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A wild, freewheeling, and ultimately successful attempt to merge psychedelia with jazz-rock, Soft Machine’s debut ranges between lovingly performed oblique pop songs and deranged ensemble playing from drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt and organist Mike Ratledge. With only one real break (at the end of side one), the songs merge into each other — not always smoothly, but always with a sense of flair that rescues any potential miscues. Wyatt takes most of the vocals, and proves himself a surprisingly evocative singer despite his lack of range. Like Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Volume One was one of the few over-ambitious records of the psychedelic era that actually delivered on all its incredible promise.

On their good days, Soft Machine could slide effortlessly between jazz, rock, and classical influences and show a lot of other bands how it’s done. Unlike a lot of other Peel Sessions releases, which include as little as a quartet of tracks, this volume, drawn from appearances on the BBC from June 1969 through November 1971, takes up two full CDs, and none of the space is wasted — disc one also opens with Robert Wyatt’s special invocational version of “Moon in June,” written for the occasion and referring to it throughout. It is strange, but the bandmembers’ playing is so confident and elegant that they make their case and then some — they were already acquitting themselves better than other neophyte outfits like King Crimson, based on the evidence presented here. The sound is good and the group was on form throughout these appearances, evidently having been given a blank check (within reason) by the BBC.

-John Bush, Bruce Eder,

THE PEEL SESSIONS (1990 compilation)



  1. just to let you know the peel sessions is only 192 😦

  2. Oh darn. Honest mistake. I'll see if I can get a good replacement later.

  3. that would be sweet,cheers

  4. Thanks for sharing the peel sessions…..i can just about remeber hearing them at the time and wishing i could grab a copy….now I have….very much appreciated and Im enjoying reading your excellent write ups and things..excellent work.

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