This album documents an often-overlooked phase in the long, complex history of Soft Machine: Australian drummer Phil Howard’s five-month interim behind the kit, after Robert Wyatt’s departure (prior to the arrival of his eventual long-term replacement, John Marshall). Howard was brought into Soft Machine by saxophonist Elton Dean, with both being members of Elton’s side project at the time, Just Us. Under their combined influence, the band became freer and wilder than in any other time of its’ long, storied existence.
Illustrated by this great live recording from the German leg of their “Fifth” tour, the “Phil Howard Soft Machine edition” does swing with wreckless abandon. This was a very rare, special event, documented for the first time here on CD. Although it was a brief run, there were some sizzling moments as the band soared without restraint, continually pushing itself further.
For both new and old fans of Soft Machine, this is an album to savor – and an essential part of any Soft Machine and free jazz collection.