Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Soft Machine Third (1970)


Lately I’ve been really into theses guys, constantly listening to this record becoming more and more impressed every time I hear it. I’m still getting used to the style of twenty minute songs with sections flowing into each other. I see the possibilities it creates as in creating an imaginary story or “world” if you want to call it that. Third definitely creates a cool atmosphere. From trippy sound collages to jazz freak outs a lot of ground is covered. The instrumentation is also amazing; I really appreciate the great tone they are able to pull out of their instruments in this one.

Soft Machine was founded by college dropouts Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers and a constantly changing lineup in 1966 as a jazz/psychedelic project. They can be sourced as one of the leading bands in the British progressive rock scene including bands like Caravan, Gong and Matching Mole. The first album they released was in 1968 entitled Volume ONE and following in 1969 with Volume TWO this continued until of course there was THIRD in 1970. They continued to make jazz and father out there albums after Third.

I would highly recommend headphones when listening to Third as I know from experience that is quite hard to hear soft melodies and pitches as cars are whizzing past you every 10 seconds. “But after all it’s only leisure time isn’t it.”

Third begins on “Facelift” with very soft low pitches and slight combustion like organ playing random rhythms with an occasional note bends. The clipping robot tones that follow give a great example of what is to be expected for the rest of the album. Don’t let the dream like state turn you off, hopefully it will grow on you like it did for me. Overall it just forms a great tension for when the song breaks and it does at seven minutes in with a completely crack fifed jazz freak-out, it’s so bloody crazy. I mean it’s just great material to freak your family out with blasting it at top volume. About Halfway through the song the direction completely changes as the instruments fade away and a flute solo ensues. Then the last ten minutes are a hard to describe jam extending from the main jam with the occasional saxophone sounding like it has a sore throat, great stuff.

Next song is “Slightly All The Time” continuing on the jazz jam foundation already laid. Usually by this point of the album I’m dazing off or not really paying that great attention to it, I’ll admit. This is one point of the album where its sounds a lot better as background music. I’ve yet to get used to it perhaps, but I still love the groove at 8 minutes. Actually most of the song is insanely funky which is pretty good for the closest thing to come to filler on the whole album.

The Third song “Moon In June” is a masterpiece, not just on this album but of all time. I’m amazed at how many times I’ve listened to it and haven’t tired of it at all. It’s actually the only song on the album with vocals, the highlight of the album in my opinion. Robert Wyatt can hit some great notes and the overall way he sings is amazing. It starts on a piano line and the line.

“On a dilemma between what I need and what I just want
Between your thighs I feel a sensation
How long can I resist the temptation?”

It’s clearly a song about lust and love and quite powerful one thanks to accompanying organ that follows his voice. The first three minutes are without a doubt the best part of the song. The bass and drums create so many hooks it’s mad. “Moon in June” isn’t without humor though, just before the first organ solo thingy Robert seems to have forgotten about the direction of the song going ‘Oh! Wait, a minute”. After the solo the song hit’s a happy streak with bouncy hooks and lyrics about being home again. The vocals will put you in a trance trust me. At 10 minutes the guitar appears a perfect distorted riff and the organ launches on a very enjoyable jam. Everything goes into overdrive and feedback fills your speakers and then suddenly it draws back again going into an interlude held together by just one chord repeated over and over again. Then you hear something extremely strange, a violin speeding up and down like a broke tape player creating some very alien sounds. Other various sounds fill up what little space isn’t already consumed and you enter experimental noise bliss. A perfect way to end the song.

Finishing up the album we have “Out Bloody Rageous”. It’s really a hard to explain to feeling I get when the soft dream like sounds come in. I’m actually kind of afraid of it; it makes my heart drop to my stomach at times. I like to listen to this song before sleeping because of just how great ear candy it is, it just relaxes you and makes thought clearer. Now not the whole song is one big dream sequence, at five minutes in a groove similar to the freak-out in “Facelift” enters with some very enjoyable horn playing. One of my favorite parts of the album. The Freak-out lasts six minutes and then goes back to the opening sounds. Like the rest of the songs on Third the second half is reserved for improve time that’s hard to get into detail. Third ends magnificently on more beautiful noise, Bravo!

So in conclusion, I really dig Soft Machine and their sound. I understand some of you might not dig it but I encourage everyone to at least listen to some of their earlier stuff like One and Two. It may not click at first but give it a try. As for this album, I have enjoyed its company and happiness it gives me, “Moon in June” is the best song ever!


January 9, 2014 Posted by | Soft Machine Third | | Leave a comment