THE BARGAIN BUY: The Sony "Original Album Classics" series: Soft Machine

 |   |  1 min read

Soft Machine: Tarabos
THE BARGAIN BUY: The Sony

Everyone's a critic, huh?

The other day while playing an old favourite album my wife came in and said, "Who is that?"

And not in a good way.

The villains in question were the prog-jazz rock outfit Soft Machine from Cambridge, England and the album under discussion their critically admired Third from 1970 which I have returned to regularly for over more-than-a-few decades, just for another dose of psyched-out jazz and electronics.

But when she asked that question I did pause. This isn't for everyone I agree, but also it prompted me to reconsider. Is it as good as I and many others think?

I suppose having worshipped at the feet of the band's drummer Robert Wyatt (whose subsequent career I have followed slavishly) has rather skewed my view . . . but I have been forced to concede that a large dose of it is meandering, and it is very much grounded in its era.

That said -- out of my wife's always sympathetic ear-shot -- I started to re-explore the band's albums after that as they appear in this Sony set which includes Third/Fourth/Fifth/Six and Seven. (They were less original when it came to album titles, it has to be conceded.)

And I concluded I actually prefer Fourth (the last in which Wyatt was in the band) for its more energetic jazz-rock/experimental attack. I imagine this is some kind of heresy in the rock-crit world but . . . that's the fact, Jack.

The other albums -- which also saw line-up changes -- chart their progress even further into jazz-rock (not the more familiar fusion, because they eschewed electric guitar -- which might be their saving grace) and each offers it own delights, confusions, nuances, annoyances and tripped-out pleasures (although you do need to keep your head screwed on).

JB_HZ_CHEAP_longSoft Machine are certainly not for everybody but this set, just $20 at JB Hi-Fi stores here, is guaranteed to get a response from you, and those you live with.

Just listen to the tone in someone's voice when they say, "Who is that?" . . . and then decide if you want to wax lyrical and play them another album, or just make a quiet retreat to reconsider your position. 


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   The Bargain Buy articles index

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Rough Guide to Blues Legends series

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Rough Guide to Blues Legends series

It used to be the cheapest musical genre to get into was classical. As CDs took over, classical listeners were dumping their vinyl and -- these being careful classical types -- you could pick up... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed

THE BARGAIN BUY: David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed

With David Bowie's passing there has been a landslide of merchandising – all the vinyl reissues, compilations and picture discs – but if you just want an interesting and sometimes... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GONEVILLE by NICK BOLLINGER

GONEVILLE by NICK BOLLINGER

Although they are never going to challenge the unassailable supremacy of cookbooks and the lives of people who play sport for money, there has been a discernible increase in the number of books... > Read more

Lorde, Vector Arena, Auckland. November 1 2014

Lorde, Vector Arena, Auckland. November 1 2014

Like most people I suppose, I can remember my first pop concert. It was cool. Well, it wasn't the best you could cite to make yourself out to be a cool kid. It wasn't the Stones (that came a... > Read more