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The Soft Machine

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The Soft Machine Soft Machine & Heavy Friends  BBC In Concert 1971 album cover
3.37 | 16 ratings | 4 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Live, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. John Peel Introduction (1:02)
2. Blind Badger (10:07)
3. Neo-Caliban Grides (5:41)
4. Out Bloody Rageous (Excerpt)/Eamonn Andrews/All White/Kings And Queens (31:58)
5. Slightly All The Time (Excerpt)/Noisette (6:00)

Total Time: 54:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Elton Dean / alto saxophone, saxello
- Mike Ratledge / organ, piano
- Hugh Hopper / electric bass on all except "Blind Badger"
- Robert Wyatt / drums on all except "Blind Badger"
- Mark Charig / trumpet on all except "Neo-Caliban Grides," "Slightly All the Time/Noisette"
- Phil Howard / drums on "Blind Badger," "Neo-Caliban Grides"
- Neville Whitehead / bass on all except "Neo-Caliban Grides," "Slightly All the Time/Noisette"
- Roy Babbington / acoustic bass on "Medley"
- Paul Nieman / trombone on "Medley"
- Ronnie Scott / tenor saxophone on "Medley"

Releases information

CD Hux Records HUX067
Seemingly an extended version of the Windsong release of similar title.

Thanks to dick heath for the addition
and to Fitzcarraldo for the last updates
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THE SOFT MACHINE Soft Machine & Heavy Friends BBC In Concert 1971 ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE SOFT MACHINE Soft Machine & Heavy Friends BBC In Concert 1971 reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dick Heath
3 stars According to Graham Bennett's Machine biography 'Out Bloody Rageous', this 1971 radio session finds the biggest line-up of Soft Machine, with some major players from the Britain 60's new jazz scene, including legendary jazz club owner and long time Machine-activist, Ronnie Scott providing tenor sax. It also finds Soft Machine in deep jazz mode but playing some familiar tunes - the centrepiece is a 30 minute plus track assembled from a number of favourites. And you'll hear too, the guest musicians successfully pushing Ratledge, Dean, Wyatt and Hopper hard. You are reminded Wyatt could swing (but no vocals here), and hold his own in this sort of company, (check out SM's 'Paradiso' for other examples), Hopper and his understated (less is more) bass, Dean throwing in the free jazz and Ratledge at his very best (too little is made of this man's keyboard skills - and here, once more, the Lowry to the fore).

And how does this CD differ from that issue by Windsong Records in 1993: 'Radio One: In Concert Soft Machine 1971': 43/ref=sr_1_0_43/202-0064998-4346254 (and apparently now commanding good prices on e-bay?) The John Peel intro, which surely questions what he claimed a couple of times in interviews before his most premature death, with respect to prog. And an additional track.

This album is an excellent snapshot of a one-off extended version of Soft Machine at their prime, experimenting hard and generating wonderful results. Hard jazz rather than jazz rock fusion - which reminds me of Ronnie Scott's quote about the session, perhaps reflecting the challenge of these compositions and arrangement : 'Can't we play some blues or "Sweet Sue"?'

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a unique live album in the SOFT MACHINE catalogue in that there was a lot of guests (heavy friends) helping out. This was recorded live in March of 1971 at the beginning of their Eurpopean tour. This would be the last Europe would see of Robert Wyatt in the band as he would leave after that. Some geat pictures of the band in the liner notes here as well.

After the detailed introductions from John Peel the band starts off with "Blind Badger". Interesting that the players here are basically from Elton Dean's band JUST US which included Elton on sax, Neville Whitehead on bass, Mark Charig on trumpet and Phil Howard on drums.The difference was Elton's keyboard player wasn't here so Mike Ratledge obliged on electric piano. A free form display here with some dissonant horns at times. "Neo-Caliban Grides" adds Wyatt as Howard stays making for an interesting sound with two drummers. Hopper replaces Whitehead on bass and Charig leaves. I like this better than the previous track as we get some major fuzz and it gets quite chaotic too. Great tune. As Hopper says in the liner notes that song was the last chance for the audience to applaud because after that "we were off into more than 30 minutes of connected tunes and fragments of tunes- the famous SOFT MACHINE heads-down medley."

So yeah this next track is a 32 minute medley of seven tracks. Howard leaves but Babbington comes in giving us two bass players. Niemen, Charig and Scott join Dean on horns here at different points in time. This is simply a blast especially with the distortion and fuzz from Hopper's bass and Ratledge's keyboards. A must hear for sure. The encore was "Slightly All The Time / Noisette" which features just the four SOFT MACHINE members only for the first time. Wyatt opens with drums before fuzz and piano arrive. Great sound ! Intense section before 5 minutes and it ends in a noisy manner.

Sure i'm a SOFT MACHINE fanboy but in my opinion this is a live recording every fan of the band should hear.

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
3 stars A Soft Machine party.

This is a bit of a strange album in the vast steppe landscape that is Soft Machine live recordings. The actual Soft Machine lineup of the time doesn't appear until the last track, and Blind Badger is really an Elton Dean piece for his ensemble. The difference on here is that Ratledge plays keys on this piece, but it's still quite a distance away from a true Machine tune. (Even with Wyatt's eventual replacement at the drums.) Of the other two pieces, Neo-Caliban Grides is probably the closest to the "regular" Soft Machine. The traditional long form Soft Machine medley is augmented with a wealth of guests on everything from bass to sax to trumpet to trombone. Admittedly, I do like the addition of these reeds and brass sounds. It almost transports you back to when Soft Machine was a Septet.

The music on here ranges from fairly good to excellent. Elton's tune, Blind Badger, is a fun excursion into the jazz side of things. For me, it strikes me how controlled Howard's drums are. Especially comparing this to his performances on Fifth and Drop. Neo-Caliban Grides is a short chaotic ride. However, slightly disappointing. I was hoping with two drummers in the lineup (for the first and only time in Softs history) this would be a real powerhouse of a song. For the most part it seems like the two drummers are really one, which I suppose is impressive in it's own way, but still leaves something lacking for me. The long form medley of seven tracks is fairly successful. The guests add their most striking touches here, conjuring up (sometimes) new twists to old Softs favorites. However, there are periods that don't seem to mesh so well together. Perhaps it was the interruption of the traditional Softs chemistry with the addition of the myriad of guests. Finally, we get to the best part of the album, Slightly All The Time/Noisette, the classic encore. The playing here is easily the most successful, tightest, and arguably the best on the entire album. The downside is, there is a drop in sound quality. The pristine BBC sound that the rest of the album was broadcasted in is replaced with an average, hissing tape sound. The mix is also the least spectacular. With the organ fairly in the background. The plus to this is that Hopper's bass is up in the mix and does sound wonderful.

All in all, this is a strange but successful document. A one off of friends jamming together to pre-composed tunes in the BBC soundstage. Despite the couple of flaws, this is worthy of owning if you are a Softs fanatic. Casual listeners could probably skip over this one, as there are other, better documents from 1971 Soft Machine. On my personal scale, this would probably be closer to a 3.5-3.75, but for PA and a general prog collection I think 3 stars should do it.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Soft Machine and friends in a BBC concert. Apparantly, these BBC Radio concerts has been ongoing since 1950s and is still on every week or so. That is what a short investigation at their website tells me. So in 1971 the turn came to Soft Machine & friends. A short quirky and utterly charming ... (read more)

Report this review (#434524) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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