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The Soft Machine - Switzerland 1974 CD (album) cover

SWITZERLAND 1974

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.04 | 5 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Another archival SOFT MACHINE release that I just couldn't say no to, yes I have a problem. They are a top ten band for me though and in my opinion it's the DVD here that makes this a solid 4 star album. Not that I have any issues with the audio cd it's just that I already have "Floating World Live" with this same lineup but recorded a year later, and I just like the audio better from that one. Both of course feature guitarist extraordinaire Allan Holdsworth along with Babbington, Jenkins, Marshall and Ratledge. It is interesting that when Holdworth joined the band SOFT MACHINE decided that any live shows would feature new material with Holdsworth as they never had a guitarist before, let alone one of the best on the planet. Okay I just remembered that Gary Boyle played on the live archival release from the "Seven" tour called "NDR Jazz Workshop-Hamburg Germany 1973" my favourite live release by the band. Another excellent archival live album is "British Tour '75" with John Etheridge on guitar who was recommended by Holdsworth. The latter left when Tony Williams asked him to be part of his band, an offer Holdsworth says he couldn't say no to, just a great opportunity to play with the best drummers ever.

So this 1974 live recording is from Switzerland and more specifically the Montreux Jazz festival on July 4th. So people in the audience would be hearing material not yet released that would mostly appear on the "Bundles" album. I like when the boys finish playing and the announcer comes out and introduces each member of the band then before he walks off he says it was nice to see John Marshall again and he mentions seeing him at the same festival 4 or 5 years earlier with NUCLEUS who came away with first prize at the time. And yes everyone but Ratledge in this lineup played for NUCLEUS at some point.

The highlight for me is the almost 17 minute version of Jenkins "Hazard Profile". Just a classic tune where Holdsworth shows off his chops beginning just before 3 minutes and he does light it up. I like the fuzz after 10 minutes then the horn after 12 minutes as the rhythm section turns more intense. "The Floating World" has this mood that draws me right in. The atmosphere and keys especially. Some vocal melodies from Allan then the bass comes to the fore. "Ealing Comedy" has some massive fuzz in it, very growly and powerful stuff. "Bundles" is one of my highlights, especially the guitar and drums. "Land Of The Bag Snake" has Holdsworth just ripping it up.

"Joint" sounds like electronics and drums mostly, quite avant sounding like smoking a joint I suppose(not even close). "The Man who Waved At Trains" like "The Floating World" is simply an uplifting and laid back tune with keys and drums leading this time. The bass and horn that follows adds a lot. Trippy stuff(like smoking a joint). It will be reprised later on(the song). "Peff" is intense and horn led. "LBO" is all about Marshall and his drum set. "Riff II" is a pretty heavy tune man as Marshall continues to impress. "Lefty(Collective Improvisation)" is experimental with drums leading early as the horn comes in. It settles late. "Penny Hitch(Coda)" has a good groove to it as the horn plays over top. The guitar joins in before 2 minutes. It settles 4 minutes in as light drums, bass and keys lead the way to the end.

Another fine live recording and these guys have a lot of those.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |

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