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4.7 out of 5 stars38
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 17 April 2007
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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on 17 March 2014
For both historical and aesthetic reasons, this is one of the iconic albums of this or any other age - unlabellable jazz-rock-fusion at its pinnacle. Mike Ratledge's inspired playing here puts him at the very top of any list of jazz-fusion musicians, and Softs 3 sounds as fresh today as when I first heard it in my early 1970s spotty youth. Great, too, to have the 1970 Albert Hall gig as an extra - but why oh why do the Ratledge solos sound so drowned out in the production? (maybe it will sound better on a better system). If you're a lover of modern (and postmodern) music, you can't not get this masterpiece.
Richard House, Winchester
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on 19 September 2012
Great album of course, but it's always been spoiled for me by the decision to stuff Wyatt's drums into the right hand channel. This makes the recording particularly disappointing on headphones.

Perhaps someone in the know could tell me why this was done? Earlier albums have a stong drum sound and the drums on Wyatt's self-produced "Moon in June" are similarly present only to be pushed out to the side then the rest of the band come in. Was it a production issue, a creative choice, or perhaps an political attempt to push Wyatt out?
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2003
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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on 18 August 2010
With 'Third' (1970), Soft Machine produced one of rock music's all-time masterpieces. As the 1960s came to a close, the band began to move away from their pyschedelic-rock approach that incorporated Dadaistic overtones, towards a personal interpretation of Miles Davis' jazz-rock that reflected a change in their line-up.

The album consists of four extended jams of 18-19 minutes duration that combine minimalistic keyboards, outstanding jazz horns on three of the four jams (particularly, Hopper's 'Facelift'), saxophone, flute and, in Robert Wyatt, some of the greatest drumming ('Slightly All The Time') and expressive vocals ('Moon In June') in the history of rock.

The latter is Wyatt's first monumental achievement. His voice bleeds a vulnerability and melancholy that bends and weaves intricately around a melody that is as delicate as it is complex and austere.

'Third' is one of the essential jazz, rock and classical albums of the 1970s that demands repeated listens in order to fully grasp and embrace the enormity of its stunning ambition and originality.
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on 18 September 2012
Now I really like the album, in my misspent youth Soft Machine were the kind of band you should say you liked if you had intellectual pretensions, however, I did not like them at all. Having decided to revisit the music of my younger self I've discovered that I really like them particularly albums 4,5 & Alive and well (Live recording in Paris) Nice to know the music has stood the test of time and that my ear has evolved to be much more appreciative of their talents
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on 5 September 2010
There's probably a thesis waiting to be written on the musical progress of Soft Machine in the years 1967-71. Perhaps more than any other Third is the title which suggests the time wouldn't be wasted. I say this because by the time of this album they were covering so much musical ground that it would be easier to say where they weren't: so they hadn't become a country`n' western band, rhinestones`n'stetsons or otherwise. Their territory did however take in fusion, systems music a la Terry Riley in particular, song, and a fair degree of fire.

The third of these is covered by `Moon In June' The version on this album is radically different to an airing it was given as part of a John Peel session round about this time, which only goes to show it was a work in progress. What the two versions have in common are great -albeit radically altered- Robert Wyatt lyrics which kind of embody what the band was all about, at least in one respect.

The fire comes on `Facelift' leavened by a measure of Lyn Dobson's wistful flute but not to the extent the band's instrumental dexterity is doused.

It all makes for something extraordinary anyway, and that thing is music resulting from near-tangible creative tension, not merely vaulting ambition.
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on 27 March 2002
This is the album in which Soft Machine made a radical change of direction. They were now firmly into what sometimes gets called "jazz rock". And it remains one of their most interesting and listenable forays into that genre. Later albums seem a bit thin in comparison, but from here up to their sixth, they were at their incomparable best.
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on 14 July 2012
It's not unusually to hear people says that some albums changed their musical vision. This is one more document to improve what's often been told. Great and inventive,and my suggestions if you love Soft music to purchase the Third.
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on 9 July 2012
Now I was born to hate this album. Bloody Adam Dale, ginga ringer from Welwyn Garden City-pint size king of cool loved this tosh. He'd play it to me and I'd wrinkle my nose at the pea soup of well, dirge and sonic noise. Ok, so that was somewhere in 1971. Wind on to the 1990s and I pick up a CD of this because I was having some fond memory recesses about my old friend Adam and well just had to see what all the fuss he'd made then was about. So to speak. Well, absolutely bloody amazing what time marching on does to the ears and aural parts of the trained brain. Yeah, in the interim I'd found a liking for jazz and groan Coltrane so Soft Machine of this vintage was child's play. And Robert Wyatt had made an appearance or three in my collection. But this is just brill! From the intransigense of "Facelift" to the nasal thrumming of "Moon in June" it is out-bloody rageous. Yeah. Stupendous. What do you mean you haven't got it in your collection? You should have heard it through tin speakers and a turntable held together with string.
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