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Soft Machine - Turns On: An Early Collection

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 11 / 8 / 2014

Soft Machine - Turns On: An Early Collection
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Often inaudible double CD collection of early recordings from classic British psychedelia act, the Soft Machine

The focus here is circa 1967 and British psychedelia, as well as the avant-garde ‘Canterbury Sound’. Quintessentially English, the Soft Machine were like Pink Floyd, part of the London hippy alternative movement of the time. The Soft Machine opened as support act for Jimi Hendrix on two tours. ‘Turns On’ compiles both studio and live recordings from early on in the band’s career. Due to poor audio sound quality through most of this compilation, this is not the Soft Machine recording to purchase. It begins well enough. ‘I Should’ve Known’ starts quietly, but quickly builds- a bluesy raw take – garage rock meets psychedelia, with stinging electric guitar and an urgent vocal. The song’s early urgency gradually melds into instrumental rambling and improvisation. ‘We Know What You Mean’ is audio wise, more fuzz than anything. The sound quality here is spotty in large part. While you can tell here that Soft Machine remains a fascinating band, my primary thought is that I want to seek out Soft Machine music with better fidelity. ‘I’m So Low’ is a pop rock psychedelic nugget- extremely likeable and trippy. On ‘Clarence in Wonderland’ once again the sound quality suffers. On ‘Hope for Happiness’ the sound is muted. We hear the makings of something great perhaps with some fine cascading organ fills, but the blur of the audio is distracting. On ‘She’s Gone” you can make out a rich blues based rock song. ‘Save Yourself’ blends into ‘Lullaby Letter’ which is largely inaudible. While I am not an audiophile, the more I listen to the state of audio quality on disc one, the more I feel that they shouldn’t have put this one out. According to the liner notes, there is a scarcity of early Soft Machine professional recordings, despite great interest. ‘A Certain Kind’, a soft ballad with a nice melody, is perhaps a bit better, but really well below par audio. Disc two begins with ‘Moon in June’, perhaps eerie and interesting as a composition, but still too inaudible to be worth it, and disc two remains as sonically inaudible as disc one. Recommendation: If interested in their psychedelic jazz rock blend, seek elsewhere for the Soft Machine.

Track Listing:-
1 I Should've Known (Version 1)
2 We Know What You Mean
3 I'm so Low
4 Clarence in Wonderland (Version
5 Hope for Happiness (Version 1)
6 I Should've Known (Version 2)
7 We Know What You Mean (Vers
8 She's Gone
9 Save Yourself (Version 1)
10 Lullaby Letter (Version 1)
11 I Should've Known (Version 3)
12 A Certain Kind (Version 1)
13 Clarence in Wonderland (Version
14 May I?
15 We Know What You Mean (Vers
16 Hope for Happiness (Version 2)
17 Moon in June
18 I Should've Known
19 A Certain Kind
20 ave Yourself
21 Lullaby Letter
22 Organistics
23 Lullaby Letter / Priscilla / Lullaby
24 We Did It Again
25 Why Are We Sleeping
26 Joy of a Toy
27 Hope for Happiness
28 Clarence in Wonderland
29 Moon in June (Reprise)
30 Esther's Nose Job

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