16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2012
An historical retrospect. When I was at university in the mid 1970s (1974 or 1975, I believe), I went down to London to see the Softs with a group of mates who had always been Softs fans going back into the late 60s. We got seats near the front - and as other reviewers have said here, none of us had heard of Allan Holdsworth before then. When Allan took his first solo (dressed all in white - echoes of another guitar legend, Mahavishnu John McLaughlin), he wondered to the front of the stage and proceded to solo for maybe 12-15 minutes (this was probably Hazard Profile), and we were all utterly stunned in disbelief at the virtuosity of what we were hearing. I looked around me, and complete strangers were falling out of their seats in droves. None of us had ever heard guitar playing like this - it seemed superhuman - technically impossible, and awesomely beautiful. Today, when I put on 'Bundles', my skin creeps just as it did that first time I ever saw Holdsworth. If you've never heard the extraordinary Allan Holdsworth before, this is certanly a good place to start. It's just such a shame that Allan's joining of the band led to such dis-ease and ill-feeling. I suppose it's some kind of salutory lesson about how the electric guitar can dominate a band, with the other world-class musicians being cast in its shade. Having been a huge Mike Ratledge fan (e.g. try the magnificent album 'Soft Machine 3'), I just wish Mike and Allan could have found a way to play together over a period of time, both egos intact (like McLaughlin and Jan Hammer famously managed for at least a few years in the Mahavishnu Orchestra). But if you're a jazz or jazz-rock fan who values virtuosity, you just can't go to your grave without hearing this.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2007
This is a great prog. album, and was one of my favourites from the 70's. I saw them live at Manchester Poly, and was absolutely knocked out by Holdsworths incredible guitar playing. Until then I hadnt heard of him, but I've been a huge fan ever since.
This album is dominated by his guitar playing (not on every track, mind), and if you are a guitar fan then you really should get this album. In the praisings of AH one shouldnt forget that the rest of the band are excellent musicians but if you were a Softs fan as a result of their previous recordings then this new line up & sound may come as a bit of a shock.
I still love this album. If you like this era of Softs then you should also listen to Floating World a recently released album taken from a live recording. Be prepared to be amazed by AH.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2010
Of course I'm a life long Softie, so I would say that. But this is my favourite Soft Machine album - and that's saying a good deal. I agree with others who have noted that this was the last great Soft Machine album. I have them all. The subsequent "Softs" and "Land of Cockayne" were well worth acquiring, but not in the major league. It was something of a shock that the band adopted a guitarist on their 8th studio album, but no one who heard Allan Holdsworth play ever had any complaints. The performance of Bundles live, especially the brilliant Hazard Profile, was a special experience. So much so that I caught the 1975 tour twice, firstly in Cambridge and then in Manchester. For a notoriously cool band there was definitely some rock posturing creeping in at times - but that's fine, within reason. But try the earlier, and very different material, too. Volumes 1/2 are unique. Robert Wyatt has claimed they were just trying to write pop songs and that's how they came out. I'm not sure I believe you, Robert.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2010
I picked up Bundles as an LP in Boots in Canterbury shortly after it came out. At the time I knew nothing about Soft Machine except that they were nearly always mentioned in the music press in association with Caravan - a band I loved. I was quickly won over by this album. Allan Holdsworth's guitar playing shines and the Mike Ratledge compositions, "The Man Who Waved at Trains"/"Peff", are really stunning. Having picked up most Soft Machine albums over the years, this still remains my favourite.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2010
This is a curious album.Why? Because it is a crossover album from jazz to rock. However, there is some explemplary playing between the players on this album. Of particular note is the drumming of John Marshall and the bass playing of Roy Babbington. The track "Hazard Profile" is driven along by the incendiary guitar of one Allan Holdsworth and features some fine keyboard playing by both Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge. Karl Jenkins is the main songwriter here, although a couple of tracks were written by Mike Ratlledge including "The Man Who Waved At Trains" Don't expect much "blowing " on this album a la early Soft Machine, but you can expect a polished album and some fine tunes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2010
One of my top 5 all time favourites, I've waited a very long time for this to be re-released. This was my favourite Softs line-up (due respect to other opinions). Soft Machine went downhill IMHO after this release, due to Mike Ratledge leaving the band. How I wish he'd continued doing something in this vein.
You can't fault the musicianship, so I won't highlight any one individual.
It's just great!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2002
With the introduction of Alan Holdsworth on guitar this 'new' style Soft Machine is a classic. Delightful rythms, jazzy solos by all and the usual dreamy 'softs' spaced out bits! John Marshall at his best. If you like Softs or 7th, you'll definately love this.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2010
After this Softs was good but not as good as this, then Alive & Well Recorded in Paris continued the exercise in deminishing returns and really topped off a disappointing set with the awful machanical disco Soft Space. Why Karl Jenkins was so intent of toatl domination of this band when he had clearly completely run out of ideas after Bundles.
Although the absence of guitar from Soft Machine's recorded work up until this point was more an accident of Daevid Allen's expired visa than design or musical statement, it was a point od consternation when Allan Holdsworth joined to appear on Bundles. Starting with extended suite: Hazard Profile and ending with The Floating World this is a rather promising start for a reinvented band but as I have said earlier this was a false dawn that was never equalled.
This band can be heard playing excellent versions of this music on Floating World: Live which was recorded for a live broadcast on German radio. The only real negative in that recording is that they stopped recording during the commercial break and so only part 1 of Hazard Profile was captured for that release.
Bundles is an excellent album and I dare say I will also replace my copy of Softs as well. The last two Soft machine albums, the previously mentioned Alive & Well and The Land of Cockayne are no doubt due for re-release some time soon. If you are tempted I would avoid the former and get the latter unless you are a real Soft Machine freak (like me).
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2009
I would definatelyu say that this is a must for all 'Softs' fans. It has a dreamy yet energetic feel to it added by the outrageously talented Allan Holdsworth. It was one of my favourite albums of the genre back in the 1970's. But why so expensive? It seems incredible that it hasn't been reissued when other albums that are older are readily available at reasonable prices. Please remedy this so that I can afford to buy it again whoever you are that's resposible!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2010
I'm a relative newcomer to Soft Machine after my daughter bought me the two BBC collections as a Christmas present. On the later set, 'Hazard Profile' stood out as a magnificent track so I was delighted when this remaster was announced as I wasn't going to pay £40+ for a rare mint copy of an older pressing.
The CD opens with the aforementioned piece (in five parts) which quickly builds in to a hypnotic rhythm, diverts through different melodies and then later completes the circle by returning to the opening rhythm. I could listen to this piece repeatedly for ages. This is a wonderful CD with 'The Man Who Waived At Trains/ Peff' also becoming a favourite. The musicianship throughout is excellent, whether it's the guitars, woodwind or keys leading the melody while the rhythm foundation provides the platform for rock tinged jazz to build on.
Finishing on 'The Floating World' is a gentle return to the living world after an engrossing jazz trip (no substances needed).
If you haven't tried Soft Machine but like Brand X, then I suspect you will like this.
Finally, fair play to Amazon - I pre-ordered at a higher price but upon release, they achieved a lower price and I was only charged the lower amount.