FACELIFT

CD1
1. Slightly all the Time
2. Out-Bloody-Rageous
3. Moon in June
4. Mousetrap
5. Noisette
6. Backwards
7. Mousetrap-reprise
8. Hibou Anemone and Bear
CD2
1. Facelift
2. Eamonn Andrews
3. Esther's Nose Job
4. Pigling Bland
5. I Should've Known
6. Esther's Nose Job-reprise

Recorded: April 26th, 1970 at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon
Released: 2002

Mike Ratledge: organ, electric piano
Hugh Hopper: bass guitar
Robert Wyatt:  drums, vocals
Elton Dean: alto sax, saxello, electric piano



Although in glorious lo-fi:
"One of the best performances ever in that line-up"
Brain Hopper

The recording was made by Brian Hopper (Hughs brother) on a small cassette recorder, sitting in the hall itself and features a full concert of two sets ( normal for Soft Machine at the time ) with one set on each of the two cd's.
Recorded just one day after the sessions at Ronnie Scott's on Soho is this concert at Fairfield Halls(!). As mentioned before, the quintet version of Soft Machine, that is the band with Lyn Dobson and Elton Dean, was only short lived. Just after three months Lyn left and Elton became a permanent member of Soft Machine, thus making at a quartet. For many fans this is THE version of Soft Machine, the classic one, but although it is a fine team there are more Machines which could be credited as THE Machine. Breda Reactor was the band with Lyn, just three months later we have another concert taped by Brian Hopper of the new quartet. As was with Breda Reactor, the concert was taped from the audience with primitive equipment. Brian taped it because it was a special occasion; Hugh’s and his parents were in the audience! Fairfield Hall, Croydon seemed to be a good place for Soft Machine. The sound of this concert is very poor, no wonder of course, drums are far away, covered with echo’s from the hall, the bass is hardly audible, but both saxophone and organ parts and solos are well recorded. The reason why the concert is released at all is the fact that Brian thinks that this was one of the best of this band. Maybe it was because his parents were there? Who knows, but if you started to listen and forget all the hiss and tape-slipping you are indeed in a way pulled into the music. The playlist is almost the same as the previous concerts in Soho.‘Third’ (which would be released two months after this concert) had a growing influence in the set list. It doesn’t start with Eamonn Andrews but with Slightly all The Time and Out-Bloody-Rageous; the longer and jazz-influenced tracks written by Mike Ratledge had an increasing influence. Robert vocal work is sparse, he had to undergo the same influence as the music; he shines on Hibou Anemone and Bear. The first part of the concert is to be found on disc one; the second on disc two. Most compositions are relatively short, compared to the tracks released on Third; Slight is just over five minutes long or short and Out-Bloody-Rageous clocks just over ten minutes. The longest track is Facelift, the first track on disc two. Eamonn and Esther are present as well. A small surprise is the fact that I Should Have Known is performed; a reminiscent from the Gomelski sessions. Robert sings, somewhere in the hall, but hardly audible. Throughout the concert all four members play very well and this is a good concert indeed. Pity that the sound quality is very lo-fi and often the public is heard talking. That fact makes this disc a perfect set for ‘completist’ Soft Machine fans and other fanatics.

Paul Lemmens © 2014