Album Review

Soft Machine – “Live in Paris ” – [Cuneiform Records]

Max Level   1/2/2006   B Library, CD

1972 recording of this short-lived version of the Softs ever-changing lineup. Drummer Marshall had just arrived, and saxophonist/keyboardist Dean resigned shortly after. When R. Wyatt left the band a year or so previous, the loony jazz/pop experimental approach of earlier Soft lineups went with him, leaving behind more serious jazzrockfusion tendencies, as displayed here. A heavy dose of electric piano underpins the compositions, Ratledge uncorks a few blazing organ solos, Hopper and Marshall are a strong and fluid rhythm section, and Dean’s reed playing is unpredictable and interesting, although I wish he had unplugged his sax a bit more often; his electric sax sound is kind of flat and tinny. Overall a nice document of a band that never stood still, and in particular an incendiary lineup that wasn’t together long. This is a recording of the complete show, and the tracks all run together, linked by either audience applause or abstract instrumental passages. Track 4 on CD2 is a drum solo.

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