Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

253

Soft Machine: Live at the Paradiso 1969

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In a recent interview guitarist Nels Cline described seeing John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra as "...like having all your body hair singed off in one fell swoop." Similar words could be used to describe British progressive rockers Soft Machine on Live at the Paradiso 1969. Their raw energy and sheer power, recorded in Amsterdam shortly before the release of Volume Two —considered by many to be a defining moment in progressive rock—translates directly from stage to disc on this fine archival release.

And yet this performance almost didn't come to pass. According to bassist Hugh Hopper's liner notes, the group was ready to break apart after their first tour of North America supporting Jimi Hendrix. Vocalist/guitarist Kevin Ayers had retreated to Spain and keyboardist Mike Ratledge had decided to give up live playing. Still, the group had a contractual commitment to follow up on Volume One , and so they recruited Hopper, erstwhile roadie for the band, under the assumption that they would record the album and not do any more gigs. Fortunately for us, that was not to be. Soft Machine would not only continue touring, but with the recruitment of saxophonist Elton Dean, would go on to record their classic Third and remain a viable recording and touring entity for years to come.

But back to '69 and this oft-bootlegged performance at the Paradiso. While there are warts to be found—most notably in the rough vocals of drummer Robert Wyatt, who was clearly having difficulty hearing himself over the wall of sound created by Hopper and Ratledge—this is a surprisingly well-recorded and well-performed show of the Softs working material from Volume Two. And regardless of the volume at which you play this disc, there's no denying that the Softs, at this point, were one loud band, easily capable of competing with a jet engine at fifteen feet. The sheer density of the jazzy "Hibou, Anemone and Bear," which would remain a staple in their live performances long after their repertoire had moved towards the more jazz-rock direction of Third , is remarkable as Ratledge solos, with his signature Lowry organ tone, over the odd-metered rhythmic figure, powerfully delivered by Wyatt and Hopper.

And considering Hopper was only intended as a temporary fill-in, his essential contribution to the band's sound, which would evolve rapidly from the Dada-ist rock of this performance to the more free jazz sounds of Fourth and Fifth in the course of three short years, is undeniable as he snakes his way through the simple vamp of "Dada Was Here," which also features a compelling solo from Wyatt, always an underrated player. And "Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging" alludes to the more free approach towards which the Softs would ultimately evolve.

Live at the Paradiso 1969 is an opportunity to hear classic Soft Machine in a transitional period as they moved from a more song-oriented approach to an open-ended concept, to be more fully explored on the ground-breaking Third a mere year later.


Track Listing: Hulloder; Dada Was Here; Thank You Pierre Lunaire; Have You Ever Been Green?; Pataphysical Introduction Part II; As Long as He Lies Perfectly Still; Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging; Hibou, Anemone and Bear; Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging (reprise); Pig; Orange Skin Food; A Door Opens and Closes; 10:30 Returns to the Bedroom

Personnel: Mike Ratledge (organ), Hugh Hopper (bass), Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals)

Title: Live at the Paradiso 1969 | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Voiceprint Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Warning: include(/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5:/data/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html:/usr/share/php') in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Bright Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Moments
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "East West Daydreams" CD/LP/Track Review East West Daydreams
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon" CD/LP/Track Review Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "There Is No Love" CD/LP/Track Review There Is No Love
by Phil Barnes
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017