Editors’ Notes This challenging set of instrumentals proved that the British combo had more in common with the likes of Weather Report than former psychedelia comrades like Pink Floyd. Mike Ratledge’s fuzz-toned keyboards and Elton Dean’s ruminative saxophone test the limits of the band’s compositional boundaries as they ascend into rarified improvisational flights. The free jazz–influenced rhythms of Phil Howard (who left the Softs after recording tracks 1-3) contrast with the more solidly rooted drumwork of his replacement, John Marshall, who appears on tracks 4-6. “All White” and “Drop” catch the band in a fiercely adventuresome mode; “MC” unreels a vast soundscape defined by murmuring sax and twinkling organ. Marshall’s tumbling drums take the spotlight for “LBO,” setting things up for the gracefully melodic and stylishly grooving “Pigling Bland” (first heard as part of “Teeth” on the band’s previous album, Fourth). “Bone” wraps up the original release with a touch of atmospheric cosmic exotica. Taken in sum, Fifth documents Soft Machine’s breakthrough as a jazz unit of hypnotic intensity and daring imagination.

SONG
All White
1
6:00
 
Drop
2
7:49
 
M C
3
4:55
 
As If
4
8:02
 
L B O
5
1:53
 
Pigling Bland
6
4:21
 
Bone
7
3:29
 
All White (Take Two)
8
7:12
 

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