CD 4th/5th (CD 1223773),
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  • 1. Teeth
    2. Kings and Queens
    3. Fletcher's Blemish
    4. Virtually, Pt. 1
    5. Virtually, Pt. 2
    6. Virtually, Pt. 3
    7. Virtually, Pt. 4
    8. All White
    9. Drop
    10. M.C.
    11. As If
    12. LBO
    13. Pigling Bland
    14. Bone
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 493341

  • Credits
    EngineerGary Martin; George Chkiantz

    This twofer brings together a pair of albums--4th and 5th--from Soft Machine. "Teeth," "Kings and Queens," "Drop," and "Bone" are included on the disc.
    Personnel: Jimmy Hastings (alto flute, bass clarinet); Elton Dean (saxophone, alto saxophone, electric piano); Robert Wyatt (saxophone, alto saxophone); Alan Skidmore (tenor saxophone); Marc Charig (cornet); Nick Evans (trombone); Mike Ratledge (piano, electric piano, organ); Roy Babbington (double bass); Hugh Hopper (bass guitar); John Marshall , Phil Howard (drums).
    Recording information: Olympic Studio, Advision StudioLondon (??/1970-02/1972).
    Photographer: Campbell MacCallum.
    Releasing Soft Machine's Fourth and Fifth on one album isn't only convenient, but rather intriguing as well. While both albums display the band's wonderful jazz-rock abstractness and frittering "saxophone versus drums" interweaves, Fourth has the distinction of being the last album to feature drummer Robert Wyatt before he went on to form Matching Mole. The differences between Fourth and Fifth aren't startling, but to true Soft Machine fans they are blatantly apparent, since it was Wyatt's free-ranged approach which led the band to where they were at that point. Fourth romps and frolics with Mike Ratledge's erratic organ meandering under the off-beat but highly colorful drum playing from Wyatt, while Elton Dean's sax and saxello playing is nothing more than frantic throughout, gelling their progressive tendencies as a whole without notice. With Phil Howard and John Marshall sharing the drum work for Fifth, there are remnants of Soft Mahine's non- structural artiness still remaining, especially on "As Is" and "Pigling Bland," but the same level of groovy spunk and improvised metaphysics in the form of Wyatt's off-centeredness is gone. Tracks such as "All White" and "Drop" can't match the hectic, fused frenzy of "Fletcher's Blemish" or the excitability that builds during "Teeth" from Fourth. Still, grouping the two albums together as one package is the best way to hear both, even when taking the comparison factor out of the picture. ~ Mike DeGagne

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