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Allan Holdsworth - Live - Then! CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.93 | 19 ratings

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Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A second live release from Allan Holdsworth in one year. This one, however was recorded in 1990, 12 years (to the day) before All Night Wrong. I'd hate to compare the two, because the bands were quite different (Then! is a quartet and ANW features a trio) and each features a completely different set list.

Steve Hunt (keyboards; Stanley Clarke, Mahavishnu Project) uses many of Allan's synth patches and plays many of the Synthaxe parts that Allan originally played on the studio versions of some of these tunes. Steve does a commendable job filling Allan shoes keeping the chording consistent with the originals. Thus, he allows the master to experiment with his Bill Delap Baritone guitars, a breath-taking event! Jimmy Johnson (bass; Flim and the BB's, James Taylor and a host of others) holds down the bottom in his own unique fashion. He gets a few chances to jump into the spotlight and shine. Gary Husband' drums sound huge. He plays with such intensity and control. Any student drummer would be well advised to check this out.

The tunes, nine in all, cover a large spectrum of Allan's career. Proto Cosmos, a Tony Williams Lifetime favorite, is given a rousing performance. Atavachron is simply elevated to another level, which I feel blows away the original. White Line, sans Paul Williams vocals, is wonderfully reconstructed with Allan playing the vocal lines with much more emotion than any vocalist ever could, beautiful. Pud Wud features a brilliant bass solo from Jimmy Johnson, playful and intricate. My favorite moment on the track. Steve Hunt's synth work really comes alive on this tune, as well. House of Mirrors, slowly builds with a gorgeous melody and soft suspended notes cascading and drifting. This is one of Allan's most emotive solos I've heard. Non-Brewed Condiment rocks and pushes the band with muscular drumming and wild soloing.

The improvs, Zone's I, II and III, are phenominal examples of exploration. Each piece is interspersed throughout the CD, beginning, middle and end. They take the listener to uncharted territory, on the spot creations of what only highly skilled musicians can achieve. These tracks are not for the weak of heart nor short attention spans. The push and pull of each instrument creates tension, not to fight for the spotlight, but to add splashes of color onto a spectacular work of art. Curious and inspirational.

This is not a starting place for Allan's work. This one requires some previous exposure to Allan's music. It is a facsinating look at what can be done, on stage, by one of music's most enigmatic guitarists, as well as a snapshot of musical history.

PS: Be sure to have a pint of your favorite ale whilst listening, to salute the master.

Dan Bobrowski | 4/5 |


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