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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets
After 30 years I still listen to this one every week or two, and it grows with familiarity. The album contains 4 very different sides, and was a mystery to me when I first heard it. Side one is a live piece and despite the average recording is somewhat extraordinary.
Nothing can prepare you for "Slightly all the time", however. It's as though everything Soft Machine...
Published on 17 Nov 2003 by David Unsworth

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not as good as I remembered it !!
Published 19 days ago by norman8554


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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, 17 Nov 2003
By 
David Unsworth (Hythe, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
After 30 years I still listen to this one every week or two, and it grows with familiarity. The album contains 4 very different sides, and was a mystery to me when I first heard it. Side one is a live piece and despite the average recording is somewhat extraordinary.
Nothing can prepare you for "Slightly all the time", however. It's as though everything Soft Machine was before this track came together to culminate in their masterpiece. Certainly, the track contains themes heard fleetingly in earlier songs, and live performances stitch the parts of this album together in other ways but this piece goes beyond anything that preceeds it.
In fact, this particular performance has a cool qulaity that most live renderings lack. The buzzing organ and compelling bass notwithstanding, the brass playing is an unusual mix of lively jazz and cool, reflective, lyrical playing. It's at once emotional and thriving.
The song structure is complex, with a memorable bassline and 'jazzy' brass section interspersed with Ratledge's wonderful organ playing, but the highlights on this track are like all the other highlights of the album, moments of true bliss from Elton Dean's lyrical sax.
On "Slightly..." the highlight comes around the 10 minute mark with the most beautiful sax solo I can imagine.
On "Out Bloody Rageous" the same applies. The track starts however with a Terry Rileyesque tape loop that gradually gathers intensity over 5 minutes but then resolves into some Keith Tippett style jazz for a couple of minutes... It's after that the track takes off, however and after a piano figure that will live in your mind forever, Elton Dean transforms the piece in a way that didn't seem possible.... Again, the sax playing is slightly melancholy but not sentimental, transforming but very much based in this world, not some Coltrane spiritual dimension. I can't think of words that describe Dean's playing on this record, but I will tell you this, repeated listening will never wear the impact down.
Finally, a word about "Moon in June". The forst half of this is all Wyatt, the organ the bass the singing the drumming everything... and it is a glorious achievement. His lyrics here are funny and mundane, but he does not sacrifice art for honesty, somehow managing to achieve both. The track is very different to others here, but no two of these tracks are alike anyway, and when the rest of the band join in there are some lovely moments too.... I know, as repeated in numerous liner notes since, that there was a lot of tension in the band at the time they made this record, and that Wyatt was very much at the centre of this, but as a record I think "Third" succeeds because of that. By the time Soft Machine 4 came out, the creativity had petered somewhat.
This record isn't for everyone. I wouldn't unreservedly recommend it to someone without knowing what other music they enjoyed. But after 30 years of collecting records by acts from all categories and styles, this remains to me the most extraordinary record of all. If you have any interest in Soft Machine, I wouldn't bother with any other record. This is their pinnacle, it's better than anything produced by any of the participants before or since.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A major turning point in my appreciation of music, 12 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
This album changed my entire outlook on music when I first heard it back in the late sixties. Suddenly, here was a band that was not afraid to play extended, ambitious music and also had the talent to carry it off. In the intervening 30 years I have returned to this album many times, and it remains one of my top 3 or 4 records of all time. From the sombre opening of "Facelift" through the beautiful bass line of "Slightly All The Time" and the whimsical Wyatt vocals on "The Moon in June" (the last Softs track ever to feature vocals) to the ethereal "Out-Bloody-Rageous", this album is a pure delight. Buy it and prepare for a major listening experience!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Sounds Good To Me, 4 Mar 2007
By 
Cratedigger (Loughborough, Leicestershire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
A third purchase of "Third" !!!

I first bought it on vinyl when it came out, the initial CD issue, and now this which must be the definitive sonic upgraded edition,

with the bonus of the Royal Albert Hall Proms gig. Now all I need is a DVD of this gig which was shown once on BBC "Omnibus" !

Facelift sounds louder and punchier, Slighty All The Time is clearer and more detailed, Robert's "Moon" even more effecting

and Out-Bloody-Rageous just about sums it all up. Out-bloody-rageously amazing, 37 years later.

No true Softs fan should be without it. A perfect place for any new listener to start.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Discovery, 20 April 2007
By 
D. Summerfield (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
Although I'm a longstanding Robert Wyatt fan, I always struggled to get to grips with Soft Machine, mainly due to a negative experience with a live album of theirs circa 1990. Finally after further reading on the subject of Mr Wyatt I decided to go out and buy `Third'. What a fanastic revelation this album has been to me.

Four songs, each clocking in at 20 minutes or so, each different in it's own way. There is a certain groove to this album. At any one point it can serve as the perfect accompaniment to any particular mood that you might be in. Rock, jazz, folk, soul - curiously it's all here, wrapped up in a package that seems utterly progressive but is in fact so much more.

After listening to this I was fascinated by the roles each of the band perform(ed). Mike Ratledge is an absolute enigma on keyboards, a man who apparently epitomised the surge towars jazz that led Wyatt to leave, but at the same time was so crucial to the sound on this album -their crowning achievement.

Wyatt's contribution - `Moon in June' is unique. Twenty minute songs were obvioulsy de rigeur in 1970, but this one is different - it's chatty, heartfelt, whimsical, an absolute joy. No wonder he was frustrated that he couldn't do a bit more of this. However, if there are four band members, and four sides to an album, then getting one of them could be seen as democratic.

`Slightly All The Time' and `Out-bloody-rageous' plough a similar furrow - keyboards settling into a groove, and Elton Dean's saxaphone blowing with purpose. The music ebbs and flows, sweeping you away and then easing back again for tranquil/ambient passages. The only track I haven't listened to so much is Hugh Hopper's `Facelift' which occupies side one. It has dissonant and dark overtones and maybe qualifies as a grower !!

Great band, great music - from what I've read, Wyatt was glad to be out of it and Ratledge slowly stagnated as the band slowly became more obtuse. I bought `Fourth' on the strength of this one and, to these ears, it's not a patch on `Third'. A landmark album.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soft Machine Album! ... however..., 25 Sep 2007
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
This is a brilliant album and if you are on a tight budget then this is a real bargain, however, I would strongly recommend that you look to the newer remastered version that not only has an excellent bonus disc but, what is more important, it also boasts exceptionally good remastering with an unbelievable boost to the sound quality and separation of the instruments that is bordering on magical. It is not that much more expensive either
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant coming of age, 25 May 2006
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
This was the first peak of the Soft machine's creative development. At the time and for some time afterwards I was astounded at how they had gone in such a different direction from their contemporaries in the British Underground Scene. It was not until some time later that I was able to see them in the context of the wider jazz/rock developments. This, far from diminishing the impressiveness of their music, further increased my admiration of their bold strides which are clearly influenced by Miles Davis' post In a Silent Way period but not in any sort of slavish copying way but rather in a way that seizes the new approach and takes in in a very individual direction.

The contrasting styles of writing of Wayatt and Ratledge heighten the tension, however it remains a cohesive whole and an albums that benefits greatly from the advent of CD. As a double LP you had 3 changes of side/disc that broke up the listening experience and often broke the spell. I also tended to favour The Moon in June and so listen to that over the other sides. It is worth getting the BBC Radio 1969-1971 album for Wyatt's improvised variation on the lyrics of that that song alone.

Third is definitely one of my favourite Soft Machine albums. It is sad that this album marked the beginning of the end of Robert Wyatt's place in the band, however, we would not have had the wonderful Matching Mole albums had he remained in this band. I would also encourage people to explore the range of live Soft Machine albums, particularly the BBC sessions (as above) plus the companion BBC Radio 1971-74, 1971 In Concert.

Of the original albums Vol.1&2, and Fourth - Seven are all excellent. Of the post-titles era, Bundles is the best, the Land of Cockayne is interesting and more of an easy listen, Softs and Alive and Well are for collectors only.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscing, 14 Sep 2002
By 
Tony Taylor (Solihull, West Mids United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
Of all my LPs from my youth this was definitely my favourite. The Moon in June was very good, very like Soft Machine 1 material (for some reason I never heard 2). Facelift and Outbloodyrageous were better but the star of the album is Slightly All the Time. Robert Wyatt's drumming is excellent and Hugh Hopper's bass playing the best I ever heard but the high point for me was the Elton Dean's saxaphone - a new instrument for someone who had been used to listening to rock bands. Listening to the album 30 years on it has not lost any of its appeal.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Softs start to stretch out, 13 Sep 2003
By 
Mr. C. W. Smith "karyobin@hotmail.com" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
The softs 3rd LP saw them turn away from the 3 minute song structures of their first two recordings and start to stretch out into more jazzier climates.
'Facelift' is a good snapshot of the band live (recorded at Fairfield Hall, Croydon Jan 1970) and the interplay between them is almost telepathic, Hooper & Wyatt are exceptional and it's sad to hear what his later accident robbed him of, Elton Dean, fresh from Keith Tippett's groundbreaking free band is never lost for ideas that fit perfectly with Ratledge's meticulous colourings.
'Slightly all the Time' and the awesome 'Out Bloody Rageous' carry the inventive interplay over into the studio and the organ led 'Moon In June' contains Wyatt's last vocal outing for the Soft Machine.
This is a very fine album highly recomeded
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius never fades, 17 April 2007
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This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
I heard this in 1970. Few albums have stayed with me in quite the way this one has. I was an impressionable 13 yr old with an older brother who introduced me to the wonders of rock music and along the way bought this to my attention. It is an absolutly unique album that sounds as amazing today as it did then. Facelift's opening organ solo creeps up like a creature from another planet and bursts into full band blowing. Slightly All The Time is a jazz-rock symphony, Moon In June shows Wyatt at his most extensivly weird and Out Blood Rageious finds Ratledge at his most facinating, incorporating his Terry Riley inspired tape delay experimentations sandwiched between jazz riffing wonderment. This, together with Terry Riley's 'A Rainbow In Curved Air' remains one of my all time desert island discs. It has opened me up to so much great music as a result, but has also proved to be a peerless achievement. This particular version of The Softs only managed to survive a short time, but the legacy of 'Third' is unquestionable. It is not simply jazz,rock, or avante garde experimentation. It is a unique sonic experince that has never really been matched by anyone scince. Buy it and treasure it. You will not be disapointed.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harmony from psychedelic anarchy - one of the 70s' best ..., 19 Nov 2003
By 
Gareth Smyth "Enjilos" (County Mayo, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
Tony Taylor (the earlier reviewer) is absolutely right. Thirty years on, this album still sounds as innovative, paced and dramatic as when it came out.

Apparently the band members - Robert Wyatt (who stayed in Soft Machine for only one more album), Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean - were pulling in very different directions at the time but the music is strangely all part of a whole.

Forget all the categorising of the critics about 'jazz' and 'rock', this was surely one of best records of any kind to come out of anywhere in the 1970s. Period.
Wyatt, Ratledge, Hopper and Dean must have been very good musicians - and especially very good listeners - to create such harmony and beauty from the psychedelic anarchy.
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Third by Soft Machine (Audio CD - 1996)
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