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jueves, 2 de marzo de 2017

Soft Machine & Heavy Friends - BBC In Concert (1971)

Si habìamos publicado poco y nada de Soft Machine hasta hace poco, estamos de a poco salvando ese error, y ahora el Mago Alberto trae otra cosita que alegrará el corazón a cualquiera de los acérrimos seguidores de la banda (que se caracteriza por eso, o no sos seguidor o sos un fan a toda prueba y hasta las últimas consecuencias, no hay términos medios). Grabado el 11 de marzo de 1971, "BBC in Concert" se realizó despues de la grabación de "Fourth", un disco muy orientado al jazz de vanguardia, con invitados y cambios en la formación, lo hace diferente a otros shows, y muy interesante para todo coleccionista del material de la banda.

Artista: Soft Machine
Álbum: BBC In Concert
Año: 1971
Género: Escena Canterbury / Jazz rock
Duración: 54:48
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra

Lista de Temas:
1. John Peel Introduction
2. Blind Badger
3. Neo-Caliban Grides
4. Out Bloody Rageous (Excerpt)/Eamonn Andrews/All White/Kings And Queens
5. Slightly All The Time (Excerpt)/Noisette

- Elton Dean / alto saxophone, saxello
- Mike Ratledge / organ, piano
- Hugh Hopper / electric bass on all except "Blind Badger"
- Robert Wyatt / drums on all except "Blind Badger"
- Mark Charig / trumpet on all except "Neo-Caliban Grides," "Slightly All the Time/Noisette"
- Phil Howard / drums on "Blind Badger," "Neo-Caliban Grides"
- Neville Whitehead / bass on all except "Neo-Caliban Grides," "Slightly All the Time/Noisette"
- Roy Babbington / acoustic bass on "Medley"
- Paul Nieman / trombone on "Medley"
- Ronnie Scott / tenor saxophone on "Medley"

En 1971 los Soft Machine habian entrado en los estudios de la BBC para hacer unas sesiones con algunos amigos, algo que podemos disfrutar en el CD “Soft Machine and Heavy Friends”, he aquí el registro de aquel suceso.

El primer tema es ejecutado por Elton Dean group, con Ratledge al piano, Neo Caliban Grides, son los Soft Machine más Phil Howard como segundo baterista (luego reemplazaria a Wyatt) y el medley de 32 minutos es el cuarteto mas Roy Babbington y Neville Whitehead en contabajo, Marc Charig en trompeta, Ronnie Scott en saxo tenor y Paul Nieman en trombón en Slightly all time/noissette, toca solo el cuarteto.

El Mago Alberto, ni lerdo ni perezozo, nos trae la mùsica y nos reseña este disco:

Sin lugar a dudas en estos primeros años de música, convivencia y afines, los Soft Machine llevaban su música a límites insospechados donde seguramente los estados alterados de los climas alternativos cuasi-jazzeros y de improvisación los llevaban a territorios musicales inexplorados donde ni ellos mismos eran concientes que los transitaban. Con audiencias completamente en silencio, con algunos aromas familiares, y clima mucho clima, son el denominador común en estas grabaciones en vivo, de los primeros años de SF, grabaciones de consola, estupendos estereos, típicos de la época, y de vuelta clima mucho clima, ejecuciones perfectas, simbiosis natural, fraseos intrincados, caños al límite, y clima mucho clima. ¿Alguien pidió atmósfera?. Acà la tiene en cantidades industriales.
La orientación básica de este show para la BBC, es el jazz y la improvisación, todo por supuesto matizado por el característico sonido Canterbury de los teclados, mucho diálogo de caños, el bajo profundo de Hopper, y el sello inconfundible e irremplazable de Wyatt.
Otro de los grandes discos de Soft Machine, con el concurso de amigotes, otra gema que cae al blog cabezón y por supuesto habra más, estos son los pequeños matices que aparecen de pronto y le dan un pequeño masaje a tu espiritu, ojo... a no enviciarse con los masajes. Cuélguese tranquilo/a.
Mago Alberto

Si estábamos en deuda con Soft Machine, esa gloriosa banda de la que el Mago Alberto dice que tiene màs seguidores que ninguna otra formaciòn màs conocida o reconocida, ahora estamos salvando ese error y el Mago se viene con esta maravilla.
Les dejo ahora algunos comentarios en inglès por si el video del disco no les alcanzó.

Recorded on March 11, 1971, BBC in Concert 1971 was done after Robert Wyatt had recorded his last album (Fourth) with the band, but several months before he was out of the Soft Machine lineup. Unsurprisingly, then, it finds the group as oriented toward out-there jazz as they ever were with Wyatt on drums, to the point where it's not so much jazz-rock fusion as near-avant-garde jazz. Too, it was also a point in Soft Machine's evolution where the lineup could actually change during the performance, which is why this particular disc bears the billing "Soft Machine & Heavy Friends." The first song, the ten-minute "Blind Badger," is actually the Elton Dean group (which soon evolved into Just Us) with Mike Ratledge on electric piano; the next, "Neo-Caliban Grides," is the actual quartet that comprised Soft Machine at this point, with the addition of Phil Howard (later to replace Wyatt) as a second drummer; and the 32-minute medley features the Soft Machine quartet plus Roy Babbington and Neville Whitehead on bass, Mark Charig on cornet, Ronnie Scott on tenor sax, and Paul Nieman on trombone. Only the closing "Slightly All the Time"/"Noisette" is just the core Soft Machine quartet. It's all rather confusing (though the liner notes explain things in cohesive detail), the larger point to take away being the energetically complex, constant direction-changing performances themselves, though it's not easily digested by those who like memorable structures or riffs. Note, incidentally, that most (though not all) of this material was previously issued on the 1993 release BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert.
Richie Unterberger

Released briefly on Windsong in the mid-'90s before going out of print and commanding large sums on eBay, the BBC recording of Soft Machine's March 11, 1971 Paris Theatre show in London, England was a one-off performance that most fans of the classic lineup—keyboardist Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean, bassist Hugh Hopper, and drummer Robert Wyatt—could previously only dream of hearing. Thankfully Hux, which has been responsible for rescuing all kinds of BBC recordings from the archives and making them available to a wider audience, has not only reissued this important document, but also remastered it and added an additional track to boot.
Billed to "Soft Machine & Heavy Friends," the 54-minute set brings together Dean's Just Us—Dean, Ratledge, drummer Phil Howard (who would briefly end up a Soft Machine member for one side of Fifth), cornet player Mark Charig, and bassist Neville Whitehead—with double-bassist Roy Babbington (who would ultimately end up a full-fledged member of the group from Seven through Softs), trombonist Paul Nieman, and saxophonist Ronnie Scott. While Soft Machine had experimented with an expanded lineup in '70 around the time of Third, this collection of players from the British free jazz scene made possible some of the most open-ended music of their career. It also allowed them to perform material from Fourth and Fifth—specifically Ratledge's "Teeth" and Hopper's "Kings and Queens," two pieces that would never make it into the group's regular repertoire.
The set starts out with Just Us performing "Blind Badger," one of the more structured compositions from Dean's self-titled debut, although it ultimately heads for freer territory by the end. "Neo-Caliban Grides," another Dean piece from the same album, is performed this time by Soft Machine with Howard added. The double drum kit salvo of Wyatt and Howard, when combined with Hopper's aggressive fuzz bass, creates a chaotic wall of sound that's Soft Machine at their most intense and outré.
"Neo-Caliban Grides" segues into a 32-minute medley by Soft Machine that brings together more structured compositions—an excerpt from "Out Bloody Rageous," "Eamonn Andrews," "All White," "Kings and Queens," "Teeth," "Pigling Bland," and "10:30 Returns to the Bedroom." The first half of the medley features the core quartet, but by the time they hit Ratledge's complicated epic "Teeth," the group has expanded to a nonet, with solos by Scott and Nieman adding considerable interest to what may be the best augmented Soft Machine lineup ever.
The remastered sound of Hux's reissue is a definite improvement over the earlier Windsong release, although why the added track, "Slightly All the Time (excerpt)/Noisette," is of lower quality is a little curious. Still, it's a minor quibble, because BBC in Concert 1971 is an essential addition to the growing body of archival performances of Soft Machine being released by labels like Hux and Voiceprint. As time goes on, Soft Machine's importance and influence continues to grow; the group's music is as relevant today as it was over thirty years ago.
John Kelman

According to Graham Bennett's Machine biography 'Out Bloody Rageous', this 1971 radio session finds the biggest line-up of Soft Machine, with some major players from the Britain 60's new jazz scene, including legendary jazz club owner and long time Machine-activist, Ronnie Scott providing tenor sax. It also finds Soft Machine in deep jazz mode but playing some familiar tunes - the centrepiece is a 30 minute plus track assembled from a number of favourites. And you'll hear too, the guest musicians successfully pushing Ratledge, Dean, Wyatt and Hopper hard. You are reminded Wyatt could swing (but no vocals here), and hold his own in this sort of company, (check out SM's 'Paradiso' for other examples), Hopper and his understated (less is more) bass, Dean throwing in the free jazz and Ratledge at his very best (too little is made of this man's keyboard skills - and here, once more, the Lowry to the fore).
And how does this CD differ from that issue by Windsong Records in 1993: 'Radio One: In Concert Soft Machine 1971': http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002510WK/qid=1122378651/sr=1- 43/ref=sr_1_0_43/202-0064998-4346254 (and apparently now commanding good prices on e-bay?) The John Peel intro, which surely questions what he claimed a couple of times in interviews before his most premature death, with respect to prog. And an additional track.
This album is an excellent snapshot of a one-off extended version of Soft Machine at their prime, experimenting hard and generating wonderful results. Hard jazz rather than jazz rock fusion - which reminds me of Ronnie Scott's quote about the session, perhaps reflecting the challenge of these compositions and arrangement : 'Can't we play some blues or "Sweet Sue"?'
Dick Heath

This is a unique live album in the SOFT MACHINE catalogue in that there was a lot of guests (heavy friends) helping out. This was recorded live in March of 1971 at the beginning of their Eurpopean tour. This would be the last Europe would see of Robert Wyatt in the band as he would leave after that. Some geat pictures of the band in the liner notes here as well.
After the detailed introductions from John Peel the band starts off with "Blind Badger". Interesting that the players here are basically from Elton Dean's band JUST US which included Elton on sax, Neville Whitehead on bass, Mark Charig on trumpet and Phil Howard on drums.The difference was Elton's keyboard player wasn't here so Mike Ratledge obliged on electric piano. A free form display here with some dissonant horns at times. "Neo-Caliban Grides" adds Wyatt as Howard stays making for an interesting sound with two drummers. Hopper replaces Whitehead on bass and Charig leaves. I like this better than the previous track as we get some major fuzz and it gets quite chaotic too. Great tune. As Hopper says in the liner notes that song was the last chance for the audience to applaud because after that "we were off into more than 30 minutes of connected tunes and fragments of tunes- the famous SOFT MACHINE heads-down medley."
So yeah this next track is a 32 minute medley of seven tracks. Howard leaves but Babbington comes in giving us two bass players. Niemen, Charig and Scott join Dean on horns here at different points in time. This is simply a blast especially with the distortion and fuzz from Hopper's bass and Ratledge's keyboards. A must hear for sure. The encore was "Slightly All The Time / Noisette" which features just the four SOFT MACHINE members only for the first time. Wyatt opens with drums before fuzz and piano arrive. Great sound ! Intense section before 5 minutes and it ends in a noisy manner.
Sure i'm a SOFT MACHINE fanboy but in my opinion this is a live recording every fan of the band should hear.
John Davie

A Soft Machine party.
This is a bit of a strange album in the vast steppe landscape that is Soft Machine live recordings. The actual Soft Machine lineup of the time doesn't appear until the last track, and Blind Badger is really an Elton Dean piece for his ensemble. The difference on here is that Ratledge plays keys on this piece, but it's still quite a distance away from a true Machine tune. (Even with Wyatt's eventual replacement at the drums.) Of the other two pieces, Neo-Caliban Grides is probably the closest to the "regular" Soft Machine. The traditional long form Soft Machine medley is augmented with a wealth of guests on everything from bass to sax to trumpet to trombone. Admittedly, I do like the addition of these reeds and brass sounds. It almost transports you back to when Soft Machine was a Septet.
The music on here ranges from fairly good to excellent. Elton's tune, Blind Badger, is a fun excursion into the jazz side of things. For me, it strikes me how controlled Howard's drums are. Especially comparing this to his performances on Fifth and Drop. Neo-Caliban Grides is a short chaotic ride. However, slightly disappointing. I was hoping with two drummers in the lineup (for the first and only time in Softs history) this would be a real powerhouse of a song. For the most part it seems like the two drummers are really one, which I suppose is impressive in it's own way, but still leaves something lacking for me. The long form medley of seven tracks is fairly successful. The guests add their most striking touches here, conjuring up (sometimes) new twists to old Softs favorites. However, there are periods that don't seem to mesh so well together. Perhaps it was the interruption of the traditional Softs chemistry with the addition of the myriad of guests. Finally, we get to the best part of the album, Slightly All The Time/Noisette, the classic encore. The playing here is easily the most successful, tightest, and arguably the best on the entire album. The downside is, there is a drop in sound quality. The pristine BBC sound that the rest of the album was broadcasted in is replaced with an average, hissing tape sound. The mix is also the least spectacular. With the organ fairly in the background. The plus to this is that Hopper's bass is up in the mix and does sound wonderful.
All in all, this is a strange but successful document. A one off of friends jamming together to pre-composed tunes in the BBC soundstage. Despite the couple of flaws, this is worthy of owning if you are a Softs fanatic. Casual listeners could probably skip over this one, as there are other, better documents from 1971 Soft Machine. On my personal scale, this would probably be closer to a 3.5-3.75, but for PA and a general prog collection I think 3 stars should do it.
Man With Hat

Soft Machine and friends in a BBC concert.
Apparantly, these BBC Radio concerts has been ongoing since 1950s and is still on every week or so. That is what a short investigation at their website tells me. So in 1971 the turn came to Soft Machine & friends. A short quirky and utterly charming intro by the legend and probably best ever radio presenter ever; John Peel opens this album. Don't bypass this one minute long intro.
The album kicks off with the friends section. That is Elton Dean and his band doing Blind Badger. It is pretty obvious this is not Soft Machine at all. The sound is different and so is the type of jazz which is far more orthodox than Soft Machine's jazz brand. Frankly; Blind Badger falls flat on it's face on this album. The dynamics is not there and...... well, this is not good.
The album continues with the rather good Neo-Caliban Grides before the big half an hour medley Out Bloody Rageous/Eamonn Andrews/All White/Kings And Queens really kicks in. This medley also features the legendary Ronnie Scott on tenor saxophone. This and the following song and only pure Soft Machine piece Slightly All The Time/Noisette is the truly great songs here and they really rocks.
This album is a strange one because of the friends included. I really like the medley and the final track which is reason enough to put this CD in my CD player on a not so infrequent basis. But Blind Badger..... well, I use the fast forward option. There are also some better Soft Machine live albums out there so a middle of the road three stars would suffice here.
3/5 stars

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Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).