Monday, August 14, 2017
Soft Machine - 1981  "Land Of Cockayne"
Land of Cockayne is the final album by the band Soft Machine, released in 1981. By this point, the band contained none of its original members. The title refers to the medieval land of plenty.
The album came about as the result of a project in which Karl Jenkins and John Marshall had been involved featuring top session musicians. The ad hoc band, Rollercoaster, had recently recorded the Stevie Wonder tribute album Wonderin' and decided to record another album together. Many of the musicians included on the Cockayne album would make up Soft Machine's final live line-up which played a six-night residency at Ronnie Scott's in 1984. This is the only Soft Machine album to feature a string section.
Excellent job remastering and adding an informative booklet to this wonderful cd. the title of this cd is based on a medieval vision, Land of Cockaigne, a poor man's paradise of effortless abundance. i've been a soft machine fan for decades and absolutely loved the progression in style this band developed. to my constant surprise are those critics to dislike the changes this band had made. change is the only thing permanent in life people. this cd is very melodic, and romantic, with added strings from the composition and musical direction of karl jenkins. jack bruce on bass, john marshall drums, john taylor, allan holdsworth, alan parker, dick morrissey and ray warleigh round out the band. most of the music is very beautifully composed and gentle. there are a couple of pieces that "rock" to round out the balance of style on this cd. sadly this is the last of the modern line up of soft machine cds. there has been a lot of older material being issued, which too is wonderful. but if you're a fan of progressive jazz, this is a delightful cd to own.
This, the final album recorded under the name Soft Machine, has been much maligned as being extraneous to the legacy of a band who forged a unique and truly progressive path through the late sixties and seventies. The truth of the matter is that it really is a Karl Jenkins project in all but name, but it should not be unfairly filed alongside the library music of the posthumously issued `Rubber Riff'.
One look at the players listed here should tell anyone that this not a bland collection of half-baked instrumentals, but quite a feast of surprisingly strong musical sketches. Jenkins leads (as keyboardist and conductor) such talents as the mighty Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth and twin sax maestros Ray Warleigh and Dick Morrissey. John Taylor contributes some first class Fender Rhodes, while Softs cohort John Marshall is as reliable and vibrant as ever on drums.
The album is a suite of varied instrumental pieces ranging from appealing, sunny pieces for sax and wordless vocals, melodic ambient excursions, string sections, and strong themes which allow ample time for quality soloing from the giants gathered here. Yes, it is easy on the ear, but it carries a gravitas which relates back to Jenkins' compositions for earlier incarnations of Soft Machine. The extended `Panoramania' and `Hot Biscuit Slim' both recall the joy of a beautifully scored head theme ushering in a collection of solos by musicians who by virtue of their pedigree make every note count. `Black Velvet Mountain' is a wonderful showcase for Allan Holdsworth's ability to get inside a melody, which like his work with the Bruford band of this era, exude the authority of a seasoned player. `Sly Monkey' offers further evidence that an Allan Holdsworth solo is a thing of great joy, especially when complemented by the equally majestic saxophone of Ray Warleigh.
1. Over 'n' above (7:24)
2. Lotus groves (4:57)
3. Isle of the blessed (1:56)
4. Panoramania (7:07)
5. Behind the crystal curtain (0:53)
6. Palace of glass (3:22)
7. Hot-biscuit Slim (7:27)
8. (Black) velvet mountain (5:10)
9. Sly monkey (5:00)
10. A lot of what you fancy... (0:35)
Total Time: 43:51
Karl Jenkins – keyboards, synths, orchestration
John Marshall – drums, percussion
Jack Bruce – bass
Allan Holdsworth – lead guitar
John Taylor – electric piano
Ray Warleigh – alto saxophone, bass flute
Dick Morrissey – tenor saxophone
Alan Parker – rhythm guitar
Stu Calver – vocals, backing vocals
John G. Perry – vocals, backing vocals
Tony Rivers – vocals, backing vocals
Posted by Crimhead420 at 9:21 PM