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The Soft Machine - Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 52 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is the first release of a live performance from the "Bundles" lineup featuring Allan Holdsworth. The "Bundles" album was finished but not yet released when they did this live radio broadcast for "Bremen" in The Netherlands. Quite a big difference in the sound of SOFT MACHINE from "Seven" to this one. Obviously Allan Holdsworth has a lot to do with that as his guitar is very prominant in the mix here. There is so much great information in the liner notes from interviews held at that time with the different band members. Roy Babbington had this to say about Holdsworth : "Allan blew the pants off anybody.There was nobody to touch him. You had to be around at the time to suffer the shock of hearing him". One of the roadies also relates a story about going down to the CBS studios where they were mixing the "Bundles" album. He went into the men's restroom at one point and : "As I walked in, Allan was standing in front of the wall mirror over the wash basins, playing his guitar at blinding speed. My first reaction to myself was : "What a wanker, he's posing in front of the mirror !". Afterwards, when I went back into the studio to hear the mixdown, and I actually heard what Allan was playing on "Hazard Profile", my jaw dropped ! I then realized that he hadn't been posing in the bathroom, he was practising scales and modes backwards in the mirror, to make the boredom of practising more interesting !" Allan would leave after the "Bundles" release to join TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME band, an offer he felt he coudn't turn down at the time. I can attest that Holdsworth is absolutely incredible on that record too, it's called "Believe It !".

"The Floating World" opens with spacey keys as flute joins in. Bass before 3 minutes then electric piano arrives followed by drums. A lot of dual keyboards on this one from Jenkins and Ratledge. An apt title as this one is very spacey and atmospheric. "Bundles" opens with prominant guitar and drumming. Keys come in and bass as they lead for a while. It's the amazing guitar and drums though that stand out on this one. Allan is just ripping it up here. Great tune ! It blends into "Land Of The Bag Snake" where this similar sound continues. It settles after 3 1/2 minutes. "Ealing Comedy" opens with a bass solo that continues almost throughout. Some fuzz here too. Spacey keys, bass and drums end it as it blends into "The Man Who Waved At Trains". Holdsworth comes in with his violin on this tune and gets an ovation when he's finished.

"Peff" is more uptempo with keys, bass, aboe and drums standing out, although aboe leads the way here. Deep bass 4 minutes in as it settles.The aboe stops to applause late. Take a bow Karl Jenkins ! "North Point" is basically a Ratledge solo that sounds like your listening to a video game. Not a fan at all. "Hazard Profile (Part One)" is another gem with a fairly heavy soundscape. Love the guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes. "J.S.M." is over 10 minutes of Marshall giving us a drum solo. Like the Ratledge solo this is a disappointment.10 minutes ! "Riff III" is led by drums and bass early. Keys and guitar come in. A good rhythm here. Love when the guitar starts to solo over top. Fantastic tune. "Song Of Aeolus" opens with piano then some beautiful guitar joins in. Some distorted keys after 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar returns. "Endgame" features Holdsworth just ripping it up after Marshall finishes beating the hell out of his drumkit. "Penny Hitch (Coda)" is fairly laid back with flute a minute in. Liquid keys 2 minutes in. Some noise late though.

Apart from the two songs that feature the synth and drum solos this is pure bliss for me. Just a pleasure to hear how good this lineup was live.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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