1. Out Bloody Rageous
2. Facelift
3. Esther's Nose Job 

Recorded: August, 13th , 1970 at Henry Wood Promenade Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London
Released: 1988

Mike Ratledge: keyboards
Hugh Hopper: bass
Elton Dean: alto sax, saxello
Robert Wyatt: drums

We was invited by Tim Souster, who had an evening using the hall to do what he liked with. I believe he'd heard our second LP, asked us on the strength of that. He discovered us on the way to discovering Motown. Via The Who, I think. Anyway it was brave of him to invite us despite the withering contempt of the posh music establishment. Before our bit, I went out the back for a quick fag and the doorman didn't want to let me back in.
"I've got to play in there", I said. "You must be kidding son," he said, "they only have proper music in there".
Not that night they didn't.

Robert Wyatt
The Proms in the famous Royal Albert Hall. Mostly classical ensembles played in the Hall, although it once was entered by The Mothers of Invention in a peculiar way and after that banned for pop groups. Soft Machine wasn’t a pop group anymore, but an amplified jazz group. Remember Miles Davis and his electronic outings; Soft Machine was England’s counterpart and also they were very popular in music polls. Being invited to play at the Proms was special; Robert Wyatt mentions that fact in his own and funny way: “They only have proper music in there” the doorman told. “Not that night they didn’t”. Although a special occasion, there was no special program; Soft Machine didn’t change their play-list, they played what they always did at that time: Esther’s Nose Job, Facelift and Out-Bloody-Rageous. If they played as loud as always isn’t mentioned, but the technical troubles they mostly had were taken into the hall as well. In the beginning weird noises come from Mike’s organ. It doesn’t work and he tries to get it working by ‘kick starting’ it. He just gave it his foot and of he goes. The concert is well performed, but doesn’t stand out if you compare it to others ones. Most themes are familiar and even solo parts have a familiar approach. Maybe the jazz side is more upfront, but on the other hand that was the way the band was developing in the early Seventies. Esther has a long nose, but that is because Robert’s vocal improvisation is a long one this time. Hugh fuzz bass has a day off, or isn’t audible because of organ violence. After almost forty minutes the concert is over, the public is very enthusiastic, but didn’t take down the Hall. Soft machine was accepted in the cultural élite.

Paul Lemmens © 2014