THE VALENTINES
Love Makes Sweet Music
(Kevin Ayers)
Australia 1968
#27 Perth

Single on Clarion, co-charted with the A-side, Harry Vanda & George Young's Peculiar Hole In The Sky. Two other Valentines A-sides were Vanda-Young compositions: She Said (1967, #24 Perth) and My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man (1969).

Formed in 1966, The Valentines were a popular Perth band favouring soul and British mod sounds. They had a local hit with Arthur Alexander's Every Day I Have To Cry (1967, #4 Perth). In 1967 they went to the national finals of Hoadleys' Battle of the Sounds in Melbourne (The Groop won) and moved there later in the year. They eventually became national teenybopper idols after the success of My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man (1969, #19 Sydney, #4 Melbourne, #7 Brisbane). In a similar vein, Nick Nack Paddy Wack followed later in 1969 (#33 Melbourne, #20 Brisbane, #8 Adelaide).

The band featured notable co-lead vocalists: Bon Scott (1946-1980), later famous as AC/DC's lead singer from 1974, and Vince Lovegrove (1947-2012), journalist, TV presenter, booking agent and film maker.

Reference: Ian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (1999), pp.660-661

Essential reading: Detailed history of The Valentines at Milesago.com.

THE SOFT MACHINE
Love Makes Sweet Music
(Kevin Ayers)
UK 1967
Original version

Single on Polydor by progressive and influential Canterbury band formed 1966 and flourishing into the 1970s.

This was not a singles band: the next Soft Machine single in the UK was 1978's Soft Space, on Harvest, some three years after the remaining original member had left the band. Two tracks from the first album appeared on a US Probe single in 1968.

Soft Machine (aka The Softs) went through various personnel changes and genres ranging from psychedelic pop to groundbreaking jazz-rock. Perhaps now better known in restrospect, they never achieved the fame of such contemporaries as Pink Floyd, although American audiences knew them through their extensive 1968 tours in support of Jimi Hendrix. In fact, the first Soft Machine album was recorded and released in the US.

The original members of Soft Machine all continued distinguished careers after Soft Machine: Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals), Mike Ratledge (keyboards), Daevid Allen (guitar, an Australian) and Kevin Ayers (bass, vocals).

Other notable members included Harry Hopper (bass) and Elton Dean (sax, saxello). Hopper, who joined before the band's second album in 1969, had been in earlier Canterbury bands with Allen, Wyatt and Ayers, and had contributed to the first album as well as being the band's road manager. Dean was a jazz musician who joined when the band added a horn section in late 1969.

Soft Machine recorded a dozen albums 1968-1981, beginning with The Soft Machine (aka Volume One). The next five were entitled Volume 2, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Six and Seven. The next album, Bundles (1975) was the last with an original member, Mike Ratledge, who left before Softs (1976) was recorded.

The early 70s quartet of Hopper, Ratledge, Wyatt and Dean is seen by fans as the classic Soft Machine line-up, heard on Third and Fourth.

References, further reading:
The story is long, with many interesting sidelights. See, for example a fan's account of a Jimi Hendrix-Soft Machine-Eire Apparent show at Virginia Beach VA.
Details of the band's history:
1.
Soft Machine Bio and other details at Calyx: The Canterbury Music Website;
2. Richie Unterberger's
biography of Soft Machine at All Music.
3. Wikipedia's Soft Machine article has a
timeline and tables showing line-ups over the years.
Discographies:
1. M. C. Strong, The Great Rock Discography (1996) pp. 762-763.
2.
Soft Machine releases at Discogs.com.
3. Wikipedia's articles on the individual albums are informative. You can start with The Soft Machine (Volume One) and click through to each in sequence, or go straight the
discography section for links to each album.
Individual members:
1.
Kevin Ayers obituary in The Guardian (2013.
2. The Soft Machine website Hulloder has individual discographies for
Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean.
3.
Elton Dean tribute (2006) at All About Jazz.
4.
Daevid Allen interview by Richie Unterberger.

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.