Over the course of three albums released between 1968 and 1970, the British band Soft Machine transformed from one of the trippiest and mind-bendingly inventive rock bands of the psychedelic era into a raging musical torrent of free jazz, thunderous prog rock, and high- concept minimalist-inspired avant-garde stylings. With the dizzying changes in musical direction came equally dizzying personnel changes, and by the time the dust settled in the early 1970s, Soft Machine—with the last remaining founding member, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, at the helm—was firmly ensconced as the premier exponent of UK-based jazz-rock, despite a stubborn predilection for LP side- long minimalist epics and crunchy rock rhythms.
Despite critical disdain and the eventual demise of the band in the early 1980s, fan demand, a continuous stream of posthumous releases, and the former members' own recognition of the music's uniqueness, resulted in the establishment of Soft Machine Legacy by John Etheridge, John Marshall, Elton Dean, and Hugh Hopper in 2004. Drummer John Marshall and bassist Roy Babbington (who replaced Hopper in the Legacy following the bassist's death in 2008) first appeared on Soft Machine's Fourth (Columbia, 1971), a Fender Rhodes-saturated epitome of cool fusion—though Hopper returned for Sixth, (Columbia, 1973). An amazingly fleet-fingered guitarist, Etheridge came along later, replacing Allan Holdsworth on "Softs," (Harvest-EMI, 1976).