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The soul of Soft Machine,
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This review is from: 68 (Audio CD)
This is likely to be a purchase only for those who love early Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt, but I never thought I'd see this. With, to my knowledge, only Slow Walkin' Talk and 3 minutes of Moon In June available on the 1994 Wyatt 'Flotsam Jetsam' collection, the whole of his four 1968 US demos is indeed the lost Holy Grail of Robert Wyatt's output. As he himself is quoted: "The missing links in my life's work, no less!" The release is fully authorised by him, and has an interview in the liner notes - although he can't remember too much. He does reveal that seeing Chicago Transit Authority in 1968 sowed the seed of the brass section later emerging on Third; indeed that first splendid Chicago album I bought at the time - as I did later with Third.
Don't let "demos" put you off - the sound quality is splendid with effort having been put in to this end - but the tracks are obviously works in progress, with some parts quite odd, even by Wyatt's standards. This is a unique, fascinating archival release that reveals the true basis of much early Soft Machine and why it lost it's musical soul when Wyatt was effectively kicked out of his own band.
The two long tracks here were later re-recorded by Soft Machine: Rivmic Melodies on Volume II (1969) and Moon In June on Third (1970); the differences are telling in many ways. The last half of the Moon In June track is in effect a Soft Machine demo - recorded in England in 1969, and here tacked on to the Wyatt 68 demo (whether originally or for this release is not clear); accordingly it more approaches the eventual released version. The music of the shorter tracks was reworked for later Matching Mole releases.