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Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous

Francis Lo Kee By

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Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous
Graham Bennett
Hardback; 448 pages
ISBN: 0946719845

S.A.F. Publishing
2005

First of all, we at AllAboutJazz-New York note the recent passing of Elton Dean (1945-2006) with deep sadness. Mr. Dean was an integral part of the "classic" Soft Machine lineup.

Graham Bennett's book proceeds from a passion for Soft Machine's music, though in the preface he admits "... although that doesn't mean, as the reader will discover, that I value equally highly all the music the band ever produced. Indeed, there are those that would outright dismiss their music as immature. (I don't agree, I would say wildly original.)

For younger readers, Soft Machine was a band that started out as an underground rock band and morphed into something akin to a fusion band by the end of it's life, going through no less than 24 personnel versions and ending with no original members for the last eight years of its life. As confusing as that might be for listeners (like me) mostly familiar with the core group (drummer Robert Wyatt, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean and bassist Hugh Hopper) that made the recordings Third, Fourth and part of Fifth (all recorded for CBS Records), Mr. Bennett has really done his homework to explain in his words and give a chance for the musicians to speak to the beginning (1966) and the end (1984).

He also includes a great index and appendices that will facilitate further research into recordings, related readings, websites and what's up with the "Softs after Soft Machine.

This superb book is a must for Soft Machine fans, but should be considered for any serious music library discussing the interaction between rock, jazz, art, psychedelic times and literature from 1966 through the '70s. And I loved the inclusion of the various versions of the lyrics to "Moon in June !

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