Canterbury kings' most celebrated album.
Soft Machine's self-explanatorily-titled third album is generally held to be their peak, balancing at the perfect midpoint between their brash beginnings and their later jazz-fusion phase. The first-gen Softs were an underground psych phenomenon, sort of like early Pink Floyd with a John Coltrane collection and a better LSD connection. But on Third, the group maintained their early fire while harnessing their off-the-wall avant-garde instincts in the service of a jazzier, more compositionally complex vision. Though the electric jazz-rock revolution had only just barely begun by this time, the arrival of sax man Elton Dean pushed the band further into the fiery realms of avant-garde improv, even as bassist Hugh Hopper, drummer/singer Robert Wyatt, and keyboardist Mike Ratledge kicked their composing chops up a notch on four extended pieces that each took up an entire side of the original double LP. Wyatt's "Moon In June," the album's only vocal tune, quickly became an art-rock classic, and Third remains perhaps the single most important release in the discography of the Canterbury scene Soft Machine helped create.