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Allan Holdsworth

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Allan Holdsworth Secrets album cover
3.76 | 74 ratings | 9 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. City Nights (2:33)
2. Secrets (4:21)
3. 54 Duncan Terrace (Dedicated To Pat Smythe) (4:35)
4. Joshua (5:59)
5. Spokes (3:32)
6. Maid Marion (7:17)
7. Peril Premonition (4:44)
8. Endomorph (Dedicated To My Parents) (4:19)

Total Time: 37:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, Synthaxe (2,5,8), spoken voice (7), producer & mixing

- Rowanne Mark / vocals (2)
- Craig Copeland / vocals (8)
- Gary Husband / keyboards (1)
- Alan Pasqua / piano (3)
- Steve Hunt / keyboards (4,6)
- Jimmy Johnson / bass (1-6,8)
- Bob Wackerman / bass (7)
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums (1-6,8)
- Chad Wackerman / drums & keyboards (7)
- Claire Holdsworth / spoken voice, in French (7)
- Jeffrey Ocheltree / "hammer" (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Ed Colver (photo) and Lisa Sutton (design)

LP Intima Records - 7 73328-1 (1989, US)
LP Intima Records - 064-7 73328 1 (1989, Europe)

CD Intima Records - 7 73328-2 (1989, US)
CD Cream - CR 300-2 (1989, France)
CD Belle Antique - BELLE 081396 (2008, Japan) Remastered by Tohru Ohara
CD Eidolon Efformation (2008, US) Remastered by Chris Bellman with new cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Secrets ratings distribution

(74 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Secrets reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
4 stars Among Allan's solo discs, this one tends to be a favorite, owing to the fact that compositionally it was one of his strongest, plus the fact it marked the return of Allan's real guitar to the sonic palette (his tone here is magnificently thick!). The Synth-Axe is still employed here but far more sparingly and only when it's really necessary.

There's a good amount of variety on here, as Allan and Co. open up with the barn-burner "City Nights", haunt you with "Secrets" (with Rowanne Mark doing the haunting with her gorgeous soprano voice), rattle your cage with "Peril Premonition", kick things along at a brisk clip with "Spokes" (one of my favorite tracks). Allan even musically mourns for the death of a dear pianist friend of his, Pat Smythe on "54 Duncan Terrace".

"Maid Marion" is the only track I have some difficulty with only because it moves along sooooooo slwly and doesn't seem to really develop. "Endomorph" is all synth with a haunted, plaintive vocal track by Craig Copeland, it kind of has that sitting on a beach late at night contemplating the meaning of one's existence sort of vibe to it.

All told, definitely a worthwhile release.

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is my favorite Holdsworth disc. The emotional rollercoaster, laughing as the car speed through the City Nights to Endomorph's eulogy for his father. Allan plays with his heart on his sleeve here. Claire Holdsworth makes a vocal appearance as a over zealous french maid before Allan proves his worthiness in the Parthenon of guitar heroes in the rousing Peril Premontion. Alan Pasqua and Steve Hunt on keyboards, provide the foil to Allan's blistering lines with some beautifully accented melodies. Vinnie Colauita marks his debute in Allan's amazing stable of drummers extrordinaire. IMHO this is Allan's peak as a composer, simply beautiful.
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A definitive recording for this player and a well balanced showcase of his other-wordly gifts, 'Secrets' revealed an artist that had evolved beyond even the highest expectations and well past the most accomplished in his arena. Each cut holds a part of the strange alien path Allan Holdsworth takes the listener on, a ride with many turns of jazz style and phrases that seem to have been passed-over by other guitarists. His unstoppable cohorts Jimmy Johnson (bass), Alan Pasqua and Steve Hunt (keys), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and an appearance by Chad Wackerman make this an extra special record and Holdsworth's playing is at a creative and tonal high.

'City Nights' is a perfect opener, a tasty hors d'oeuvre that sets the pace. Though sentiment is not always Holdsworth's strongest point, the title cut that follows is a beautiful tone poem of atonality with a nice vocal and lyric by Rowanne Mark. The strange and delightful '54 Duncan Terrace' moves along gingerly and sounds like a rainy day as it drips and drops with new jazz colors and thoughts of times past. The solo platform 'Joshua' shows great pyrotechnics, and 'Spokes' moves well with odd meters. The heart-pumper 'Peril Premonition', however, is the highlight on this record, turning and lurching with unspeakable polycentric circles and pure jazz-rock magic. One of this master's best and among fusion's most impressive moments.

Review by fuxi
4 stars Much to my delight, Bruford's ONE OF A KIND has spent quite a lot of time in Progarchives' all-time Top Hundred, which suggests that it is one of the most popular jazz-rock albums hereabouts. (As I write these words, it is in 100th position and thus in danger of falling off, but let that be.)

Well, it can be said with a considerable degree of certainty that most of those who like ONE OF A KIND will also enjoy SECRETS. Neither Bill Bruford, nor Jeff Berlin, nor Dave Stewart appear on this album, and most of the tunes are less catchy than those on ONE OF A KIND, but Allan Holdsworth himself is amazing, and his interplay with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Jimmy Johnson is a wonder to behold.

In other words: you don't buy this album in order to hum along with it, you buy it to get carried away by Holdsworth's hallucinatory improvisations on synthaxe and guitar. SECRETS dates from 1989, when Holdsworth had clearly "progressed" since his Bruford days. It's well-known that he is a fastidious artist who's extremely reluctant to record his solos, since he always believes he may do better NEXT TIME, and I have no doubt he will now have his reservations about SECRETS, but anyway, here he is in full swing! You can tell he has attained the kind of mastery on electric guitar which John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman used to have on saxophone.

It's the synthaxe, I suppose, which also allows Holdsworth to accompany himself, as it were, with a lush blanket of keyboard-like sounds. As a result, SECRETS sounds proggier than the average jazz album, which must be one of the reasons why the authors of the PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ ON CD are reluctant to even include Holdsworth. But ONE OF A KIND fans will lap this up. And mind you: this really isn't "fusion lite" (or muzak), it's far too inspired! Even fans of U.K. may enjoy it, since the title track (with vocals by Rowanne Mark) strongly resembles that band's "Thirty Years".

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Allan Holdsworth has always been one of the best guitarists in the prog and fusion world. But what he is not, is one of the better synthesizer programmers out there. And that is where I find fault in this album. His playing, as usual is spectacular. But on at least half of the songs on this album, he plays the synthaxe, that weird looking guitar/synthesizer hybrid. And his synth patches tend to drag some of the songs down. He tends to gravitate towards patches that that sound sort of like Toots Thielemans' easy listing harmonica.

On the plus side, Vinnie Colaiuta is probably the best drummer Holdsworth has played with since Bill Bruford. And Peril Premonition has some of the best guitaring you'll ever hear from Holdsworth. And that's saying a lot.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars There aren't really any secrets on this album

As I have said in previous reviews I do enjoy Allan Holdsworth's unique and distinctive guitar sound, but I find it very difficult to get into most of his solo albums. Holdsworth is a great guitar player but he is not a very strong composer and most of his solo music comes off as mostly endless "noodling" and unfocused sonic experimentations to these ears. The present album is not really an exception, though it is an improvement over his previous Sand album as it is a bit more melodic and as such it is one of Holdsworth's better solos albums. But still with most songs being nothing but long guitar solos backed by drums, bass and some keyboards. A few of tracks have vocals, some female and some male vocals, but the majority of the album is instrumental and dominated by Holdsworth himself on guitar and SynthAxe (an instrument that is a mix between a guitar and a synthesiser). Not really my favourite kind of music, I'm afraid; and neither immense technical skill nor a unique guitar tone can help you if you don't have good enough material. Even Jazz-Rock needs memorable melodies and there are actually a few, though all-too-short, passages of near-brilliance among a vast ocean of endless soloing, particularly on the short opening track City Nights which is the best track of the album.

I have always enjoyed Holdsworth's playing best in a band environment, particularly when he was a member of UK in the late 70's with John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Bill Bruford. In that group the melodic sensibilities and songwriting skills of Wetton could counterbalance the Jazz-Rock indulgences of Bruford and Holdsworth, while the latter two brought an adventurous edge to the former. Much more recently, Holdsworth worked with a US-based group called K2 who recorded an excellent Symphonic Prog album in 2005 that featured plenty of his distinctive guitar playing but beneficially constrained by other musicians. I wish Holdsworth had shown better judgment and joined or stayed with a band with other strong writers and players, but he wanted to do his own thing which is admirable as well. It is not really fair to criticize him for not wanting to play Symphonic Prog and instead wanting to do Jazz-Rock, that's his choice entirely! But for anyone looking for anything even remotely similar to the music he did with UK or K2, Allan Holdsworth's solo discography is not the place to look!

I can only recommend this album to fans and collectors of Holdsworth in particular as well as hard core fans of Jazz-Rock in general

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Secrets released in 1989 is one of Holdsworth good albums, but somehow fail to impress me big time like Metal fatigue. Some good pieces here, who offers his tradmark on guitar like the opener City nights, Joshus or Peril Premonition are fairly ok jazz fusion pieces with solid musicianship, the rest even are ok are nothing really excellent. The line up is solid as always on any Holdsworth albums with Colaiuta on drums, Jimmy Johnson on bass and Steve Hunt on Keyboards amonh others. I like his style in every band he was involved, from UK, Gong, Bruford or Soft Machine little more then his solo offers. 3 stars, nothing more nothing less.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Allan's obsession with never playing the same thing (phrase) twice results in yet another masterful collection of "impressions" in which he has surrounded himself with a cornucopia of the world's very best musicians.

1. "City Nights" (2:33) stunning guitar work/melody making on this powerful Jean-Luc Ponty-like instrumental. Heck, the bass play is stunning, too! What an opening! (9/5/10)

2. "Secrets" (4:21) Rowanne Mark singing a bit over Allan's jazz fusion SynthAxe-dominated jazz fusion. She sounds remarkably similar to Gayle Moran--in both tone and style. Great Chick Corea-like "keyboard" sound from Allan's SynthAxe--until he starts exploring melody lines that Chick would never think of. Jimmy Johnson's bass play coupled with Vinnie Colaiuta's rolling drum play are quite lovely to hear beneath/with Allan's melody lines. It's actually quite a lovely song. (P.S. I love Gayle and Annette.) (9.5/10)

3. "54 Duncan Terrace (Dedicated To Pat Smythe) (4:35) piano jazz with some (la lot less than I would expect) guitar play from the bandleader. Opens with heavily-effected Jan Akkerman-like guitar chord work before giving way to the piano for a big chunk of the song. Again, absolutely stunning drum play beneath. Bassist Jimmy Johnson even gets a nice solo spot in the third and fourth minutes. The "harp"-like solo in the final minute must be another one of Allan's SynthAxe masks. Odd "big chord" ending. (9.75/10)

4. "Joshua" (5:59) even thought this starts out kind of sappy, pop-ballad-like, arrives more great SynthAxe work and Fender Rhodes play over stunning drums and bass. Unfortunately, the keyboard work remains in sappy-cheesy pop-ballad land throughout. (9.25/10)

5. "Spokes" (3:32) a little more funk from the bass and drums with this SynthAxe-led song. (8.75/10)

6. "Maid Marion" (7:17) very spacious soundscape of Fender chords with SynthAxe "sax" opens this before bass and delicate drums come in to support an extended MIDI-Fender Rhodes solo from Steve Hunt (or is it a SynthAxe MIDI-ed "keyboard"?) In the fifth minute another synth "soprano sax" solo ensues--this one sounding more like a guitar's product, for sure. Vinnie is certainly having fun beneath during this section: quite the conversation they're having! Almost Corea-Gadd-ish. (14/15)

7. "Peril Premonition" (4:44) the Wackerman brothers help play out this cute "safe room" role play song while Allan returns to the non-SynthAxe electric guitar that we've all come to expect from him since his Bruford/UK years. Some wonderful support of some awesome guitar work though a little less loud and punchy than the Johnson-Colaiuta combo. (8.75/10)

8. "Endomorph (Dedicated To My Parents)" (4:19) male vocals over synth washes. Craig Copeland has an interesting Gino Vannelli tone with a more jazzy, Al Jarreau-like style; the melody he establishes is replicated quite accurately and respectfully by Allan's guitar in the second verse, and then Craig is given the third verse for a reprise. Beautiful. Allan is at his peak in the same way Jean-Luc Ponty was at his peak with Individual Choice. (9.5/10)

Total Time: 37:20

The rhythm section of bassist Jimmy Johnoson and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta are quite a match for Allan's guitar; I think they, in fact, soften his often abrasive, angular approaches to melody making.

A/five stars; a veritable masterpiece of timeless jazz-rock fusion. This is an album that I didn't give the light of day for years until seeing an interview with Rick Beato and Vinnie Colaiuta but, now that I have, I think it is an essential acquisition for any prog lover's music collection. .

Latest members reviews

5 stars It is difficult to describe how phenomenal this album is. The subtle balance between its lyricism and complexity becomes increasingly apparent with each consecutive listen. Allan's phrasing and musical sensibility are completely unique, unexpected and beautiful. This is not an album that sinks in ... (read more)

Report this review (#89581) | Posted by EvilGnome | Wednesday, September 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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