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barnaba.siegel

Soft Machine - Facelift France & Holland 1970 (quintet)

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Cuneiforme unearthed another live gems from the Soft Machine portfolio. In this time something particulary interesting for fans - not one, but two gigs by a Third-era quintet that lasted only 3 months. Lyn Dobson joins the classic Ratledge, Wyatt, Hopper and Dean line-up doubling Elton on sax, adding flute and even harmonica and vocal. The next interesting thing is the included DVD with a French concert, that is also on CD. It needs to be pointed out, that the video material was previously released as "Alive in Paris 1970", but of lesser quality. Plus the CD covers whole concert for the first time.

smf.jpg

I've already bought this set so quick thoughts:

1. I wasn't listening to Softs for months, so it's always a funny process of turning an inner audio switch in my ears to accommodate to their harsh, distorted sound. And it's usually not only the tone of hardcore deformed Lawrey organs and Hopper's bass, but also a sound quality. And so is here. Both gigs aren't perfect, I can hear sound deterioration between tracks on the same gig. It's all an B+/A- work, taking on the bootleg scale, but good to keep in mind it's not a clean gig.

2. Well, I must say this famous quintet is kinda overrated. Of course it's great to hear some tunes from "Third" with two saxes, but Lyn Dobson is not doing great on live situations. Not as interesting on sax as Elton Dean, his flute playing, even for the standards set by jazz-rockers (or rock-jazzers) like Bob Downes or this guy from Out of Focus from Germany, is something I'd happily skip, his harmonica playing barely suits this Machine and his vocal works... sheesh... unbearable for me plus doesn't have any delicacy or charm of Robert's singing (btw - Wyatt's gives a serious, noise performance at the end of Paris set, a more Matching Mole level of act).

3. Booklet is surprisingly thin, but there is a huge essay, so considering how many Softs' albums are out there, I guess it's ok.

So in overall - well, for sure "a must have for fan", but it wouldn'y be my favorite performance. 

 

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I'm a Soft Machine fan.  Have this and have listened to the music, haven't watched the DVD yet.  Interesting and nice to have, but far from essential IMO.

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5 hours ago, felser said:

I'm a Soft Machine fan.  Have this and have listened to the music, haven't watched the DVD yet.  Interesting and nice to have, but far from essential IMO.

Feel exactly the same. 

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I’ve just started delving into the multitude of live SM material, I just picked up this and the German NDR package also on Cunieforme, what else is recommended, the BBC ones sound good going by what I’ve heard on YouTube and just ordered Floating Points & Drop from Japan.

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17 hours ago, barnaba.siegel said:

The next interesting thing is the included DVD with a French concert, that is also on CD. It needs to be pointed out, that the video material was previously released as "Alive in Paris 1970", but of lesser quality. 

Do you mean that the previous release was of lesser quality than this version?

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8 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Do you mean that the previous release was of lesser quality than this version?

I'll paste exactle what Cuneiform wrote in the description:

"Footage of the concert was previously released in 2008 on DVD, but we have gone through the original footage once again to improve video quality as well as remove or lessen soundtrack issues including fake applause and hard edits."

8 hours ago, Harbour said:

I’ve just started delving into the multitude of live SM material, I just picked up this and the German NDR package also on Cunieforme, what else is recommended, the BBC ones sound good going by what I’ve heard on YouTube and just ordered Floating Points & Drop from Japan.

It depends on what period you're interested in.
Definitely the boths BBC sets by hux are essential - first covering 1967 to 1971 and second 1971 to 1975. Soft Machine & Heavy Friends, aka BBC Live in Concert 1971, is good sound-wise, but the big pack of jazz guests was more like a jam thing rather than well-planed extension to Softs' music.

Virtually, Noisette, Grides (with DVD) - another essentials from Wyatt era. 
(and of course the double CD edition of Third, with live performance on second disc)

Floating World Live, Switzerland 1974 - must have for fans of Allan Holdsworth era.

I enjoyed also Drop (a short living quartet with Phil Howard on drums, very interesting sound), Live in Paris 1972 (the double Fender Rhodes and less of distorted organs give this set a nice delicacy).

But if you will get knee deep into SM, most of the official stuff is great. Just recently I pulled "Breda Reactor", a double CD set from Holland, quintet one more time. Years ago I wasn't fond of this music and the sound quality as well. Few days ago I'd pressed played and couldn't stop listening to it, even the hour was getting really late.

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2 hours ago, barnaba.siegel said:

I'll paste exactle what Cuneiform wrote in the description:

"Footage of the concert was previously released in 2008 on DVD, but we have gone through the original footage once again to improve video quality as well as remove or lessen soundtrack issues including fake applause and hard edits."

Thank you for the clarification! :tup

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