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Allan Holdsworth

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Allan Holdsworth Metal Fatigue album cover
4.05 | 191 ratings | 20 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1985

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Metal Fatigue (4:54)
2. Home (5:29)
3. Devil Take The Hindmost (5:33)
4. Panic Station (3:31)
5. The Un-Merry-Go-Round (14:06)
6. In The Mystery (3:49)

Total Time: 37:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, producer

- Paul Williams / vocals (1,4)
- Paul Korda / vocals (6)
- Alan Pasqua / keyboards (5)
- Jimmy Johnson / bass (1-4,6)
- Gary Willis / bass (5)
- Chad Wackerman / drums (1-4)
- Gary Husband / drums (5)
- Mac Hine / drum machine (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Francois Bardol (art) and Henry Marquez (design)

LP Enigma Records 72 002-1 (1985, Netherlands)
LP WEA Records P-13098 (1985, Japan)

CD Enigma Records 2002-2 (1985, Europe)
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 081393 (2008, Japan) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Metal Fatigue Music

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Metal Fatigue ratings distribution

(191 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Metal Fatigue reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the disc I play for those wanting to hear Allan's music for the first time. He still has a rock feel on this disc. It contains the most cited work for guitarists of the shredder variety, "Devil take the Hindmost." Truly a classic that defies time. Nearly twenty years after it was first released, it still holds as a monolithic moment in guitar history. "Home" is one of the few Holdsworth recordings of Allan's acoustic abilities. Beautiful. "The Un-Merry-Go-Round" is a three part opus, with a drum solo, beautiful chordal work and inspirational soloing. "In the Mystery" closes the album with Paul Korda on vocal. Drummer Mac Hine,(machine), makes a few appearances but Gary Husband and Chad Wackerman share the drumming duites. Jimmy Johnson, Flim, lays down some serious bottom and takes a few timely solos. Hearing this, you'll understand why Allan was requested to play on so many artists recording. One word, "Unique."
Review by hdfisch
4 stars Edited 10/6/2005!

I felt an urgent need to change my review and rating for this album after my taste had adapted to the kind of music offered here. I think this one was the first solo album from this top jazz guitarist I listened to and admittedly I was not that much fascinated by it after first spin (shame on me!). Up to that moment I have been more familiar with his stuff he did with UK and Soft Machine, which I liked very much. But meanwhile I listened to most of his solo works and not to a least part I'm very grateful to Dan to provide an excellent introduction to Allen Holdsworth's musical world. Coming back to "Metal Fatigue" as I said before I found it a bit weak in the beginning, maybe because I was more into the hard-edged rocking end of the jazz fusion spectrum. And of course this album here is anything else than that, rather it is a fine piece of art consisting of six excellent compositions played in a very soulful manner not only by Allen Holdsworth but by all musicians. And now I can just agree to all co-reviewers that he still keeps some rock feel here, especially in tracks like the title song, "Devil take the hindmost" (awesome fast and beautiful playing by him) and "The Un-Merry-Go-Round" with an excellent drum solo. These three tracks are the highlights of this record for me. Nevertheless the remaining three ones are excellent ones as well, although I've to say that the vocal parts are not matching that much my favourite style. But regarding the instrumental performance presented here I can only say that it's absolutely flawless, fantastic and top notch. I'm quite sure that I'll listen to this one still many many times and it's very close to become one of my top favourites (at least the instrumental tracks). Certainly worth 4 to 4 stars and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to all lovers of excellent jazz rock fusion!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Have you ever heard Allan Holdsworth before? He is definitely one of very best guitar player even though he is not in the Top 100 guitarists as per Guitar World magazine version. He first came to our attention on an album by violinist Jean Luc Ponty. As you might be aware that Ponty takes most of the spotlight on his albums, Holdsworth was given his guitar solo room worth listening for. For sure he has a very unique guitar-playing style. He has been everywhere; starting his career at young age, from Tempest to Tony Williams' Lifetime, Gong, Jean-Luc Ponty, Gordon Beck, Jack Bruce, Bill Bruford, UK and Soft Machine. I was not quite sure when I heard his guitar playing at first time - it's probably when he joined Bill Bruford with "One of A Kind" album. After that, I chased whatever album he contributed as I really like his guitar playing style. In the mid- 1970s, he began showing some solo albums with "Velvet Darkness", "I.O.U" and "Road Games".

On "Metal fatigue" album, Holdsworth still seems content to hide behind the band and not venture too play dominantly at front. Exception is on "Devil Take the Hindmost." Where he really demonstrates his virtuosity and takes overall control, playing chord by chord painstakingly fast. Elsewhere in the album, Holdsworth typically does not want to appear so obvious including on a track dedicated to his father through "The Un-Merry-Round". The keyboardist Alan Pasqua takes care most of the leads and most of the solos. Through this album Holdsworth proves that the composition is really great and the music is mostly jazz- rock fusion in style.

In conclusion, this album is a must for those who love guitar virtuoso, jazz rock fusion fans, or for those who are interested in observing how far the limits of guitar playing can be stretched. I've never heard another guitarists like Holdsworth. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion genre's highlights if you ask me!

"Metal Fatigue" was released back in 1985 and still sounds great after all these years. Great guitar techniques and solo's backed up by excellent instrumentation works from drummer Chad Wackerman and bassist Gary Willis, to name a few. A very moody album, with an overall light and cheerful feeling to it, though the music is also serious and complex at the same time. The compositions are solid and creative with great playing throughout. Holdsworth's guitar is not too dominant, but his solo's are especially notable throughout and the keyboards featured on this album adds a colorful and dreamy atmosphere that suits the elegant, yet appealing music extremely well. The production is clear and gives you all those details in a perfectly fine way. The only bad thing about this album is the painfully short playing-time at 37 minutes. It should have been at least 10 minutes longer, hehe! Sadly, it's not, but that doesn't stop me from giving this album 5 stars!

Overall, a colorful and interesting Jazz-Fusion release with clear 80's influences, but that does not drag this album down. Not in the slightest! Jazz-Rock and/or Holdsworth fans should definetly not miss this one at all costs. I'll give this one a perfect 5 star, or at least 4.5 stars!

Song highlights: "Metal Fatigue", "Devil Take the Hindmost" and "The Un-Merry Go Round". The rest is excellent as well, though "Panic Station" and "In The Mystery" might not appeal to everyone. Highly recommended!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Believe it or not it took me two years to finally get my hands on this record. And as they say, it was worth the wait. True story though about waiting that long for it as I had ordered it from HMV and as the months went by I just assumed because it was out of print they couldn't get it and forgot all about it. Then two years later I get a call from them saying a cd I had ordered was in called "Metal Fatigue". I was shocked and oh so happy !

The title track is an excellent way to start the record, with a unique sounding riff that comes and goes throughout the song, actually the guitar playing is a pleasure to these ears all through this tune, and the drummer can really play too ! "Home" is a change of pace, with delicate acoustic gutar. "Devil Take The Hindmost" is where Allan Holdsworth shows us all that he can shred with the best in the world, an amazing display of virtuosity that makes this one of his signiture songs.

"Panic Station" and the final song "In The Mysterious" are both ok songs that don't do a lot for me. But "The Un- Merry-Go-Round" makes up for them both. This tune features lots of tempo changes and an interesting and different sounding guitar melody. The drums almost outshine the guitar on this track, an incredible performance ! There is actually a spacey passage as well.

Overall I would say four of the six tracks are excellent compositions with two being so-so. A solid four stars, and I hope those trying to purchase this great album won't have as hard a time as I did in finding it.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Among the best Holdsworth album, if not the best, with some of the top musicians of that time on it, like this i describe at the first impression the album Metal fatigue. A jazz album with a rock touch, but very efficient and well played. Because is one of my fav albums of jazz i consider to be a 4 star album, maybe not so great like '70 jazz music but for sure a good one of the '80. Talking about the music, the "Devil take the Hindmost" truly a classic that defies time. "Home" is one of the few Holdsworth recordings of Allan's acoustic abilities. Beautiful. "The Un-Merry-Go-Round" is a three part opus, with a drum solo, beautiful chordal work and inspirational soloing, great track and complex enough to catch the auditorium of jazz. One of my fav jazz albums, still good after all thy years, but i don't consider a masterpiece,only a 4 star album, because the jazz of the '70 is unmatch.
Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars I got into Allan Holdsworth after listening to his incredible performance on Bill Bruford's album One of a Kind. Wanting to hear more, I picked up Metal Fatigue. Metal Fatigue is a very strong album featuring Holdsworth with a host of talented guests as he takes the fiery jazz guitar of John McLaughlin and marries it to a slow-burning emotion that recalls blues guitar. The result is a classic of fusion and an album that any fan of guitar must hear.

The album opens with churning title track. Holdsworth demonstrates how the whammy bar should be used. Most guitarists simply use the whammy bar to accentuate a chord. Allan uses it as he picks, slowly bending every note through a stomach twisting labyrinth. The song has some overt pop sensibilities that somehow work next to this highly original guitar playing, and the song flows quite smoothly despite the complex technique used. Home is one of the all too rare demonstrations of Allan's acoustic playing. It is a lovely instrumental that takes all the harmonics on display in the first track and strips the effects away, leaving an even more beautiful song. Devil Take the Hindmost is where Allan really lets loose and proves that he will always be among the pantheon of fusion guitarists. As good as this is, Holdsworth follows it up with the stunning epic The Un-Merry-Go-Round, a three part suite that shows off everyone. It has keyboard flourishes, beautiful yet impossibly complex guitar melodies, and a killer drum solo. This stands as one of the pinnacles of fusion songwriting.

Sadly, the album has its pitfalls. Panic Station comes off as synth-pop, but it is synth pop in the manner of Rush, meaning it is highly complex and still highly enjoyable. It simply fails to keep the fusion flag aloft. However, the solo is killer, which redeems th song somewhat. The closer, In the Mystery, is like Panic Station, only it lacks the enjoyability of the former. It has no hooks, solos, or anything else to distinguish it from average pop.

Despite two flawed tracks, this stands as a must-own for fusion and guitar fans. Following this recording, Allan would begin using the SynthAxe more, resulting in better music but a sacrifice of guitar histrionics. If you like jazz, waste no time in picking this up. Highly recommended.

Grade: B

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars I previously knew Allan Holdsworth from Tempest, UK, Bruford and I now also have some other of his solo albums. While UK is very hard to match, Metal Fatigue is definitely one of the best albums I've heard featuring Holdsworth's unique guitar sound.

The best track on Metal Fatigue is the title track, which is great! It has a quite Metal-ish riff, but the vocal melody is more Pop oriented making for an interesting crossover between Pop, Hard Rock and Jazz-Rock. The second track, Home, is a mellow and relaxing affair with beautiful electric and acoustic guitar solos. Holdsworth understands (at least on this album) what I feel that many artists in the Jazz- Rock/Fusion field fails to understand - you don't have to be loaded and complex all the time, it is ok to be subtle too! Indeed, it is often the more subtle and restrained moments that make the complex parts shine. However, I sometimes feel that this album is maybe too subtle at times.

Several moments on Metal Fatigue actually remind me of the Alan Parsons Project! This is both because of the excellent production and particularly on the two tracks Panic Station and In The Mystery, which are shorter Pop/Soft Rock songs in true Alan Parsons style. They fit in very well here, making the album varied.

About half the material on this album is instrumental and half features vocals. There are two different vocalists but they are similar enough to each other to avoid making the album disjointed which is often the case with albums featuring several vocalists (Alan Parsons Project albums are a perfect example of that mistake).

One problem with this album is that it is front loaded. The best tracks are at the beginning and towards the end the least good tracks appear. The 14 minutes plus The-Un-Merry-Go-Round is slightly too long and even features a drum solo, something that I think almost never works on a studio album. Thankfully, the drum solo is reasonably short.

Metal Fatigue is essential for Holdsworth followers, but for the rest of us it is worthy of three (and a half) stars, I think. One of the better albums of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion sub-genre.

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars This may be partly due to unmet expectations on my part, but Metal Fatigue just doesn't do it for me. It's short, it doesn't feature much fast or legato playing from Holdsworth, and there aren't many good melodies. It's definitely on the jazzy side, but unfortunately it's the crystal clear, sanitized kind of jazz. If you like a little edge to your fusion--as I tend to--then you are unlikely to be impressed by Metal Fatigue.

Highlight: Devil Take the Hindmost. That's right, one highlight, and no more. Half of the songs are vocal pieces--which is fine, if there are good melodies or a good vocalist or two (neither of which are to be found on Metal Fatigue)--and the rest are relatively meandering pieces where little happens, and if something is happening, it's just one musician getting the spotlight, which means there is little actual fusion taking place.

Fortunately, no fusion is necessary when Holdsworth is cutting it loose, and Devil is that one song on Metal Fatigue. It's fast, it's beautiful, and it's emotional--in other words, that's what I was hoping more of the album would be like.

Metal Fatigue adds to the Holdsworth enigma: Why does someone who I enjoy listening to play have to little music that I really want to hear on a regular basis? Maybe I've overestimated playing ability and underestimated songwriting ability in determining who my favorite musicians are at any given moment. Either way, Metal Fatigue leaves much to be desired.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Metal Fatigue is an album that contains the best guitar-based jazz-fusion that you'll ever hear. Allan Holdsworth has his own voice on the guitar, and he always lets it show up front.

As with a few other Holdsworth albums, this album contains occasional vocals, and they always drag the listening experience down a bit for me. However, the musicianship on this album redeems completely. Again, as with his other albums, Holdsworth's phrasing on the guitar is impeccable and far beyond what I've heard countless other jazz guitarists play, except maybe Joe Pass, but obviously Pass was acoustic and less experimental.

This album is the ultimate starter-point for beginning Allan Holdsworth fans. In addition to his unique and easily identifiable jazz tone, there are some rock moments here (Metal Fatigue, Panic Station, In the Mystery) but they are unimportant. What's important here is the improv and overall composition.

The ultimate stand out piece on this incredible album is the 14 minute "The Un-Merry-Go- Round". This track changes textures, moods, and styles throughout its duration. This is undoubtedly the most interesting and dark track on this album, but manages to stay dark while changing from happy to sad, from cold to hot. Notes often drone in and out of complete silence, only to be responded with a few bars of powerful drumming and fantastically executed bass. There is a fantastic drum solo on this track as well.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars One of Allan's more universally-acclaimed solo albums. IMO he's still not there--he's still bound and restrained by the demands of the record industry--still not free to express his mind-boggling talent and genius to the fullest extent.

1. "Metal Fatigue" (4:54) despite the blues-rock baseline and technologically relevant synth support and a lot of space given to Paul Williams' vocals, you can definitely hear, feel, and sense the genius of both Allan's guitar skill as well as his compositional skill. Just wish it were more about his guitar, less about fitting into the rock world. P.S. Nice drumming and drum sound, Chad Wackerman! (8.75/10)

2. "Home" (5:29) strolling into the realm that Pat Metheny was making up at the time, we have a nice instrumental chord-walk down some interesting jazz-rock phrasing using some leading-edge guitar sound. Gentle, with an unusual sense of melody and (!) Allan playing some acoustic guitar (!), this is a decent song but nothing to really write home about. (Again: Pat Metheny had been doing this stuff for almost a decade.) P.S. I really like Jimmy Johnson's bass sound and playing style. (8.667/10)

3. "Devil Take The Hindmost" (5:33) using the same synth guitar sound as the previous song, Allan steps it up a notch in terms of speed and jazziness--that is, until he slows it down in the second minute. At 1:45, the real Allan steps into the limelight to display the melodic technical skill we've all come to know and love him for. Again, great work from Chad Wackerman. Jimmy Johnson's funky bass work feels a bit contrary to both Allan's guitar play and Chad's drumming. Too bad. (8.667/10)

4. "Panic Station (3:31) incredible chord play from Allan's Robert FRIPP/SIMPLE MINDS-sounding rhythm guitar over which Paul Williams sings innocuously and Allan riffs on his lead guitar in between. A top three song for me. (8.75/10)

5. "The Un-Merry-Go-Round" (14:06) great rolling bass play among Pat Metheny Group-like music (and sound palette) over which Allan plays between and against Alan Pasqua's keyboards and Gary Husband's drum clinic. As impressive as Gary is, I really came to this to hear Allan's guitar genius. A solid stop at the 4:30 mark allows for a reset. The new, fully-formed song coming out the break is really nice. At 5:34, however, they change style and tempo--quite radically, actually--and then again at the six-minute mark. This kind of bait and switch tactic is used so extensively--ad distraction and confusion--throughout the song that it finally sends me away. This is a song? Not even multi-movement classical music pieces are as fragmented and disjointed as this. Too bad cuz some nice motifs and instrumental performances, just not a cohesive, coherent song. Can't denigrate the instrumental talent here but I can't rate this song very high as a memorable, engaging, "put on replay" kind of piece. (24.667/30)

6. "In The Mystery (3:49) in the funk-jazz-pop style that was popular at the time (popularized by the likes of Al Jarreau, Narada Michael Walden, Hiram Bullock, Manhattan Transfer, and many Soul R&B acts in the early 1980s) -sound alike Paul Korda sings over some really nice bass play from Jimmy Johnson, computer drums and R&B-styled rhythm guitar. Allan takes a solo in the requisite "C" part of this ABACAB-formatted song. (8.5/10)

Total Time: 37:22

Finally, Allan seems to be gelling with a cast of collaborators--all of whom seem to be on the same page with his musical ideas and needs. It's too bad he hasn't yet found the confidence or support to move totally into his preferred experimental jazz-rock fusion realm of instrumental music because one of the things detracting from these songs are the vocals--not so much the performances or messages but the space that is required to give up for the vocalists to do their job--space that could be filled by Allan and his amazing guitar playing. (See 1989's Secrets to understand better what I mean.

B-/3.5 stars; after a good start, and some great guitar, bass, and drum performances, this album only represents a legacy of flawed competence. Good but not essential.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a great album and one with very few weaknessess. I am probably in a minority here for being especially attached to Panic Station a song that fuses incredibly inspired guitar and base soloing with a melodic line that just builds and builds. Synth pop it is not by any means. The song is ... (read more)

Report this review (#162512) | Posted by DavinS06 | Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one Jazz/Rocky thing that I won't pass down to say that everyone should listen to, whether your heavy preference of just the usual soft. Allan Holdsworth carries a good melody with this album, and on top of that, a great performance. This old album is complex and full of rythmn with mini ... (read more)

Report this review (#136669) | Posted by Xeroth | Friday, September 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one of the best releases from '85. This should be considered as highlight of this genre especially for the jazz-rock fusion guitar driven style even if I'm not sure that this is only jazz-rock/fusion because there are a lot of other kind of influences here (new wave or classic). Allan is ... (read more)

Report this review (#126987) | Posted by petrica | Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One thing is for sure... Allan Holdsworth could be the most unique guitarist of all time. His note placement, timing, tone are all incredible. Unfortunetaly for me Im thrown off by the cheesy vocal melodies and lyrics in this album (ie. the track metal fatigue) that tend to detract from the o ... (read more)

Report this review (#109389) | Posted by Quietus | Monday, January 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Though I'm not yet as familiar with the work of Allan Holdsworth as I should be, I can probably say that he is my all-time favourite guitarist. He has it all: flawless technique, outstanding improvisational skills and, most importantly, the ability to create excellent compositions th ... (read more)

Report this review (#71060) | Posted by Pafnutij | Saturday, March 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What an amazing work! It was first the time I heard Allan Holdsworth and I have been blown by his incredible technique. He has his own sound and plays extraterrestrial music. He creates very intersting and unique patterns in his music. I would not compare him to shredders such as Michael Romeo ... (read more)

Report this review (#70541) | Posted by | Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you've gotta have Allan Holdsworth, you gotta have Metal Fatigue. Don't get scared that only six songs exist on this CD, they are all superb and you'll get one 14 minute track as well. "Panic Station" was the song that got me hooked on Holdsworth. With an incredible guitar AND bass solo, the ... (read more)

Report this review (#58068) | Posted by | Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Although I can hardly consider myself being a fan or an antifan of anybody (with exception of Tony Levin, who is the best bassplayer ever), I can say that Allan Holdsworth is one of the most interesting musicians I've ever heard. Standing outside any strictly determinate genre he brings many imp ... (read more)

Report this review (#29424) | Posted by KuDo | Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't really care about what that anti-fan review says. Holdsworth's music is not what you reffered to Prog Jazz or whatever. He always puts his mood into his music, and you can't label this album as rock. I'm a Holdsworth's hardcore fan, even I know there are some things done by him that I ... (read more)

Report this review (#29422) | Posted by | Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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