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"Soft Machine": Out-bloody-rageous Hardcover – 1 Jan 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: SAF Publishing Ltd; 01 edition (1 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0946719845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0946719846
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.6 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,483,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

Soft Machine were one of the greatest British pioneering bands, they played a pivotal role in shaping psychedelic rock, progressive rock and jazz-rock fusion. Out-Bloody-Rageous is the definitive biography of this ground-breaking band. Based on extensive interviews with members and associates of Soft Machine, it is illustrated with over 80 photographs, posters and clippings and includes a full Soft Machine family tree, concert file, discography and sessionography. It is essential reading for any serious fan of jazz. It traces the lives of Soft Machine's members, pieces together the band's serendipitous formation and colourful career, and unravels the truth, the mystique and the legend behind this most elusive of bands. It recounts the incidents and internal tensions that led to an astonishing 24 different line-ups and places Soft Machine's development in the musical and social context of the time.


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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is in many ways an excellent book although, perhaps like the musical odyssey it narrates, the first half is better than the second.
In the first part Graham Bennett, clearly enamoured of the music, provides a well researched and persuasive analysis of how the very different personalities that made up the first few versions of the band combined to produce a radically new, and ultimately influential, fusion of rock, pop, jazz and the avant garde. The strength of the writing here is in the way the author brings out the undoubted tensions between the different individuals while making it clear how they all brought different strengths and enthusiasms to the music. Particularly interesting is the developing idea that to some extent their originality stemmed from a lack of technical expertise and that it was the struggle to reconcile these all these different ideas at the same time as developing the skills needed to express them that resulted in the particular excitement that characterised these early years.
The second half of the book, documenting the years from 1973 onwards, suffers because it fails to bring a similar focus to bear on the character of Karl Jenkins who gradually took over the leadership of the band from that point until its eventual demise in 1984. Any characterisation of Jenkins, other than the most banal biographical details, is completely absent and while many of his band mates in those later years are happy to pass comment on a wide variety of personal, financial and musical issues, no attempt is made to present their views on him despite the major role he played. Even Jenkins himself is mute. There are no quotes from him directly or even from other interviews with him.
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Format: Hardcover
Soft Machine have always seemed to provoke strong views. I recall the liner notes on the first Softs album I ever bought (Jet Propelled Photographs) rapidly and rather surprisingly becoming something of a rant dismissing all the albums beyond "3".
Mr Bennett has written an excellent, readable and engaging biography. He is an honest biographer, and doesn't stoop to conjecture or fancy to entertain, but relies on thorough method and a writing style which convincingly captures the mood through the recollections of his interviewees.
The mood that emerges, however, is resolutely downbeat, and though the book is extremely readable, it left me with an uncomfortable sense of loss and discomfort. As the Softs themselves often seem to have been unhappy in the band, and view it as an opportunity missed, Mr Bennett may well have fulfilled his aim in communicating that feeling to the reader.
One effect of producing character sketches from interviewing a group of men who rarely agreed, were often in conflict and inevitably parted on bad terms, is that the negative facets of each of their personalities tend to be more prominent in the descriptions, and it can be discouraging to be faced with your heroes in such a relentlessly negative light. The Softs, especially Hopper, are frank to brutal about the absence of good relations in the band, and whether intentionally or not, rarely seem likable. Wyatt, in particular, comes across badly, although this is balanced by a distinct disappearance of warmth from the narrative after his departure, allowing the reader to retrospectively realize what he had in fact brought to the band.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine biography 3 July 2006
By Philip A.Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm amazed that there's enough interest in this british progressive Jazz-Rock band,so that someone would do a hardcover biography.Author Bennett accuarately covers the many personel changes that took the group from the progressive psychedelic sounds of the Robert Wyatt era,through to the Jazz-Rock fusion of the Karl Jenkins era,which saw the group continue with no original members for several albums,following the departure of founding keyboardist Mike Ratledge.Bennett has interviewed the majority of the musicians who have passed through the group,notably,Robert Wyatt,Hugh Hopper,Elton Dean,Kevin Ayers,Roy Babbington,John Abercrombie and John Etheridge,but Mike Ratledge wasn't interviewed.Apparently,most of the musicians recall a frosty,uneasy atmosphere in the group,and as many members departed for monetary reasons as for musical reasons.There were clashes between the "free-blowing" Jazzers and the song-oriented progressive rockers in the group,and,for many of the musicians,being in the group didn't pay enough money to live on.An exhaustive index of the shows the group played is included,as are some interesting photos.The list of recording sessions tends to suggest that there is little or nothing in the way of studio outtakes from the group's album sessions,though concert tapes and radio/T.V. broadcasts continue to supply prolific flow of CD's.Bennett's book makes the subject matter well worth reading,and leaves you craving more information.But at least we've got this book,the closest thing to an official biography that you're going to get.Out-Bloody-Rageous that this book exists.If you like Soft Machine,you won't be disappointed.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard copy at last for Soft Machine 30 Jan. 2006
By R. D. Snyder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw Soft Machine open for Hendrix in Cincinnati years ago. I had never heard of them, but they are the ones I remain active fans of. And by association, Robert Wyatt (never knew "Wyatt" was actually his middle name until I read this book) and Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper, etc.

Too bad "Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous" has such a cheap-looking cover (why use such a grainy b&w photo on a book about such a colorful band?), because what's inside is first rate! I actually skipped to the part about first trio version of the Softs (the band I had seen, first hand), read through Hopper's departure, then skipped back to the original quartet. But it's all good, Then there are the extensive discographies, a listing of every performance and recording session, and a section about what the various members are doing now. It's all there. Throughly researched and engagingly written.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have History of a Must-Have Band 11 Mar. 2007
By Cetacean Dreams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you love the Soft Machine in particular, and the Canterbury music scene in general, you really owe it to yourself to read this thorough and well-researched book. The fact that Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers are on the cover should tell you that there is a long explanation of the origins and early history of the band, which make for by far the most fascinating reading. This band was truly an artifact of the mid-1960s London psychedelic culture, before settling down into a long stint as a progressive jazz-rock band. While the band was arguably much better in its later jazz-rock incarnations, there was an innocent rawness to those early days that has rarely been captured elsewhere. After you read this book, you will need to buy the compilation CD of the same name, then you should track down "Jet Propelled Photographs" to complete the picture.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engagingly written; an indispensable historical tome 4 Oct. 2007
By W. M. Berger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Graham Bennett's book Out-Bloody-Rageous is clearly a labor of love, loaded with valuable historical information and quotes from a multitude of interviews with all concerned parties, a well-written, fun to read history with a fan's sympathetic tone, though not uncritical when the need arises. The biggest revelation for me was how the early Soft Machine had significant cultural ties to a great many artists, writers, musicians and movements; everything and everyone from Alfred Jarry's 'pataphysics, Terry Riley's tape loop experiments, Gurdjieff, Ornette Coleman, Elton John, The Proms, Burroughs, Marsha Hunt, the BBC and "My Boy Lollipop" (and so much more) found their way into this band's swirling universe at some point in time. The in-depth accounts of Soft Machine's disastrous late 60s US tours supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience are alone worth the price of the book. All at once enlightening, charming and in-depth, this is a must for any fan of Soft Machine, psychedelic rock, jazz-rock and European culture of the 60s and 70s.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out Bloddy- Rageous 5 Nov. 2006
By Richard E. Barnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Of all the books on bands and or people I have none more exhaustively then this book. It is very well research, full of the smallest details disogaphies, live gigs and interviews. It is the sort of book you don't have read from the begining either you could pick a section and read from there. The writter obviously loves this band and it shows through out. It is as detailed in the early years as it is in the later years. This is the book for fans and lovers of sixties music. Graham Bennett shows respect for their story and music but also the era. It s a lot of fun reading I am sure you will not be disappointed
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