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CANTERBURY SCENE

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Canterbury Scene definition

With many other types of English progressive music developing mostly in London, it may at first seem strange that the old pilgrimage centre and relatively quiet cathedral city of Canterbury, became the centre of this very English form of progressive music and jazz fusion. Originally the Wilde Flowers, a teenage band of members living in and around Canterbury, playing a mix of pop, R'n'B and band members with a developing love of jazz, was formed in the 60's and became the seedling from which the Canterbury Scene grew. Australian beatnik Daevid Allen during a long stop-over at Robert Wyatt's parent's home, a refuge for many left field artists, was to catalyse the evolution of the Wilde Flowers into the fledging Soft Machine and the development of some avant music during the English psychedelic and underground period. From 1963 to 1969, the Wilde Flowers included most of the figures who later formed Canterbury's two best known bands, (The) Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper) and Caravan (Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Richard Coughlan).

Canterbury was then to be the cradle for several of the more freewheeling British bands of the post-psychedelic era. While fans would suggest this is the home of an English musical quirkiness tempered with quite a bit of whimsy, within the Canterbury Scene's musical spectrum any similarities between Canterbury's major bands, (e.g. Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hatfield & the North, Egg, National Health), are not immediately obvious*. Most bands will be found employing a clever fusion of rock rhythms and jazz improvisation with intellectual song-writing and varying strengths of psychedelia - some would too include folk elements (e.g. Spirogyra), others blues (e.g. Carol Grimes and Delivery). In addition, a number of bands employed various elements from classical music, for instance those bands with Dave Stewart playing keyboards. Whilst there have been a handful of excellent and distinctly different guitarists to play with Canterbury bands (e.g. Andy Summers, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller), the lead instrument of choice has been keyboards. One English peculiarity of Canterbury is what the late John Peel called the 'School of Anti-song' because of particular Wyatt, Ayers and Richard Sinclair's approaches to vocals and perhaps the whimsy. More recently Richard Sinclair's vocal style has perhaps accurately been labelled as 'English jazz singing' by Jazzwise (i.e. singing jazz with an English rather than the usual American accent). In addition Canterbury musicians have experimented as avant garde, free jazz players, e.g. instance Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller.

(*However, once you've heard some Canterbury bands the commonality becomes more obvious - chord sequencing e.g. Caveman Hughscore's electric piano opening on the tune 'More Than Nothing', the vocals, the lyrics etc.)

Both the Soft Machine and Caravan were popular in England's psychedelic/ underground scene before releasing their first albums in 1968, with Machine completing on level footing with Pink Floyd. However, by the early 70's a series of fragmenting changes of bands' line-ups, (Soft Machine went through about 30) and the subsequent formation of new bands, rapidly broadened Canterbury's range, with many newer musicians with only loose and in fact, no previous Canterbury connections. Early Soft Machine member Daevid Allen formed Gong in Paris. Both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt left the Softs because of musical developments they did not like, to begin their own solo careers. By the mid-70's, most the old and new Canterbury bands had progressed away from psychedelia, developing their distinct forms of progressive rock some embracing jazz fusion, many playing extended jams with now limited lyrical input (e.g. Hatfield and The Norths, National Health, Gilgamesh). Caravan became more folky. However, as the 70's progressed several Canterbury bands would lose most of the rock element from their music. Gong retained their psychedelic side longest, but with the departure of Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage in the mid 70's, the band evolved into the percussion-oriented, jazz rock group Gong, which eventually became the modern day Gongzilla. Daevid Allen regained Gong's name in the 90's and through his solo work and with his University of Errors, is still evidently producing psychedelia. Steve Hillage's form of psychedelia evolved into the glissando rock of his own band and then into electronica, by the end of the 70's. In particular, Hillage through his work as a successful record producer of new bands from the 80's, develop his form of electronica through other bands. This music lost much of its complexity e.g. few riffs played over and over, rather than dozens per tune that previously had often typified prog, into a very popular form that is the antithesis of prog, i.e. the various forms of house music, with associated remixing/turntablism. For instance, Gong's "You" got the remix treatment in the 90's - but then to reflect his range of activities, Hillage has also produced and played guitar for Algerian Rai singer, Rachid Taha for over 20 years.

Many of Britain's better known avant-garde and fusion musicians of the 70's and 80's - including Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Allan Holdsworth (Gong, Soft Machine, UK, Bruford) and Peter Blegvad - were involved during their early careers playing in Canterbury bands. And still new musicians join the Canterbury Scene's ranks, Theo Travis being perhaps the most notable recently (Gong, The Soft Machine Legacy). The Canterbury scene was to have a major influence on musicians in Europe, especially France (e.g. Gong, Moving Gelatine Plates), the Netherlands (Super Sister)and Italy (Daedalus), and more belatedly in the USA (Hughscore). Caravan reformed in the mid 90's, while ex-members of Soft Machine could be found in various avant jazz and straight jazz fusion groups, e.g. Just Us, Soft Heap, Soft Works and most recently The Soft Machine Legacy. From the Canterbury Scene, RIO it its various forms has developed.

FOOTNOTE: As indicated above, many Canterbury Scene bands are acknowledged as having played/are playing jazz rock fusion. However, because of their strong Canterbury affliations are listed under "Canterbury Scene" in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
Based loosely in part on the source: http://www.allmusic.com
(Edition 3, Aug 2009)

Current team members as at 14/02/2014:
Steve (HolyMoly)

Canterbury Scene Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Canterbury Scene | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.27 | 1485 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 722 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 870 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.27 | 659 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.28 | 590 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.24 | 860 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.22 | 833 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.26 | 339 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.19 | 475 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.15 | 630 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.25 | 256 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.11 | 571 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.14 | 348 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.23 | 207 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.12 | 360 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.25 | 181 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.13 | 310 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.37 | 102 ratings
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.03 | 462 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.03 | 411 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Canterbury Scene experts team

THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
ABBIAMO TUTTI I SUOI PROBLEMI
Picchio Dal Pozzo
SPLIT SECONDS
Miller, Phil
HOPPER TUNITY BOX
Hopper, Hugh

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 144 ratings

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I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars What an inspiration both Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth proved to be on their final Gong work together, 2014's `I See You'. The fact that they were able to contribute to an album during oncoming health issues is admirable enough, but the fact that it's a superb work almost on the same level of their defining Seventies discs is a very welcome miracle! Hardly some sad `old-man' retro excursion, `I See You' lovingly embraces all the classic Pothead Pixie-era elements that Gong-ladites love about the band, but roots it firmly in a modern sound delivered by a younger collection of musicians behind the older yet ageless Gong figureheads, and the results sound completely inspired and a band more focused and alive than ever.

So much to love about the classic Gong era permeates the self-titled opener, racing through everything from a loopy and playful Daevid Allen vocal so full of mischievous spirit, gnarling guitar twists, mysterious drifting voices to eerie glissando guitar tendrils. `Occupy' is a breakneck punk-rocking blast that cuts in and out of Ian East's dreamy sax wafts, and the psychedelic `God and the Devil Shake Hands' is lyrically cheeky and damning as it moves around reprising spiralling dirty flute and sax themes, Allen purring an almost rapping drowsy drawled vocal, and there's just a trace of King Crimson-esque metallic danger towards the end! Gilli's ethereal space whisper floats gracefully throughout the deep space-rock atmospheres of `The Eternal Wheel Spins', both Kavus Torabi and Fabio Golfetti's guitars moving between drifting ambient drones, urgent spasms, manic eastern flavoured motifs and Ozric Tentacles-like shimmerings.

`Syllabub' is a Zappa-inspired impish romp with a whimsical jazzy backing (just dig that supremely spacey instrumental break in the middle though!), `This Revolution' a political-themed spoken-word poetry interlude, and `You See Me' a spacey reprised improvisation highlighted by jagged guitars, Orlando Allen's skittering drumming and Dave Sturt's pumping bass. `Zion my T-Shirt' then proves to be a welcome come-down of reflective verses, darkness and sadness tinged spoken-word passages, murmuring bass ruminations and crystalline ambient caresses, with parts of the piece reminding of both Porcupine Tree's `Don't Hate Me' (which had its Gong-like elements as well) and the introspective thoughtfulness of `Wise Man in Your Heart' off Gong's superb 2000 album `Zero to Infinity'. The eccentric and joyful `Pixielation' jumps between bouncing Daevid loopiness and a range of cool instrumental interludes, and `A Brew of Special Tea' is a hypnotic and disorientating cut up tape- loop sound collage.

To end the disc, `Thank You' shambles with a delicious bluesy lurch and is a fond farewell to everyone ever involved with Gong and those who've embraced the spirit of the group over the decades, and `Shakto Yoni and Dingo Virgin' a final celestial glissando and wordless sighing voice drone that reaches the highest heavens. These two pieces could not make for a more dignified and appropriate send-off from both Daevid and Gilli, and it closes this era of Gong perfectly.

One of the absolute strongest releases to appear under the Gong tag since probably `You', and definitely the best Allen/Gong related work since `Zero 2 Infinity', `I See You' has all the psychedelic strangeness, satirical lyrics and unpredictable direction changes you could want to find on a Gong album, and the younger musicians (well, younger than Allen!) here proved to be the perfect musical contributors to support the stalwarts of the group. It's hard to think of a better farewell than this to Allen and Smyth (both who passed relatively soon after its release), and fans of the `Magick Brother' through to `You' era of the band that haven't looked into the group since those works should absolutely give this a shot.

Five flying teapots for a modern classic, and truly a work for Gong fans to treasure.

 The Winstons by WINSTONS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 59 ratings

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The Winstons
The Winstons Canterbury Scene

Review by Corcoranw687

4 stars 4.25 stars, a strong debut album! I listen to this one regularly now, it really suits all moods I could find myself in. It's dreamy and poppy and strongly influenced by the Canterbury scene. Straight away "Nicotine Freak" brings you in a few different directions before settling into a groove and sweet vocal melodies, the core of the group's sound seeming to come from a bass/drums/keyboards trio. It isn't long before we hear horns that remind one of Hatfield and the North or Camel, however, and the band keeps the surprises coming the whole album. How about the bizarre yet somehow radio-ready "She's My Face", or what I think is the strongest track "A Reason for Goodbye" which sounds like the Zombies had a jam with Anekdoten, only to be interrupted 2 minutes in by dueling saxophones. No matter what type of music you like, this is worth a look. Inspired yet original, sounding enough like artists of the past without being a copy, bringing something new to an old table perhaps.
 Mainstream by QUIET SUN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.25 | 256 ratings

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Mainstream
Quiet Sun Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Quintessential Canterbury sound.

This one-off album of a reformed Quiet Sun band is very enjoyable. The title is tongue-in-cheek. Once you put it on, it becomes evident right away that the band had no intentions of using it to establish a career, score a hit single, or anything. There is no pretense of this album having any meaning, other than the group wanting to record it for posterity. I don't find it especially original, although it has sufficient numbers of odd time signatures, fuzzy/jazzy solos, and fun quirky musical humour (one totally imagines bemused and bespectacled musicians) that mark it as quintessential Canterbury scene in style. Indeed, it even has the drummer singing like Hastings/Wyatt! (albeit sparingly thankfully - most of the album is instrumental, and the vocal is the weakest part of the music). On the whole, this is recommended. It is enjoyable all the way through, and flows well. But it is not the missing holy Canterbury grail, and does not match the best of the Canterbury scene (early Softs, Caravan, Hatfields, etc). I give it 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it just inside the 4 PA rating.

 March by MATCHING MOLE album cover Live, 2000
3.89 | 23 ratings

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March
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Decent sound, but performance patchy.

This is another official live bootleg-like release of a gig in Europe in 1972, released in 2002. The sound quality is great, but the performances are decidedly mixed. I think the band took a while to warm up, as the first three tunes in particular are quite poor. The opener, March (from Little Red Record) is almost unrecognizable, but not in a good way - that is, not because they were playing around with the structure and melody, extending it beyond its usual moorings, but instead because they don't seem to be able to play it! Also, the keyboards are way too low in the mix - hearing this on the radio one would be hard-pressed to identify a keyboard at all. Of course, being a Softs fan, I like a challenge, but the two tracks that follow are again not very well played. Things pick up in the middle of the disc, however, during "Part of the Dance". The best track, and the reason for getting this album, is "No 'Alf Measures" which not only is new (not appearing on any other Matching Mole album), but is the best song/performance in this set. The last two tunes continue on with the better playing exhibited in this track, ending with an instrumental version of Caravan's "Waterloo Lily", thus ending on an up note (which probably explains some of the 4-star ratings). But overall, the performances are too mixed, and too esoteric (even compared to Matching Mole's other work), for this is to be anywhere near 4-star material. Indeed, it is probably in the larger scheme of things only of interest to pre-existing fans - if this is your introduction to MM you will get a skewed idea of the band. But it raises to 3 PA stars for me on the strength of its clean sound quality, and the stronger performances/improvisations in the second-half of the set. Overall, I rate this 5.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

 N'Existe Pas! by ALLEN, DAEVID album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.76 | 20 ratings

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N'Existe Pas!
Daevid Allen Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars On this album, Daevid Allen's follows in a similar vein to the pattern he set on the previous 'Now is the Happiest Time of Your Life', although with a bit less emphasis on acoustic guitar songs, and with more glissando, improv poetry, and free-jazz tracks. This album will be enjoyable for true fans, but is too fragmented and esoteric a collection to act as a good introduction to his music, and to be honest, not everything here works as music. The first side is the better side. I can listen to all except 1 of the 8 tracks on this side, and the first three tracks are really quite good. The second side is much poorer, mainly dominated by a 12-minute improvisation (both lyrics/poetry and music) that is difficult to listen to (and I really like free jazz improvs!), and the opening tune on this side has quite trite lyrics. So, while there are some minor gems here, on the whole this is for fans only. I give it 4.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars.
 Solar Flares Burn for You  by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.76 | 8 ratings

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Solar Flares Burn for You
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This is an overlooked gem, and while it contains mostly early BBC recordings, demos, outtakes, long-lost movie soundtracks and private recordings, the pieces are very musical and anyone who likes Rock Bottom (one of my top 10 albums ever, so you know I am a huge fan), or Wyatt's music in general, will find this a treasure. It contains early Wyatt demos and BBC recordings of some of his best pieces, including 'Sea Song', 'Soup Song', 'Alifib', 'I'm a Believer', and 'God Song'. The recording of 'Alifib' here (originally from Rock Bottom) is wonderful. I have always loved that song, one of Wyatt's best - this version is just him at the piano live at the BBC. Very poignant. The title track ('Solar Flares Burn for You') was written as the soundtrack to a short film of the same name by Arthur Jones in 1973, recorded at Nick Mason's house. The album will appeal to RW fans for this piece alone, which is very quirky yet strong enough it should have been released back in the 70s. There are also short Hatfield ('Fol de Rol') and Matching Mole ('Righteous Rhumba') demos, some silly pieces never intended for release (including hilarious grunting through "We got an arts council grahhnt", not so musical but funny and short), and a few Hopper-Wyatt sound experiments ('Blimey O'Riley', and 'Twas Brillig'). The cover of 'Little Child' here (recorded in 1972) is emotionally devastating - it will bring tears to your eyes. Topping it off is the last song "The Verb" recorded by Wyatt at home in 2003, likely from the time of the Cuckooland sessions. It sounds like it belongs on Dondestan and is as strong as any of the other tunes on that album. While as a fan, I can be expected to like this collection, I actually think this is musically stronger and more consistent than a number of his regular albums (I rate it higher than Ruth is Stranger than Richard, Comicopera, etc). Listen to Rock Bottom first, then perhaps Dondestan, and Shleep. If you like those, I am very confident you will love and treasure this. I give it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
 The End Of An Ear by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.19 | 111 ratings

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The End Of An Ear
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars While I love Robert Wyatt's music, including some on this album, and I love jazz (including avant-garde free jazz), it doesn't always work. I admire the spirit of innovation and exploration, and the great thing about improvisation is that it could succeed or fail spectacularly. This album contains some great musical moments, but also a lot of moments that are difficult to get through. It is thus quite fragmented, so although I encourage readers to pick up RW's music, as an album I would not recommend they start with this one. It is really for fans. I give this 5.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars (I had been wavering up to 5.8, but gave this another listen).
 Orange Skin Food by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Live, 2005
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Orange Skin Food
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

— First review of this album —
2 stars This is a collection of bootleg recordings that in 2005 received official release on a German label. There are actually 4 different live performances on this recording, each with a different sound quality. Frustratingly there is NO information about the dates or band membership or anything included with the CD. However, I can tell by listening that all of these involve the classic fourth-era quartet of Wyatt (drums, voice), Ratledge (organ, e-piano), Hopper (basses), and Dean (sax, saxello), and so these recordings must date from 1970-1971. The four separate performances span across the two CDs, and not necessarily in order (whey they did this? well there is no information). While the sound quality is mostly poor, clearly all recorded on household cassette machines, but not as bad as other boots I own. Also, the label did a decent job applying modern software technology to cleaning up the tape hiss, and some of the performances are quite notable, so this is definitely not a one-star set. The main frustration is that a number of songs fade in or out (in three of the four shows), so you don't always get the whole song. Here is what I have come up with, based on the differences in sound quality, and what I think about each:

Performance 1: CD1, Track1: Slightly All the Time CD1, Track 2: Out-Bloody-Rageous CD1, Track 4: Mousetrap CD1, Track 5: Noisette CD1, Track 6: Backwards CD1, Track 7: Mousetrap (rep) CD1, Track 8: Hibou, Anemome and Bear CD2, Track 9: Eamon Andrews

This is all in mono, with only OK sound quality. Some very good playing, and an interesting transition between Slightly all the Time and Out-Bloody-Rageous which is worth hearing by mega-fans. Also, the long version of Eamon Andrews is worth it (unfortunately, they fade out Hibou just when a solo is beginning, though).

Performance 2: CD1, Track 10: Esther's Nose Job CD1, Track 11: Pigling Bland CD2, Track 1: Facelift CD2, Track 2: Moon in June

These are very good performances, but annoying fade in and out. Facelift is missing both its beginning (so, no organ solo:( and its end, and Moon in June fades out just after the main loud solo. I would have loved to have the whole peformances here, as it seems the band was really 'on' that night. But sound quality if poorer than P1, and in mono.

Performance 3: CD2, Track 3: Out-Bloody-Rageous CD2, Track 4: Facelift CD2, Track 5: Fire Engine Passing CD2, Track 6: Pig CD2, Track 7: Orange Skin Food CD2, Track 8: A Door Opens and Closes CD2, Track 9: 10:30 Returns to the Bedroom CD2, Track 10: Pigling Bland CD2, Track 11: 10:30 Returns to the Bedroom (rep)

This is the performance with the best sound quality - very good (for a bootleg), and in stereo, comparable to a number of the other official releases. Thankfully, there are no fade-outs so you get the entire performance here. The Esthers Nose Job set is great. The band is tight, although the soloing is generally short (only a very short fuzz-organ solo at the beginning of Facelift, unfortunately). The final track in the set (the reprise of "Returns to the Bedroom") is a notable for short Wyatt echo-voice and echo-drum solos and a few other crazy sounds. Those who don't like bootleg-quality sound will probably only want to listen to this set.

Performance 4: CD1, Track 3: Moon in June CD2, Track 12: I should have Known

This is the recording/performance with worst sound quality, mono, with still-audible tape hiss, and obviously from a tape that had seen better days. The performance of "I should have Known", nonetheless, is notable. It fades in, so you might not even recognize the song. Wyatt sings it very slowly, without all the usual rhythm or chord changes, and there is a drum solo through an echo unit, much longer than the one in the third performance.

The performances here are good, and the sound quality is decent on performance 3, so this does not deserve only 1 star. Saying this, it is likely to appeal only to those (like me) who can't get enough of live Third/Fourth-era Soft Machine recordings. So two PA stars.

 Six by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.46 | 195 ratings

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Six
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars The first truly boring Soft Machine album.

There are actually two albums here, a live album and a studio album. Karl Jenkins had taken on the lead role, and Mike Ratledge, while still an official member and playing great solos, starting to recede from view. The live album is actually relatively decent, although much of the music is now being written by Jenkins and is not nearly on the same level as the earlier Softs albums (even Fifth). However, the studio album here lacks any sort of energy, even of the experimental, avant-garde or free-jazz kind. I really like long drawn-out avant-garde jazz experiments, including a lot of Hugh Hopper's drones (I even like the experimental sides of the Centipede Septober Energy album), but the studio album here is simply boring. It does not help that John Marshall's drumming is so straight. He sounds completely bored himself! (but for some reason unwilling to liven things up). On balance, I give this album 4.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars. Really, only the live album is worth a listen.

 Fifth [Aka: 5] by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.36 | 220 ratings

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Fifth [Aka: 5]
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

3 stars A flawed gem

Although it continues with much the same types of compositions as on Fourth, this is the first album without Robert Wyatt on drums and this is its Achilles heel. I actually really like the album, and have played it a ton of times over many years. I disagree with those who say it is boring noodling, as I think it is quite inventive - the first I know of that created a new sound by doubling the electric piano using a delay pedal. The compositions are great, and there are great distorted organ, fuzz bass, and sax/saxello solos. However, unfortunately, the drumming does not pull its weight. The first side, which features Phil Howard on drums is the (much) better of the two. Howard plays in a similar style as Wyatt on Fourth, albeit even more free (and thus less tied to any tempo). So, while not nearly as good as it would have been with Wyatt, side 1 is generally listenable. However, side 2 is painful. John Marshall is on drums here (Howard was fired before he could record on side 2), and he plays these songs very straight, very little improvisation, completely precise and very sparse. The contrast with Howard is stark. While Marshall would come into his own on later Soft Machine albums where they went full Mahavishnu-style Jazz Fusion and do very well (e.g. Bundles), on this album he simply does not fit the music. You can hear the problem right away if you compare the version of "As If" (the long song that opens side 2) here to the version on the Peel Sessions which features Phil Howard. The Peel Sessions version is vital, organic, full of life, pulling you along, albeit a bit temporally-challenged, while the version with Marshall is drab, dull, dead. It is really too bad Wyatt didn't drum on this album - it would have (likely) brought this up to or above the level of Fourth and given these recordings the vitality they deserve. I still love the rest of the playing, and the compositions - to my mind these pieces are better than most of what the Softs would produce afterward (particularly Sixth, but even the jazz fusion albums after that). This is innovative music. However, issues within the band meant they couldn't see how to make best use of these compositional gems, and ended up with some sub-par drumming/recordings. Saying this, "All White" is much better here than on the live album on Sixth, "Drop" is a classic Softs composition, up there with their best, and "As If" is also a fantastic composition (but the Peel Sessions album has the best version of that). On balance, I give this 6.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
DAEVID ALLEN Australia
AMOEBA SPLIT Spain
ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS United Kingdom
KEVIN AYERS United Kingdom
THE BOOT LAGOON United Kingdom
BRAINVILLE United Kingdom
CARAVAN United Kingdom
CLEAR FRAME United Kingdom
COS Belgium
DELIVERY United Kingdom
EGG United Kingdom
THE GHOULIES United Kingdom
MICHAEL GILES United Kingdom
GILGAMESH United Kingdom
GONG Multi-National
MILLER, SINCLAIR, TOMKINS GOWEN United Kingdom
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
NICHOLAS GREENWOOD United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH United Kingdom
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HOPPER DEAN TIPPETT GALLIVAN United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
MANNA/MIRAGE United States
MASTER CYLINDER United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOOM United Kingdom
MOVING GELATINE PLATES France
MR. SIRIUS Japan
THE MUFFINS United States
NATIONAL HEALTH United Kingdom
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PICCHIO DAL POZZO Italy
PIP PYLE United Kingdom
QUANTUM JUMP United Kingdom
QUIET SUN United Kingdom
SHORT WAVE United Kingdom
RICHARD SINCLAIR United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MACHINE LEGACY United Kingdom
THE SOFT MACHINE United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
STUBBS Japan
SUPERSISTER Netherlands
TORTILLA FLAT Germany
TRAVELLING France
VOLARÉ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
THE WINSTONS Italy
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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