1. Eamonn Andrews
  2. Mousetrap
  3. Noisette
  4. Backwards
  5. Mousetrap (reprise)
  6. Hibou, Anemone and Bear
  7. Moon in June
  8. 12/8 Theme
  9. Esther's Nose Job
10. We Did it Again

Recorded: January 4th, 1970 at Fairfield Hall, Croydon, England.
Released: 2000

Elton Dean: alto sax, saxello
Lyn Dobson: soprano sax, flute, voice
Hugh Hopper: bass
Mike Ratledge: electric piano, organ
Robert Wyatt: drums, voice

"...Britain's best answer to electric Miles Davis" – Pulse

Noisette is the third in our Soft Machine series, recorded January 4th, 1970 at the same concert as "Facelift" on Third, by the short-lived quintet formation of the group: Elton Dean & Lyn Dobson-reeds, Hugh Hopper-bass, Mike Ratledge-keyboards & Robert Wyatt-drums & vocals.
Noisette features the rest of the concert, & showcases a band in transition from their earlier psychedelic/ progressive sound towards the jazz rock sound of Third & Fourth. It features the quintet performing versions of material from their 1st two albums as well as material not available on their studio albums. Mastered directly off of the 40 year old 15ips master tapes, this release boasts superb live sound for the time period, & includes rare, unseen photos and liner notes by Aymeric Leroy.

* text from Cuneiform website

lyn - hugh - elton

lyn - hugh
At the end of the sixties Soft Machine was experimenting with added personal. A short-living septet was soon turned down in favour of a quintet setting. But the quintet didn’t continue as well and changed into a quartet. Just as the septet, the quintet only ‘lived’ for a very short period of time. Lucky for us Bob Woolford recorded a concert of Soft Machine with both Lyn Dobson and Elton Dean. Actually it was their very first concert which took place at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, January 4th, 1970. A part of this concert was used on Third as ‘Facelift’, but that one was ‘mixed’ with another concert from Birmingham. That makes Noisette a special treat, since it is the only disc with a full quintet version on it. Most compositions on Noisette were by now ‘standards’ in Soft Machine concerts; new, and never released on any album before, is 12/8 Theme, a Hugh Hopper composition. After Robert announced the concert program: “We do a bit, and then we stop for a bit and we do a bit more”, a soft piano part enters, leading into Eamonn Andrews, which is followed by the famous ‘medley’: Mousetrap, Noisette, Backwards, Mousetrap-reprise. In Mousetrap the winds can blow wild and various solo-parts are played. During backwards Lyn uses his flute, which gives the composition another sound-perspective. Hibou, Anemone and Bear once again take off with fuzz bass. By now it is perfectly clear that a second woodwind player brings more dynamics into the sound. Robert is allowed to sing a little bit, but, strange enough, not in his own composition, Moon in June. Biggest surprise is, as mentioned before, 12/8 Theme, a true Soft Machine composition with enough space and room for everyone to stand out. After that, Esther does her Nose Job once again. She had a problematic Nose, I presume. Both tracks have remarkable double reed sections; but because Esther is a familiar theme, that one makes clear that this kind of approach really fits to the music of this period. A surprise for both the audience and us is ‘We Did it Again’. Applause in the public after they recognized it. But it is not the mesmerizing, hypnotic pop-art version from the sixties, but an instrumental one with fragmentary vocals from Robert. Noisette, the cd, is a satisfactory addition to Soft Machine’s oeuvre, which was fast growing in the cd-era and a long time after the band disbanded. Thanks Bob for recording all these sessions and sharing them with us.

Paul Lemmens © 2014