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The official press release (with some comments from yours truly):
Soft Machine – Remastered with bonus material *
Third / Fourth / Fifth / Six / Seven
Release date: 19th February 2007
In the history of rock music few bands underwent such a stylistic musical transformation as Soft Machine. Starting life as a band that absorbed Soul and Jazz influences, the group were one of the first to embrace psychedelia before heading off on a jazz influenced tangent. In hindsight Soft Machine’s evolution could have only taken place in the musical free thinking environment that was the music business of the late 60’s / early 70’s. It was an evolution that would produce some of the most startlingly brilliant and innovative music of the period.
Featuring the legendary Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine exploded on to the scene in 1966 alongside Pink Floyd who they often played with and were likened to. With constant support from John Peel’s Radio London ‘Perfumed Garden’ show and through a series of underground happenings where they played alongside The Who, Jim Hendrix (who they also supported on a 1968 US tour) and Eric Burdon and the Animals, they became one of the most respected and influential bands of that time (It took some record companies a long time to recognize this - AR).
• Remastered from the original master-tapes and sounding better than ever these re-issues will appeal hugely to Soft Machine and Wyatt fans plus collectors of psychedelia and 1960/70’s experimental jazz/rock. (not sure if this also applies to Third, but I've asked the guy who contacted me from Sony BMG - AR)
• Third – Expanded edition contains a bonus disc featuring a BBC Live Session from the Royal Albert Hall (originally transmitted in 1970 and only available previously on vinyl and as a limited CD release) (apparently the Voiceprint release was overlooked here (and still missing the video footage - AR)
• Fifth – contains alternate version “All White”, never previously released
CD1 1. Facelift (Live) 2. Slightly All The Time 3. Moon in June 4. Out-Bloody-Rageous
CD2 (bonus disc) - BBC Live Session from the Royal Albert Hall 1. Out-Bloody Rageous 2. Facelift 3. Esther’s Nose Job - Pig - Orange Skin Food - A Door Opens A Door Closes - Pigling Band - 10:30 Returns to the Bedroom
FOURTH (82876872912) 1. Teeth 2. Kings and Queens 3. Fletcher’s Blemish 4. Virtually Part 1 5. Virtually Part 2 6. Virtually Part 3 7. Virtually Part 4
FIFTH (82876872902) 1. All White 2. Drop 3. M C 4. As If 5. L B O 6. Pigling Bland 7. Bone Bonus Track: 8. All White – Take Two (Alternate take previously unavailable)
SIX (82876875912) 1. Fanfare 2. All White 3. Between 4. Riff 5. 27 ½ 6. Gesolreut 7. E.P.V 8. Lefty 9. Stumble 10. 5 from 13 11. Riff II (Live) 12. The Soft Weed Factor 13. Stanley Stamps Gibbon Album 14. Chloe and the Pirates 15. 1983
SEVEN (82876872922) 1. Nettle Bed 2. Carol Ann 3. Day’s Eye 4. Bone Fire 5. Tarabos 6. D.I.S. 7. Snodland 8. Penny Hitch 9. Block 10. Down the Road 11. The German Lesson 12. The French Lesson
|Daevid Allen with Gong||Steve Hillage playing with his band|
My Unconvention review (as posted in the What's Rattlin' mailinglist):
The flying teapot came down from Planet Gong and decided to take residency in the Melkweg (milky way) which happened to be in the same town I live in, Amsterdam. What an incredibly stroke of luck! Three nights of Gong and Gong related music floating in. Ah well, I'll make an attempt to write a review of the bands and musicians I saw.
I came late to the venue on Friday and unfortunately missed the acoustic Daevid Allen set but picked up half an hour of the Hadouk Trio led by Didier Malherbe. Although I admire Didier I cannot say I was too impressed. The trio plays some kind of "etno-folk" (for lack of a better description) and it didn't do much for me. I also saw the last few minutes of Cyndee Lee Rule on violin playing in the old hall together with a handful of other visitors.
Next up in the Max was Mother Gong. I wasn't expecting too much. I have several Mother Gong albums in my collection and they always failed to impress me. How different they were live: Gilli Smyth was speaking to the audience as a high priestess backed by an enthousiastic band including the omnipresent Graham Clark on violin and Didier Malherbe on various reeds and flutes. Not every musician in the band seems to be a professional (the bass player was average) but the lack of musicianship was fully compensated by the enormous energy and they turned out to be one of the many highlights of the weekend.
Next up, the Glissando Orchestra, advertised on the Planet Gong website as six glissando guitarplayers, there turned out to be ten of them. They included Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Steffi Sharpstrings, Fabio Golfetti, Steve Higgins, Brian Abbott, Josh Pollock, Kawabata Makoto, Harry Williamson and one other I don't remember (but Aymeric will know I assume ;-). They played the Seven Drones and managed to make an awful lot of noise. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity but an interesting experience but I can't say it was my cup of tea. Their set was short though (as long as the seven drones apparently). Next act was Here and Now who I have never heard or seen and played a kind of combination of punk and psychedelica. The psychedelic part was ok but the songs were weak and we took the time to retreat to the café and check out the CDs on sale at the Gong Kazbah in the entry hall.
Last band of the night was Acid Mothers Gong starting at 1.30 and playing for 1.5 hours untill three o'clock in the morning. They started off with the drummer playing what appeared to be a tribute to Pip Pyle, then the rest of the band joined. Four Japanese AMT members, Josh Pollock and Gilli and Daevid played an intense, loud and very rewarding set which included the glorious OM riff a.o.
Thus ended the first day. My highlights: Mother Gong, Acid Mother's Gong.
I expected the second day to be a bit weak in the line-ups. The Max hall was used for several house acts including System 7, the old hall for ambient acts. We came in around 16.30 in time for the impromptu wedding led by Gilli Smyth and very touching. Musically Didier and Graham Clarke filled in the background with some ambient leanings. Meanwhile in the Max a DJ called Slackbaba was playing an empty house, most guests were probably still recovering from the large amounts of beer and weed consumed on Friday night.
The Pierre & Pip tribute (again in the old hall) was done by Daevid Allen and had its moments, although I failed to get the connection between Pierre Moerlen and a bagpipe. Some funny stories about Pip Pyle were told by old friends and the like. It mostly included broken down bathrooms in hotels and other ravaging rockstar behaviour.
Before the end we went out the door to get some decent food and came back in time for the start of Sacred Geometry (old hall again) which comprised of Mikey Cosmic and Daevid with guests Gilli, Graham Clark (did I mentioned his omnipresence already?), Didier Malherbe, Theo Travis, Mike Howlett, an unknown female theremin player (and a very good one!) and a blind guy who turned out to be Jean-Philippe Rykiel playing an instrument that included a keyboard and a mouthpiece. The music was drone-like with lots of glissando guitar and very good if not a bit too relaxing. This was also one of the few times during the weekend that problems with the equipment provided some unwanted feedback and distortion.
After SG was finished we took the time to check out System 7. Although the music is essentially a mix of techno and trance it was surprising to see that Steve was still using his guitar to add texture and some melodies. I saw about 15-20 minutes before we went off back to the other hall to see Stroking the Tail of the Bird featuring Gilli and Daevid with Harry Williamson on keyboards and mostly the same guests as during Sacred Geometry. At midnight the regular Melkweg dance night took over and we welcomed the early ending and took off home.
Thus ended the second day. My highlights: Sacred Geometry and Stroking the Tail of the Bird.
The last day started with the book launch of Gong Dreaming part 1 by Daevid Allen. We were late and missed it except for the big line of people waiting to get the book signed by Daevid. The book has been beautifully re-released by SAF Publishing, the same company that published Wrong Movements and Out-Bloody-Rageous. We went to see House of Thandoy, the new band of Mike Howlett in the Max. They didn't impress and sounded as a very good jazz-rock combo but with little originality. Too bad. Meanwhile the old hall was used for a.o. a belly dancer, some videos (I've seen part of a University of Errors video) and deejaying by Steffe). Live music was now solely in the Max hall. The next band there was Kangaroo Moon. I'm not sure what their connection is to Gong, and they couldn't interest me, although they appeared to be well-skilled musicians including a guy who could play didgeridoo and keyboard at the same time.
At approximately 8.15 I walked back in the Max and basically stayed there until 3.00 o'clock. First up was University of Errors who played an amazing set mostly filled with songs from the Jet-Propelled Photographs album with Stoned Innocent Frankenstein and Fohat Digs Holes in Space put in for good measure. Their set was rock-solid and Josh Pollock turned out to be an excellent guitarist both for straight rock music as for more experimental passages. Daevid was fronting the band with lots of gutso and didn't look to be 68 for a moment.
They were followed by Tim Blake's Crystal Machine which included Jean-Philippe Rykiel and a short guestspot for Didier Malherbe. Tim Blake turned out to be a fascinating person, he looks like an old hippie, long hair and very thin. He played some tunes from his albums (apparently as I saw people singing along) but overall, besides the musicianship shown and the fact they could get any sound out of their synthesizers, the music wasn’t very challenging.
Next up, the first appearance of the Steve Hillage Band in over 25 years. Certainly this was one of the main reasons for people to attend the Unconvention from Japan, the US and other remote locations. The hall was almost full for the first time this weekend. Steve played together with Miquette Giraudy, Mike Howlett and Chris Taylor, playing mostly songs of Fish Rising and It's All Too Much a.o. This was also one of the reasons I got a ticket and it was a very good although rather short set played with hard work by all the musicians and Steve obviously enjoying both playing in a band again and the enthousiastic response of the audience. It was great, it was amazing, to quote one of the audience members: "Fucking Steve Hillage, Man!"
It turned out (I should've known) that the Hillage band was actually half of Gong as at the end of the Hillage set Daevid, Gilli, Tim and Didier came on the stage and they continued without interuption as Gong. This was also a unique concert as Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy and Tim Blake played with Gong again after a long absence (I assume since 1975?). Gong played most of their well-known songs including You Can't Kill Me, Dynamite, I'm Your Animal, Tropical Fish, Selene, Magdalena, I Am Your Pussy, Oily Way and You Never Blow Your Trip Forever to name a few. Of course they played the glorious OM riff, aka Master Builder and I can honestly say that after seeing Steve Hillage with Gong playing Master Builder I can die and go to heaven. Gong played for I assume almost two and a half hours after which the announced Gong Jam only had 10 minutes left and was performed by Gong with Graham Clarke and Gwyo Zepix.
Thus ended the third and last day. My highlights: University of Errors, Hillage Band, Gong.
A last note: most of the concerts were professionally recorded on video by four cameras so I assume the best parts will eventually surface on DVD or CD.
All in all a great weekend and thumbs up to the people who organized this.
My first thoughts after his death have been posted in the What's Rattlin' malinglist and printed below for your enjoyment or annoyance:
Somewhere in September 1997 I went to a Caravan concert in Groningen, The Netherlands (The Calyx site tells me it was the 28th) and was totally blown away by the support act In Cahoots (something I was not remotely interested in before that moment). I was joined by approximately 20 other people and we had the (reluctant) privilege of sitting on our fat behinds right in front of the stage. Caravan didn't have remotely the same impact after that and while attending the toilet (much beer was drank) I noticed Phil Miller and Pip Pyle (and probably some other In Cahoots blokes) sitting at the bar in the venue contemplating ten grams of Dutch hashies and a hash-pipe.
I asked them for an autograph and they actually seemed surprised that someone would ask the support act for such a gesture. Pip wrote me:
Love, peas, sausage & bollocks
Crosby Stills & Nash
It started a long search after his music and a long admiration on the post-National Health career of both Phil and Pip.
One year later I attended another In Cahoots concert (free admission) in Rotterdam and Pip was so kind to sign his Seven Year Itch album which turned out to read:
Love, peas and chips,
Well, his message did certainly change (slightly).
I saw him recently (last year June) and what turned out for the last time with Hatfield in Zaandam recovering from his back operation.
I will miss his amazing drumming - and his consistent messaging - and hope heaven's supergroup will have his behind in the drumseat.
Love and peas and chips,
Nick Wyver's sent me some excellent pictures from Elton Dean and Just Us playing in Bromley Library Gardens in South East London on Saturday 1st September 1973.. Just Us featuring Marc Charig, Nick Evans, Jeff Green, Harry Miller and Laurie Allen. You can find all fullsize pictures in the Elton Dean discography (or just click on the thumbnails)
"May we all rediscover our silent knowledge."
I'm extremely sorry to report that one of the greatest saxophone players
in the world died yesterday in a London hospital. I wish his family and friends
all the best and hope his musical legacy will remain in the hearts of all his fans
around the world.
Elton Dean at Leverkusener Jazztage 12/11/2005