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on 24 August 2010
This is it, a working definition of why the sixties were so great. By the time`the Softs' cut this album guitarist Daevid Allen had jumped ship, but the remaining trio of Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge produced the seminal piece of English psychedelia (start airing those opinions, those who have nothing more constructive to do with their time)

Here's why. The phasing and echo on `Joy Of A Toy' are so integral to the thing that it wouldn't be anywhere near the same without them, while when the music gets downright static for a bit it ain't nothing but a bad trip.

`So Boot If At All' proves they could kick out the jam with the best of them, especially as Ratledge does things to an organ that not even Brian Auger contemplated.

He goes all chapel on `A Certain Kind' but then such a ballad demands it. Wyatt's voice and drums with Ayers on bass combine without locking but that tight-but-loose dichotomy is part of the deal.

The depth and range of it all is pretty staggering even now, but then the sound of kids let loose in a sweet shop rarely sounded so fine.
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1968 isn't so long ago is it ?

Surviving thus far and having enjoyed more than a passing
association with the Canterbury music scene I seem
to remember Soft Machine with fond affection.
(At my advanced age an old Wolf cannot be quite sure!)

In many ways they were quite unique.

To have their debut album restored to human consciousness
will be a big thrill to all those jaded hippies and bohos
who are still able to gaze upward to the stars and dream.

This was fiercely uncompromising music for those unafraid to listen.
Intelligent; droll; a tad bonkers and very, very English.

'A Certain Kind' finds Bob Wyatt reaching for those top
notes as though his life depended on it. Mr. Ratledge's
churchey organ (A Lowrey Holiday De Luxe no less - and it
was a brave man who chose one of those over a Hammond
I can tell you !!) brings gravitas to the warmly
affecting arrangement. Mr Wyatt also reminds us what a
truly inventive and epic drummer he was.

'Joy Of A Toy' finds life for the first time here (it's
spirit re-emerged a year or so later in Kevin Ayers'
debut solo album of that same name) and gives a small glimpse
of what was to emerge later in the band's progressively
distilled and refined improvisatory methods.

'So Boot If At All' is the kind of jam that many others
(myself included !) were attempting to emulate in garages all
over the kingdom but delivered here with far greater imagination
and alacrity than most of us could ever have hoped to muster.
The drum solo (!!!) is manfully sustained.

'Pricilla' is a strangely fragile one minute lounge-jazz out-take.
There and gone almost as if it hadn't quite existed at all.

Tiny sketches like this crop up elsewhere.
'Plus Belle Qu'une Poubelle' and 'Box 25/4 Lid'
are both willfully obfuscating miniatures.

The additional inclusion of 'Love Makes Sweet Music'
(Soft Machine meets The Monkees !) and the Zappa-esque
'Feelin', Reelin', Sqealin'' are an absolute hoot of a bonus.

Chas Chandler and Tom Wilson's production skills have also
stood the tests of time and emerged with dignity intact.

To have heard 'We Did It Again' (another quasi-Motherly Invention)
is nothing short of an absolute joy !

If you have even just the smallest spirit of adventure
I entreat you to give this wonderful album a listen.

The rewards are rich.

Highly recommended.
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on 16 July 2009
This album is part of the birth of what became know as the Canterbury Scene. The Wilde Flowers had many of the early members of this band and Caravan pass through its ranks.

The original Soft Machine comprised Robert Wyatt: Drums, Kevin Ayers: Bass, Mike Ratledge: Keyboards and Daevid Allen (Who went on to form Gong after he was denied re-entry to UK following and overseas tour as a result of his expired Visa. This band can be heard on the demo based album Jet-Propelled Photographswhich contains early versions of songs that appear here and elsewhere. It is ironic that but for a visa mishap Soft Machine would not have become renowned as a guitar free band in its early years.

This album has not really been given a proper release in UK other than in twin LP or 2on1 CD version with Volume 2.

It is about time that this and its partner album were given a proper separate release. I know the sound quality on Soft Machine Vol.1 & 2 is really good, (I love the sound of the bass on this album which narrowly beats the bass sound on Nice)and also I have separated them on my iPod but they do deserve to sort of treatment that the CBS era albums got in their most recent remastered form : Third,Fourth,Fifth,Six and Seven.

I do love this band and recommend this album as a classic slice of eccentric English psychedelic rock of a kind that I really love, and I say that as a proud Scotsman. This is a band of inestimable worth. If anyone out there is looking for a way to develop a new direction in rock music then this would be an excellent place to start. There is much more in here than was ever realised at the time. This new version also has room to include the single Feelin, Reelin, Squeelin, / Love Makes Sweet Music which the die hard fans needed to buy the compilation Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973to aquire so it is good that they are now safely appended to this album which seems right.
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on 4 February 2012
Great songs, great tunes; every track a winner. And quite remarkable when you take into account that it is just vocals, bass, drums and organ....No lead guitar! Sgt Pepper sounds embarassingly dated now, but this is fresh as a daisy. Buy with confidence.
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on 11 February 2016
I've got Vols 1 and 2 omn a single CD, and to be honest the remastering adds nothing other than a little definition - the slightly higher treble takes some gettiing used to. Only buy if you must have every CD.
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on 14 July 2012
From the beggining of something so creative like the Soft machine music is,it was so obvious to hear and feel the talent and creativity for the future. Such beatiful document and fantastic introducing to other events of Soft machine music.
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on 22 May 2012
This album is great I had never heard of The Soft Machine before but I heard a small snippet on Look East and bought it the next day.
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on 28 March 2016
great album made by interesting people
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on 3 June 2016
very good
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on 1 July 2012
A review of this excellent CD is included in my comments on this group's Original Album Classics CD box. See Original Album Classics: Third / Fourth / Five / Six / Seven.
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