Thursday, June 02, 2005

Underground Bands

Pink Floyd worked with the Soft Machine when they first started. These two bands came from the London underground scene in the late 1960s. They would play in the same places because neither of them played the kind of music that fit in anywhere else. "The Soft Machine and the Pink Floyd" and article written by Vernon Fitch, for the Amazing Pudding, issue #12, 1985; talks about these two bands and their beginnings. The played at many underground scenes like the UFO and the roundhouse.

These two bands were experimenting with new ideas and stretching the boundaries of the, then, rock establishment. Of course they all became friends, and took to helping each other out at various critical periods of each others existence. One of those moments was the Gilmour tour in 1984, when some of the Soft Machine played with Gimour as his band. These two bands were moving away from the short pop tunes and into longer improvised pieces. The only difference between these two bands was their direction. The Soft Machine pursued more of a jazz direction, using very unusual and complicated time signatures, while the Floyd expressed themselves using a basic 4/4 time signature.

These different directions can be traced back to the roots of both bands, the Floyd being rhythm and blues oriented, and the Soft Machine basing their ideas around jazz rhythms. Robert Wyatt from the Soft Machine once said that the businessmen didin't know what to do with them, because in that time in order for any/one to have a LP, they were supposed to come up with a hit, but for them it was different, because with every jazz recording they made, they would come with a straight LP. That's why none of their recordings never appeared in any hit parade. Pink Floyd's influeces served the Soft Machine in their first years, because the Floyd knew exactly what to do, and also because they were closer to rock than the Softs. Wyatt also says that Pink Floy's formula could be reduced to a single, and theirs could not.

Vernon Fitch says that these two bands changed in the 1970's, and they grew into business, escpecially the Pink Floyd, they would play entire concerts without the need of any back up band, this was very good for them because they grew apart from other bands' business. Except one time when in 1973 Robert Wyatt had an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, and his career as a drummer ended, so the Pink Floyd gave a benefit concert for Robert and their back up band were the Sotfs. Although time later in 1974 he made a comeback as a keyboardist, and he chose Nick Mason as his drummer replacement. Mason even produced some of Robert's single.

In 1976 Mason countinued working with Robert and in 1981 when Mason came up with his solo album, Robert worked with him too. But the albums made by these two friends were influenced even more by the Soft Machine than by the Pink Floyd. In the author's opinion, he thinks that the one who made the best solo effort was Mason with his album called "The Fictitious Sport."
When Syd came up with his "Madcaps Laughs" the Soft Machine worked with him too. Kevin Ayers, bassist from the Softs was a great admirer of the Pink Floyd, especially of Syd, he even wrote letters to the Syd Barrett Appreciation Society. All the members of the Soft Machine showed appreciation in their songs to Syd and to the Pink Floyd. Daevid Allen, guitarist of the Softs said that he learned a glossando guitar techinque from Syd who taught him how to do it.

This proved that the Soft Machine, besides being all good friends with the Pink Floyd, and having worked with them, they were also big fans of them. On the last paragraph, Vernon says that Daevid Allen once had a picture stuck on his amplifier during a tour to France, and it was "just for inspiration." Who knows, maybe Daevid had a crash on him!


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