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Soft Machine: Floating World Live-Bremen, Jan. 29, 1975

Jeez Louise, talk about one amazing archival release dusted out of the vaults by MoonJune Records. Floating World Live is an early 1975 recording originally aired on Radio Bremen, now available on CD for the first time, of the mid-70's line-up of Soft Machine featuring Mike Ratledge on keyboards, Karl Jenkins on oboe, sax, and keyboards, John Marshall on drums, Roy Babbington on bass, and Allan Holdsworth on guitar and violin. The band takes you through a blistering set of material from the Bundles-era, much of which is literally jaw dropping, especially the mind-blowing solos of Holdsworth, whose playing back then was full of fire and raw power.

After the atmospheric electric piano led waves of the opening "The Floating World", the band rips into the complex fusion burners"Bundles" and "Land of the Bag Snake", complete with a blazing extended guitar solo from Holdsworth (who was playing guitar like this in 1975?). Holdsworth's former mate in Nucleus, Roy Babbington, takes over on "Ealing Comedy" with what starts out as a melodic bass solo, then rips into some distorted metallic fusion noises, before the band eventually settles into the laid back "The Man Who Waved at Trains". This one features Holdsworth on violin, one of the rare times you get to hear him do an extended solo on the instrument, and he's pretty damn good. The Canterbury flavored "Peff" is up next next, a vehicle for Jenkins' reeds as well as complex rhythms from Marshall and Babbington. Mr. Ratledge lets loose on the maniacal "North Point", a solo vehicle for him to go nuts on the synthesizer, which then leads the band into their signature tune from this era, "Hazard Profile (Part One)". Featuring an addicting groove and main riff, this hard rocking fusion piece features killer keyboard passages as well as a scorching guitar solo from Holdsworth. "J.S.M.", as you can imagine, is a rousing drum solo from John Marshall, and "Riff III" is a pulsating fusion jam with soaring electric piano and guitar battles. The band gets all grand and majestic on "Song of Aeolus", thanks to some emotional guitar strains from Holdsworth and the gentle acoustic piano from Jenkins, while "Endgame" is another ripper for Holdsworth to lay down some killer solos. As the final organ & electric piano notes of the calming "Penny Hitch (Coda)" wash away, you realize what a ride you just went through.

While most probably think of the 1969-1972 period of the Soft Machine as their most groundbreaking and creative period, the 1973-75 line-up took the earlier avant-garde jazz rock one step further into melodic and powerful Canterbury fusion. The band was firing on all cylinders here, and Holdsworth's playing on this recording is just fabulous. Quite simply this is a must hear release.

Track Listing
1. The Floating World
2. Bundles
3. Land Of The Big Snake
4. Ealing Comedy
5. The Man Who Waved At Trains
6. Peff
7. North Point
8. Hazard Profile (Part One)
9. J.S.M.
10. Riff III
11. Song Of Aeolus
12. Endgame
13. Penny Hitch (Coda)

Added: April 15th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: MoonJune Records
Hits: 3056
Language: english

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