For me (like many) this was my most listened to Softs period…I know my copy of ‘Three’ got pretty worn out and dog-eared.
Lyn Dobson was an interesting addition (although short-lived) and provided alternatives for the band. It certainly altered the dynamic, at least to my ears.
This whole package from Cuneiform is just a gem and is a very welcome addition to other extant material. It’s a ‘must hear’ of course…
From their beginnings as a psychedelic rock band in 1966, sharing stages with Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, to being one of the originators of electric jazz/rock by early 1969, Britain’s Soft Machine were restlessly creative. Facelift France and Holland captures them at a pivotal moment in the first quarter of 1970 as a short-lived quintet, just before they recorded and released their breakthrough album Third.
As broadcast on the French TV programme Pop 2, the film of Soft Machine’s concert at Paris’ Théâtre de la Musique, which constitutes the main course of the present release, stands as an exceptional document of the band at, arguably, its artistic peak.
It is the earliest footage of the band to be commercially released and also the only video footage known to exist of the quintet line-up that was active from January to March 1970. The broadcast contains the only professionally-recorded performance of “Out-Bloody- Rageous” with Lyn Dobson on second sax and it also is the only professionally-recorded alternative performance by the quintet of “Facelift” (the original appearing as the opening track on Third).
Facelift France and Holland marks the first official release of the entire show in both audio and video format. Footage of the concert was previously released in 2008 on DVD, but we have gone through the original footage once again to improve video quality as well as remove or lessen soundtrack issues including fake applause and hard edits.
In addition to the March, 1970 material presented here on CD and DVD in splendid stereo sound and looking better than it ever has before, Disc 3 presents a previously unreleased soundboard performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw from January 17, 1970.
Every Soft Machine fan needs this.
"A love affair with France preserved on film - shot with tangible cinematic flair at Paris' photogenic Theatre De La Musique in March 1970, this superb quality live footage of the Softs at their freewheeling peak was originally broadcast on French Television...
Like the sounds fashioned onstage by Messrs Wyatt, Hopper, Ratledge, Dean and Dobson the visual style here is both highly fluid and refreshingly free of the stylistic cliches all too familiar from countless lookalikes in concert films...
With the Softs flying high sans safety net and previewing material from their upcoming album Third, the audience in raptures, Robert Wyatt looking like the younger brother of Brian Jones and the sight of Orangina bottles decorating the top of the amps, this is a hugely evocative period piece made all the more vivid by the warm hues of the colour film stock. They sure don't make 'em like this any more." – Grahame Bent, Record Collector
released March 25, 2022
Elton Dean – Alto sax, saxello
Lyn Dobson – Soprano and tenor sax, flute, harmonica, vocals
Hugh Hopper – Bass
Mike Ratledge – Hohner Pianet, Lowrey Holiday Deluxe organ
Robert Wyatt – Drums, vocals
CD One: Recorded at Théâtre de la Musique, Paris, France, March 2, 1970. Licensed from I.N.A.
CD Two Recorded at Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, January 17, 1970.