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.
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