on the first three tracks) to the threshold of Bundles.

It's over this period of time that the band's musical direction got increasingly influenced by Karl Jenkins - who co- composed a good chunk of Six, the first Softs album he appeared on - but that's all to the good as far as I'm concerned, because Fifth was a comparatively weaker album which found the Softs, having won their battle with Robert Wyatt in terms of rejecting his preferred direction of the group, no longer particularly sure of which way they actually wanted to go. Purists who prefer the early, far more psychedelic-influenced era of Soft Machine and don't care much for fusion won't find much to enjoy here, but if you're willing to regard the post-Wyatt Softs as essentially a different band (I've used the analogy "Nucleus by other means" before) and have a taste for jazz fusion, you may find this a useful avenue to explore.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Album of SOFT MACHINE announced in 2003 "BBC Radio 1971 - 1974". Work that collected all Take of session in "Top Gear" of John peel that is radio program of BBC. The performance of masterpiece "Hazard Profile" at latter term is wonderful. I cannot suppress the excitement as a fan. Essential: a ... (read more)

Report this review (#51929) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, October 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't care what the warning signs are for giving a five but this album does not have a weak spot. This is the best Soft Machine period I know haven't got to the one and two volumes yet but I'll listen to them sometime. This album really does show the evelotion of Soft Machine best songs wou ... (read more)

Report this review (#29826) | Posted by downtheroad25 | Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This should convince most of those who think that the Softs died when Wyatt left; that it's time to take their heads out of their bums and listen to the later stuff! If for nothing else than Allan Holdsworth's superb guitar. This album is a joy for any SM fan. The first 3 tracks has Phil Howard on ... (read more)

Report this review (#29824) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THE SOFT MACHINE "BBC Radio 1971 - 1974"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.