The Soft Machine - Volume Two Original recording remastered
|Price:||£5.99 & FREE UK Delivery on orders dispatched by Amazon over £20. Delivery Details|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The roots of Soft Machine lay in the city of Canterbury in Kent and the circle of bohemian friends with Robert Wyatt at their core. Gathering at the large Georgian house owned by Robert’s mother, Honor, Wyatt shared the company of Kevin Ayers, Hugh and Brian Hopper, Mike Ratledge and a drifting Australian beatnik, Daevid Allen spending many hours listening to modern jazz and being exposed to the world of beat poetry and Dadaist art. The second Soft Machine album from September 1969 has now been digitally remastered and sounds better than ever.
By the end of 1968 the Soft Machine had parted company with founder and bass player Kevin Ayers. Ayers, who operated at a more leisurely pace and was less jazz inclined than drummer Robert Wyatt and keyboardist Mike Ratledge, had been put off touring, at least temporarily, by the experience of supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience acrioss the USA. But following a brief hiatus the band reformed with former road manager and school friend Hugh Hopper on bass. Joined here by brother Brian - another key figure in Canterbury musical history - on sax, it was Hugh's vastly developed sense of melody, combined with the aforementioned love of jazz that saw the band enter Olympic Studios with engineer George Chkiantz and record this masterpiece.
Volume Two's first side begins with Wyatt reciting the alphabet, ending the side's suite of songs by doing the same, backwards. This mixture of the absurd and the serious that was to eventually tip in the direction of the latter (forcing out the more whimsical Wyatt), provides a wonderful tension that no other band has ever really replicated though many have tried (cf: Hatfield And The North). Fearsome chord progressions (Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening), free noise (Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging) and even scatting in Spanish (Dada Was Here): this was no ordinary college band.
Even the infamously po-faced Ratledge was open to a touch of tomfoolery at this point. Pig's exploration of the role of women's underwear in the mating ritual is hilarious, while underpinned with a time signature that they virtually patented in later years. As Long As he Lies Perfectly Still is a truly moving tribute to the departed Ayers: Mike Ratledge's majestic piano chords declaim over his own distorted organ, Wyatt's swinging cymbals and Hugh Hopper's monstrous fuzz bass while Wyatt sings lyrics that are equal parts affectionate, silly and mocking.
Volume Two could be said to be the band's best album. It was a taste of the pre-post modern: relegating lyrics to the role of noise that merely describes what the band's doing (''In his organ solos, he fills 'round the keyboards, knowing he must find the noisiest notes for you to hear'' - Thank You Pierrot Lunaire), or name checking friends of the group (''Thank you Noel and Mitch. Thank you Jim, for our exposure to the crowd. And thank you for this coda Mike, you did us proud'' - Have You Ever Bean Green?). No one makes records like this anymore. --Chris Jones
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top customer reviews
`The Softs' could have gone and got themselves a hit single after their first album. The time was right for it after all, and events have proven that it was the only chance they were going to get. But being wilful sorts they went and made this album instead.
It's all here anyway, apart from the hit single that is. But then it couldn't have been any other way when Engelbert Humperdinck was having hits could it? Daft songs,`freak-outs', the British alphabet, menacing riffs; not one of these things is spared a good seeing to.
What were they thinking of? Whatever it was it probably wasn't appearing on `The Jimmy Tarbuck Show' The chances are these boys would have been relegated to some late night slot on BBC2 (just before the national anthem and at least eleven hours of the test card)
But so what? If the definitive notion doesn't necessarily have to mean something singular then this is the other piece of essential British psychedelia for reasons too numerous to discuss here.
Buy with confidence good people. You know it makes sense.
The first section, 'Rivmic Melodies', Wyatt's extraordinary arrangement of mostly Hugh Hopper's tunes, is an incredible achievement, an unstemmed flow of creativity fizzing and bubbling over and seeping into every nook and cranny. At this point their music could have been called 'Fission', it was only after years of entropy that the group could take on the 'Fusion' label.
The great Hopper's finest song, 'Dedicated to you but you weren't listening' prefigures all those wonderfully awkward Wyatt songs like 'God Song' and 'Muddy Mouth' which have become a tradition as distinctive as anything in music. Mike Ratledge's 'Esther's Nose Job' I find less enthralling, until its climax with '10.30 returns to the bedroom', a blisteringly intense performance which ends with the most thrilling meltdown you'll ever hear.
To me this is a small miracle of music, a crucible of white-hot diverse talents who could only briefly stand to work together but made it seem easy to fuse unlikely sources into a coherent and joyful whole. Lovely.
The whole album holds together perfectly and there are beautiful song structures as well as some wonderful ensemble playing.
Robert Wyatt proves himself to be the most musical drummer to come out of Britain,Jon Hiseman apart.
Hugh Hopper was wonderful composer as can be seen especially later on Soft Machine Three and Four and Ratledge at piano as well as his famous Lowry organ provided depth and virtuoso playing.
I think this album is a great classic and should be treasured as one of the great works of the 20th century,whatever genre.
Of the 60's,I believe there were only three musical groups who challenged popular music.The Beatles,Cream and The Soft Machine.Each in their own genre.Just as Dylan changed Rock music intellectually and Stravinsky and Webern changed "classical music" and Charlie Parker,John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman in Jazz.
So I rate this album as not just a great piece of musical art but an important work and touchstone of 20th century art.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Look for similar items by category