Soft Machine

Soft Machine

Also known as Karl Jenkins' Soft Machine, Original Soft Machine, The, Original Soft-Machine, The, Soft Machine & Heavy Friends, Soft Machine Family, Soft Machine, The, Softmachine, The Soft Machine
Members of Soft Machine: Alan Skidmore, Alan Wakeman, Allan Holdsworth, Andy Summers, Daevid Allen, Dick Morrissey, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, John Etheridge, John Marshall, Karl Jenkins, Kevin Ayers, Lyn Dobson, Marc Charig, Mike Ratledge, Nick Evans, Phil Howard, Ray Warleigh, Ric Sanders, Robert Wyatt, Roy Babbington, Steve Cook (2)
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Discography of Soft Machine:

# Release title Total tracks Type of release is Imprint date Label
1 Third 4 Audio
2 Six 17 Audio
3 Fourth 7 Audio 1995-10-00 One Way Records (6)
4 Fourth/Fifth 16 Audio 1999 Columbia
5 Third 6 Audio 1970 CBS
6 Soft Space 2 Audio 1978 Harvest
7 The Soft Machine 13 Audio 1968-12-00
8 Volume Two 19 Audio 1969-04-00
9 Bundles 12 Audio 1990 See For Miles Records Ltd.
10 Volumes One And Two 30 Audio 1989 Big Beat Records
11 Third 4 Audio 2002 Columbia
12 Seven 12 Audio 1973-10-00 CBS
13 Love Makes Sweet Music / Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin' 2 Audio 1967-02-00 Polydor
14 Joy Of A Toy / Why Are We Sleeping? 2 Audio 1969-11-00 Probe
15 Love Makes Sweet Music 2 Audio 1967 Polydor
16 Fourth 7 Audio 1971-02-00 CBS
17 Fifth 6 Audio 1972-06-00 CBS
18 Six 15 Audio 1973-02-00
19 Triple Echo 21 Audio 1977-03-00
20 Alive And Well Recorded In Paris 11 Audio 1978-03-00
21 BBC Radio 1967 - 1971 15 Audio 2003 Hux Records
22 Six 15 Audio 1995 One Way Records (6)
23 Seven 12 Audio 1974-10-00
24 Third 4 Audio 1991 Columbia
25 BBC Radio 1971 - 1974 11 Audio 2003 Hux Records
26 Fourth 7 Audio 1971-02-00 Columbia
27 Rubber Riff 14 Audio 1994-11-00 Voiceprint
28 At The Beginning 9 Audio 1980 Oxford
29 Third 4 Audio 1970-06-00
30 Volume Two 17 Audio 1990 One Way Records (6)
31 Fifth 7 Audio 1972-06-00 Columbia
32 Land Of Cockayne 10 Audio 1996 One Way Records (6)
33 Seven 12 Audio 1973 CBS
34 BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert 3 Audio 1993 Windsong International
35 Grides 18 Audio 2006 Cuneiform Records
36 Alive & Well - Recorded In Paris 11 Audio 1978
37 Bundles 14 Audio 1975-03-00 Neon (RCA)
38 Jet Propelled 9 Audio 1995 Spalax Music
39 Six 15 Audio 1973 CBS
40 Fourth 7 Audio 1971
41 Fourth 7 Audio 2007-04-18 Columbia
42 Kings Of Canterbury 23 Audio 2003 Recall 2cd
43 Soft Machine 9 Audio 1980 Charly Records
44 1&2 (Architects Of Space Time) 30 Audio 1976 Atlantic
45 Softs 11 Audio 1976
46 Fifth 6 Audio 1979 Embassy
47 Noisette 10 Audio 2000
48 The Soft Machine Collection 30 Audio 1973 ABC Records
49 The Soft Machine 11 Audio 1970
50 Bundles 12 Audio 1975

Australian poet, guitarist, singer, composer and performance artist [a=Daevid Allen] moved to Paris in 1960. Inspired by the emerging 'Beat Generation' of writer's works he'd discovered whilst working in a Melbourne bookshop he moved into a room in Paris's 'Beat Hotel' and spent time around the city's Latin Quarter. There, he rubbed shoulders with Terry Riley and [a=William S. Burroughs], gaining free access to the area's jazz clubs. Influenced by the music philosophies of [a=Sun Ra] he formed the [a=Daevid Allen Trio], a free-jazz outfit which performed in Burroughs' theatre pieces based on that writer's novel 'The Ticket That Exploded'.

In 1961 Allen travelled to Canterbury, England, where he met 16 year-old [a=Robert Wyatt] (who was the son of his landlord). Their mutual interest in jazz resulted in a few gigs, in London in 1963, as the Daevid Allen Trio (with [a=Hugh Hopper] on bass and [a=Mike Ratledge] occasionally guesting on piano). Around the same time, Wyatt formed the [a=Wilde Flowers] with the Hopper brothers, Hugh and Brian, with Kevin Ayers on vocals.

The impetus behind the formation of [a=Soft Machine] occurred in a meeting of Allen and Ayers with Texan millionaire Wes Brunson in Deya, Majorca, on Easter Sunday 1966. Brunson agreed to put up the money for a new band, which allowed the group to buy equipment and rent a rehearsal room near Canterbury. The original line-up consisted of Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Mike Ratledge on keyboards, Daevid Allen on guitar and Kevin Ayers on bass and vocals. From May 1966 they gigged as Mister Head (aka Mr Head) and became Soft Machine in August 1966.

The name was taken from a William S. Burroughs novel 'The Soft Machine' (part of The Nova Trilogy), with agreement from the author. The title The Soft Machine encapsulates the Human Body, and the main theme of the book - as explicitly written in an appendix - concerns how control mechanisms invade the body. One poem, entitled Mens (Man, as in 'human'), by Dutch-American hematologist and poet Leo Vroman starts with the line: "Man is a soft machine..."

Mike Ratledge says of this : "... Soft machine was a generic term for the whole of humanity, and we were all soft machines... I guess our basic assumption was that what we liked, everybody else was going to like as well, that we all had things in common, and therefore we all are soft machines, and we were all going to like Soft Machine music. It might have been a false assumption, but I hope it's true".

In January 1967, the band's first single release was recorded. [m16803]. Celebrating its release on February 22nd the band gave a press conference at The Speakeasy, performing that evening at The Roundhouse as the opening act for the [a=Jimi Hendrix Experience]- where Hendrix jammed with them on bass.

Allen recalls their introduction to The Speakeasy by [a=Giorgio Gomelsky], the promoter, producer, founder of the Crawdaddy Club and original manager of both The Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones; “He would take us there and ply us with whiskeys on the expense account. We’d meet all the big stars at the time. It was like being at court, only a rock ‘n’ roll court. ‘Cause the Beatles were there, the Rolling Stones were there – everybody, all the big names, would gather at the Speakeasy at this particular time.” [From the book 'Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous' by Graham Bennett].

Three months later, a collection of demos was recorded at DeLane Lea Studios with producer Giorgio Gomelsky, but not officially released until 1971 as two compilations on the French [l=BYG Records] label. At that time, Soft Machine had already become something of a 'cult' band on the London psychedelic scene, gigging at places like the Zebra Club, The Marquee, The Roundhouse, UFO [Underground Freak Out club] and Middle Earth. Light shows were also developed with Mark Boyle's Sensual Laboratory. On April 29th, 1967, they took part in the '14 Hour Technicolor Dream', an event set up by the underground paper 'International Times', which also featured Pink Floyd, the Move, Alexis Korner, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Tomorrow, Mothers Of Invention, Velvet Underground and artists such as Alan Ginsberg and Yoko Ono.

During the summer of 1967 the band toured France, performing at psychedelic events along the Cote d’Azur such as [l=Jean-Jacques Lebel]’s “Sunlove Happening” and [l=Eddie Barclay]’s “La Nuit Pschedelique”. For 3 weeks they provided daily musical “transmissions hallucinatoires” for wildly popular performances of “Le Désir Attrapé par la Queue”, a Pablo Picasso play produced by Lebel at the Festival de la Libre Expression outside Saint-Tropez. A legendary performance of “Do It Again” helped Soft Machine to make an enormous impression in France and, by the end of the Summer of Love, they became the favorite band of the French avant-garde.

On the way back Daevid Allen was refused re-entry to England and stayed in France, moving on to various projects before forming Gong two years later, while Wyatt, Ratledge and Ayers decided to carry on Soft Machine as a trio.

In February 1968, Soft Machine embarked on a 3-month US tour (opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience), recording their first album during their touring schedule in New York in four days in April, with production handled by Tom Wilson and former Animals bassist and Hendrix producer Chas Chandler. Although quickly made and not particularly well-recorded, the band's eponymous album "[l=The Soft Machine]" is now considered a classic of the extraordinarily creative post-psychedelic and pre-progressive period of the late 60's.

The band split up in December 1968, re-formed in February 1969 and carried on until the late 1970's through many line-up changes and leaving no original member onboard. It re-formed briefly in 1980 and 1984. Robert Wyatt formed [a=Matching Mole] in October 1971. "Matching Mole" is a clever mis-pronounciation of "La Machine Molle", the French title of William Burroughs' novel "The Soft Machine"

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