From Moon June Records:
This CD documents an often overlooked phase in the long and complex history of Soft Machine – Australian drummer Phil Howard‘s five-month interim behind the drum stool between Robert Wyatt‘s departure and his eventual long-term replacement John Marshall. It did last long enough to record half of the studio album “Fifth” (1972) and a couple of BBC radio sessions, but until now no official document of that line-up in its preferred environment – the stage. Howard was brought into Soft Machine by saxophonist Elton Dean, both being members of Elton’s side project Just Us, and under their combined influence the band became freer and wilder than ever before (or after) in its existence, pushing longtime leaders Mike Ratledge and Hugh Hopper into unchartered areas of electric madness. Before long they’d decided this wasn’t the way to go, but meanwhile the line-up had antagonised audiences throughout extensive tours of the UK and Europe. This CD documents the German leg of the tour and, as veteran music journalist Steve Lake notes in his detailed liner notes, is a revelation – a glimpse of a highly exciting alternative route Soft Machine decided not to explore further.