Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Soft Machine – Out-Bloody-Rageous (Sony International, 2005)

This is a collection of material by the British progressive – psychedelic rock / jazz fusion band Soft Machine. The band had a fascinating evolution during the 1967-1973 period covered by this set with band members coming and going and the music continuously evolving. At the beginning of their life as a band, Soft Machine was a “Nuggets” type British psychedelic band with shorter and poppier songs that contained a particularly quirky British sensibility. Songs like “We Did It Again” and “A Concise British Alphabet” from the bands first couple of albums had them in this short pop song mode.

Things start to get even more interesting with the next album, imaginatively entitled Third. Featuring epic side-long improvisational songs which still contained some vocals at this stage, this record and songs like this compilation’s title track, “Out-Bloody-Rageous,” start to take band in a more progressive rock direction. From here on, the band used their impressive instrumental chops to move into a jazz fusion direction.

As opposed to the afro-funk direction Miles Davis was taking fusion on the other side of the Atlantic, Soft Machine kept true their rock roots using electric piano, synthesizer, and electric guitars and bass to blast off on their improvisations. This is a well chosen introduction to an interesting group that was always evolving. While not that well known in the United States during their time, the band had quite an influence on the European rock and jazz scenes of the time and the former members continue to do so as they get together in groups like Softworks and Soft Machine Legacy.

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