Set One  
  1. Facelift
  2. Virtually
  3. Slightly all the Time
  4. Fletcher's Blemish
Set Two
  5. Neo-Caliban Grides
  6. Out Bloody Rageous
  7. Eamonn Andrews
  8. All White
  9. Kings and Queens
10 .Teeth
11. Pigling Bland

Recorded: March, 23rd 1971 at the Gondel Filmkunstheatre, for radio Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Released: 1998

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

" innovative union of jazz and rock."

The previously unreleased show captured on Virtually, recorded 3/23/71, presents the classic quartet Softs [Elton Dean/Mike Ratledge/Hugh Hopper/Robert Wyatt] during their final European tour & just 4 months before their dissolution.
The recording [licensed from German radio & taken from the master tapes] is superb for the time period, & the performance really sparkles, with everyone shinning, although special note must be made of Robert's drumming, as he plays with more gusto on this show than most from this period. With versions of all the tracks from Fourth, most of Third and much more, this 78' release, which captures the entire concert, is absolutely essential for any Soft Machine fan.

* text from Cuneiform website

Virtually traps Soft Machine about a month after their concert at Henie Onstad. The playlist is exactly the same, but there are differences; the band has learned to play freer than before and Robert started to play the double bass-drum set to give more weight against the violence of bass and organ. His drumming is outstanding throughout the whole concert, but it was one of the last shows with him on drums. The tension had gotten higher and about three months after the performance in Bremen Robert was more or less fired from his own group. The jazz-side had definitely won over the song- and pop-side. I donít remember whether I saw this concert on television or another one with Robert playing the double bass drums; it must have been in the same period. But seeing that one I was rather impressed with Robertís playing; it had grown, was fluid, free and still very structured and in his own style, which is drums rolls over and over again. The first set starts with a short Facelift in which the piano, played by Elton has gotten a more important role. Virtually isnít that lingering anymore and even treated in a different way by Hugh himself who plays a strong bass solo. Slightly starts with saxello and Fender Rhodes piano playing from Mike. By doing so the sound of the piece is more mellow than used to be. Fletcherís Blemish is almost a bass-drum experiment in his own, with lots of sounds, voices (from Robert) and other indefinite sounds. The Neo Caliban Grides are exposed as expected, but maybe a little bit more accents on the sax, until Robert and Hugh starts playing. Robert launches his fireworks. Great playing! Out-Bloody Rageous is played faster than normally, of course, it had grown into a standard by now and the only challenge is to play it faster. Eamonn has gotten a voice (from Robert), echoís and Rhodes piano. It is quite different now. All White is performed tight with strong solo from Elton. The speed is slowed down for a very tense Kings and Queens; it almost sounds like a movie soundtrack now. And then: Teeth, auch what a shock, it must have been toothache. Fuzz bass and drums, but halfway the number the pieces fell into place and the track really starts with a familiar theme. Pigling Bland is very tense again, played real slow, more jazzy and suddenly it is 10.30 and time to go to your bedroom. Virtually, the cd, shows a band which is still developing in sound and approach, more free, more drums, more jazz. A band on the verge of collapsing and maybe because of that, playing very strong. It is another recommended disc, maybe for Robertís playing alone. It is the last disc (in time perspective) with his playing on it. It was time for a revisited Machine.

Paul Lemmens © 2014