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Allan Holdsworth

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Allan Holdsworth I.O.U. album cover
4.05 | 127 ratings | 14 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Things You See (when You Haven't Got Your Gun) (5:50)
2. Where Is One (5:32)
3. Checking Out (3:34)
4. Letters Of Marquee (6:57)
5. Out From Under (3:32)
6. Temporary Fault (3:15)
7. Shallow Sea (5:51)
8. White Line (4:50)

Total time 39:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, violin (6), producer

- Paul Williams / vocals
- Paul Carmichael / bass
- Gary Husband / drums, piano solo (6)

Releases information

Recorded in 1979, including many tracks from "Velvet Darkness" (unauthorized by A.H.) were remade and retitled for this album

LP Self-released ‎- AH-100 (1982, US)

CD Enigma Records ‎- CDE-73252 (1982, US) New cover art color (red instead of black)
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 081392 (2008, Japan) Remastered by Tohru Ohara

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH I.O.U. ratings distribution

(127 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Allan Holdsworth makes modern fusion albums: this record has very dedicated electric guitar sounds. I think he uses a volume effect to sometimes produce very ethereal, echoed, urban & refined floating guitar sounds, like on the "Shallow sea" or "Letters of Marquee" tracks: it sounds a bit like the guitar volume effect of the King Crimson's "Matte Kudasai" track, on the "Discipline" album. When Holdsworth plays a more conventional sound here, he quite sounds like the Pat Metheny's electric guitar on the "American garage" album. There are no keyboards on the record, maybe just an excellent piano part on "Temporary fault". The lead vocals sound a bit like the voice of Gary Chandler (Jadis). Holdsworth's numerous guitar solos are very elaborated, although they are more technically impressive than they can be catchy. The bass and drums are quite complex, fast and refined. Gary Husband's drum solo on "Letters of Marquee" is ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL! Just turn up the volume and enjoy the power of it!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is another great place to start for the uninitiated. But you may want to wait. Allan just secured the rights to his earlier recording and there is talk of re-releasing/re-mastering this album with some added tracks which were "lost" during the first pressing. If you can get a copy of this, grab it. This is Allan's first "REAL" attempt to bring his music to the world and he does so in a stunning fashion. This album consists of 50% instrumental and 50% vocal tracks. Don't be put off by Paul Williams voice. He's not great, but he is competent (stays on key). Holdsworth tears it up, on violin too. Some of the solos will cause you to rewind and play over and over to try and imagine what he's doing. Blistering, not just speed, but the fluidity of the notes (legato) and the passion he plays with. Gary Husband marks his debut with IOU and he sets a very flowing pulse anchored by Paul Carmichael. It's hard to point out any single track as a stand out because the flow of the album makes for one enjoyable listen. The Things You See and Letters of Marque are still fans favs today.
Review by The Owl
4 stars To call this groundbreaking would be an understatement. After years of playing "hired gun" and adding colorful embroidering to the works of others, Allan Holdsworth in no uncertain terms served notice he had something unique of his own to offer. Ghostly extruded chords, angular intervalic melody lines, anarchaic drumming and Coltrane-like flurries of notes dance collide twist and turn on themselves in ways never before thoght possible. Having seen this lineup live (circa 1982), It was amazing to see Allan do things on a guitar that just sounded impossible! Gary Husband's drumming is a great example of "controlled chaos", providing a great foil for Allan's unorthodox musical ideas as Paul Carmichael provides solid bass support.

Only one thing kept me from giving this a five-star rating, that being THE VOCALS! First thing I wondered was "Were they really necessary?". The next being, "If they were, couldn't have Allan been a bit more choosy in this department?" For better or worse, Paul Williams' (ex-Tempest, Juicy Lucy) vocals occupy half of the album. The presence of vocals in this music seems to have an arbitray, gratuitous air about it at times. Plus, the rather non-descript, flat character of William's voice doesn''t help much. Thankfully, the vocal sections are short.

But back to the highlights. "Shallow Sea" could well be THE definitive Holdsworth solo piece rivaled only by "Letters of Marque"! "Temporary Fault" is an elegant musical statement featuring Allan and Gary doing beautiful work on other instruments in additon to their own primaries (Allan on a beautiful violin and Gary on piano), the song could've done without the arbitrary herky-jerky segment at the middle and end though. "The Things You See (When You Haven't Got Your Gun)" is a beautifully unfolding mini-epic that gallops along at a brisk clip, good opener actually. Fusin and guitar freaks will find much to like here. This Owl particularly appreciated the loose, natural feel of a lot of the music. IF you can look past the vocal sections, dive in and enjoy!

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Allan Holdsworth's proper debut after the disastrous 'Velvet Darkness' (and a joint venture with Gordon Beck) was a quiet but definite triumph, and the fact that few seemed to notice didn't diminish the musical ripples this LP sent out. It presented a music altogether new, led by a player who had arrived in a big way and took the notion of jazz-rock to a different place. 'The Things You See' has Paul Williams back in great form, Paul Carmichael's sensitive bass and the unstoppable Gary Husband on traps. Unassuming but fantastically complex is 'Where is One', dotted with many little tastes of Holdsworth's brilliance. Here was much more than just fusion. 'Checking Out' rocks with smart arrangements and fresh ideas, 'Letters of Marque' features rich atmospherics and a kick-ass drum solo from Husband. 'Out From Under' is heavy jazz with Holdsworth's signature atonalities, demonstrating Williams' vocal talents and musical understanding, and 'Shallow Sea' is an instrumental showcase. There is every chance you may hate this record, and that's okay. It's progressive, it rocks, and in 1982 was an astounding musical statement. Challenging, difficult and absolutely brilliant.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have owned Allan Holdsworthīs album Secrets for years but never listened to anything else from him. It was first when I read a review of Meshuggah where Frederik Thordendal was compared to Holdsworth that my interest was renewed.

I started with I.O.U. as I read a lot of nice reviews about this one, and there is absolutely no doubt that this is Holdsworth. The man has a very distinct guitar style and sound. I really love his kind of ambient yet technical rythm style. His solos on this album are also fantastic stuff. He is very fast, but I donīt think this is his main force. Itīs more his choice of notes that are a bit untraditional. I hear jazz, but I also hear more avant garde things in his style. There are of course also a bit of rock there. It clear to hear why many modern day guitarists especially in the metal world are influences by Allan Holdsworth.

This would have been a masterpiece if it wasnīt for the IMO horrific vocals. Jazzy and misplaced this sounds like a drunk John Wetton. Not in my taste at all. Itīs really too bad because the instrumental songs are really excellent and the songs with vocals are really good too when you try to block out the vocal parts. I guess itīs an aquired taste if you like the vocals, but sadly they turn me off.

I would have given this 5 stars if it wasnīt for the vocal style and the somehow odd vocal melodies. Itīs still an excellent album though, even though it has flaws. Iīll be looking forward to listening to more albums from Holdsworth thatīs for sure.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Temporary merit

I.O.U. is one of Allan Holdsworth's best Jazz-Rock/Fusion albums and features his unique guitar playing in a band setting with bass, drums and vocals. The short Temporary Fault also features piano and violin which make the song a strong candidate for favourite moment on the album.

Jazz-Rock/Fusion is not my preferred type of music and I much prefer Holdsworth's work with Symphonic Prog bands like UK and K2 and also Hard Rock bands like Tempest. However, within the Jazz-Rock/Fusion genre in general, and Allan Holdsworth's discography in particular, I.O.U. is a strong album. Having only one vocalist makes I.O.U. a more consistent album than Metal Fatigue. But there are individual songs on Metal Fatigue that overshadows anything from this album. I give both these albums the same rating.

Holdsworth later made many albums in the same style as this one and unless you are a big fan of his, I.O.U. and Metal Fatigue are the only two of his solo albums you really need.

Letters Of Marquee is the longest track here and it features a drum solo. This should perhaps be the song titled Temporary Fault? However, it does not distract too much even if it is too long for its own good. The album as a whole also tends to drag a little bit towards the end, but overall it is a high quality piece of Jazz-Rock that can appeal to many progressive rock fans.

Good, but non-essential.

Review by Kazuhiro
5 stars There might be a fact to which the style of the guitar multiplied at latter term in the middle of the 1980's is established by the technical breakthrough of HR/HM. The technology and machine parts have developed into the situation in Hard Rock on one the top, too. There was often what to make Allan Holdsworth appear in the name that the guitarist enumerated in the interview etc. in the situation in guitar Scene. And, for Allan Holdsworth to keep always challenging music by the spirit of apart from others is to depend on the appearance of the spirit that understands the music at which he should always aim and always makes new music.

His performance has an indeed original theory and method. Shape for fingerwork and mathematical theory. And, it is busy of tension note. Vocal nuance by repetition of arming. Phrase mainly composed of manner of controlling the fingering. And, it is accurate and a speed. All the methods that he does always exceed the category of understanding.

Point said that reason why he has nickname of "Spider Finger" made style copy melody of John Coltrane by him and established. And, the point whose his father is a pianist. The style thought out by replacing the progress of the melody and the code that the piano plays with the fingerwork of the guitar might be a performance that only he can do. He got togged up, and and, the fact started might exceed guitarist's frame as for musical instruments such as Sax and Violin and an introduction of various machine parts and an audiovisual theory get togged up gradually.

"Velvet Darkness" that recorded in 1976 and had been announced was first solo album for him. The idea that he had been warming since this time often appeared in the tune. The tune and the idea that he often live did since "i.o.u" is announced are already "Velvet Darkness". Or, it is adopted for "Igginbottom" in which he participated for the first time as a professional. Those elements were digested with own tune and the album of GONG. However, the content of "Velvet Darkness" and details until announcing were situations that were not able to be consented for Allan Holdsworth. It is said that "Velvet Darkness" is a work in the work that he announced that he doesn't admit either. The spirit of the misfortune that it keeps be an age and be apart from others for him might be proportional to the challenge and the change into music.

This factual album "i.o.u." might ..the first solo album true ..him.... finished. The fact to which he is making remarks on this album as one of the masterpieces might appear exactly in all tunes. And, his work is contained a reformative very much element and progresses taking the opportunity of this album. However, the situation of the misfortune that always happens to him besides the activity where he has walked might be a fate. A problem of machine parts and a money problem might always have annoyed him. He kept always showing deference to music and challenging in the situation and life. It is said to the content that he can consent most that it will have finished result "i.o.u". By the way, "i.o.u." has the meaning of "I owe you". He has expressed feelings and a frequent situation in the title of the album.

An indispensable musician for the back for Allan Holdsworth is participating in this album. Paul Williams that competes with Gary Husband and Tempest. A lot of tunes that he was performing for years as the repertoire of live are collected to this album. When "Velvet Darkness" and this album and are compared, the difference point and the change will be able to be discovered the performance method and how to make the sound. The performances such as GONG and U.K might have made the style of his performance certain.

Feelings of the music at which Allan completely aimed might appear remarkably in perfect "The Things You See" with progress and the anacatesthesia of a peculiar code. Guitar solo that comes in succession in the rhythm based on the rhythm of three has exploded. ..Jazzy by Paul Williams.. element contributes to the tune. This tune might be one of the masterpieces in the repertoire of Allan.

It has the element that the theme and the melody of "Where Is One" are complex and mysterious. Gary Husband offers a more complex rhythm and gives the tune the tension.

"Checking Out" has some, friendly melodies. However, it doesn't end in a simple tune. The method of harmony with the guitar and the processing of the space are splendid. Guitar solo that can be listened like RightHand is an astonishing fact. Eddie Van Halen performed and might have been astonished at t about Allan.

It is almost perfect shape in the repertoire in recent years. And, the highlight of "Letters Of Marque" to be able to amuse the listener by always changing the appearance by the various musicians' performances might be bass Solo and be Drum Solo. The composition looks like the progress of Jazz. It is live one of the tunes that always rise.

"Out From Under" will have the element of the lock and Blues. However, the melody of Vocal and progressing the tune are tunes with which the anacatesthesia overflows very much. The idea of the guitar by vocal harmony that appears on the way has succeeded, too.

Quiet atmosphere of "Temporary Fault" often appears in the idea of Allan and the composition of the tune back. The continuousness of a rapid change in the rhythm might be an important factor from Solo that the keyboard that appears only is beautiful for Allan.

This album has divided into the half by the song and the performance. And, "Shallow Sea" is a tune that he recently does. Especially, one of the important elements that decide the flow in composing of live is included. In Instrumental that he does, such a performance might be a part of the prototype by which his performance at this time is formed. The progress of a peculiar code is contained "Quietness" and "Movement" at the same time and progresses.

"White Line" would have been an important, in his repertoire at this time mysterious tune. The melody and the rhythm of the float in the tension in the space advance with some dash feeling. It might be a suitable tune that decorates the end of the album. Allan to express the music that had to be aimed without dropping the album-quality completely never had power.

This album was the first stage to accomplish establishment and evolution exactly for his music. And, it might be a masterpiece in his work. He always changes by the work, advances, and offers the listener various ideas. And, those elements are almost blocked in this album. And, "i.o.u." might be an album that has already executed and expresses Allan Holdsworth.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I always have to be in the right mood to listen to an Allan Holdsworth album. While his playing is always incredible, his compositions often sound to me like he uses some sort of random chord generator, then writes a melody around those chords. That he can solo over such pieces is a testament to his greatness.

Here, the group is simple, just Holdsworth's guitar, Paul Carmichael on bass and Gary Husband on drums, with Paul Williams on vocals on a few tracks. The songs are all complex, as described above, and the performance by the entire band is first rate. This is a good place to start your Holdsworth collection.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Allan Holdsworth has played on some favourite albums of mine including works from SOFT MACHINE and NUCLEUS. He does come across as being a hired gun. A man who is in high demand because he's so good at what he does. Anyway this is a solo album from Holdsworth with Husband on drums, Williams on vocals and Carmichael on bass. I really like the mood of this album and it has that same mood throughout. The musicianship is outstanding especially the guitar and drum work. As others have mentioned the vocals aren't the greatest but they don't bother me. Half the tracks are instrumentals anyway.

"The Things You See (When You Haven't Got Your Gun)" is a feeling I know too well. It hits the ground running as vocals arrive quickly. I like the drum work here. A calm after 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. Intricate guitar follows then the bass becomes prominant as we get flurries of drum attacks. Vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes. "Where Is One" has such a good intro especially the guitar of Holdsworth.Beautiful stuff. Again the drumming is crisp and intricate. Guitar is on fire before 4 minutes. "Checking Out" is a vocal led tune until Allan takes the lead before 1 1/2 minutes. Check him out after 2 minutes ! Vocals follow.

"Letters Of Marquee" settles after a minute then slowly builds.The drumming is fantastic ! It's Holdsworth's turn as the bass throbs and the drums pound. Drum solo 5 minutes in. "Out From Under" is fairly heavy to open but it settles as the vocals arrive. It turns heavy again as contrasts continue. "Temporary Fault" is led by some laid back guitar there's even some piano 1 1/2 minutes in. "Shallow Sea" is my favourite track one here. Check out the atmosphere that goes on until before 3 minutes. I'm reminded of Terje Rypdal. Then it picks up as drums join in. The guitar and drums before 5 minutes are excellent. It ends like it began. Vocals enter right away on "White Line" and we get some impressive drumming. It calms right down but not for long. The guitar leads after 3 minutes. Vocals are back late.

"I.O.U." and "Metal Fatigue" are two Holdsworth albums I recommend highly.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Allan Holdsworth is an amazing guitarist, even though his name seems to be unfamiliar to many. Holdsworth's legato style is mostly unparalleled by any other guitarist, and he proves that every time he releases an album, and I.O.U. is one of his best.

First of all, this is a jazz-fusion album with vocals. Some of Holdsworth's albums do have vocals, and they're not really great vocals either. Most people I know prefer their jazz-fusion to be wordless. If you're one of those people, then it's okay, because the music here will make you forget about the vocals (they don't play a big part anyway). After hearing anything played by Holdsworth, you immediately gain the ability to spot his playing from a mile away, and that is because his style is so unique to himself. His lightning-fast single-note legato improvisations are basically what this album is all about, and it is great. I usually don't care for guitarists who noodle, like Steve Vai. But this is far better in that the noodling actually sounds very professional, and it sounds like a voice, and it is entirely melodic and memorable.

Another great thing about this album besides the legato solos is his chord phrasings. Everything played here is absolutely beautiful. Allan Holdsworth has always had a talent for phrasing his tunes beautifully, but it really shines on this album. Just listen to "Where is One", the second track on this album, and you'll understand completely. That track in particular stands out as one of the best on the album, in my opinion. The call-and-response effect is perfect, alternating between a call of beautifully phrased chords that fly smoothly with a response of harshly played staccato lower-register notes. Fantastic, and I'd expect nothing less from Mr. Holdsworth.

If you enjoy jazz-fusion at all, then this album is for you. I'd also suggest anything else by Allan Holdsworth as well. You really can't go wrong with his material.

Latest members reviews

4 stars After the train-wreck disaster of Holdsworth's first solo release, the infamous Velvet Darkness, it wasn't until three years later that he reconsidered doing a real solo release versus the earlier ripoff of an authorized studio mishmash product he suffered. So in 1979 he recorded I.O.U. on a wing an ... (read more)

Report this review (#2581942) | Posted by JazzFusionGuy | Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 𝗔 𝗧𝗮𝗱 𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 This Allan Holdsworth record has it's signature sound for sure, and it borrows a bit more from the classic jazz sound but ... (read more)

Report this review (#2410313) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Friday, June 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With his first proper solo album, Allan Holdsworth creates an outstanding classic of jazz fusion. Of course, it's the kind of music that takes at least several listens to fully appreciate (as is usually the case with most prog), given it's harmonic sophistication. Actually, I find th ... (read more)

Report this review (#73747) | Posted by Pafnutij | Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars this was the fist album I heard of allan. I love it from the first time. Allan Holdsworth is in my top 10 of best guitarrists, he really do a great work. The bassist and the drummer also do a great performance. This album is something Iīve never heard before and thereīs nothing to compare it w ... (read more)

Report this review (#29416) | Posted by | Friday, March 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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