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The Soft Machine - Volume Two [Original recording remastered]

Soft Machine Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: £8.23 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Aug 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Polydor/Universal
  • ASIN: B002EC4ZDK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,394 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. I
2. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. 1
3. Hibou Anemone And Bear
4. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. II
5. Hulloder
6. Dada Was Here
7. Thank You Pierrot Lunaire
8. Have You Ever Bean Grean?
9. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. II
10. Out Of Tunes
11. As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still
12. Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening
13. Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging
14. Pig
15. Orange Skin Food
16. A Door Opens And Closes
17. 10: 30 Returns To The Bedroom

Product Description

CD Description

The roots of Soft Machine lay in the city of Canterbury in Kent and the circle of bohemian friends with Robert Wyatt at their core. Gathering at the large Georgian house owned by Robert’s mother, Honor, Wyatt shared the company of Kevin Ayers, Hugh and Brian Hopper, Mike Ratledge and a drifting Australian beatnik, Daevid Allen spending many hours listening to modern jazz and being exposed to the world of beat poetry and Dadaist art. The second Soft Machine album from September 1969 has now been digitally remastered and sounds better than ever.

BBC Review

By the end of 1968 the Soft Machine had parted company with founder and bass player Kevin Ayers. Ayers, who operated at a more leisurely pace and was less jazz inclined than drummer Robert Wyatt and keyboardist Mike Ratledge, had been put off touring, at least temporarily, by the experience of supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience acrioss the USA. But following a brief hiatus the band reformed with former road manager and school friend Hugh Hopper on bass. Joined here by brother Brian - another key figure in Canterbury musical history - on sax, it was Hugh's vastly developed sense of melody, combined with the aforementioned love of jazz that saw the band enter Olympic Studios with engineer George Chkiantz and record this masterpiece.

Volume Two's first side begins with Wyatt reciting the alphabet, ending the side's suite of songs by doing the same, backwards. This mixture of the absurd and the serious that was to eventually tip in the direction of the latter (forcing out the more whimsical Wyatt), provides a wonderful tension that no other band has ever really replicated though many have tried (cf: Hatfield And The North). Fearsome chord progressions (Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening), free noise (Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging) and even scatting in Spanish (Dada Was Here): this was no ordinary college band.

Even the infamously po-faced Ratledge was open to a touch of tomfoolery at this point. Pig's exploration of the role of women's underwear in the mating ritual is hilarious, while underpinned with a time signature that they virtually patented in later years. As Long As he Lies Perfectly Still is a truly moving tribute to the departed Ayers: Mike Ratledge's majestic piano chords declaim over his own distorted organ, Wyatt's swinging cymbals and Hugh Hopper's monstrous fuzz bass while Wyatt sings lyrics that are equal parts affectionate, silly and mocking.

Volume Two could be said to be the band's best album. It was a taste of the pre-post modern: relegating lyrics to the role of noise that merely describes what the band's doing (''In his organ solos, he fills 'round the keyboards, knowing he must find the noisiest notes for you to hear'' - Thank You Pierrot Lunaire), or name checking friends of the group (''Thank you Noel and Mitch. Thank you Jim, for our exposure to the crowd. And thank you for this coda Mike, you did us proud'' - Have You Ever Bean Green?). No one makes records like this anymore. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yum yum 2 Aug 2009
By dogme
Format:Audio CD
Many discerning musicians regard this as one of the greatest albums ever made, but it seems to have flown under the radar of nearly everyone else. It's a controlled explosion of brilliant musical ideas and stream-of-consciousness verbal wit played with a warmth and vitality which leaves you with a big stupid grin on your face.

The first section, 'Rivmic Melodies', Wyatt's extraordinary arrangement of mostly Hugh Hopper's tunes, is an incredible achievement, an unstemmed flow of creativity fizzing and bubbling over and seeping into every nook and cranny. At this point their music could have been called 'Fission', it was only after years of entropy that the group could take on the 'Fusion' label.

The great Hopper's finest song, 'Dedicated to you but you weren't listening' prefigures all those wonderfully awkward Wyatt songs like 'God Song' and 'Muddy Mouth' which have become a tradition as distinctive as anything in music. Mike Ratledge's 'Esther's Nose Job' I find less enthralling, until its climax with '10.30 returns to the bedroom', a blisteringly intense performance which ends with the most thrilling meltdown you'll ever hear.

To me this is a small miracle of music, a crucible of white-hot diverse talents who could only briefly stand to work together but made it seem easy to fuse unlikely sources into a coherent and joyful whole. Lovely.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect! 18 Aug 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This album has been at the core of many a record collection for 30-40 years but in UK probably only as part of a double package along with The Soft Machine which is also now available separately. The first Soft Machine album was not given a UK release so once the band took off the 2 albums were tut together. The sound quality on the previous 2on1 CD Soft Machine Vol.1 & 2 is excellent but this is a definite step up plus these two albums are now given the quality of packaging they deserve.

Soft Machine were an amazing band full of intern conflict resulting in an ever changing line-up. Robert Wyatt is still very much at the centre of things on this album and the sense of wonder, exploration and fun runs right through this album. After Kevin Ayers departure following their American tour to promote their debut album Hugh Hopper, who had been one of the many members of the seminal Canterbury group The Wilde Flowers, stepped in to play bass. Hopper had been the bands roadie until then; which other band carries a spare bass player as part of their kit? Hopper brought with him a talent for composition and a leaning towards jazz that would ulimately lead to Robert Wyatt being edged out of the band, which was a source of great hurt to him but also brought the world Matching Mole (a pun on a French translation of Soft Machine. Singling out individual song is a bit meaningless, although some like Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening have been covered but the likes of Keith Tippett on
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Soft Machine Volume Two CD Review 12 Nov 2010
Format:Audio CD
The Soft Machine's 2nd record is every bit as good as the first. It's great British psychedelia with jazz inflections. I thought I would be put off by the jazz element but the album never relents on its psychedelic mission.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soft Machine- Volume 2 13 July 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Great music. This was one of the few records I bought way back in in the sixties. Now, I like it even more. I think that this was the finest moment of their career. I love the way Robert Wyatt sings and play so terrific on the drums. Although i was a young boy back then, I listened hundreds of times at that record.Still,I hear more nowadays. Glad I bought it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The birth of prog 14 Jun 2012
By The Pez
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I seem to have a few sides to my musical nature, the dark and heavy, the damn good rocking, the blues, jazz, electronica and reggae, and there was always room for prog, my collection when younger being graced by the likes of Yes, Camel, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Sky and Jethro Tull. When I recently saw that compilation album "Wonderous Stories" I was appalled by it's seeming lack of understanding as to what Prog Rock really was with the inclusion of bands such as Gold Earing and the exclusion of luminairies such as King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Hatfield and The North, Soft Machine and Matching Mole.

I then got to thinking about the tracks I would put on a "best of prog" album and suddenly realised that although I had expanded to encompass Caravan and King Crimson, my own collection was woefully short, hence a buying spree which included Soft machine's first two albums.

Why would you be reading this review? Is it to see whether this remastered version CD is up to standard? Sorry I can't help you, I never owned any Soft Machine until now, all I will say is that if you want bonus material there is none. The clarity of the remastering is very good, but that's all I've got I'm afraid. If you are reading it (like I was previousley) to see whether you should get into Soft Machine, well, there I can help. My answer would be "yes". This was the late sixties, the time when music was coming to adulthood and much exploration was taking place, taking it to places it had never gone before and Soft Machine were at the forefront of that expedition.
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