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Tony Williams Lifetime - Believe It CD (album) cover

BELIEVE IT

Tony Williams Lifetime

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.23 | 56 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
5 stars This is a most welcome reissue with bonus tracks, from The New Tony Williams Lifetime. But a question arises: is this a remaster, since nothing obvious is stated on the CD's insert?

When Believe It was originally released, it made the jazz and especially the jazz rock fraternity sit up. For a start, the New TW Lifetime didn't sound like the original Lifetime with its exploratory jazz-with-rock fusion (e.g. check out 'Emergency' and 'Turn It Over' albums, for comparison, although the last album by the first Lifetime suffering personnel losses, was the funkiest). In passing it is worth mentioning a recently rediscovered recording of Tony Williams, Jack Bruce, Allan Holdsworth and others, (known collectively as Wildlife), The Stockholm Sessions 1975, appears to be the missing link between the first and New Lifetimes: it demands release.

Believe It, in particular, is Allan Holdsworth's coming of age album. Holdsworth had done his apprenticeship paying his dues on guitar in the 70's as member of the bands Igginbottom, Tempest, Gong and Soft Machine - with whom we now recognise a masterful guitarist developing a unique style of playing in some obscure but experimental company. With Holdsworth as the dominant lead on Believe It we were then asking: who is this guy, what is this music he's playing? Here is the legato, the high speed runs and often played tangentially to the main theme, which we now expect of Holdsworth. This album too was America's first real chance to hear Holdsworth and in many respects, he has been rarely allowed back to this side of the Atlantic since.

And too, the album is a reminder that Tony Williams was both a phenomenal jazz drummer as well as a brilliant rock steady jazz rock fusionist. As important as Billy Cobham as one of the lead drummers in the jazz rock genre, but oh so different with respect to his playing style. Williams (especially to us Brits) had temporarily disappeared wrt recordings after the second Lifetime album, resurfacing briefly on Stanley Clarke's eponymously titled album. Then he bounces back with this - every tracks sounding like a drum masterclass!

And I must not forget the important roles which former Tamla man Tony Newton (electric bass) and Alan Pasqua (electric Piano, clavinet), played in giving this jazz rock a really funky and memorable edge. In deed it was a real pleasure to see Holdsworth and Pasqua back in London May 2007 playing some of this album again - also on their DVD 'Live At Yoshee's'.

And what is being played? 'Snake Oil' and 'Red Alert' (several others have covered this tune), are the upbeat tracks that started, respectively Sides 1 and 2 of the original vinyl release. They are powerful compositions, powerfully played. 'Wildlife' is the nod to the missing link between both old and New Lifetimes. 'Fred' is the electric version of Holdsworth's 'Kinder', (heard on his first solo album 'Velvet Darkness'). 'Mr. Spock', a Holdsworth composition - here celebrating his enjoyment of 'Star Trek' on record for the first time (his later album 'Atavachron' went further). And then there are two bonus track disinterred from the vaults and a real joy. One a rework of Mr Spock, but retitled Letsby. The other a new tune Celebration (with no composer credits), which smacks of Herbie Hancock in jazz funk mode - even with a Bernie Maupin-type bass clarinet effect, however, I presume from Pasqua's keys.

A great album, which should part of any basic jazz rock record library.

Dick Heath | 5/5 |

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