Jazz music community with review and forums

SOFT MACHINE - Volume Two cover
3.87 | 24 ratings | 4 reviews
Buy this album from MMA partners

Album · 1969


Rivmic Melodies (17:06)
A1 Pataphysical Introduction Pt. I 1:00
A2 A Concise British Alphabet Pt. I 0:10
A3 Hibou, Anenome And Bear 5:58
A4 A Concise British Alphabet Pt. II 0:12
A5 Hulloder 0:52
A6 Dada Was Here 3:25
A7 Thank You Pierrot Lunaire 0:47
A8 Have You Ever Bean Green? 1:23
A9 Pataphysical Introduction Pt. II 0:50
A10 Out Of Tunes 2:30
Esther's Nose Job (16:13)
B1 As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still 2:30
B2 Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening 2:30
B3 Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging 1:50
B4 Pig 2:07
B5 Orange Skin Food 1:52
B6 A Door Opens And Closes 1:09
B7 10:30 Returns To The Bedroom 4:14

Total Time: 33:34


- Hugh Hopper /Bass, Guitar
- Robert Wyatt /Drums, Voice
- Mike Ratledge / Organ [Lowry, Hamond], Flute, Piano, Harpsichord
- Brian Hopper / Saxophone [Soprano, Tenor]

About this release

Probe ‎– CPLP 4505(US)

Recorded Feb/March 1969 at Olympic Studios, London

Thanks to snobb for the updates


More places to buy metal & SOFT MACHINE music

  • CDUniverse - Specializing in the sale of domestic and imported music CDs and Imports


Specialists/collaborators reviews

After Soft Machine's strong and innovative debut, second album is more evolutionary,than revolution. Kevin Ayers is gone and bring with him psychedelic pop tunes. In new lineup (as quartet instead of debut's trio) the band got a sax player on board for a first time.

Musically less pop oriented, this album is real Wyatt product: his vocal,tender and melancholic,with jazzy feel strongly influenced common album's atmosphere. Drumming there is seriously jazzy as much as some free jazz elements in music.

Not radically different from its predecessor,this album made a first step from catchy and freaky psychedelic pop/rock of their debut (still obviously influenced by Daevid Allen) towards later complex and quirky jazz fusion works. Still more psychedelic rock with jazzy arrangements album then real fusion, this work contains plenty of soft acoustic sounds,quite complex (and in time a bit bulky) arrangements,and having very influential atmosphere, lacks direction and is a bit raw and bulky in details.Being a most influential Allen's Soft Machine album, it prepared serious changes in direction happened soon after its release. Important work in Soft Machine discography and possibly most Canterbury-sounding in musical sense, this work is great, but far not a masterpiece. Real masterpiece will be released very soon though.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
OK. Call me a SOFT MACHINE slut for giving their first two albums 5 stars but damn! I really love these guys and a belated introduction to their musical output hasn't dampened my enthusiasm to their sound one bit. In fact it may have enhanced it. I, like countless others, weren't around at the time of these releases to comprehend their musical meisterhood and it seems like many a music fan of the era didn't get to appreciate their ingenious jazz-fusion whimsy at the time of its release. SOFT MACHINE continued their evolution on VOLUME TWO by ratcheting up all the unusualness of their first album and keeping just enough of the familiar poppiness to give a musical structure to embellish upon. The whimsical glee exerts itself full throttle on the first track with their childlike playfulness meets their adult contemplative spirituality on “Pataphysical Introduction.” You know you are in for something special right away.

There had been a few personal changes from Volume One to VOLUME TWO. Robert Wyatt was still in charge of drum duties and lead vocals. Mike Ratledge stayed on board for as keyboardist, but on this release bassist Kevin Ayers was out and Hugh Hopper who guested on the first album was now in. This time around Hugh's brother Brian Hopper guested on the sax (both soprano and tenor.) This album is really two long tracks but because of the advise of Frank Zappa the band broke those two longer tracks into many because of the fact one could reap more royalties that way. The album is actually very short clocking in at just over a half an hour but there is so much going on in that time that it actually feels longer to me.

VOLUME TWO is the logical evolution from “Volume One.” Instead of just jettisoning the psychedelic pop leaning template that had begun before their first album and still utilized on the debut, the band keeps this as a template and simply expands the avant-garde and jazz-fusion tendencies developed on their debut. The result is another superbly excellent album that is short but sweet. The jazz factor is ratcheted up quite a few notches but the underlying flow of the album remains comparable to the debut. As with the previous album this is a grower. No SOFT MACHINE album unleashes its secrets easily. One must listen attentively to let the magic unfold at his or her own time. For me personally, I find this an excellent successor to the debut and a logical bridge between the debut and the even more jazz infused developments of “Third.” Yeah, the only totally unoriginal thing about this band is that they could have been more creative in naming their albums!
In 1969 Hugh Hopper joins the Softs as the new bassist, Leaving former bassist; Kevin Ayers to follow his own solo career. The band hires a saxophonist (a Soft Machine first)which gives the album an overall "jazzier" feel. More so than it's very psych-pop oriented predecessor. Though it is not as jazzy as their later fusion works, it manages to pull off a nice balance between pop, psych and jazz.

Of course Robert Wyatt's vocals are still very prominent on this record, they give the album a very 'stoned' feeling. But at times the vocals are quite humorous, namely in the "Concise British Alphabet" tracks.

The rest of the band are also great on this record. Mike Ratledge; the star of their later works is experimenting away on his organs. His unmistakable tones are heard throughout the recording. Lastly, Hugh Hopper; he is a definite step up on the bass part. He is another reason this record comes off as more jazzy than their first effort.

This album is a great transition between their first and third albums, an overall great progression. For a rating I give 4 stars. The band is progressing more towards jazz and though it may not be a 'perfect' album it is still an excellent addition to any jazz music collection.
The first album from the best-remembered Soft Machine Lineup of Wyatt, Ratledge, and Hugh Hopper (with Brian Hopper guesting on sax), Volume Two is the sound of a Soft Machine that has toured with Hendrix, mastered its sound, lost Kevin Ayers and received some timely advice from Frank Zappa. Including two epics - Rivmic Melodies, which takes up the entire first side, and the mostly-instrumental Esther's Nose Job - and incorporating a heavy dose of jazz into their sound, the Softs defined their own unique variety of fusion just at the same time as the likes of Miles Davis and Frank Zappa were also making their own headroads into the nascent fusion genre.

The loss of Ayers leaves Wyatt as the sole vocalist, and - as well as slipping in thanks to the Jimi Hendrix Experience in Have You Ever Bean Green and wishing good luck to Kevin Ayers in As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still - this album sees an expansion of his use of his voice as an instrument as varied and interesting as his drums, his ethereal wails providing a unique texture. Between his drum attack, Ratledge's fat organ and Hopper's meaty, growling bass playing, the classic Softs sound was realised. It's no surprise that this album represents the start of the Softs' career that is best represented by live recordings and bootlegs, since the structures they created provide fertile ground for improvisation - as well as being sufficiently complex to reward both repeated performance and repeated listening.

On Third, a similar approach would be taken, though Wyatt's vocal contributions would be more curtailed; it's on Volume Two that the classic-era Softs were at their most harmonious and united in their approach. I think it's their true classic.

Ratings only

  • MoogHead
  • lunarston
  • Fant0mas
  • St Tree Fun
  • eurothe65
  • KK58
  • Lynx33
  • idlero
  • EntertheLemming
  • Kontiki
  • yair0103
  • smartpatrol
  • ocasalif
  • joe
  • GMs
  • Croteau
  • Drummer
  • Nightfly
  • Sean Trane
  • richby

Write/edit review

You must be logged in to write or edit review


Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Between the Lines RnB
Buy this album from MMA partners
Flash Of The Spirit Hard Bop
Buy this album from MMA partners
Just Passing Thru Fusion
Buy this album from MMA partners
Music for Sextet Third Stream
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Christmas Time is Here
js· 5 hours ago
Flash of the Spirit
js· 7 hours ago
js· 9 hours ago
js· 1 day ago
Some Luck
snobb· 1 day ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions


Latest Jazz News


More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us