Exposé Online banner

Soft Machine — Third
(BGO BGOCD 180, 1970/1993, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-10-01

Third Cover artFor those not familiar with Soft Machine, this is probably the best place to start; this marks the major turning point in the band's career, a shift from a more song-oriented style, through a phase of intense experimentalism (for rock, at least), and on to an overall jazzier — and humorless sound. Soft Machine would never be the same again. After the second album, recorded as a trio of Hugh Hopper (bass), Mike Ratledge (organ) and Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals), the band decided to open the band up to new members with fresh ideas. As a result, Soft Machine briefly became an eight-piece with the addition of Elton Dean (alto sax, saxello), Lyn Dobson (flute, soprano sax), Nick Evans (trombone), Jimmy Hastings (flute, bass clarinet), and Rab Spall (violin) — in short, all of the Keith Tippett band at that point in time, minus Tippett. The album, originally a 2LP set, contains exactly four songs — one per side. The first, "Facelift,” was pieced together from two concert recordings in early 1970 featuring the full lineup, and is easily one of the most decidedly innovative pieces the band ever did, second only to "Moon in June,” an expanded version of a Robert Wyatt song which cuts, half way through, into a highly experimental piece for group and tape that defies descriptions. The remaining two sides, "Slightly All the Time" and "Out Bloody Rageous,” feature a subset of the full eight-piece lineup, and move in the jazzier directions that the band would follow on all subsequent albums. A domestic version of Third was released about four years ago on Columbia, which — like its vinyl counterpart, had absolutely dreadful sound quality. This new version on BGO corrects many of those problems, and seems to have better stereo separation as well. I've A-B'd it with the Columbia disc, and the improvements are immediately apparent.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 5, 1993 releases, 1970 recordings

Related artist(s): Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Travis Larson Band - Rate of Change - Live – This concert video commemorates The Travis Larson Band’s tenth anniversary. With four studio albums and a ton of touring under their belts they’ve made a name for themselves as purveyors of...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues