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

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Djam Karet - Collaborator – Finally, the wait is over. Three years after the awe-inspiring double release of Burning the Hard City and Suspension & Displacement, America's premier progressive ensemble have returned, but...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues