Finally, someone put together a high-quality, well-thought-out, and official Soft Machine anthology. Fans have had to wait a long time for this, and Sony International obviously felt the weight of that responsibility. Culled from their ABC/Probe releases through their CBS/Columbia material, these selections are given the grand treatment of faithful (and illuminating) 24-bit remastering by Sony International, as well as a comprehensive and heavily illustrated 16-page booklet detailing the Soft's colorful musical history. There is nothing in the way of long-lost live material here, nor are there any rare, basement tracks -- save the inclusion of the band's first single, whose A and B sides appear here, probably for the first time officially -- but there are already several widely available compilations that focus on Soft Machine obscura exclusively, and Sony leaves it to them to enlighten the fanatics who are hungry for the rarest of the rare. As a starting point for new fans, though, this collection is the alpha and omega -- the ultimate overview. Not since Harvest's Triple Echo compilation (released nearly 25 years prior) has there been such a propulsive launching point into the weird and wonderful world of the Softs. Not even the stodgiest of Canterbury mavens could argue the pedigree of the tracks selected here -- each one, the cream of the cream, from some very creamy albums indeed. From Volume One's "Joy of a Toy" to Seven's "Down the Road," Out-Bloody-Rageous covers the bases on this two-disc set better than any anthology has done before, you can bet Robert Wyatt's beard on it.
Soft Machine includes: Robert Wyatt (vocals, guitar, piano); Kevin Ayers (vocals, guitar, bass). Soft Machine: Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, Kevin Ayers, Mike Ratledge, Robert Wyatt, Brian Hopper.