blue versus black interior versions (US versus Europe)


Live record
  1. Fanfare
  2. All White
  3. Between
  4. Riff
  5. 37 ½
  6. Gesolreut
  7. E.P.V.
  8. Lefty
  9. Stumble
10. 5 from 13 (for Phil Seaman with love and thanks)
11. Riff II

Studio Record
  1. The Soft Weed Factor
  2. Stanley Stamps Gibbon Album ( for B.O.)
  3. Chloe and the Pirates
  4. 1983

Live Record: The Dome, Brighton, and Civic Hall, Guildford, October and November 1972
Studio Record:
november and december 1972 at CBS Studios, London; '1983'recorded early in 1973 at Advision Studios, London
Released: 1973

Karl Jenkins: oboe, baritone & soprano saxes, piano, celeste
John Marshall: drums, percussion
Mike Ratledge: organ, piano, celeste
Hugh Hopper: bass, sound effects on '1983'

'Six' Album was choose 'British Jazz Album of the Year': first place in the Melody Maker Award - 1973

first cd-version (1995)

CBS magazine add for 'Six' Album

Melody Maker add (1973): lp + drummer + organist + miscellaneous instrumentalsit of the year!

moustaches versus beard: the beard would leave...
‘Six’ album came as kind of a surprise. Not only was it a double one, the sound was rather different. Six – as the album often would be named – had a remarkable fat bass sound. Compare it to the thin sound of the basses on previous albums. New recording techniques made this possible and Hugh liked it very much, the double album was spliced in two parts: a live album and a studio one. Both albums, except for the rather alien sounding 1983, had a more tight approach than former albums. Exit the freer jazz styling’s; account of new member Karl Jenkins. After ‘Fifth’ Mike opted for a more structured sound for Soft Machine, That wasn’t the direction Elton would go, so he left. Their favourite shopping address: Nucleus! Karl seemed to be the right person for the job: a musician who played various wind instruments, could play keyboards, but was willing to compose. At this point in Soft Machine’s history Mike and Hugh didn’t like to compose that much anymore, so Karl’s talent - he was known for his more orchestral scores - was more than welcome. Knowing that, it isn’t that strange that most of the live album sounds somehow orchestrated indeed. Jenkins baritone sax and oboe-sounds matches just fine in the softer sounding machine. Another softer approach came from the softer sounding Fender Rhodes pianos, which were used now by Mike as well as Karl. ‘Fanfare/All White’ starts like the opening of a movie, including an almost romantic oboe. Both tracks can be found on Fifth as well, but have thoroughly been modified. In contrast: the new track, ‘Between’, sounds more like the older Soft Machine by using repetitive piano motives. Riff is darker in sound; courtesy of Ratledge’s screaming Lowrey organ. As mentioned before: striking throughout the album is Hopper’s bass sound. It sounds solid, deep as an anchor. Having a sound that deep the bass is even put more in front of the band sound than ever before. 37 ½ starts with that special bass sound which is a good layer for the higher sounding oboe from Jenkins which spreads out the theme. Gesolreut (four notes of the staff lines: ge-sol-re-ut) begin with Fender Rhodes and Baritone sax. Ratledge takes his turn with yet another organ solo, this time softening his sound using a wah-wah pedal. The sound fits precisely to the Baritone sax. Another movie theme creeps up from an echoplexed oboe in ‘EPV’, only to be overruled by Hopper’s bass and sound experiments in ‘Lefty’. Sounds begin fell apart, but lucky they find the cohesion again in ‘ Stumble’. Now it’s Marshall’s turn to show off in 5 from 13, with thanks to his drum teacher Phil Seamen. At the end the ‘Riff’- theme is beautiful re-introduced by Hugh’s low grumbling bass. Great!
The second album shows Soft Machine in search for new music and sounds. The Soft Weed Factor starts with repetitive music in style of Steve Reich but gradually turns into a slow jazzy theme just to end shortly after it started. ‘Stanley Stamps Gibbon Album (for B.O.) has a grand (-piano) opening, but soon leads into an exotic rhythm with Lowrey organ solo over it. Swing it out Mike! Stanley ends with a tape loop played backwards. B.O. stands for Bill Oddie; an English author, actor, comedian, artist, naturalist and musician. ‘Chloe and the Pirates’ has a breath-taking theme. Tape loops and minimal music form the bases for a haunting oboe driven theme. Movie-time again. The piece really takes its turn after Hugh has stroke his bass strings. Beautiful. Chloe makes clear in what way Jenkins was searching for Soft Machine’s new musical direction. It wasn’t the same direction as Hugh though. Hopper now had enough of all the troubles in the Machine and even the more structured parts of it. All the good-better-best musicians from Nucleus hall of fame made him uncertain of his abilities and he decided to split too and start a solo career. His first album, 1984, is full of sound experiments but, funny enough, also has some real, James Brown like, soul tracks (Hugh loved ‘Papa Has a Brand New Bag’). His last contribution to the band is: 1983, in a way 1984’s precursor. Compared to the other tracks it is a strange one, which didn’t fit easily in the new sound. Hopper’s decision was a good one for both himself and Soft Machine as well. Hopper’s career was a free one, both experimental and jazz orientated. Soft Machine grew more and more into the stricter territories of jazz-rock. I always liked Six Album for lots of reasons, but mostly for its sound and the used themes. Also, I learned one thing, even if the band is Soft Machine, its sound could change by any new record. Challenging enough I say.

Paul Lemmens © 2012/2014