SOFT MACHINE — BBC Radio 1967-1971

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SOFT MACHINE - BBC Radio 1967-1971 cover
4.03 | 8 ratings | 3 reviews
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Live album · 2003

Filed under Fusion


Disc 1
1. Clarence in Wonderland (2:57)
2. We Know What You Mean (3:11)
3. Certain Kind (3:38)
4. Hope for Happiness (4:37)
5. Strangest Scene (AKA Lullaby Letter) (4:55)
6. Facelift / Mousetrap / Noisette / Backwards / Mousetrap Reprise (11:54)
7. The Moon in June (13:02)
8. Instant Pussy (3:19)
9. Slightly All the Time / Out Bloody Rageous / Eamonn Andrews (19:14)

Total Time: 66:50

Disc 2
1. Virtually (9:58)
2. Fletcher's Blemish (12:11)
3. Neo-Caliban Grides (7:34)
4. Dedicated to You but You Weren't Listening (2:46)
5. Eamonn Andrews / All White (7:11)
6. Mousetrap / Noisette / Backwards / Mousetrap Reprise / Esther's Nose Job (21:11)

Total Time: 60:54


- Kevin Ayers / bass, guitar, voice (tracks 1-5 CD1)
- Robert Wyatt / drums, voice
- Mike Ratledge / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass (tracks 6-9 CD1, CD2)
- Brian Hopper saxophone, flute (track 6 CD1)
- Elton Dean / axophone (track 9 CD1, CD2)
- Marc Charig / trumpet (track 6 CD2)
- Lyn Dobson / saxophone, flute (track 6 CD2)
- Nick Evans / trombone (track 6 CD2)

About this release

Hux Records – HUX 037 (UK)

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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SOFT MACHINE BBC RADIO 1967-1971 reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

One more Soft Machine compilation? With all my love to this excellent band, I really needed time and some researches just to decide if this double album can bring me something valuable. But now, when I know it well and really like it, I can give motivated answer - Yes.Being quite attractive album itself, this release has some really interesting material even for experienced band's fan.

First of all I need to mention, that if you (as myself) already own "The Peel Sessions", you should know that five out of ten above mentioned compilation's compositions are presented on "BBC Radio 1967-1971". It's not strange, this double album is complete BBC sessions from band's early period (there are another BBC Radio recordings compilation, covering the period of 1971-1974). If you didn't listen "The Peel Sessions" till now, you will receive huge pack of highest class live Soft Machine material from their best period.

For those who is not interested to pay for five excellent compositions they already have once again, I need to mention what else is valuable on BBC vaults first compilation. First of all, first five compositions there are unreleased before psychedelic pop songs, coming from Kevin Ayers, Ratledge and Wyatt trio from December 1967!When listen you can easily hear what the band they were just few years before their peak and how influential Ayers was to their music (some songs later were recorded on Ayers solo albums).

Then,we have there minimalistic version of Instant Pussy - this song will be released on Matching Mole album later.Second CD contains long Dean's composition Fletcher's Blemish and Eamonn Andrews/All White medley.Enough new materials to make this album attractive for real Soft Machine's fan. If you don't own "The Peel Sessions", this album is a real bomb for you!

Members reviews

An excellent compilation of Peel Sessions from the Robert Wyatt era of Soft Machine (and a more complete one than the "Peel Sessions" release from 1990). The sessions range from a 1967 one featuring Kevin Ayers, from before the group's debut album even came out, to a session from June of 1971 - recorded a mere month before Wyatt quit over the group's refusal to allow his whimsical musical ideas and his vocal contributions to make a return to the band's sound.

A particularly interesting transition is the one between the first session and the second - from Strangest Scene to Facelift - in which time the group transitioned from Canterburyish psychedelia to fully-fledged fusion. What's even more interesting is that this session took place in June of 1969 - a mere three months after the recording of the Live at the Paradiso 1969 album, which showcases a sound still in line with that of Volume Two. The session makes it clear that the transition from psychedelia to fusion took place extremely suddenly - within the space of three months or so - making it particularly startling how good the 1969 session sounds.

In addition to the scorching live-in-the-studio performances here showcased, there's also a few rarities - for example, a version of Instant Pussy as a solo Wyatt song (the piece would later be reimagined in a free jazz-ish spacey instrumental version by Wyatt's next band, Matching Mole), and an early rendition of Moon in June with modified lyrics praising the BBC's facilities and giving shoutouts to Pink Floyd and Caravan.

As a whole, this double album set is a fine compilation, which will be of interest both to fans of the band and to anyone interested in the group's work - if you want a taster of the full range of the band's sound from the debut to Four, this is a great sampler which, unlike a conventional compilation, won't end up redundant if you go on to buy the original studio albums.
Sean Trane
In just two double discs Hux records will release the numerous radio sessions done for the BBC, this one ranging from the Halcyon days of 67 – where the Machine was still a psychedelic caterpillar - until 71 with the most classic line-up including Dean, Hopper, Wyatt and Ratledge. These are just the studio radio sessions but there are two others BBC live concerts available also and as usual with BBC archives the sound is pristine and the interest of them is invaluable.

On disc 1, the first five tracks are due to the line-up that recorded the debut album with Kevin Ayers singing and playing bass and this is maybe the best sounding live recording from that period. With Hope For Happiness and Strangest Scene as showcase for their dynamic qualities, that session may just be the most interesting of all the ones on the two double discs set. The next session is one of the definitive ones showing on how the tracks from Volume 2 have evolved to lead into the famous and seminal Third album. Four tracks from that album are meddled into one suite while the second track from the session is a first version (pre-album) of Moon In June where Wyatt recommends Ayers, Caravan Pink Floyd and thanks the BBC and its orchestra while singing. Du grand art, monsieur!!! This session is also invaluable because those tracks are much more often played as a foursome (with Elton Dean), but more rarely as a trio.

Then comes a strange UFO in the name of Instant Pussy (that should be more at home on a Matching Mole record although it does not sound anything like the latter MM version) that was strangely separated from the rest of the session, which closes the second disc. This anti-chronological order is due to Robert Wyatt, but it is the only one of a kind on this release! Then we jump to the mid 70 session the now classic quartet doing a medley of tracks that are present on the Third album.

Disc 2 starts with an early 71 session the band presenting the rather cold fusion (sometimes right into free jazz thanks to Elton dean’s influences) of their album 4, this one not being quite interesting as there are tons of other recordings available on those tracks, although maybe not of this caliber! The next session of the same year but in June and also being of lesser interest if you have any live BBC recordings or anything on Cuneiform records. Do not get me wrong, these two sessions are absolutely essential to the unconditional fan, but again if one is of that category he will already own one or two live version of these tracks. Another strange “gift” on here is another Wyatt vocal improve playing with echoes but this is messy and like the Instant Pussy does not really belong here!

Finally comes the session from late 69 and another invaluable one as this is a rare version of the Machine as a septet before recording the third album. The lengthy medley produced here is an interesting version the machine sounding a bit like a jazzier Chicago Transit Authority with a four-man brass session as they had stripped the Keith Tippett Group from most of its collaborators, but Charig and Evans leaving relatively quickly and Dobson hanging around for just a while longer!

Apart from the two odd choices Monsieur Wyatt chose to include (I would tend to say ill-advisedly as they sort of ruin a bit the record), we have another superb Hux record release that is essential to Soft Machineheads. And apart from the parti-pris (anti-jazz rock attitude) of the liner notes from some writer, the presentation and luxurious booklet make this release hard to resist

Ratings only

  • Fant0mas
  • KK58
  • Lynx33
  • ocasalif
  • darkprinceofjazz

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