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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soft Machine Legacy

Live Adventures

Review by Gary Hill

This live album wanders between a lot of musical territories. It touches on space music and rock sounds like Cream. But the predominating element is jazz. That lands this firmly into the fusion end of the spectrum. However you label it, though, it’s a fun ride.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Has Riff II

This comes in tentatively, sitting in the mellow atmospheric edge of the spectrum. It’s basically something like space jazz with a definite RIO feeling to it. Around the three minute mark the intensity and volume increase, but the sound palate remains more or less the same. That “space jazz” label applies even more when intensifies. There’s sort of an old King Crimson vibe a lot of the time here. As it gets a bit harder edged later, I’m reminded a bit of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities. Guitar starts to really dance across the outer edges of the cut before it all drops way down again.

Grapehound
Somehow this makes me think of what one might hear if Cream were to jam with Traffic. The riff that drives it really feels like Cream, but the arrangement and instrumentation (and general sound) land it closer to the fusion-like sounds of Traffic. There’s a guitar section later that makes me think of Robin Trower quite a bit. The guitar soloing later takes into more fusion territory. Then around the four minute mark it works out to a different rock driven riff. This is really such a cool piece of music. The horn solo as this continues really smokes and the rhythm section drives it in another rather old-school King Crimson way.
The Nodder
This also comes in riff driven. That same rock riff driven sounds meets jazz element drives the tune and it’s got some great jamming in it. It’s less dynamic than the previous number, but still quite strong.
In The Back Room
A scorching jam, this is one part jam band and one part jazz. It’s all awesome, though. The guitar really soars on this thing, but the bass works some great magic, too. It drops down later for a mellow, horn driven section, but the bass guitar remains the constant throughout.
Song Of Aeolus
A slow moving number, this one features some particularly meaty guitar soloing.
Relegation Of Pluto / Transit
A killer rather off-kilter (in a good way) jam, this really has that old school King Crimson vibe to it. The “space jazz” label applies, too, though. The second half of this piece (considering it’s roughly three minutes, that’s not all that much) is a drum solo.
Gesolreut
There’s more of a pure jazz vibe to this piece, but still enough rock to keep it from getting completely jazz labeled. There’s some smoking hot freeform jamming later in the tune, too. They turn it out to more jam band kind of stuff, a bit like The Dead meets a jazz band later.
Facelift
A fairly freeform jam, this one is all jazz. It’s also got a lot of empty space in the arrangement. I suppose the King Crimson comparison is valid at times here.
The Last Day

The closer is another satisfying fusion tune.

 
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