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 Ramones; Anthology (Warners)

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Ramones; Anthology (Warners)

This is easy: any album which makes it into the Essential Elsewhere list is obviously recommended (for one reason or another, the list is absurdly diverse). But this one gets through on sheer... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Band; Music from Big Pink + The Band

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Band; Music from Big Pink + The Band

With the next installment of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series in November being a six CD set of the original and famously bootlegged "basement tapes" recorded in '67, and an all-star line-up... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Stevie Wonder: The Wonder of You

Stevie Wonder: The Wonder of You

The curious thing about going to meet famous people is sometimes you don't recognise them and end up sitting in the bar or cafe counting the ceiling fans until you realise your prey is that little... > Read more

CHUCK CLOSE IN SYDNEY (2014): In the face of challenges

CHUCK CLOSE IN SYDNEY (2014): In the face of challenges

In Sydney's newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) there is a remarkable portrait of the late Lou Reed. It is an enormous piece by the American artist Chuck Close who is renown for... > Read more