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The Soft Machine NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973 album cover
4.48 | 30 ratings | 6 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fanfare (0:47)
2. All White (3:37 )
3. Link 1/Link 2 (5:04 )
4. 37 1/2 (6:31)
5. Link 3 (0:47)
6. Riff (3:50)
7. Down The Road (10:41)
8. Link 3a (1:00)
9. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album (4:46)
10. Chloe And The Pirates (8:33)
11. Gesolreut (11:48)
12. E.P.V. (3:33)
13. Link 4 (3:37)
14. Stumble (6:55)
15. One Across (6:09)
16. Riff II (1:08)

Total Time 1:18:46

1. Fanfare
2. All White
3. Link 1
4. The Soft Weed Factor
5. Link 2
6. 37 1/2
7. Link 3
8. Riff
9. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album
10. Chloe and the Pirates
11. Gesolreut
12. E.P.V.
13. Link 4
14. Stumble
15. One Across
16. Riff II
yAudio bonus materialz
17. 1983
18. Encore improvisation / Stumble reprise

Line-up / Musicians

Roy Babbington / bass
Karl Jenkins / oboe, baritone sax, soprano sax, electric piano
John Marshall / drums
Mike Ratledge / electric piano, organ
Art Themen (tenor and soprano sax)
Gary Boyle(electric guitar)

Releases information

Copyright: 1973 Nordeutscher Rundfunk (Ndr)

Thanks to kazuhiro for the addition
and to sean Trane for the last updates
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THE SOFT MACHINE NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973 ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

THE SOFT MACHINE NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One more very interesting release from the vaults. Soft Machine with only original member keyboardist Mike Ratledge , without sax genius Elton Dean and even bassist Hugh Hopper, but under control of Karl Jenkins.

This concert was recorded soon after "Six" album was released, and the material played is mostly coming from it, but the line-up is the same that will record "Seven" soon. Band plays characteristic for them at that time sophisticated jazz fusion with some improvs, but big part of material is pre-composed yet, and almost 80 minutes long concert is not a free-form improvs fiesta.

Obviously not a star line-up, without Elton Dean sax or Holdsworth's guitar soloing, all the show goes as quite well balanced demonstration of all team's musical abilities without explosions or great soloing. Surprisingly, long musical release doesn't sound boring or repetitive, and shows strong sides of even such more "transitional" Soft Machine's line-up.

Far from their best excellent works, this album is still great listening, especially for Soft Machine fans.

My rating is 3,5, rounded to 4.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This actually comes from a German television program called "NDR Workshop" and it was recorded in May of 1973. This is one of the first live shows performed by the "Seven" lineup even though this event happened before "Seven" was recorded. So just about all of the tracks are from "Six" but this is so much better than both the live or studio portion of "Six" in my opinion. Hugh Hopper's announcement that he was leaving the band came the very same day as this television broadcast but he actually was there and can be heard performing on "1983".

I must say i'm very partial to this lineup being a big fan not only of "Seven" but of NUCLEUS. I mention NUCLEUS because 3 quarters of the "Seven" lineup came from NUCLEUS and at times i'm reminded very much of their sound, and I love that band. A real bonus for me is hearing Gary Boyle perform with SOFT MACHINE on the second set of songs as well as the absolutely amazing Art Themen on sax. It really changes the dynamics with those two on board. By the way this was just before Gary Boyle would form ISOTOPE. I'm sure this concert must have inspired him.

I love how the first six tracks (the first set) all blend together as the band just works through these numbers without stopping. I'm surprised at how spacey and psychedelic some of this is.There's a big applause after the first set ends, some 20 minutes of non stop music. Amazing stuff.

Set two begins with "Down The Road" which would be the only track featured here that would be on the future "Seven" album. And this is my favourite track. This reminds me so much of NUCLEUS and I love the rhythm. Guitar from Boyle 4 minutes in comes to the fore. I could listen to this track for hours. The sax is killer on "Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album". Some great guitar that goes on and on on the next tune "Gesolreut". Again I should mention there are lots of spacey moments on this second set as well. A good example of this is the start of "Link 4" until fuzz, drums and sax take over after 2 minutes. It blends into another incredible track called "Stumble" where they kick some ass.

Babbington, Jenkins, Marshall, Ratledge, Boyle and Themen are all in fantastic form. A mention as well to Udi Koomran who restored the audio and did the mastering.The guy is unreal. A great job all around by everyone involved.

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars A rather odd title for the usual posthumous Soft Machine releases (usually borrowing one of the group's compositions), but this outstanding CD + DVD release does need that to be an absolutely essential testimony for the Jenkins-era Machine, even if the guitar will just ake a short appearance. Indeed this German TV special session dates from 73 around the release of 7, but one can sense that bundles is their next step, due to Gary Boyle's (of Isotope) appearance, but it's still the classic era's stuff that holds the lion's share of the two sets. Since the Cd and the DVD hold quasi exactly the same material (there are one or two tracks that the other recorded version doesn't have), I'll be reviewing the DVD for this excellent exhibition of their unique type of Canterburyan JR/F.

One of the reason why this writer loves so much this era is that, despite the monumental Third album, I wasn't that much a fan of Elton Dean's dissonant improvisations, and it got worse on their fifth album when Phil Howard replaced Wyatt behind the skins. Thankfully, this didn't last and the Nucleus boys (Marshall first, then Jenkins) turned the tide back to more melodic ambiances, much to the displeasure of bassist Hopper (also gone by this TV broadcast), who'd grown a solid dislike of Jenkins' songwriting and personality. But yours truly really appreciates Jenkins' versatility as he proved much more useful than Dean, by not only playing sax, but creating absolutely wonderful ambiances by dueting on electric piano with Ratledge and also twiddling electronic potentiometers, thus adding a different compositional and sonic dimension previously absent under the former Dean- Wyatt/Howard quartet. Strangely enough, a lot of the electronic fiddlings are handled by Jenkins instead of Ratledge who seems to abandon a bit his fuzzed-out Lowrey organ.

Marshall's awesome drumming (he's the third and final Machine drummer, Legacy-era included) is incredibly supportive of the two frontmen's soft improvisations, and Babbington's bass (also an ex-Nucleist), although not as intuitive as Hopper's, is very solid as well, but he's the newcomer and still has to find his real marks within the group. This set is also enhanced by the (short) guest appearance of Art Themen on tenor (then alto) sax (Jenkins either playing alto or less-frequently baritone) and Gary Boyle's guitar, both guest providing much special spices to the usual Machine sets. Another dimension not year plainly visible are the double electric piano interludes allowing for the band to change from one track to the other, called "Link", lasting from 45 to 220 seconds. . This absolutely essential Machine double-disc package holds the second DVD that the excellent Cuneiform label released after the short Grides broadcast, which benefited from Wyatt's presence, but by no means is this one less important. Coupled with the Live In Paris ORTF TV broadcast of the third-era line-up, this is a fabulous trio that every Machinist must have.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Wow, what an eye-opener! This archival release offers up a live set recorded by Soft Machine in the gap between the "Six" and "Seven" albums. That places it in a time period which is a little contentious among followers of the band; Robert Wyatt is out, as is Hugh Hopper (though he guests in a bonus feature on the DVD performing a little something from his "1983" solo album), and Roy Babbington, Karl Jenkins, and John Marshall are all in.

In other words, at this stage only one founder member of Soft Machine is left, and he's increasingly taking a back seat in terms of the compositional direction of the band, which is increasingly dominated by the new members, all of whom are ex-members of Nucleus. A shift in the band's overall sound is only to be expected, and for some fans - especially those who prize the psychedelic aspects of the Machine's early output - it isn't really Soft Machine any more, just a Nucleus side project with Mike Ratledge along for the ride.

Regardless of how you feel on that front, though, there's no denying that this live set is absolute dynamite. Yes, it's very much in the jazz fusion side of Canterbury and might be just a shade over the borderline into straight-ahead fusion of the Nucleus school, but it's really goddamn good fusion!

Since the set was recorded for television, you get the best of both worlds here: the release combines the energy and rawness of a live performance with the sound quality of a professional studio. The upshot is a release which really captures the capabilities of the lineup, and to my ears sounds better than the rather polished, mild-mannered studio albums the band were putting out at this time.

Frankly, I think it's a bit of a shame that Soft Machine's post- Wyatt lineups never quite managed to produce a studio album on the level of this set; had they done so, I think their legacy would be far less contentious. As it stands, I have to say that this is the best post-Wyatt Soft Machine release I've ever heard.

Latest members reviews

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 sup ... (read more)

Report this review (#962417) | Posted by BORA | Sunday, May 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It seems like the amount of posthumous Soft Machine live albums outnumbers their studio albums. And more live albums is upcoming, I have heard. That is a good thing. Soft Machine live is something truly special. Mostly. But when a live album is based on some of their weaker studio albums, the ... (read more)

Report this review (#293980) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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