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The Soft Machine were one of the most unique of British rock acts. From Canterbury, Kent, they were named after the novel, 'The Soft Machine', by William S. Burroughs.

Formed in 1966, the original Soft Machine line-up was Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals), Kevin Ayers (bass, guitar, vocals), Mike Ratledge (organ), and Daevid Allen (guitar). They were often innovative to an extreme extent, but were in with the underground crowd, and thus never likely to trouble the mainstream. That said, their first single 'Love Makes Sweet Music' in 1967 was fairly poppy, though the B-side 'Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin' certainly wasn't!

Needing a new guitarist, after Australian Allen had difficulty getting back into the UK after a French tour, future Police guitarist Andy Summers joined The Softs for a short time in 1968. Kevin Ayers, who'd wanted Summers sacked, himself left the group that same year. Hugh Hopper joined on bass in 1969, and, together with Wyatt, Ratledge, and Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, were the uncredited backing band on Syd Barrett's debut album, 'The Madcap Laughs'. Saxophonist Elton Dean then joined The Soft Machine just before the new decade dawned. The '70s began in turbulent fashion, and in 1973 Hopper had followed Dean and Wyatt out of the group. By the time last original member Ratledge had left in 1976, The Soft Machine were gradually winding down, and the 1978 release, ironically called 'Alive & Well', was to be the last 'proper' Soft Machine album. Though 1981 saw the Soft Machine name used for the 'Land Of Cockayne' album, which featured Soft Machine guitarist Allan Holdsworth and Cream legend Jack Bruce, among others.

The Soft Machine were very important in the evolution of progressive rock and jazz fusion, and were the first rock band to play at the prestigious Proms in London in 1970.

- Paul Rance/

Soft Machine Vol.1 & 2 (

Vols. 1 & 2 (


Third (

Third (

Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973 Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973 (

Fourth / Fifth (

Fourth/Fifth (

The Soft Machine Studio Albums

The Soft Machine (ABC/Probe, 1968)
Volume Two (ABC/Probe, 1969)
Third (Columbia, 1970)
Fourth (Columbia, 1971)
Fifth (Columbia, 1972)
Six (Columbia, 1973)
Seven (Columbia, 1973)
Bundles (Harvest, 1975)
Softs (Harvest, 1976)
Alive & Well: Recorded In Paris (Harvest, 1978)
Land Of Cockayne (EMI, 1981)

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