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The Soft Machine - Soft Machine & Heavy Friends  BBC In Concert 1971 CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.35 | 15 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
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.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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