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Tony Williams Lifetime - Believe It CD (album) cover


Tony Williams Lifetime

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Thanks to whoever helped get this wonderful Fusion album listed on these archives. If I was to have to pick THE most important jazz/rock record (beyond Bitches Brew) this would be it. There is no filler here. Yes it's Tony's album I suppose, but the real force and talent on this album is Mr Holdsworth. His guitar work is the standout here, and it certainly is the record that, even today, gets the most plays on my old turntable. There are no special effects in evidence on this release, the playing is straight ahead and honest as it plys the virgin waters of fusion's earliest days. The record cover's simplicity belies the fantastically intricate tunes inside, where you find the roots of heavy metal jazz and progressive instrumental rock. These four virtuoso musicians collaborate to create a classic piece of vinyl.

An artist friend of mine worked on a single canvas for about three weeks just replaying Fred over and over again. It's a very cool painting now, and my buddy Bill still likes the track too! You better Believe it!

Report this review (#127105)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The best thing about late drummer Tony Williams' fifth record - sixth if his first solo release 'Lifetime' from 1964 is counted - is Tony Williams, and all the reasons for Miles Davis' praise of him are obvious on 'Believe It'. The material is inconsistent at times and often lacks the progressive and compositional spark that, by 1975, was rather important in jazz rock. Nor did it pack the emotional wallop or groundbreaking free spirit of his 'Emergency!' set. But it contains quality performances, nice energy and gives a good name to the much-bemoaned funkier side of Fusion. Tony Newton's low-riding enveloped bass beat starts 'Snake Oil' joined by a cool triplet from Allan Holdsworth and jammed with monster fills from Williams. But tracks such as 'Fred', though more than competent, seem stale and strangely tame. Keyboardist Alan Pasqua penned 'Proto-Cosmos' and the band smokes here, showing a wide range of modern jazz skills, one of the more vibrant moments. 'Red Alert' is quite decent traditional jazz-rock with some uninhibited guitar, drowsy 'Wildlife', and Holdsworth's Trekkie fanboyism shows on 'Mr. Spock', a good if forgettable piece. Somewhat lackluster, still four great players doing what they do best. Two bonus tracks included on the re-release.

Report this review (#157857)
Posted Saturday, January 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Dick Heath
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.

Report this review (#176200)
Posted Sunday, July 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars In the liner notes we are told that Tony Williams' dad was a sax player in Jazz bands around Boston. He proudly took his son Tony with him on the Jazz circuit. "At the age of 9, Tony sat in on the drums and the mastery and skill that astonished everyone that night progressed like wildfire. At 17 he was talent spotted by bebop legend Jackie McLean and was taken to New York, and shortly afterwards was invited to join Miles Davis' pacesetting quintet-plucked from obscurity he was now sitting at the very top of the Jazz tree". Miles Davis said this about Tony in his autobiography, "I can tell you this, there ain't but one Tony Williams when it comes to playing the drums.There was nobody like him before or since. He's just a mother[%*!#]er". Considering Miles played with Billy Cobham and other greats, that's a huge statement. Interesting that a young and upcoming bassist Jaco Pastorius tried out for this band but Tony gave the position to former motown bass player Tony Newton, who is incredible by the way. Alan Holdsworth is on guitar here, and I have not heard him sound better than this. Alan Pasqua plays the keyboards rounding out the lineup.

I have to say right off the bat that this record completely floored me. I mean listening to Williams' drum work and Holdsworth guitar technique and skill was just a pleasure.Yet it's more then that because these songs are fantastic, plus we have some killer bass and amazing keyboard play throughout. Impressed is an understatement. "Snake Oil" is a Newton composition and check out his bass intro ! The band then kicks in and it all sounds incredible. Love the rhythm section on this one. Holdsworth comes in before 2 minutes. Williams is fantastic 4 1/2 minutes in as guitar plays over top. Great section.This one's all about the almost Zeuhl-like rhythm though.

"Fred" is a Holdsworth track that opens with drums then this gorgeous melody takes over quickly. The keys absolutely move me here as the bass and drums support. It turns aggressive before 1 1/2 minutes as Holdsworth comes in.The contrast continues. Check out the keyboards 2 1/2 minutes in. It settles before 4 minutes with some pleasant guitar until Alan then starts to rip it up. That beautiful melody from earlier is back before 6 minutes. Big finish. "Proto-Cosmos" is Pasqua's lone composition. Interesting because it's Holdsworth who simply blows me away with his playing on this one. Williams comes in then Pasqua 2 minutes in. Nice bass lines too. Williams is back 3 1/2 minutes in, then guitar ends it. "Red Alert" is another Newton track. And like his other one this has a heavy,prominant rhythm to it. It settles a minute in as the guitar starts to solo, but while he's lighting it up that heavy rhythm returns. Piano takes the lead 2 1/2 minutes in. Guitar returns to end it. Amazing stuff!

"Wildlife" is Williams' lone tune. This is more laid back to start as guitar comes in tastefully. It turns more aggressive though a minute in and this contrast continues. Check out the keyboard / drum melody 3 minutes in. incredible. "Mr.Spock" is Holdsworth's song and yes he's a fan of Star Trek. It's fairly heavy to start but lightens somewhat as all four of these guys shine.Tony is so fluid and impressive on the drums and Holdsworth lights it up after 3 minutes as Tony pounds away. Williams is on fire after 4 1/2 minutes. It ends heavily much like it started.

This for me is the perfect blend of Jazz and Rock that I can drink all day. In fact i've been holding off reviewing it so it can stay in my rotation longer.

Report this review (#202465)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

Just when you were starting to forget about the Lifetime name, Tony Williams comes back with a real second group after the Bruce/Young/McL line-up, the Holdsworth Pasqua/Newton line-up is just as steamy, but admittedly much less celebrated. Looking back in retrospect, Believe is probably one of those seminal album where jazz-rock is moving a to jazz-funk, but it's hardly the first, since Miles' On The Corner and later Herbie's Head Hunter, and WR's chance of bassist (from the European Vitous to the Afro-American Johnson), this is yet another although Holdsworth's guitar still keeps it very rock-minded. Holdsworth is the major star in this album, having come from Igginbottom through Nucleus, Soft Machine and Tempest and would follow-up with Gong, before going solo, although you'll hear that all four are awesome)

Starting on a huge funky bass is not the better way for this writer to settle into a JR/F album, but then again you'd better get used to it.(I did ;o)))). Besides the excellent and escapist Proto-Cosmos the preceding Fred had been gentler, at least at first, before Holdsworth's blistering solos set fire to your speaker's diaphragms. The Red-hot Alert is another beauty where Alan Holds its Worth; the Williams-penned Wildlife is definitely more balanced, giving Pasqua more chance to express himself including a great solo on a Rhodes. The closing Mr Spock starts on the Rhodes but ends weekly on drums fade outs.

The two bonus tracks are a little bizarre, given that the album would be sooooo short without them, that it seems they'd be part of the original album as well. Indeed Celebration melts exactly into the album soundscape and the fantastic Letsby, giving Williams a fantastic showcase, is no less excellent. Rarely have two bonus tracks melted so well with their albums.

Definitely their best album in their "New Lifetime" configuration, Believe It is just as strong as the first two albums of the previous incarnation. It might appear a bit too technical at times, concentrating on virtuosity rather than pure composition, but there is plenty to still please those progressive jazz-rock fans out there.

Report this review (#219611)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tony was music from which a reaction all over the world was indeed welcomed after last band "Lifetime" had been formed as for the recording of album "In A Silent Way" of Miles. Under the influence of the music that they begin to spin on the listener and the musician at the same time, the mistake is not found.

John and Larry indeed contributed to this Trio and strengthened the creation of Tony further. This irregular band where Bass Player did not exist caused an indeed psychedelic element and the element of Rock and the highest chemical reaction was caused in the age. It is spoken that Ian Carr of Nucleus was actually influenced from the music of this Lifetime.

However, John Mclaughlin starts the plan of band "Mahavishnu Orchestra" after it contributes to debut album "Emergency" of Lifetime and continuing album "Turn It Over". Therefore, Lifetime temporarily changes the system and announces the album. Holdsworth that newly participates in this band is tuned in music in the approach besides John and it tunes it to the antenna of approach Tony well. Allan has already been taken an active part by "Nucleus" "Tempest" "Soft Machine" and all listeners admit the talent. It fights by the quality of the dimension besides the content of "Emergency" in this album.

live of "Snake Oil" impressive a high-tension melody of Allan and recent Allan familiar, deep "Fred" "Proto-Cosmos" The flow of this tune for which it presses is amazed because of the rhythm of heavy Tony.

Tony made throbbed more album on Allan. Tony Newton known as a session musician of Motown supports the rhythm well and it works. It is thought that a lot of important factors are substantially very buried in the history of the music of Tony in this album. Please satisfy Tony that performs Rock.

Report this review (#220463)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was truly the first time I had ever heard Tony Williams and in fact the first time I had really heard fusion that didn't bore me to death. I had been introduced to Allan Holdsoworth as a pretty young kid from my way older brother who had been studying music in college at the time. The first impression I got of this album was funky hard rockin jazz, but like any true fusion album there's more hidden treasures in the music the more you listen to it.

Though Believe It may not be in the realm of fusion/prog, anyone who enjoys good music and understands the idea of the importance fusion had on progressive rock ie., John Mclaughlin's heavy influence on Robert Fripp, will enjoy and respect the true musical value of this music. Track #1 starts of with Tony Newton's heavy envelope filtered bass in "Snake Oil" leading to the funky rocking of Alan Pasqua's clavinet and Mr. Holdsworth's highly compressed guitar leads.

"Fred" starts of the second track of this album with a few splashes of Tony William's cymbals starting of the atmospheric serenity of the melody, followed by a nice solo by Mr. Pasqua, then erupting into an monster legato fury by Holdsworth.

"Proto Cosmos" is pure fusion here. Genius fluid guitar playing by Holdsworth, and accompanied by Tony Williams polyrhythmic drumming. Mr Williams really shines here.

"Red Alert" has been stated over the years by other musicians that it was one of the most influential songs they had ever heard. This number is rhythymicaly hard and heavy, the whole band kicks butt. Check out you tube online and you can check out these guys jamming in 9/22/76 in Village Gate,NYC.

"Wildlife" starts off as a relaxing beautiful tune, and then the guitar comes in enhance the mood, halfway into the things kick up a bit with a electric piano solo and some nice bass work by Tony Newton.

And last but not least we have "Mr. Spock". The more I listen to this one, the better it gets. Everyone in the band has a chance to shine on this one. It's very unperdictable. Most importantly this album introduced me into the genius guitar playing of Allan Holdsworth. I became one of his number one fans because of this music. IMO it's not only some of his best playing but the tone he had back in the seventies with Lifetime, Bruford, Soft Machine just seemed to be quite edgier. A Masterpiece

Report this review (#249456)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tony Williams is one of most respectable jazz fusion drummers, still from time when he played with Miles Davis. It's a bit pity, that besides other Miles jazz fusion cohort, as Chick Corea or John McLaughlin, Tony's later solo works stayed a bit in the shadow side.

This album ( and I think it is his best ever release) is great evidence, that Tony's solo works are of the same highest standard ( or sometimes even higher!).

Musicians team ( New Lifetime) is all great - Allan Holdsworth is showing his best guitar techniques, Alan Pasqua if not too much original plays funky and very competent. Tony Newton is mostly known as Motown session bassist, so rhythm section gave strong funky-jazz feeling to all music. But whenever Allan's guitar is so energetic and fills all space with great electric rock jams, all musical mix sounds as hot jazz-funk-rock fusion.

Looking from now, all this album sounds as excellent vintage fusion recordings of highest standard. Possibly, I would like to hear some more experimental moments there, but we're speaking about year 1975, so I believe this music was quite innovative at that time.

Must have album for any jazz fusion collection.Strong 4,5.

Report this review (#276834)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Never one to give a musician credit just because he "played with Miles", I have to admit, however, that it's clear from this album that Tony Williams has got some chops. Most of these are great songs to either nod your head to absent-mindedly or listen intensely to what Williams, and sometimes Holdsworth, are doing.

This feels very minimalist to me, as it is clearly the Tony Williams show, featuring Holdsworth on cue for solos and rhythm, with the keys and bass often relegated to simple chugging along, if even playing at all. Fortunately, that's OK, because it helps Believe It to stand somewhat uniquely among the riff-assaults of much fusion at the time. It's tough to do minimalism while still rocking and keeping things interesting (thus ruling out punk, if that's what you were thinking!)

My favorites are Snake Oil, Fred and Mr. Spock, although the whole album fits the chill-yet-with-a-bite classification. Snake Oil is a great strutter, with a simple yet catchy bass intro, and toe-tapping melody (though it certainly gets repetitive after a while). Mr. Spock is probably my favorite, as it really pushes the tempo and has a great attitude to it--not to mention the highlight toward the end where Williams takes the solo with Holdsworth on rhythm. Great stuff!

I'm not as high on this as some due to the lack of virtuosic playing (sans Williams) and absence of creative songwriting in most places. Nothing about this album screams fantastic, but it's quite good, and a bonus is that not just proggers will likely dig it. Just a solid lineup of fusion rock songs, played very well, with a few truly memorable tunes thrown in there.

Report this review (#285504)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink

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