Soft Machine - Moon In June (Peel Sessions)

Soft Machine - Moon In June (Peel Sessions)

Moon In June (Peel session)

Soft Machine were an English rock band from Canterbury, named after the book The Soft Machine by William S. Burroughs. They were one of the central bands in the Canterbury scene, and helped pioneer the progressive rock genre. Though they achieved little commercial success, they are considered by Allmusic to be "one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones" ... (read more at Wikipedia)

Links To Peel

Soft Machine were stalwarts of Peel’s Top Gear shows in the early 1970s, recording nine sessions and appearing twice on concert programmes introduced by the DJ. One session (it is not yet known which) was among the favourites featured on the Top Gear fifth anniversary special, broadcast on 26 September 1972. Four years later, they were one of the ten major bands, including related artists, chosen by Peel for a series of retrospective programmes, in a show that went out on 17 August 1976.

Soft Machine - Love Makes Sweet Music

Soft Machine - Love Makes Sweet Music

Love Makes Sweet Music

In 1967, Soft Machine were regulars at London's UFO club, which Peel attended during his weeks of onshore leave from his DJ duties on the pirate radio ship Radio London. Their recorded output at this time was limited to a single, ‘Love Makes Sweet Music’, sung by Robert Wyatt, which was played on the pirate stations, but did not make the UK charts. They remained a band with an "underground" reputation, first spending time in France (where, like Pink Floyd, they had a following among students) and then touring the US in 1968 as support band to Jimi Hendrix. (Wyatt later commented that their early career had been handicapped by unsympathetic management). They recorded two LPs in the US, but only one was released in the UK and tracks from them appeared infrequently in Peel's playlists.

After this they split up, but re-formed as a trio in the following year, with Wyatt, keyboardist Mike Ratledge and bassist Hugh Hopper. They became popular with British audiences, not least via Peel's programmes, with albums and Top Gear sessions (including Wyatt's song ‘The Moon in June’, which namechecks Peel in the course of describing the pleasures of session recording "here at the BBC"). In 1970, Soft Machine were the first "pop group" to play at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, an indication of how seriously the "progressive" music played on Peel's shows was taken. The lineup lasted until 1971, when Wyatt left to form his own band, Matching Mole.

Peel was uneasy with the Soft Machine's move from short songs to long, increasingly complex instrumentals, which continued after the departure of Wyatt. Fellow vocalists Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers had left in 1967 and 1968 respectively; Allen went on to found Gong, while Ayers put together a Whole World band that included not only Dandelion Records artists Lol Coxhill and David Bedford but also Mike Oldfield. Wyatt would continue to be a mainstay of Peel’s shows (and a close friend) in subsequent decades, but the final Soft Machine session was in summer 1973. The band had a shifting line-up during the mid-1970s, their music moved closer to the popular jazz-rock fusion style of that era, and by 1978 all the original members had left. They appear to have been played on air relatively little by Peel after the mid-1970s.

In the mid-1980s, Peel discussed Soft Machine with producer John Walters in the third programme of the Peeling Back The Years series:

"They were one of the earlier bands to record for the programme, and in those days they were more of a pop band, and they had Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt alternating on vocals. And they were seen at the time as sort of kindred spirits with the Pink Floyd rather … And then they rather sort of vaguely disappeared and came back reorganized in a much more jazzy form. And I used to find, again to be perfectly frank with you, I used to find a lot of their stuff just went on too long, you know. But I always very much liked Robert Wyatt’s sort of free form vocals. There was one excellent track … Moon in June, in which he describes how pleasant it is to be recording yet another Top Gear session and saying how excellent the BBC canteen is." [1]

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None


Nine sessions. The second featured on the Peel Sessions: The Best 125 list. After earlier partial releases - including the 1990 Strange Fruit double The Peel Sessions (1990) - available material was compiled and released by Hux in 2003 on two double CD sets. Sessions #1-6 are available on BBC Radio 1967-1971. Sessions #7-9 (plus Radio 3 ‘Jazz In Britain’ session) available on BBC Radio 1971-1974.

1. Recorded: 1967-12-05. First broadcast: 17 December 1967.

  • Clarence In Wonderland / We Know What You Mean / A Certain Kind / Hope For Happiness (Strangest Scene Recorded – not broadcast)

2. Recorded: 1969-06-10. First broadcast: 15 June 1969. Repeated: 20 July 1969, 27 December 1969 (‘Moon In June’ only).

  • Face Lift/Mousetrap/Backwards/Mousetrap Reprise / Moon In June

3. Recorded: 1969-11-10. First broadcast: 29 November 1969. Repeated: 07 February 1970.

  • Instant Pussy / Mousetrap/Noisette/Backwards Ballad/Mousetrap Reprise/Pig/Orange Skin Food/A Door Opens And Closes/10:30 Returns To The Bedroom

4. Recorded: 1970-05-04. First broadcast: 16 May 1970. Repeated: 18 July 1970

  • Slightly All The Time/Out Bloody Rageous/Eamonn Andrews

5. Recorded: 1970-12-15. First broadcast: 02 January 1971

  • Virtually / Fletcher's Blemish

6. Recorded: 1971-06-01. First broadcast: 26 June 1971

  • Neo-Caliban Grides / Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening / Eamonn Andrews/All White

7. Recorded: 1971-11-15. First broadcast: 24 November 1971. Repeated: 25 January 1972.

  • As If / Drop / Welcome To Frillsville

8. Recorded: 1972-07-11. First broadcast: 18 July 1972. Repeated: 12 September 1972.

  • Stumble/Lbo/As If / Fanfare/All White/MC/Drop

9. Recorded: 1973-10-30. First broadcast: 1973-11-20

  • Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album / Hazard Profile / Down The Road


  1. Facelift-Esther's Nose Job
  • 21 March 1971: Soft Machine (and "Heavy Friends") live set, recorded 1971-03-11, Paris Theatre, London
  1. Blind Badger
  2. Neo Caliban Grides
  3. Out Bloody Rageous
  4. Eamon Andrews
  5. Pigling Bland
  6. Kings And Queens
  7. Teeth
  8. All White

Other Shows Played

  • 05 January 1969: unknown (sourced from David Cavanagh's Good Night And Good Riddance book)
  • 18 October 1969: Pataphysical Introduction Pt. I / A Concise British Alphabet Pt. I (LP - Volume II) Probe
  • 03 March 1998: Save Yourself/Priscilla (LP: The Soft Machine Vol 1) Probe

See Also

External Links

  • Wikipedia
  • [2] Detailed account of Soft Machine's career, by Rob Chapman
  • [3] Other
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