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Allan Holdsworth - Hard Hat Area CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.81 | 39 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars Here we have Allan's 1993 album 'Hard Hat Area' lovingly reissued by MoonJune who remastered it, placed it in a digipak, and provided some wonderful sleevenotes by Barry Cleveland who puts everything into context. Allan has long been one of my favourite guitarists, and like John McLaughlin I can happily listen to him all day long, and when the guitar lines are as fluid as this that is especially true. Unlike many of Allan's solo albums this has very much a band feel about it and it is no surprise to discover that much of this was recorded by the guys playing together in the studio. Long-time collaborators Gary Husband (drums) and Steve Hunt (keys) were joined on bass by Skuli Sverrisson when Jimmy Johnson was unavailable due to touring commitments with James Taylor.

As well as regular guitar Allan also provides some SynthAxe and baritone guitar, not as much as on some of his other albums, but still enough to provide additional facets to the sound. There are times when Allan just lets the others fill the spaces and he sits back nary playing a note, allowing them the freedom to demonstrate their musicianship and feel, then he comes back in and provides some blistering runs that are breathtaking in their audacity. This is fusion in its' truest form as he mixes and melds jazz with prog, letting the music take him and us on an incredible journey. The title cut in itself is a masterclass demonstration of how a guitarist can be centre stage while allowing complex fills and lines from the rest of the band to complete the soundscape. Skuli's fretless bass is wonderfully expressive and warm, providing a contrast to the cleaner and more clinical guitar.

If you ever wondered what fusion can sound like in the hands of an expert, then look no further as this is sheer class.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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