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The Soft Machine - Triple Echo CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.95 | 18 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This triple (record) album, which has not yet been released on C.D., offers the best possible introduction to the music of the Soft Machine. Its first L.P. offers an excellent overview of the band's (predominantly) cheerful dadaist phase. The second is devoted to their jazzy experiments from circa 1970, featuring Elton Dean on sax. The third contains typical mid- seventies jazz-rock and introduces the unique sound of Allan Holdsworth's electric guitar.

One special reason why I used to enjoy this set immensely, when I still had a record player: its opening tracks actually consist of the Soft Machine's first ever single, and they strike me as one of the most exciting things the band ever did. 'Love makes sweet music' is incredibly catchy and energetic, and it has typical Kevin Ayers lyrics:

Every night it's the same old scene / waking up 'cause you're scared to dream / but I know that things will get better / if you let your dreams get wetter than wine!

'Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin' (the original single's B-side) is a wacky but totally essential piece of 1960s psychedelica, which no admirer of either Ayers or Robert Wyatt should be without. As far as I know, these tracks have NOT appeared in CD form, which I just don't understand, since record companies keep churning out one superfluous Softs anthology after another...

It's even more of a shame that this set still languishes in the vaults when you consider that the record company which originally produced it keeps selling classic Pink Floyd albums at inflated prices - including RELICS, the best tracks of which could easily have appeared as bonus material elsewhere. But then again, it's hard to do TRIPLE ECHO justice in the CD format, since it originally came with a witty and highly readable booklet, richly illustrated with Rare Photographs and a Pete Frame-designed family tree!

To sum up: A gorgeous collection, perfect for everyone who ever wondered how Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge and other Canterbury luminaries started out. Wyatt's superb drumming alone is worth the price of admission.

P.S. Almost as soon as I finished this review, I found out that most of the pieces included in TRIPLE ECHO (including that classic first single!) have now been incorporated in the anthologies OUT-BLOODY-RAGEOUS and THE HARVEST YEARS, reviewed elsewhere on Prog Archives.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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