the 'special' innersleeve


1. Hazard Profile parts 1-5
2. Gone Sailing
3. Bundles
4. Land of the Bag Snake
5. The Man Who Waved at Trains
6. Peff
7. Four Gongs, Two Drums
8. The Floating World

Recorded: July 1974 at CBS Whitfield St Studios, London
Released: 22 March 1975

Roy Babbington: bass guitar 
Allan Holdsworth: electric, acoustic and 12 string guitar
Karl Jenkins: oboe, piano, electric piano, soprano sax
Mike Ratledge: organ, electric piano, synthesizer
John Marshall: drums, percussion
Ray Warleigh: alto & bass flute (on 8)

a happier lp-release (1990)

Bundles (lp/cd - RCA, Italy, ?)
Italy has gone over to the dark side
Bundles (cassette - Harvest, Spain, 1975)

a promo flexidisc was made as warming up

Bundles single - a miniature papersleeve replica single
Issued as a promo by Diskunion Japan, 2010

japanese ad

allan holdsworth
Everyone realised that after the not so convincing ‘Seven’, Soft Machine had to go another way; otherwise the band would come to a musical stand-still. They looked around and found Allan Holdsworth, a virtuoso guitar player. Rumours were going round that he could play his guitar with the speed of lightning and drink a glass of whiskey at the same time. Music has its good stories. By adding Allan to the line-up, they created a new and more aggressive sound in their music. In fact, ‘Bundles’ is their first guitar dominated Soft Machine album. Although Daevid Allen (another ‘allen’ pronounced name) played the guitar in a very early version of Soft Machine in 1967, the record with his guitar playing on it was never official released. Funny though, those recordings are now amongst the most released Soft Machine albums ever (Jet Propelled Photographs and so on and so on). There also was a little bit guitar playing on Volume One and Two by Kevin Ayers and Hugh Hopper, but it was, not at least at that point, the most important instrument of the two bass-players. And… there was one other new ‘thing’ with this record; it hadn’t a number. We expected ‘Eight’; we got ‘Bundles’. It even hadn’t a boring record cover anymore – Soft Machine didn’t have those impressive Pink Floyd-like covers, except Volume One - but Bundles shows us a pigeon let free for its flight by an old man (Ratledge?) in his beautiful garden. Symbolic? Could be! The pigeon, I mean, Allan takes of immediately. A few tolling bells, drum fills and of we go into the long track Hazard Profile. Allan plays fast as lightning indeed and lots and lots of notes come pouring out of his guitar. Time for a little break in the composition – hold your breath - and of we go again. Whoopee! It's like a rollercoaster. But now it is time for Mike to stand out with a solo using his new toy, the synthesizer. Rather something else, if you compare it to his Lowrey organ-sound, which we were used too. And then, all of a sudden, the turmoil stops, because Allan has gone sailing. He takes his acoustic guitar with him on the boat. In the old days this track was the end of side one. Phew after such a hectic affair we have to take some fresh air and get to ourselves. After a short break we are ready for side two (now track 7): Bundles, the title track. It starts of like Hazard Profile but is more restrained and therefore maybe sounds more like a group playing. That also goes for the ‘Bag Snake’. In fact I like these two tracks a little bit more than Hazard Profile, because they are more balanced. ‘Waving at Trains’ (excellent title!) has indeed to be done softly. The track uses beautiful percussion in the background and a fierce oboe solo. It starts quietly but ends going all over the top in the connected track ‘Peff’. These two tracks have the most resemblance with the former Soft Machine sound. Maybe because they were written by Mike Ratledge? Four Gongs and Two drums is - as you might expect - a percussion/drum-solo. John gives it an eastern flavour. Closing track is once again a number with the repetitive element, more common in Soft Machine’s music. For this special occasion it is done with flutes which are played by an old musical friend; Ray Warleigh. It is a tranquil piece, which is absolutely necessary after the 'violence' in all tracks before. Conclusion: Bundles is a very strong record; it displays a kind of relief, a sudden new freedom in sound and instruments. For newcomers it is fine record to start with. Even now, many years later, it stands out, but it is the last great record of the band, after this one they get lost in music and personal changes...

Paul Lemmens © 2010/2014