Their extraordinary evolution as heard through John Peel's Top Gear

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Soft Machine – BBC Radio 1967-1971

The first of two Beeb collections scheduled this year (Vol 2’s 1971-73 Peel Sessions follows), this two-CD set captures Canterbury’s finest pot-noodlers in transit from May Day psychedelia to anarchic otherworldliness. From a previously unreleased 1967 session with Kevin Ayers (including a “Clarence In Wonderland” dewier and jauntier than his 1970 Shooting At The Moon version) to 1971’s “Eamonn Andrews/All White”, the trip from acid skylarking to squawking freeform jazz remains a startlingly expressive, if at times awkward, vision. Robert Wyatt’s “Moon In June” is a standout.