Soft Machine

last update: 28. Feb 2009

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Softmachine 3

Robert Wyatt -  drums, vocals

Mike Ratledge - keybords

Kevin Ayers - bass

 

Softmachine 6

Robert Wyatt - drums, vocals

Mike Ratledge - keybords

Hugh Hopper - bass

Elton Dean - alto sax, saxello

more details see: Soft Machine

Date Venue Title CD/ LP
     Third Double LP
     Soft Machine LP
 28 October 1969  Actuel Festival, Amougies, Belgium  Actuel Festival Day 5 CD

 

Third

Double LP, CBS S 64080 (official)

1. Facelift

2. Slightly all the time

3. Moon in June

4. Out-bloody-rageous

 

Soft Machine

LP, CBS S 64280 (official)

1. Thatís how much I need you now

2. Save yourself

3. I shouldíve known

4. Jet-Propelled photograph

5. When I donít want you

6. Memories

7. You donít remember

8. Sheís gone

9. Iíd rather be with you

 

 

Actuel Festival Day 5

28 October 1969, Actuel Festival, Amougies, Belgium

Quality: very good audience recording

Comment

This is the only recording in circulation of a complete concert by the shortlived septet line-up of Soft Machine. Amougies wasn't quite their debut (they played a warm-up gig in Liverpool a few days before) but this is certainly where most people heard them for the first time. Although a major change in the band's instrumentation, the addition of a brass section didn't actually alter their basic set all that much, the only composition written especially for this line-up being "Pigling Bland", the new coda to "Esther's Nosejob". Everything else (including the rare coda to "Facelift" which shows up on the September trio gig from Amsterdam) had been played by the trio (and quartet with Brian Hopper). Similarly, the fact that Robert Wyatt doesn't sing much was not so much a consequence of the enlarged line-up than one of its causes - apart from Hopper and Ratledge's new compositions being all-instrumental, Wyatt just couldn't cope with his dual role very well. Actually, the Amougies concert has some of his best live singing, particularly the "New York" sequence of "Moon In June". This was in part due to the band's recent acquisition of an Echoplex echo chamber. But most of "Moon In June", alas, is played instrumentally... but it is played very well, particularly by Ratledge who makes expert use of fuzz and wah-wah. All in all, this is a precious document of an exceptional line-up, a welcome complement to what little is available commercially (on "BBC Radio 1967-71" and "Backwards").

 

Apparently, the first half of this set was broadcast on radio at the time, on either the Belgian RTBF or Luxemburg's RTL, and is in circulation in bootleg form. The sound is arguably better than the recording here, but I opted to leave this version as it is as it offers a slightly different sonic perspective on the performance. I think the broadcast version has been seeded here already anyway. Perhaps a repeat would be a good idea.

 

Just before we go on (...to the next part of our song...), the usual warning about the sound quality - the tape recorder used was way below modern standards and the sound is nowhere near "professional" quality. This reservation aside, however, this is simply an unbelievable document of a legendary festival, and so our hearfelt thanks to the taper, JJB, for recording this at the time, and for allowing me to seed it here.

 

1. Moon In June (14:51)

2. Facelift (10:24)

3. Eamonn Andrews (8:05)

4. Mousetrap / Noisette / Backwards / Mousetrap Reprise / drumlink (9:50)

5. Esther's Nosejob (incl. Pigling Bland) (15:15)

6. Hibou, Anemone And Bear (6:21)

 

Robert Wyatt - Drums & Vocals

Mike Ratledge - Lowrey Organ & Hohner Pianet

Hugh Hopper - Bass

Elton Dean - Alto Sax

Lyn Dobson - Soprano Sax

Marc Charig - Cornet

Nick Evans - Trombone