It's essentially impossible to select a favorite track from this almost -but not quite- Soft Machine album. By now it has acquired legendary status among Canterbury fans, and rightly so. The compositions; the performances; the energy - all are at a level which was only inconsistently matched throughout the remainder of the 1970s by the performers of this august orbit. Exceptions would include Matching Mole, Quiet Sun, some of Camel's, and some of Hopper's and Dean's other projects.
Freshly remastered from the master tapes and issued on CD from the master tapes for the first time, this was the second solo album by Soft Machine bassist and composer Hugh Hopper.
This was Hugh's first solo album after leaving Soft Machine. In my fan-boy opinion, it is one of the best records Hugh's ever made and is a fine and distinctively unusual progressive/fusion album that has all the compositional and performance twists and oddities that make it distinctly Hugh's.
Originally released in 1977 on the Compendium label, it highlights Hugh's quirky compositional sense and trademarked fuzzbass/looping/lead bass stylings with stunningly great contributions from
Elton Dean-alto sax and saxello
Frank Roberts-electric piano
Dave Stewart-organ, pianet, oscillators
Gary Windo-bass clarinet and saxes
There were no outtakes or additions to add to this reissue, but Hugh did contribute new notes that tell the story of the making of this album and he gave us reproductions of some of the musical scores for the booklet.
An absolutely essential album that I've been pestering Hugh to allow us to release for well over a decade! This is a lost jazz/rock classic that demands to be rediscovered 30 years later! The original lp had a skip in the middle of one of Elton's wonderful solos and the only previous CD version was recorded off of a vinyl record and had the same skip! This is the first time this album has been released on CD with the care that it deserves. Don't miss it!
"An old Soft Machinist never lets you down. Somehow he's brought with him much of the flavour of his old band.... [Hopper Tunity Box] belongs up there with Third and Fourth...." – Melody Maker
"Ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper augments his rather infamous fuzz-bass attack by performing on guitar, recorders, soprano sax, and percussion on this reissue of the original LP. Recorded in 1976, this outing features the bassist's fellow Soft Machine bandmate, saxophonist Elton Dean, along with others of note.
...This production stands as one of Hopper's finest solo efforts -- largely due to the inspiring ensemble work and the bassist's strong material. Recommended." – AllMusic
Around 1975 | began to gather together musical ideas that | had been working on since
leaving Soft Machine in 1973—snatches of tunes that for the most part had not previously
seen the light of day. A friend of mine was recording engineer Mike Dunne, who had been
assistant engineer on my first solo record, 1984, and who was now in charge of the mobile
studio of Jon Anderson of Yes. Mike suggested we co-produce a record together; he would
provide the studio and | would provide the music and musicians.
By the time | had arranged the music into some sort of coherent order and invited along
the various guest musicians, Mike's studio was set up in one of London's big film sound
studios, where Yes rehearsed for tours. Jon Anderson occasionally popped his head
around the door when we were beavering away at some tricky tape-looping or double-
speeded bass, and Steve Howe looked in once, | seem to remember. | knew them
slightly, anyway, from Soft Machine tours when the two bands came together at festivals.
I think we took about two weeks to get most of the music down. For all but one of the tracks,
| started by laying down bass with an old-fashioned, wind-up metronome click-track.
Definitely a low-tech approach on this one. Then Mike Travis came in and added drums for
all of the tracks except “Mobile Mobile,” which featured Nigel Morris, my old bandmate from
Isotope. (After the record came out, both drummers said they preferred the sound that the
other drummer got down on tape...drummers!) The only time | actually played alongside
any of the other musicians was on “Crumble,” when Mike Travis and | laid down the rhythm
track together. Then Dave Stewart did his sterling work on the Hammond and weird
oscillator sounds. Next Gary Windo with his own special energy and madness, honking
sax and blowing foghorns on “Miniluv.” 1 traded him sessions for the bass | had recently
played on his Steam Radio project, which finally came out many years later on Cuneiform
Records as His Master's Bones. Frank Roberts added some tasty Fender Rhodes piano
and, lastly, in came Elton Dean and Marc Charig to play on “The Lonely Sea and the Sky.”
Mike Dunne and | then tweaked the raw sounds with all manner of analog and improvised
effects. A big sheet of steel hanging in the studio acted as an unconventional echo plate,
and of course we indulged in all that slowing-down and speeding up of tapes and looping
that has been a trademark of my music since the early days. A couple of months after the
initial sessions, we did some further work at the farm in Hertfordshire where the mobile was now installed.
Mike Travis laid down a new drum track on “Spanish Knee” and we polished off the final mixes, all the
time trying not to breathe too deeply—the studio was hext to the pig shed of the farm. There were sticky
flypapers hanging up everywhere, and once a fly landed on the multitrack tape just as Mike pushed
the Play button. The fly got squashed in the roll of recording tape. That's probably the cause of an
analog blip somewhere on the record. Speaking of blips, when the record was on the cutting table to
make the master disc, somehow the cutting stylus jumped in the middle of Elton Dean’s solo on “Lonely
Sea.” Nobody noticed it before several thousand vinyl LPs had been pressed and issued, so all of the
released LPs feature a weird leap in the music. Of course on this remastered CD version, you get to
hear Elton’s full solo for the first time.
After the record came out on the Norwegian Compendium label, it had mostly good reviews...
except one in an ultraconservative British jazz mag, where the reviewer said it had all the subtlety of a
stone (14 pounds) of King Edwards (potatoes) tumbling downstairs and and the melodic and
harmonic interest of a trapped wasp...not a jazz record, they decided....