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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lot of What you Fancy
Another album, another line up for this essentially the last studio album released by the Soft Machine (though this could also be a Karl Jenkins Solo album). This line up includes Karl Jenkins and John Marshall, Allan Holdsworth replacing John Etheridge, and a host of guests, Jack Bruce (yes that Jack Bruce ex Cream), Ray Warleigh Alan Parker and John Taylor. The first...
Published on 27 July 2010 by Fletch-a-sketch

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars abundance of skill, mellowed by age
I can understand why many people don't rate this album as highly as other later Soft Machine records, but there's still a fair bit in it.
It was really Karl Jenkins' solo project, in the sense that he wrote the music and conducted the orchestral backing. In many ways it seemed to be the beginning of him bridging from his background with Nucleus and Softs into the...
Published on 10 Nov. 2003 by A. Dutkiewicz


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lot of What you Fancy, 27 July 2010
By 
Fletch-a-sketch "Fletch" (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
Another album, another line up for this essentially the last studio album released by the Soft Machine (though this could also be a Karl Jenkins Solo album). This line up includes Karl Jenkins and John Marshall, Allan Holdsworth replacing John Etheridge, and a host of guests, Jack Bruce (yes that Jack Bruce ex Cream), Ray Warleigh Alan Parker and John Taylor. The first thing you also notice is that this album features and Orchestra, so this is a completely different Soft Machine album from any that had preceded it... The music is more Progressive rock/soundtrack. This album recorded in 1981 though appears to have stood the test of time better than many albums recorded at that time, and further to my mind gives a kind of glossy finish to the whole Soft Machine studio project.
Not a bad way to close that chapter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Used to hate it now I love it, 8 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Land of Cockayne (Audio CD)
When this first came out I went on about it because it wound someone I knew up no end that I had got a Soft machine record that he didn't have but I really thought that Karl jenkins had blanded the band out way too much. I was half hoping that this would be a stepping stone to a proper collective new Soft Machine release but it was not to be. I later grew to really hate this album and got rid of my vinyl copy.

In the new digital age when I am replacing and expanding my LP collection in CD format I decided I had a place for this along with the other later albums. I put it on and found that I actually quite liked it.

Once I got away from the fact that Jack Bruce was on there playing what for him is quite pedestrian bass and that others, such as Dick Morrisey are not really making their presence felt and just wen twithit as a piece of music then I reaaly dug it

Yes this could have been a much more exciting project if the various musicians had had more creative and some writig in-put but it was essentiallya Karl Jenkins project with some rather under used sidemen, but on it's own terms it is great!

There is so much of the more meaty jazz-infused Third - Seven eras stuff available and not just the original albums but also a whole range of live sessions from BBC,Radio Bremen etc that it seems quite un charitable to not find room for this as well.

Check it out it may not be hard edged jazz/rock and is certainly not avant garde but it is still really very good
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars abundance of skill, mellowed by age, 10 Nov. 2003
By 
A. Dutkiewicz "jan-luke_adam" (Norwood, South Australia Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land of Cockayne (Audio CD)
I can understand why many people don't rate this album as highly as other later Soft Machine records, but there's still a fair bit in it.
It was really Karl Jenkins' solo project, in the sense that he wrote the music and conducted the orchestral backing. In many ways it seemed to be the beginning of him bridging from his background with Nucleus and Softs into the classical idiom. So the record has a different feel to it: it's more mellow and often slower, kind of like soundtrack material, but there's lots of musical knowledge, wisdom and good ideas.
I love the playing of John Marshall on this record, he really nails the percussive moods and grooves and has a big say in the production. I have a few problems with Jack Bruce's bass lines, which aren't too bad but occasionally seem to lack the pace, fire and even texture that one might expect in Softs' material: no more so than the almost banal disco rhythm underscoring the opening track, Over 'n' above. But, hey, it was 1980 and it was pretty high-exposure stuff back then, and I expect that was Jenkins' idea of fun, or context or zeitgeist or.... maybe it was about lifting the audience out of conformist muzak. And it was an intro, which may have attracted non-Softs people or radio play even and then transformed a few consciousnesses.
Those bumps are pretty soon smoothed out on the delicate synth, bass flute and percussive work on Lotus Groves (#2), perhaps an homage to McLaughlin's Lotus feet, but to my mind the musical performance really lifts with Panoramania(#4), which really stays with you: rich and soaring sounds of sax and orchestra and superb snappy drumming, and a great Fender Rhodes solo by John Taylor.
The second side continues the theme: Palace of Glass reminds me of Island years' Jade Warrior before being smashed open by Marshall's drums and then a soaring mellotron-like segue into the funk mayhem that follows.
Those who like the material that led up to this album might find some satisfaction with the hotter and funkier tracks towards the end of the record, Hot biscuit slim and A lot of what you fancy, embellished by great cymbal playing by Marshall. In between these two sits Sly Monkey, a platform for lyrical playing by Alan Holdsworth and Dick Morrisey's bluesy sax, by then abandoned by Jenkins.
The Land of Cockayne should be seen as a concept album about musical opulence, with the tracks aligned to take the listener into a vast range of musical moods. There's heaps of soundscapes here, some good moods and emotional yet tempered playing, even if the music has less of the signature melting keyboards of the Ratledge era and appears less intense and perhaps too funkified when compared to the jazz-rock that followed it.
I'd give it 31/2 stars, just to warn those die-hards that this is not what fans of previous eras of Softs might expect, but I love most of the record.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great memories of a great era, 19 Jun. 2011
By 
Hoss (Suffolk UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
Very pleased to see this in CD format. The re-mastering is not too bad but it has lost a little bit of its atmosphere. Nevertheless - what a great album and it's nice to hear the slightly restrained (but still "hungry") Allan Holdsworth again after all these years! - my vinyl died some time ago.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dreamscape in a marshmallow psychedelic kind of way..., 27 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: Land of Cockayne (Audio CD)
at last it's available at a reasonable price on CD and I'm so glad as I've not heard my vinyl copy (badly distorted from a million plays on dodgy decks) for many years

maybe it's not the most creative leading edge jazz funk (bass sometimes leaves a bit to be desired perhaps) but if you like ludicrously steamy strings awash with just the right amount of reverb, then you've picked the right sounds with this delightfully tempered piece of work

highlights for me are the gorgeous string section and Holdsworth's nicely restrained guitar

sit back and relax with a cool drink at your fingers and slip into a warm, phat frame of mind
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name anyway ?, 7 Sept. 2010
By 
S. Dinsdale (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
This, the final album recorded under the name Soft Machine, has been much maligned as being extraneous to the legacy of a band who forged a unique and truly progressive path through the late sixties and seventies. The truth of the matter is that it really is a Karl Jenkins project in all but name, but it should not be unfairly filed alongside the library music of the posthumously issued `Rubber Riff'.

One look at the players listed here should tell anyone that this not a bland collection of half-baked instrumentals, but quite a feast of surprisingly strong musical sketches. Jenkins leads (as keyboardist and conductor) such talents as the mighty Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth and twin sax maestros Ray Warleigh and Dick Morrissey. John Taylor contributes some first class Fender Rhodes, while Softs cohort John Marshall is as reliable and vibrant as ever on drums.

The album is a suite of varied instrumental pieces ranging from appealing, sunny pieces for sax and wordless vocals, melodic ambient excursions, string sections, and strong themes which allow ample time for quality soloing from the giants gathered here. Yes, it is easy on the ear, but it carries a gravitas which relates back to Jenkins' compositions for earlier incarnations of Soft Machine. The extended `Panoramania' and `Hot Biscuit Slim' both recall the joy of a beautifully scored head theme ushering in a collection of solos by musicians who by virtue of their pedigree make every note count. `Black Velvet Mountain' is a wonderful showcase for Allan Holdsworth's ability to get inside a melody, which like his work with the Bruford band of this era, exude the authority of a seasoned player. `Sly Monkey' offers further evidence that an Allan Holdsworth solo is a thing of great joy, especially when complemented by the equally majestic saxophone of Ray Warleigh.

It may not be groundbreaking, but sure as hell it's worth it just to hear these players do what they do best. Much underrated and well worthy of reinvestigation, just don't expect `The Moon In June'.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice one Karl, 14 Aug. 2010
By 
Ianham "Ianham" (Ross-shire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
Most reviewers who tackle this LP/album/CD/wax cylinder appear to have a problem in accepting this is to all intents a different beast from the one that first appeared under the moniker of Soft Machine Vol 1. So far, so bleedin' obvious. Why any group of musicians should have to apologise for either (a)leaving or (b) staying mystifies me. Sure the music changed - morphed. It was different but no less appealing. Times however changed and more importantly so did expectations which meant that this album was never given a chance never mind a fair shake. Still years go by and it allows most fair minded folk (or at least those without mufflers for ears) an opportunity to judge for themselves soley on the music and not the fashions, which have come and gone countless times. On that basis this is a fine record - diverse yes and I would admit that there does seem to be a bit higglety pigglety and could have used a bit fine tuning in the continuity stakes. However that minor observation aside, Karl does a grand job in (John) Marshalling his troops. All the players are top notch and a particular favourite is the drip drip ethnic strut of Lotus Groves - somewhat reminiscent of the Pierre Moerlen' Gong (another Jazz Rock fav). This track is followed by a nice wee orchestral interlude (Isle of the blessed)before leaping straight into the funktastic saxxy Panoramania (cool riffing by the way - v. catchy). So ignore the doubters and just mellow out to some fine musicians playing great music and if you have a problem about the name of the band go see a psychiatrist. Also this has a nice cover and fine sleeve notes - good remastering as well.

I commend this CD to the house.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is!, 23 May 2013
This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
This is not the same as The Soft Machine, The Soft Machine - Volume Two or Third. It is even quite different to the other post- Seven albums and is largely a Karl Jenkins project, however, if you recognise all the things that it is not and accept it on its own terms then you may find that is actually a rather enjoyable listen.

This album followed on from the previous year's Stevie Wonder tribute album wonderin' LP which I also remember but never owned a copy. I wish it would be re-released on CD.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Soft Machine, 17 Aug. 2011
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RayB "Ray Burns" (Chelmsford, Essex , United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
I've been a Soft Machine fan since John Peel played tracks from their first album on his wonderful radio show in the sixties, but this album is NOT Soft Machine. It's a Karl Jenkins solo project that somebody thought might sell more copies as a Soft Machine album, and they were probably right.
It's an inoffensive record, a bit smooth and middle of the road that rambles along harmlessly. Not for me, nor indeed I suspect any other Softs fan.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine achievement, 13 Aug. 2010
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F. NICOLAIDES - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Land Of Cockayne (Audio CD)
Quite possibly one of the best and certainly one of the most overlooked Softs albums. A Jenkins vehicle, but check out the support!
Such a shame that there's so much prejudice against Jenkins - he didn't suffer the same aprobation when he was with Nucleus.
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Land of Cockayne
Land of Cockayne by Soft Machine (Audio CD - 1996)
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