On Sunday 6 December Soft Machine returned to live performance with a storming 90 minute set at Ronnie Scott's Club, London, which was streamed throughout the world!
In 2018 SOFT MACHINE released their first studio album in 37 years called Hidden Details. In support of this widely acclaimed and heralded album, John Etheridge (electric guitar), Roy Babbington (bass guitar), John Marshall (drums) and I (saxophones, flute, Fender Rhodes piano) toured the world during 2018 and 2019. A live album from this extensive tour, recorded at The Baked Potato, Los Angeles, USA on 1 February 2019, will be out as a deluxe 180 grams coloured vinyl only release on Tonefloat from 20 March 2020. The double album contains twelve tracks across three side with a specially etched side four. Order directly here, and for those that are not into the vinyl fetish, stay tuned, and who knows it might come out one day in HD Digital and CD format.
Soft Machine - "Live at The Baked Potato" (2LP) is released on Tonefloat records March 2020
We're really happy with the great and extensive interview with Soft Machine's John Etheridge, Theo Travis, Roy Babbington, John Marshall - in the influentia online magazine It’s Psychedelic Baby, courtesy of the great Slovenian music enthusiast, journalist and record collector Klemen Breznikar.
"Soft Machine is a legend and an institution of British music, a band who included Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers, Andy Summers (later of The Police), Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Roy Babbington, John Marshall, Karl Jenkins, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Percy Jones, Rick Sanders, Dave McRae and Jack Bruce among others (Jimi Hendrix briefly jammed with the band in 1968!). Since its creation in 1966, this band pioneered Psychedelic and Progressive Rock, led the ‘Canterbury’ trend, pioneered jazz-rock, and then guitar-led fusion (launching the guitar god Allan Holdsworth in 1974), influenced generations of musicians. Disbanded in 1978, recreated in few occasions in 1981 and 1984, the band resurfaces in 1999 under the name of Soft Ware."
From The Wire, October 2018.
I'm delighted to post reviews here in relation to Soft Machine's 'Hidden Details' release. First up is Brian Morton's fantastic review from The Wire, October 2018.
From The Times...
Since 1968 the band name Soft Machine has meant all sorts of things to all sorts of people. First came the psychedelic pranksters who vied with the Pink Floyd as freak-out favourites in underground London. As hip as hash cakes but unable to actually sell records, they made the farthest-out noises on John Peel's Top Gear show. The quartet also became the first "pop" band to play the Proms (and were briefly managed by Damon Albarn's dad).
Through the Seventies Soft Machine turned into an increasingly chin-strokey jazz-rock project before slowly expiring, out of tune with the punky times. Their last gasp proved to be the unlikely launch pad for Karl Jenkins, the lavishly moustached Adiemus composer beloved of Classic FM.
There have been some partial reunions (Soft Works, Soft Ware, Legacy) but now, 37 years since the last studio LP, the Soft Machine name has been fully resurrected by four very credible veterans from the myriad who served under the band's flag. Hidden Details features John Etheridge, guitar, Theo Travis, sax and flute, Roy Babbington, bass, and John Marshall, drums. It's a robust and engaging set that, incidentally, the bots at Amazon have filed under "rock". That's probably down to the muscular stomp of the opening title track, which features from Etheridge the sort of fret-melting guitar solo not heard since Frank Zappa's Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar.
The band, of course, has a broader palette — from Metheny-like jazz-rock to anything-goes improvisation; from pastoral passages with Etheridge on acoustic to an ambient flutescape from Travis. Compact and to the point, nothing overstays its welcome. There are faithful versions of two old favourites — Out Bloody Rageous and The Man Who Waved at Trains. That they sit well amid the new material suggest that this is a band looking back as much as forwards. That's hardly surprising when three quarters of the members are in their seventies (although you wouldn't guess from the rhythmic clout). The quartet are on tour, playing British dates in November. Welcome back, gents. (Dyad)