Soft Machine

BBC in Concert 1972

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Recorded not long before their Six album, this is a nearly hour-long concert for BBC radio from July 20, 1972, in excellent sound. Consisting at this point of Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper, Karl Jenkins, and John Marshall, the band mixes material from their Fifth and Six records, also inserting a substantial reworking of a lengthy piece from Third, Ratledge's "Slightly All the Time." The group by this time had taken another step in their evolution from psychedelic rock to somberly ethereal fusion jazz, enough so that this couldn't really be filed, even tenuously, under the "rock" section. As such it won't interest a good percentage of the fans of the Robert Wyatt-era Soft Machine, though it's accomplished for the genre, with more of an improvisational verve than much fusion boasts. These versions do work significant improvisational changes into the compositions, as well as documenting the integration of new member Karl Jenkins (who wasn't part of the group on studio releases until Six) into the band on saxophone, oboe, and keyboards. The eight-page liner notes are unusually good for this sort of archival project, with interesting and sometimes contentious comments from several Soft Machine members.

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