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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soft Machine

NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973

Review by Gary Hill

This awesome set is composed of a CD and DVD. They feature much of the same material. It’s basically jazz, but Soft Machine was always considered a prog rock outfit, so I’m including it under prog. The music is quite tasty and the sound and video are very good. All in all, this is a great set that would make a good introduction to the group or an excellent addition to a fan’s Soft Machine collection.

Track by Track Review
Fanfare

This is really just a short introductory jazz piece. It’s got a lot of power and passion, but it’s less than a minute in length. It gets a little noisy at the end and runs straight into the next piece.

All White
They power out here into a smoking hot jazz jam. There are some incredible bits of soloing on show here. It gets incredibly intense at times. Again, this runs straight into the next number.
Link 1/Link 2
Effects and other elements are brought together in a movement that’s a lot more sedate than the previous cuts. This is kind of like a cross between space rock and jazz. The second half is even more ambient, and just a bit weird. It turns even stranger and quite dissonant. Once more, the track segues into the next one.
37 1/2
A driving rhythm section takes this one through some seriously cool jazz. It’s an awesome piece of music that has energy and passion. It’s one of the most accessible cuts to this point. They take this through a number of changes and alterations.
Link 3
Here’s another cut that’s less than a minute in length. It’s kind of a cool space rock meets jazz concept.
Riff
There’s an awesome groove to this and everyone seems to get to shine on it in terms of solo time.
Down the Road
They bring this one feeling quite a bit like something from Traffic. The guitar solos like crazy on this and it gets very intense at times. The saxophone seriously wails, too.
Link 3a
This short number makes me think of Red era King Crimson.
Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album
A fiery jazz romp, this gets rather noisy and quite intense as it carries onward.
Chloe and the Pirates
This one comes in mellow and reminds me of a jazzier take on the opening sounds of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle.” Basically it feels like an expansion of that little intro section. As it continues it makes its way to more of a jazz ballad movement. It’s quite pretty and the instruments work through some intriguing solos. It powers up after a while, becoming quite intense. It drops back down towards spacier, mellow territory after a while.
Gesolreut
This nearly twelve minute long jam features a lot of great solos from all members of the group. It’s got a killer groove to it and is one of the standout cuts on show. It a lot of ways it reminds me of some pure jazz like you might get from someone like John Coltrane. It doesn’t change much, but never gets boring.
E.P.V.
The “Fly Like an Eagle” type sound that opened “Chloe and the Pirates” is back here, but it doesn’t stay around long, They take it out into a tasty jazz ballad from there. They strip the arrangement way down later, but never lose sight of the goal.
Link 4
This linking piece is very RIO like and just a bit weird. There are some killer noisy keyboard textures later.
Stumble
There’s a major rocking feeling on this one. It is powered up and very much like ELP in a lot of ways. It becomes a major league jazz jam that really rocks.
One Across
This is a six minute plus percussion solo. I’m not a big fan of drum solos, but this is pretty good.
Riff II
This seems like it continues some of the musical themes from “Stumble.” It’s a killer and a great way to end the disc.
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