SOFT MACHINE -Shooting At The Moon (1967) DBL CDBROOK
Slim-line jewel case, w/slipcases
Recorded in April '67, this collection of demos is interesting because we get to hear what they would've sounded like with guitar. It's played here by Daevid Allen, who left before their first album to form Gong. "The Soft Machine" (1968) contained no guitar, and the band went without it until 1975. These early tracks differ from what fans came to know and love in two major ways. For one, the emphasis is tilted toward rock at this point in their development. It's incredible how much jazzier they became as a drum, bass, and keyboard trio without guitar. Then again, Soft Machine were always enamored of avant-jazzers like Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra - as opposed to the blues-inspired Cream (to name another trio). The songs are pretty rough and ready, as you'd expect, save for Robert Wyatt's always-excellent drumming. Being a big fan of the first Soft Machine album, I was really interested to hear the early versions of the Vol. I songs, plus the ones that never made it to record. The songs here on Jet-Propelled Photographs have more of a traditional pop sensibility than anything else the Softs recorded, but they're super lo-fi, and the tracks that made it to Vol. I in reworked form do sound better on that album. Of the non-album tracks, the highlights for me are "She's Gone", "I'd Rather Be With You", and Ayers' "Jet-Propelled Photograph", which later turned up on Shooting at the Moon.