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Soft Machine Legacy - Live at the New Morning CD (album) cover


Soft Machine Legacy


Canterbury Scene

3.77 | 11 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Awesome seeing this date, where members representing the very legendary "legacy" of Soft Machine, across eras, were pulled together. The great and near-inimitable Hugh HOPPER had been with the original SOFT MACHINE since 1968, appearing on their self-titled debut (two years after the band's formation), through to 1973 for the second-to-last numeric album, Six. A 30+-year return, too, for Elton Dean, also representative of an earlier, bygone era, as he appeared alongside Hopper and Co. from 1969 to 1972 (on Third, Fourth, and Fifth)--interesting to me, given this timeline, how much I've ignorantly considered Dean to be the guy on sax. Hopper and Dean formed Soft Machine Legacy in 2004 out of the short-lived SOFT WORKS, then consisting of John Marshall (originally with early NUCLEUS, then drummer for SM from 1972 through to their true-blue Fusion era in 1976), Keith Tippet and the illustrious ALLAN HOLDSWORTH (appearing on Bundles, 1975). It was with the departure of Tippet and replacement of Holdsworth with John Etheridge-- interestingly, the exact replacement that occurred in 1975/76 between Bundles and Softs--that Legacy was formed. This latter mentioned album, as with Holdsworth and Bundles, was the sole "Soft Machine proper" studio album on which Etheridge appeared.

And this has very much the feeling of a so-called "proper" Soft Machine release. Rolling, meandering rhythm section and sax. And the now-classic [Guitar] Fusion stylings of John Etheridge hold it together, from comping and softy striding to his blazing melt. One track that I thought was just fine but turned out to be much more was "1212". Sure masters of composition, but also of backing each other. Exemplary musicianship and know- how. One track that doesn't do so well in this regard was "Has Riff", which was, at the start, 6 minutes of Etheridge noodling, truly solo. This is a spacy track with little to no resolve.

"Kings & Queens" immediately made me think of classic GONG. Pensive but lofty and ethereal. A track low-to- the-ground, but satisfying. Alongside the Malherbe-esque saxophonics, the highlight here is Marshall's drumming: reserved, yet excellent. "Sideburn" is where they felt he didn't do enough, as it's literally a near-5- minute drum solo. Take it or leave it, but it naturally goes into the next, "Two Down", a pick-me-up for sure, personally. But admittedly, a potentially bigger problem than I'd like to admit was that it felt pretty flat. No bass?... Just a weird choice.

The swing of styles range from heavy Fusion to classic but ultimately reserved Canterbury quirk to cool, loungey Post-Bop ("Baker's Treat", "Strange Comforts").

Personal stand-out tracks: "Ash", "1212"

DangHeck | 3/5 |


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