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

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Red Jasper - The Winter's Tale – More three-four chord neo-progressive? Have that craving for shrill digital patches and maybe, just maybe another vocalist who got locked in a room full of old Marillion records? Well, not exactly —...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues