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THE SOFT MACHINE

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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The Soft Machine biography
The probably most important and influential band to grow out the Canterbury Scene was SOFT MACHINE. The band emerged in 1967 as the quartet of Robert WYATT (drums, vocals), Mike RATLEDGE (keyboards), Kevin AYERS (bass, vocals) and Daevid ALLEN (guitar, vocals). Through a persistence of personnel changes (totalling ~30), their sound was to changed continually over the years of their existence. This band along with CARAVAN (both to come out of the formative WILDE FLOWERS), would influence the emergence of the Canterbury Sound (MATCHING MOLE, EGG, HATFIELD & THE NORTH, and many more). Many careers began with SOFT MACHINE: Robert WYATT (MATCHING MOLE band and solo artist), Kevin AYERS (later his own WHOLE WORLD band and solo artist), and Daevid ALLEN (later GONG and solo artist). Virtuosic instrumentalists such as Hugh HOPPER, Mike RATLEDGE, Elton DEAN, Allan HOLDSWORTH, (briefly) Andy SUMMERS, Roy BABBINGTON, John MARSHALL and Karl JENKINS were attracted to MACHINE's ranks through out its history, leaving us a series of ground-breaking albums.

Now, briefly - what is the music like? The SOFT MACHINE were, for many listeners, the standard against which all jazz-rock fusion, including many of the big American names, had to be measured. (Alas SOFT MACHINE, has taken a mighty long time to be accepted even by part of the jazz fraternity). SOFT MACHINE's first three studio albums contain some of their best work. The first two demonstrate a progression from R'n'B psychedelia, increasingly heavily flavored by Mike Ratledge's free jazz improv tempered by modern serious music, towards their own idiosyncratic jazz fusion. The first album is very much in the psychedelic vein. In the instrumental section of "Volume Two" and "Third", they are found freely blending modern jazz with modern rock sensibilities, with more than a hint of heavy abstract stylings, e.g. minimalism - that is not to say, they were doing this all along - for instance as found on the 1967 recordings heard on "Middle Earth Tapes". "Volume Two" retains the psychedelia through the mixture of metaphysical and apparently ad-lib lyrics, while instrumentally the psychedelic jamming was heavily infused with a complex jazzy style. Here Hugh HOPPER, RATLEDGE and WYATT were joined by Hugh's brother Brian on sax. "Live At Paradiso" covering the same tunes but in different order, was recorded within a fortnight of "Volume 2", by the trio and sounds more prog than jazz. "Third" is the transitional, double al...
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Soft MachineSoft Machine
Sundazed Music Inc. 2012
Audio CD$8.98
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Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Import
Sony Import 2010
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The Paris ConcertThe Paris Concert
Inakustic 2006
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ThirdThird
Import · Remastered
Sony Bmg Europe 2007
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Volumes One & TwoVolumes One & Two
Import
Big Beat UK 2004
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Volume 2Volume 2
Import · Remastered
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Soft MachineSoft Machine
Import · Remastered
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$0.64 (used)
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Import · Remastered
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Audio CD$2.24
$4.95 (used)
FourthFourth
Import · Remastered
Sony Bmg Europe 2007
Audio CD$5.96
$0.77 (used)
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THE SOFT MACHINE shows & tickets


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THE SOFT MACHINE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE SOFT MACHINE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 340 ratings
The Soft Machine
1968
4.02 | 301 ratings
Volume Two
1969
4.21 | 652 ratings
Third
1970
3.45 | 217 ratings
Fourth
1971
3.32 | 161 ratings
Fifth
1972
3.51 | 146 ratings
Six
1973
3.59 | 162 ratings
Seven
1973
3.99 | 213 ratings
Bundles
1975
3.70 | 134 ratings
Softs
1976
2.97 | 82 ratings
Land of Cockayne
1981
1.79 | 36 ratings
Rubber Riff
1994

THE SOFT MACHINE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.78 | 48 ratings
Alive & Well - Recorded in Paris
1978
3.24 | 20 ratings
Live at the Proms (1970)
1988
4.24 | 11 ratings
BBC Live In Concert 1971
1993
3.56 | 9 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert 1972
1994
3.93 | 24 ratings
Live At The Paradiso
1995
3.29 | 15 ratings
Live In France (Paris)
1995
3.66 | 30 ratings
Virtually
1998
2.64 | 13 ratings
Live 1970
1998
4.06 | 41 ratings
Noisette
2000
3.39 | 22 ratings
Backwards
2002
1.08 | 5 ratings
Facelift
2002
2.67 | 6 ratings
Somewhere In Soho
2004
3.43 | 7 ratings
Soft Stage BBC In Concert 1972
2005
3.29 | 8 ratings
Breda Reactor
2005
3.32 | 11 ratings
Soft Machine & Heavy Friends BBC In Concert 1971
2005
3.79 | 20 ratings
British Tour '75
2005
3.78 | 28 ratings
Floating World Live (Bremen 1975)
2006
4.43 | 40 ratings
Grides
2006
2.57 | 15 ratings
Middle Earth Masters
2006
3.00 | 15 ratings
Drop
2008
4.18 | 14 ratings
Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre
2009
4.38 | 15 ratings
NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973
2010

THE SOFT MACHINE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.39 | 13 ratings
Alive in Paris-1970
2008

THE SOFT MACHINE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.19 | 14 ratings
Face And Place Vol. 7 (also called Jet Propelled Photographs and At The Beginning)
1972
4.35 | 39 ratings
The Soft Machine Collection (Volumes One and Two)
1973
3.92 | 12 ratings
Triple Echo
1977
3.07 | 14 ratings
Jet Propelled Photographs
1989
3.90 | 17 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1990
3.23 | 6 ratings
The Untouchable Collection (1975-78)
1990
4.35 | 3 ratings
As If...
1991
3.00 | 1 ratings
Soft Machine (Live & Demos)
1994
3.57 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Soft Machine...The Harvest Years
1995
3.49 | 23 ratings
Spaced (1969)
1996
3.57 | 19 ratings
Fourth / Fifth
1999
3.50 | 2 ratings
soft machine
2000
1.97 | 12 ratings
Man in a Deaf Corner: Anthology 1963-1970
2001
4.25 | 4 ratings
Turns On Vol. 1
2001
2.25 | 5 ratings
Turns On Vol. 2
2001
1.68 | 5 ratings
Kings Of Canterbury
2003
4.03 | 25 ratings
BBC - Radio 1967 - 1971
2003
4.06 | 16 ratings
BBC Radio 1971 - 1974
2003
3.39 | 8 ratings
Six/Seven
2004
4.01 | 7 ratings
Out Bloody Rageous (Anthology 67-73)
2005
1.00 | 1 ratings
The Story of Soft Machine
2005
3.49 | 9 ratings
Original Album Classics
2010

THE SOFT MACHINE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
Love Makes Sweet Music
1968
4.00 | 3 ratings
Why Are We Sleeping?
1968
4.00 | 3 ratings
Soft Space
1978

THE SOFT MACHINE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Third by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.21 | 652 ratings

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Third
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by BatBacon

3 stars Easley one of the trickiest records I have in my collection and always makes me feel confused and disorientated. Those who know the genre Canterbury Scene know it stands for long, stretched out jams, weird melodies and that strange fuzzy organ sound. Its almost pop, but at the same time not even close. Almost jazz, but mutated into something beyond recognition. Soft Machine is Canterbury Scene at its most extreme and I don't know their records that well because I rarely have the energy to listen to them. To be completely honest I think this was the first time I listened through whole this record, I can't really recall having heard the last track before. A bit strange and funny, but at the same time, how could I tell? It sounds pretty much as the rest of the record.

Just the opening is enough to scare most people off, its about four minutes of weird organ noises. Only people looking for something slightly disturbing to listen to would sit through this intro (Yes, I had one of those nights, so I was pretty stimulated). Then comes the bass and drums and starts of some kind of jam, which is kind of nice for the first couple of minutes. But soon you realise this jam goes on for the rest of the 18 minutes long song and nothing really happens.

I admit it, this record has a lot of great moments, but most of the time it doesn't sound like the musicians are reflecting over what they are playing. All the four songs are over 18 minutes, but I don't think there is enough interesting ideas to stretch any of them that much. Except from a moment in the third song "Moon in June", which has a bit of vocals (Robert Wyatt's voice is fantastic!), its all mostly just a long and a bit annoying jam. A lot of organs and saxophone, noises and wild rhythms, but nothing really happens.

I would recommend this to anyone who thought National Health or Matching Mule (other Canterbury Scene bands) wasn't extreme enough. But for those who love Robert Wyatt's solo material or Caravan I have to say: Be careful around Soft Machine.

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 Rubber Riff by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1994
1.79 | 36 ratings

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Rubber Riff
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Suedevanshoe

3 stars I love this album. Similar to the 1976 recording "The Guitar of John Renbourn" this is just a collection of pre-muzak snippets to be used to play in libraries. Not imaginative, not exciting, boring, dull, pedestrian, many adjectives can be used to describe this entry in Soft Machine's catalog. I purely enjoy this as background music, this album has a definite niche in my library. Morning newspaper and a glass of milk and some uninspired playing from seasoned vets. What a way to start the day.

Honestly, I'd give this four stars if my own criteria were used to judge the album. However, three stars seems more appropriate. I can see why some prog fans out there give it one star, it is middling and untidy. If you like background sounds, try "The Guitar of John Renbour" which is very relaxing.

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 Bundles by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.99 | 213 ratings

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Bundles
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Bundles" is the 8th full-length studio album by UK experimental/fusion/jazz rock act Soft Machine. The album was released through Harvest Records in March 1975. Keyboard player Mike Ratledge was at this point the only founding member left in the lineup and even his involvement in Soft Machine was dwindling at this point. His writing contributions to "Bundles" is limited to two short tracks. Most of the material on the album are composed by Karl Jenkins (oboe, soprano sax, acoustic & electric pianos).

Musically "Bundles" also marks a pretty big shift in direction compared to the last couple of more jazz oriented releases. It's especially the inclusion of the, at the time, only 19 years old guitar prodigy Allan Holdsworth and his considerable contributions to the album, that make "Bundles" such a different sounding album to it's predecessors (Soft Machine's music hadn't featured guitar since their earliest days). The energy and the rythms make this a much more contemporary sounding fusion album than the more jazz oriented albums that came before it (think acts like jazz rock/fusion period Gong and Return to Forever).

The musicianship is not surprisingly top notch. These guys are professionals but not the type of professional musicians who are devoid of emotion because of it. It's probably an aquired taste if you can appreciate the change in sound and Allan Holdsworth's frantic shredding, but I guess people's opinions on "Bundles" will very much reflect how they feel about the preceeding releases. Personally "Bundles" appeal much more to me than anything Soft Machine released between "Third (1970)" and this one, so I'm happy as a pig.

The sound production is powerful and organic, which suits the music well. So upon conclusion "Bundles" is a high quality jazz rock/fusion album by Soft Machine. Tracks like the "Hazard Profile" suite and "Four Gongs Two Drums" are great jazz rock/fusion and the rest of the material are for the most part equally exciting. The ambient closing track "The Floating World" is a bit too longdrawn and to my ears a bit of an anti climatic way to end an otherwise greatly energetic release but I guess that's an aquired taste. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Third by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.21 | 652 ratings

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Third
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by LSDisease

1 stars This one appeared to be an obvious choice for the first encounter with The Soft Machine's music. It wasn't a good idea I guess but if it's their finest work I don't want to hear their other albums. Facelift is semi amateurish nonsense, a piece of truly sensless cacophony that was recorded partly live. Guys learn how to play as they stay completely out of tune. The second song is better but still not a glimpse of idea how to create something that makes sense and isn't just a collection of random sounds. This is a bit jazzy, I don't know, maybe guys wanted to play what appeared in their heads while recording the album. Moon In June is partly ok which I mean it finally sounds like some kind of a song. Out-Bloody-Rageous is a pure jazz tune. It's nothing interesting to me and the whole long album is a bummer. Sorry. I don't know if I want to listen to some other records by The Soft Machine.

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 The Soft Machine by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.06 | 340 ratings

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The Soft Machine
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars The Soft Machine were the creators along with Caravan of the Canterbury scene. Let's not forget most of the members were together at the Wilde Flowers, previous to their bands. They liked the psychedelia of the time, but they also liked to feel free to compose, and also they liked to feel attached somehow to their folk roots, all this mixture was the origin of the Canterbury sound. Their first album was a first effort, and with great success, to accomplish the sound they were looking for. Little by little and band after band (remember that each member left to form other bands with same quality) they were improving in their music, that's why this album cannot get the 5 stars because they got over themselves in their future albums but definitely this album is the milestone of a complete genre.

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 Fifth by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.32 | 161 ratings

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Fifth
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Luís de Sousa

5 stars In the rock music world there are recordings that have become landmarks; decades may pass over its original production but a consensus perdures on its exceptional qualities, even among those that may have born long after. In other cases the consensus does not exit, by one reason or another, an outstanding work can push the limits in such a way that it alienates part of the listeners' spectrum. [i]Fifth[/i] by Soft Machine is one of these records.

Soft Machine was on of the bands emerging in Canterbury in the late 1960s towards international recognition. They took a particular approach to Rock, embedding elements of Jazz, in what would become known as Jazz-Rock. In spite of being one of the unavoidable precursors of the genre, Soft Machine remained for a few years well ahead of its peers, avoiding any fall into stereotypes. These first few LP evolved around the trio composed by Mike Rutledge (organ), Hugh Hopper (electric bass) and Robert Wyatt (drums), later with the important addition of Elton Dean (alto sax). This core line up featured in the first four LP of the band, each time diving further into Jazz, composing what are today its most appreciated recordings.

Robert Wyatt would leave the band right after, still in 1971, and almost two years passed before the band returned to studio. Late in 1972 the band would finally release their [i]Fifth[/i] LP, which would be the last in several aspects: the last featuring Elton Dean and the last really experimenting into Jazz (actually Free Jazz) for instance with concurrent double bass and electric bass. It went once again into territories where neither Rock nor Jazz listeners feel completely comfortable. However, in doing so, the band epitomised the work of its early carer and perhaps even the true essence of Jazz Rock.

[b][i]All White[/i][/b]

A spacey intro with a reverbed saxophone and fuzz bass that sounds completely apart from anything else immediately grabbing the listener. Eventually evolves into a familiar jazz rock piece with Mike and the drums joining in. Still, it sounds well ahead of its time.

[b][i]Drop[/i][/b]

Another eerie intro, this time using a repeater plugged to the electric piano, again recreating the sense of vanguard. A lead organ slowly emerges, backed by a full jazzy ensemble. The remainder of the musicians, although having great freedom to improvise, still keep the listener focused with simple melodies here and there. It gives a warming sense of discovery and leaves the listener looking forward for what may come next.

[b][i]M C[/i][/b]

A collective improvisation from which no distinguishable rhythmic structure or melody ever emerges, producing a somewhat dysfunctional exit to side A. This is one of the efforts that may have lend some bad reputation to the LP, but it makes sense.

[b][i]As If[/i][/b]

A short bass phrase on tame tempo sets the scene for a great deal of experimentation from the other instruments, especially the double bass, here played with the bow. Slowly the song melts down, like a painting washed by rain, loosing the rhythmic structure and melody. Expectation builds up, in away that can be painful for the less jazzy listener, eventually leading into the follow track.

[b][i]L B O[/i][/b]

A noisy and chaotic intermission with all the instruments together closing the previous track and opening up for a short drum solo, still leaves the listener in uncomfortable territory.

[b][i]Pigling Bland[/i][/b]

Totally cuts with the previous chaos in a very elegant way. The band brings you back again to comfortable territory with the familiar and plasent Soft Machine signature sound of the previous LP. This time the leading melody is produced by Dean.

[b][i]Bone[/i][/b]

It comes out of nowhere, putting an end to the previous track and again immersing the listener in a futuristic soundscape. A tame but spacey bass supports a melody by the organ with an out of this world reverbed flute improvising. It is a mysterious sound alike anything else that slowly fades away.

The LP takes an arc like shape going from comfortable Soft Machine sounds, plugging into full fledged Free Jazz and then coming back again to the familiar Jazz-Rock.

[b]The Veredict[/b]

Apart from the dearths into Free Jazz this LP also contains some outstanding space pieces, especially in [i]All White[/i], [i]Drop[/i] and [i]Bone[/i], that make it all the more interesting. These are unique experiments that the band would never try again, producing sounds well ahead of their time.

The early 1970s were a time of great experimentation. Jazz musicians where captured and drawn to Rock and Rock musicians boldly delved into Jazz. This record is likely the best portrait of this epoch, blurring the boundaries between the two genres. Some might say that Soft Machine went too far, but Progressive Rock is just that, going where no one went before. Thus I can only classify this work as a Masterpiece.

After [i]Fifth[/i] Hugh Hopper and Mike Ratledge kept Soft Machine going but rapidly retreating to the comfortable sounds of bare Jazz-Rock, at times producing pleasant music, but never daring as before.

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 Middle Earth Masters by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Live, 2006
2.57 | 15 ratings

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Middle Earth Masters
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

2 stars Very Early Softs

All but the most fanatical fans (guilty as charged!) will want to avoid this release. This captures the band in concert around the time of their first album, the trio of Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, and Mike Ratledge. The acoustics, in what sounds like a concrete basement, are fairly rough, and most of Robert Wyatt's vocals are all but inaudible, though that may be his own fault for not singing directly into the mic (which can be tough to do when you're busy drumming).

This set is notable for showcasing a couple of early Kevin Ayers tunes which did not appear on a Soft Machine album but later were recorded by Kevin as a solo act -- "We Know What You Mean" (aka "Soon Soon Soon") and "Clarence in Wonderland". The versions are unremarkable, but it's fun to hear them in such early, intimate versions.

Much of the set, however, is given to extended versions of tracks from the debut, which give some idea of how noisy and unhinged this band could be in their early days. "Hope for Happiness" runs for 13 minutes, with Mike Ratledge's organ screeching away at top volume. "I Should've Known" (later retitled "Why Am I So Short/So Boot if at All" for the debut) takes a similar path. As if such free form insanity weren't enough, there's a fully improvised piece called "Disorganization" that will certainly test your patience.

I'm glad to own this, but honestly it's a rough listen. Recommended to historians only.

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 Six/Seven by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
3.39 | 8 ratings

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Six/Seven
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by BORA

4 stars Strange combination of two albums.

"Six" was the first jazzy LP I bought (second hand) as a teenager. At that time my understanding of Jazz was restricted to Zappa's "Hot Rats", Colosseum "Live" and perhaps some groovy bits by Traffic. Little I realized then that "Six" will be a catalyst in my future musical preferences and SM will become one of my fave bands - although not on the strength of this album.

I was told that it's great work and I listened and listened to it and eventually, it grew on me, laying the ground for further interest in Jazz. In hindsight, today I see this piece closer to Canterbury, a term not in common use back then. But really, the two genres are not that far apart.

A very good album indeed - if only a bit restrained, even somewhat drawn out. Admittedly, I am not very fond of Hopper's experimentation with sound effects on the last track "1983", something he further embraced as a solo artist in future. Suffice to say, I'd recommend the "NDR Workshop" (1973) live performance of this material as a far more superior version on many levels.

"Seven" finds the band in full flight, where Jenkins is the undisputed motivator and his playing is just superb. On the first track "Nettle bed" the band collectively and individually will blow your head off. One of the most dynamic pieces I've ever heard in music (remember, it was released in 1973!). This tune alone is worth the price of the CD. Here, even the somewhat laid back Marshall (drums) plays as if possessed by the Devil. Turn up the volume to max and hold onto your seat!

The rest of the album varies between laid-back and more lively pieces, offering a nice combination. A bit of winding down is probably needed after such a majestic start. I love this album from beginning to end - except...

...for the horrible sound quality. I know, I mentioned this before and will keep doing so, until someone in authority will notice it and/or get embarrassed enough to act. I do regular searches for a remastered copy of decent quality, but no luck so far. I'll keep thumping my fist and refuse to expire until I've heard "Nettle Bed" in it's full splendour. Phew!

On the artistic strength of "Seven" I'd like to offer a 5, but realistically, as a whole package it's a strong 4.

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 NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973 by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Live, 2010
4.38 | 15 ratings

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NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by BORA

5 stars 40 years ago almost to the date - still fresh!

This is practically a live version of "Six" that was released only a few months earlier and itself is recorded live in parts. So what's the point of investing in this release? Well, there are many reasons.

Firstly, the sound quality is far superior to "Six" that suffers from that typical, muddy sound that plagued CBS releases of that era. (Ah, for Heaven's sake, when can we have "Seven" remastered and made listenable???)

This version of "Six" is also more evolved and mature, containing hints towards the soon to be released "Seven". One can feel that Karl Jenkins - formerly of NUCLEUS, another great Jazz-Rock outfit - is establishing himself here. Bringing along two more members of his previous band, leaving Ratledge as the only founding member of Soft Machine present. Some people frown upon Jenkins for "hijacking" the original sound of SM - which wasn't that original by this stage, anyway. Both NUCLEUS and SM represent the finest of British Jazz- Rock of that era, partly due to Jenkins' involvement as a brilliant composer and performer.

Here, he plays his wind instruments with jaw-dropping ferocity that in itself is worth writing home about. Meanwhile Ratledge is doing what's the typical Ratledge approach, providing tasteful underlines on his keyboard. The rhythm section of Marshall and Babbington are also doing a fine job, although the latter appears to have difficulties with replicating Hopper's sound. He play the notes well, true to the original compositions, just can't make it sound like his predecessor. (Just like Steve Morse can't - for anything - do "Smoke On The Water" and sound like Blackmore.)

Special mention is due to the guest musicians. Art Themen on saxes is just incredible. A pure joy to hear when he takes center stage. Equally, Gary Boyle on guitar is doing very pleasant, Holdsworthian licks. (Interesting to note that Boyle later established his band ISOTOPE with no other, but Hugh Hopper on bass! This fine band was then - quite erroneously - likened to BRAND X, whose complexity they never really challenged.)

This performance is a "must have" to any collector of Jazz-Rock. Great sound, great delivery.

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 Fourth / Fifth by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
3.57 | 19 ratings

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Fourth / Fifth
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by BORA

5 stars Connoisseur's choice in Jazz.

Interesting to see these two albums released on one disc. Common practice is of matching a better album with a bonus-like weaker one. This is not the case here as both of them - albeit slightly different - are excellent works on their own, if for various reasons.

SM remains one of my fave bands from the '70s and I deeply appreciate most of their works. This band is a rare phenomenon where regardless of the diversity of styles, drastic changes in musical directions/ personnel, 40 odd years on their music remains relevant - and brilliant.

By the time they released "Fourth" in 1971, there was little - if any - trace of their former Psychedelic approach. This album is pure British Jazz of the most artistic (i.e. difficult) kind. Deep, dark, meandering pieces, perhaps closer to the ECM label than to standard CBS works. Admittedly, one must have at least a cursory understanding of Jazz and even then it's probably the most difficult SM album to get into. One of the finest examples of "heavy" Jazz and to me it's a masterpiece, but one must be in the mood for it.

"Fifth" came out in 1972 and is a lighter and more accessible effort still in the Jazz vein, but closer to Jazz-Rock. Side A of the LP has a different rhythm section to side B, yet the album as a whole retains it's integrity.

Both albums are excellent and highly recommended.

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