A wild, freewheeling, and ultimately successful attempt to merge psychedelia with jazz-rock, Soft Machine's debut ranges between lovingly performed oblique pop songs and deranged ensemble playing from drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt, bassist Kevin Ayers and organist Mike Ratledge. With only one real break (at the end of side one), the songs merge into each other -- not always smoothly, but always with a sense of flair that rescues any potential miscues. Wyatt takes most of the vocals, and proves himself a surprisingly evocative singer despite his lack of range. Like Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Vol. 1 was one of the few over-ambitious records of the psychedelic era that actually delivered on all its incredible promise.
AllMusic Review by John Bush