When you've been around as long as some of the members in this current incarnation of a seminal progressive rock band, I guess using the qualifier "Legacy" in your band name is appropriate. " Live In Zaandam " features Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, teaming up with John Etheridge and John Marshall playing a live set in Holland on May 26,2005.
Now I've always been a fan of this band's early works and don't even own a recording past their "5" album, which goes all the way back to 1972. This version of "The Softs" ain't quite what that version was, however this disc does provide some excellent extended versions of tracks from the band's back catalogue where the members show a decent improvisational proficiency. Each number tends to stretch out into some trippy, jazzy musical excursions. "Ash" becomes the vehicle for Etheridge's fast and fluid fretwork, slightly reminiscent of former SM alum Allan Holdsworth. "1212" slowly builds a head of steam and features some superb alto sax courtesy of Mr Dean. It segues nicely into "Baker's Street" , the disc's only ballad, which once again becomes the vehicle for Dean's wailing alto sax which gives way to delicate guitar passages from Etheridge. This is followed with "Kings & Queens" from the band's excellent "4 " release from '71. Here we get a glimpse back to the band's jazz-rock roots. This classic gem is easily the best track on this album. Etheridge and Marshall then proceed to tear it up in the 2:44 drums/guitar excursion " Two Down" before launching into "Big Creese" where the band gets a groove on to end this disc on a strong note.
If you must own all recordings under the "Soft Machine" name, then by all means go pick up a copy of this limited edition live recording. If you've never heard of Soft Machine though, I'd suggest you pick up their first 5 recordings, with the classic line-up. Although "The Soft Machine Legacy" pleases the jazz fan in me, it doesn't scratch the same itch that those first recordings did.
- Ash (11:39)
- 1212 (12:01)
- Baker's Street (6:52)
- Kings & Queens (9:11)
- Two Down (2:44)
- Big Creese (8:32)