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The Soft Machine - Volume Two Original recording remastered


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£8.10 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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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 (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,049 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 By dogme on 2 Aug. 2009
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 By Numinous Ugo on 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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason K. Levalley on 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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Format: Audio CD
My take on this album is that a great deal of stuff was bubbling away in Miles Davis' Bitche's Brew and this work, in my opinion, is one of its ingrediants. The jazz on this album goes electric but it draws in all kinds of things from Dada to Swing to Be-bop to Free Form to pop to hard-rock to Latin (yep, Robert Wyatt sings in Spanish on Dada was Here). The album is a jazzed-out trip into a world musical possibilities. It produces the best in all the musicians - I get the feeling they really enjoyed making this album and it brings out the best in them. The horn sections are quite cool and dreamy; while Wyatt's drumming is amazingly techniquely perfect jazz (this is not bad considering he was not really happy with being a complete jazzer and his musical direction was more favoured towards rock and pop). Hugh Hopper's basswork provides the work with a good sense of gravity, much needed when you consider Ratledge's keyboards tend to head off into head into free-form (Out of Tunes) outer-space at times. Many of the tracks have a dream like quality to them, in particular Dada Was Here and Hibou, Anemone and Bear. The narrative is provided by Wyatt, not in the usual mid-Atlantic English, but in Estuary English which gives the album a quirkiness. The album is a great brew of musical styles and art and another trail blazer in modern musical history.
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By Mj Elton on 16 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD
My favorite two Softs albums are this and the first,known as simply The Soft Machine

The whole album holds together perfectly and there are beautiful song structures as well as some wonderful ensemble playing.

Robert Wyatt proves himself to be the most musical drummer to come out of Britain,Jon Hiseman apart.

Hugh Hopper was wonderful composer as can be seen especially later on Soft Machine Three and Four and Ratledge at piano as well as his famous Lowry organ provided depth and virtuoso playing.

I think this album is a great classic and should be treasured as one of the great works of the 20th century,whatever genre.

Of the 60's,I believe there were only three musical groups who challenged popular music.The Beatles,Cream and The Soft Machine.Each in their own genre.Just as Dylan changed Rock music intellectually and Stravinsky and Webern changed "classical music" and Charlie Parker,John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman in Jazz.

So I rate this album as not just a great piece of musical art but an important work and touchstone of 20th century art.
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