For me, the music of Seven was classic Canterbury sound, very near what Hatfield and the North were doing at that time. The fuzz organ, the sax and the jazzy percussions created an exquisite ambiance. Listening to it on a CD is fine and it is better than nothing, but due to the presence of Holdsworth, it was a very different experience live. They were no guitar on that album, and it is incredible we didn't notice it more after that show! As a matter of fact, they demonstrate that it was not a necessity. With this album, the band returns to a shorter piece format in appearance only, but in reality many pieces are tied together. Days Eyes, Bone Fire, Tarabos, and D.I.S form one long piece, as Snodland, Penny Hitch, and Block seem to be the same piece evolving. Finally Down the Road, The German Lesson and The French Lesson are also one track with parts.
The album begins with two Karl Jenkins pieces. First, Nettle Bed, is a jazzy and swinging track dominated by the keys.
Then, Carol Ann is an aerial and superbly smooth tune, very much in phase with what Weather Report was doing at that time.
The suite of Mike Ratledge which begins with Days Eyes still gives me goose bumps. Wow! That organ sound really did it for me (a sound which we could already hear on Soft Machine Two in 1969 on the piece, As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still). Bone Fire is a transition to Tarabos which continues the suite, but with a darker accent. Then D.I.S. permits to John Marshall some very interesting percussion.
Snodland, which returns us to Jenkins compositions, is an atmospheric introduction to the more Canterbury sounding Penny Hitch; this is another excellent piece to my ears. There is an aura of calm, an almost mantra like quality to those tracks. They still made me feel good. This second suite continues with the more intense Block, which pursues with the keys festival.
Down the Road is a jazzy piece which reminded me of the Nucleus album Roots (which is not surprising since Babbington, Jenkins and Marshall were former members of Nucleus), but with the Canterbury sauce. I know that some didn't found this palatable, but hey, its aesthetics... The German and French Lessons closes ambiantly this opus.
Seven remains my personal favourite among the work of Soft Machine. I may be alone in that view, but since that February evening in 1974, down memory alley, this concert is still burning bright in me.