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Allan Holdsworth

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Allan Holdsworth The Sixteen Men Of Tain album cover
3.74 | 59 ratings | 8 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 0274 (7:41)
2. The Sixteen Men Of Tain (6:23)
3. Above And Below (3:05)
4. The Drums Were Yellow (5:55)
5. Texas (5:41)
6. Downside Up (7:03)
7. Eidolon (4:33)
8. Above And Below (Reprise) (4:06)

Total Time: 44:27

Bonus tracks on 2003 & 2008 reissues:
1. San Onofre (5:10)
10. Material Unreal (2:00)

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, SynthAxe, producer & mixing

- Dave Carpenter / acoustic & electric (5) basses
- Gary Novak / drums
- Chad Wackerman / drums (6)
- Walt Fowler / trumpet (1,5)

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Gleed with Dave Carpenter (caricatures)

CD CREAM Records ‎- JMS 18713-2 (2000, Europe)
CD Globe Music Media Arts ‎- GMMA 2200-2 (2003, US) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 081400 (2008, Japan) Remastered by Tohru Ohara with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH The Sixteen Men Of Tain ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH The Sixteen Men Of Tain reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Moatilliatta
4 stars This is my personal favorite output by this brilliant guitarist. While he is probably better known around these parts as a contributor to several great fusion albums like Gong's Gazeuse, the man has put out some nice solo stuff as well. This album has fantastic production, compositions and performance. Holdsworth's distinct tone and unbelieveable phrasing lead the way in this modern jazz masterpiece. Though when I say modern jazz, I am only referring to the time of its release; the song styles are very reminiscent of older jazz. And when I say masterpiece, I mean a solid album made by a great guitar player. So I guess instead of "modern jazz masterpiece" I should say "recently released album of solid material reminiscent of older jazz made by a great guitar player."
Review by Flucktrot
2 stars Beware: This is no prog masterpiece.

Instead, it's more of a minimalist showcase for Holdsworth and company to lay down some decent (but far from killer) jazz. The basic theme is that Holdsworth alternates between relatively simple jazz chord-mode and fast rips. There is consistently interesting drums by Novak, but the keys and bass are so sporadic that much of the time it's just guitar and drum interplay. If you really like improv, then this could be right up your alley. As a fan of structure and full symphonic sound, The Sixteen Men of Tain offers little of either.

It's customary in reviews to describe the songs, but the tunes on this album offer so little variety that they often are indistinguishable. Most start slow, build up moderately as the guitar and drums quicken, and die down again. Most are based on relatively familiar jazz progressions, but offer little in the way of melody. I would like to say that I enjoy San Onofre, 0274, and the title track the most, as they keep up the tempo and have the most variety, but it's also probably a function of their place in the track listing--as the album goes on, the songs just start to feel very similar.

With The Sixteen Men of Tain, you're getting plenty of Holdsworth and Novak, with minimal contributions from bass and keys. Although the guitar and drums offer very tight and enjoyable improvisational interplay, the overall lack of variety really drags this album down. Similar to the other jazz guitar greats (di Meola and McLaughlin included), technical skill and feel can't overcome a lack of talent from the rest of the band and lack of creativity in the songwriting department.

Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars The act of applying a specific genre to the music at which oneself aims might not go in Allan Holdsworth. And, the career of his music has an indeed long history. It knows the work of Solo that he announced and he will learn there was a change in posture and the situation without the compromise for music very compared with the history of the music as for unexpectedly few facts.

The change and the evolution of a little music character might be able to be discovered for his work in the 90's. The tune and the dash feeling with high quality of "Wardenclyffe Tower" and "Hard Hat Area" might surely draw the flow from "Secrets". And, to make the music character at which he aimed every time the work was announced at this time an embodiment, various musicians were appointed for the recording of the album. Of course, competing of the musician who had understanding for his music was done.

Man who had not shown the posture that compromised for his work in the 90's gave width to the expression of own music by competing with the member of Vinnie Colaiuta and Tribal Tech. However, his style became apart from others occasionally might if the technology and knowledge were improved for the method of his performance and it advanced. The listener in the world to say nothing of the style will agree. Therefore, he might already have challenged music in another area.

The work that reconfirmed the method of the root and the expression of the self in the flow that offered the work with a good tension was "None Too Soon" for his work in the 90's as for indeed high-quality music. The flow of Jazz Rock offered to the listener by "None Too Soon" was true that restructured the flow that he had indeed done before. He had accomplished competing with a variety of Jazz musicians before. It is guessed that "None Too Soon" was produced in the meaning that shows deference to the flow and rule. And, a few changes appeared to the method and the idea of his performance on the boundary of the album. The album is this "The Sixteen Men Of Tain".

The exploding performance to make the listener listen to a past work might changed shape a little through the whole. Extension of route shown by "None Too Soon". Or, how to make the idea and the sound to put width on music. Of course, he can perform as exploding if necessary. It might have an approach different from the current work in the album. Fact with width in expression method. And, the style and the character of the musician who appointed it to the recording of the album might also influence. It might be an element about which it intentionally thinks from the start for Allan Holdsworth's producing this album.

Gary Novak of drum player known on business of Chick Corea and Alanis Morissette. And, it is deceased Bass player's Dave Carpenter now. And, Walt Fowler of the trumpeter known by competing with Frank Zappa. And, Chad Wackerman that participates in the album only by one. The meaning and the theme of something might surely be concealed in this album. The performance of Allan Holdsworth unified to surrounding musicians while basically uniting the organization of Trio is offering the listener indeed splendid flexibility.

Especially, a peculiar anacatesthesia and a transparent feeling of opening "0274" and "The Sixteen Men Of Tain" might be surprised at a few changes from the style of his past performance. However, always width to music has extended and the style might always be consistent. The tune from this album is often performed for live of him. "The Drums Were Yellow" dedicated to Tony Williams is a tune that has an exactly mysterious sense and is advanced. The flow of this tune might be appearance of work to which the current man was related and the respect to the root. Flexibility that the melody with which a transparent feeling of "Texas" overflows doesn't exist in a past work either is shown. It might be a tune that along a consistent flow of the album also of "Downside Up" in which Chad Wackerman participated. It might be understood that the element of the album is consistent.

The method of performing Allan Holdsworth might have developed still another stage in this album. Communication of intention with musician to participate in recording and restructuring of root. Or, the fact into which the guitar synthesizer has been introduced. The music of man who creates it while repeating dismantlement and restructuring will not end. Even if music to which he often evolved is offered to the listener, the listener can enjoy "Spider Finger" at any time.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It can't be easy being Allan Holdsworth. Not-so-arguably the finest technician to ever pick up a guitar, perhaps only equaled in prowess by Ulrich Roth and maybe Ron Jarzombek, the tours, appearances & demonstrations, guest spots, and a healthy recording schedule must be just a bit less attractive for this soft-spoken grandmaster than it once was. Sure fate smiled upon him, providing a career most players would die for. But as with any genuine music-maker later in his career, fresh, exciting new ideas became less abundant.

Yet on his tenth full-length release Mr. Holdsworth, dipping a bit into his jazz roots, does not take things lying down. The Sixteen Men of Tain is no barn-burner (All About Jazz called it "A very comfortable listen", awkward praise to say the least) but it is a carefully considered set that if offered up by a new guitarist would probably be hailed as brilliant. So goes the conundrum of deep artistry and well-earned success: If you don't outdo yourself sooner or later, listeners may not come back. In a way, SMoT is more for hardcore Holdsworth fans than anyone, serving up little of the immediate flash & bang of i.o.u., Secrets, or Wardenclyff Tower, but rather taking as much time as is needed to bloom the material and coax some lightning from the nebulous clouds. I imagine it being what A.H. devotees listen to when something like Hardhat Area sounds too Pop. Volume-swollen chords unfold the drowsy beginning of '0274' but it develops well for the rest of the nearly eight minutes, setting the tone for the largely cerebral album, Walt Fowler's trumpet a fitting surprise.

Risks are still taken-- it is, after all, jazz. The title cut swings to the West Coast while Allan sweeps and hammer/pulls at his strings on top, building up, generating heat. Dreamy 'Above and Below'; Boggling 'The Drums Were Yellow' where our host switches to a classic hollow-body sound eventually ripping a mean hole in space, soloing like a madman; Lively and tuneful 'Texas' is all over the place with Dave Carpenter holding it together like a pro on the upright bass, Allan rocking, and another respite from brassman Fowler. A great little number.

Holdsworth's unmistakable horn phrasing in 'Downside Up' would be perfect as a somnambulant for any jazzrocker having trouble sleeping... in the best way of course, and lightly rendered 'Eidolon' reprises Allan's interest in myth & fantasy and features the dreaded but tastefully used synthaxe. Good but nonessential? Yes, I'd say that's quite right.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Allan Holdsworth's Sixteen Men of Tain is mellow, measured, and melancholy. This is that quiet woodlands walk at dusk or being alone at dawn in the mists of a forgotten moor, type of jazz wonderland. Holdsworth has stayed with his comfortable, even-handed "flow" and gently restrained ways as ... (read more)

Report this review (#2581950) | Posted by JazzFusionGuy | Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As a longtime fan of Holdsworth's work (solo and with other groups), I consider this album to be the finest hour of his solo recording career. There are no weak spots on the album. Great for Holdsworth fans and jazz guitar fans alike. Very mellow album yet technically complex and sonically ch ... (read more)

Report this review (#129409) | Posted by Disconnect | Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I 'm starting to "0274" a vivid example of Allan's post-None too soon period, with some reminiscences of atavachron at the beginning with sinthaxe. "16 men of tain" a great song with fantastic fusion solos (fusion at the maximum status).Melody is complex and in spesific points it seems to coi ... (read more)

Report this review (#29441) | Posted by fred84 | Sunday, January 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have several albums of Holdsworth ranging from the early 80's to now. I can see that his melodic bliss and his progressions have not changed much over his long career. I will say this though, the feel and passion that he portrays in this album is probably his greatest he has ever done. Wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#29440) | Posted by | Wednesday, September 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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