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Turns On - Volume 2

Soft Machine

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Album Review

Turns On is a collection of early Soft Machine recordings sold in two separate volumes. Turns On, Vol. 2 focuses on two live recordings at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, December 10, 1967, and the Col Ballroom in Iowa, August 11, 1968. Sound quality ranges from very poor to terrible, but these tapes represent the only examples of the Soft Machine's early concerts, especially during their short stint as a trio (after guitarist Daevid Allen was refused re-entry in England and settled in Paris). There is a lot to love about this CD from a die-hard fan point of view, and a lot to complain about from the casual listener's. Sound is compressed, distorted, blurry; low frequencies go nuts, the bass guitar and organ drown any attempts at vocals. Yet Turns On, Vol. 2 contains a wonderful, lengthy version of "I Should've Known" (13 minutes) and early compositions by Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge that would later be integrated to "Moon in June" and "Esther's Nose Job." Moreover, the songs are played in segued sequences (the last 37 minutes of the CD represent a complete set) and show fantastic musicianship. All the ingredients of the vintage Soft Machine are there for the taking, if one is willing to overcome the audio shortcomings. The group (Wyatt, Ratledge, Kevin Ayers) is moving deeper into psychedelia in these recordings, leaving their pop side behind (Turns On, Vol. 1 focused on the early-1967 material). Even with a lesser sound quality, this volume remains more satisfying than the first. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Canterbury, Kent, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Soft Machine were never a commercial enterprise and indeed still remain unknown even to many listeners who came of age during the late '60s and early '70s, when the group was at its peak. In their own way, however, they were one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones. One of the original British psychedelic groups, they were also instrumental in the birth of both progressive rock and jazz-rock. They were also the central foundation of...
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