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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Allan Holdsworth picture
Allan Holdsworth biography
August 6, 1946 (Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK) - April 16, 2017 (Vista, California, USA)

Allan HOLDSWORTH is one of the most revered, often imitated and enigmatic electric guitarists in modern rock/jazz history. In addition he is an avid fan of the guitar synthesiser. On rare occasions you will also find him on record playing violin and acoustic guitar (both 12 and 6 string) - the challenge is to find him singing lead! He is also a keen cyclist and brewer.

With a professional career starting in the late 60's, Allan's early bandwork and recordings included stints with 'IGGINBOTTOM, NUCLEUS, TEMPEST, SOFT MACHINE, GONG (both a band member and later as guest - a revamped version the jazz rock GONG was formed in the USA in the 90's with the name GONGZILLA: HOLDSWORTH appeared on their first album "Suffer"), U.K. and BRUFORD in the UK, as well as jazz rock fusion favourites, the NEW TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME and Jean-Luc PONTY in the USA. Whilst in the States, HOLDSWORTH recorded his first solo album "Velvet Darkness" at CTI's studios, which with outtakes took less than 26 hours to make. The album has been long disowned by HOLDSWORTH as being really a 'demo' not fit for release: even on the remastered CD, the recording quality is relatively poor (most unusual for an album issuing from the acclaimed CTI label), although some of the music/tunes are excellent (and in deed, of note is Alphonso JOHNSON's session playing, which is amongst the best basswork he has done). Through the 70's Allan's developed a smooth legato (fluid) style (in parallel to guitar effects appearing on the marketplace), lightning speed runs, and often combined with playing solos which were tangential to the main theme of tunes. This unique combinations of innovative skills attracted the attention of both rock and young jazz music lovers, and found Allan being sought as a lead guitarist by other bands. nevertheless, because of the originally of his style - effectively a guitarist who wants to play solos like a saxophonist - there has always been significant confusion as to whether he is a rock play...
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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH discography


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ALLAN HOLDSWORTH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 51 ratings
Velvet Darkness
1976
3.62 | 23 ratings
Allan Holdsworth & Gordon Beck: The Things You See
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Gordon Beck / Alan Holdsworth / Jeff Clyne / John Stevens - Conversation Piece
1980
4.06 | 118 ratings
I.O.U.
1982
4.09 | 182 ratings
Metal Fatigue
1985
3.17 | 66 ratings
Atavachron
1986
3.29 | 70 ratings
Sand
1987
3.31 | 17 ratings
Allan Holdsworth & Gordon Beck: With A Heart In My Song
1988
3.63 | 70 ratings
Secrets
1989
3.37 | 44 ratings
Wardenclyffe Tower
1992
3.80 | 51 ratings
Hard Hat Area
1993
3.95 | 53 ratings
None Too Soon
1996
3.88 | 7 ratings
Anders Johansson, Jens Johansson & Allan Holdsworth - Heavy Machinery
1996
3.73 | 56 ratings
The Sixteen Men Of Tain
1999
2.82 | 29 ratings
Flat Tire
2001

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 17 ratings
I.O.U. Live (1985)
1997
4.14 | 33 ratings
All Night Wrong
2002
4.04 | 25 ratings
Live - Then!
2003
3.64 | 19 ratings
Blues For Tony (with Alan Pasqua/Jimmy Haslip/Chad Wackerman)
2009
3.33 | 3 ratings
Warsaw Summer Jazz Days '98
2019
3.86 | 3 ratings
Leverkusen 2010
2021

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Works Collection
1992
4.38 | 13 ratings
Against The Clock: The Best Of Allan Holdsworth
2005
4.96 | 5 ratings
The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
2017
5.00 | 2 ratings
Eidolon (The Allan Holdsworth Collection)
2017

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 80 ratings
Road Games
1983
3.00 | 1 ratings
Non Brewed Condiment
1986
3.18 | 9 ratings
Propensity
2009

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Leverkusen 2010 by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Live, 2021
3.86 | 3 ratings

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Leverkusen 2010
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by MaxnEmmy

4 stars Of the five live recordings released since the passing of Allan Holdsworth, this one is my favorite. It might have something to do with Chad Wakerman. I always liked his work with Mr. Holdsworth. He plays on the '97 recording which is only slightly less exceptional to the 2010 session. He plays the drums with a feel I don't quite hear with other jazz fusion drummers who spent sessions with the guitar wizard. Gary Novak and Gary Husband are outstanding and they are featured on other releases. However, I find Chad to be the best. The bass is held down by Ernest Tibbs and he really seems to be enjoying playing with this trio. This is a very mature Allan Holdsworth and he was in his prime, having abandoned the synthaxe for live touring, focusing on making the guitar sound fluid and very fine. Like an expensive bottle of wine.
 Leverkusen 2010 by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Live, 2021
3.86 | 3 ratings

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Leverkusen 2010
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Another from this wonderful posthumous run of live performances, this time from the Leverkusener Jazztage Festival 2010. This performance had a Japanese release to CD before, but now we have it expanded to an hour's length.

Chad WACKERMAN, who I am really very fond of, seemed to have been on a whole other level on this date. In particular, the performances of "Fred" and of "The Things You See..." seem to have some new life to them, the former a true classic in Fusion, I would think. And I can't say I'm familiar with nor know of another date off the top of my head in which Ernest Tibbs joined Holdsworth, but, boy, is he a welcomed component. Great soloing and accompaniment. Very welcomed.

Other highlights are unsurprisingly the two other definite classics: a lengthy rendition of "Letters Of Marque" and, immediately following, the exemplary "Proto-Cosmos".

Ultimately, a lot of this is on par with the lot of Allan's other live material. It's always so well performed, he always has the best of the best alongside him, and his compositions are always (more than) satisfactory. Aside from Chad's performance, it's hard to claim what exactly there is that really sets it apart, but I am just delighted to have another release of this great man's work. I miss him often.

 The Sixteen Men Of Tain by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 56 ratings

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The Sixteen Men Of Tain
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

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 on None Too Soon and Secrets. His Synthaxe work appears again in several compositions with that Sand feel. The jazz rock, fired-up, effusive fusion is kept at bay but Holdsworth's incredible legato, tornado riffage and chordal dreamscapes are still in pleasing abundance. Holdsworth has nothing to prove, no need to strain at the bit. The power and glory are an evident undercurrent throughout. That sax-horn voicing is near perfect in many places and Holdsworth is introspectively smooth and mirror-shine pristine in tone everywhere he needs to be. He has set forth another very comfortable listen and a reached a new milestone in his enduring legacy of matchless grace.

And having said that, the specifics include very fine trumpet by Walt Fowler guesting on tracks 1 and 5, with Chad Wackerman guest drumming on track 6. Holdsworth is expertly accompanied on acoustic bass by Dave Carpenter and Gary Novak on drums. Allan Holdsworth does confidently relaxed and flowingly inspired guitar and Synthaxe, as usual.

As stated above, you will not find Holdsworth wildly rockin' out, doing bizarre explosions of guitar nor Synthaxe, (though he is more than capable), on this release. Production and sound is slick and polished throughout. Compositions will find the listener being massaged into bliss or swept along in a swift flow. A jazz guitar reviewer associate, upon hearing this release, just said something like, "Wow!" I wasn't surprised at all.I have been listening to Allan Holdsworth since his decages-ago, work with Soft Machine and Tony Williams' Lifetime. Holdsworth only keeps getting better with time. All but one of the eight songs herein are by Holdsworth. He and Novak co-wrote "The Drums Were Yellow", a tribute in memory of Tony Williams. Chad Wackerman wrote "Downside Up".

For jazz guitar excellence and Synthaxe/guitar synth mastery none can match Holdsworth in voicings, phrasings, various techniques nor song composition. He is unique in a world of guitar all his own. He has created his own niche. His signature style will echo through many generations. Highest recommendations and deepest of respect for this exceptional artist.

 Road Games by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
3.76 | 80 ratings

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Road Games
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

3 stars Short but sweet . . . This 24:17 length re-release, never before on CD, 80's era solo effort originally appeared as an EP, (extended play), vinyl release. It is a unique mix of great vocals with a more rocking, bluesy jazzy, quasi- mainstream, song-themed, balladic thrust. This release showcases Holdsworth playing less "out there". Don't get me wrong -- the guitar is amazing, multi-voiced, fusion-fired, ethereally chorded, delightfully crystalline-clear-note flourished, and swooningly embellished. Then add in the vocals of Jack Bruce for that "Cream" flashback or the I.O.U. band feel of Paul Williams' crooning, back-to-back with killer bass by Berlin and tastefully poised drums by Wackerman and you have fusion-rock bliss.

Holdsworth addicts have waited a very long time for this to appear on CD format. So go for it. I was glad to see it happen but I bet many out there already had this on vinyl-to-CD-R copies at home. I did. Time to get the real deal folks. It sounds great all over again. Original album cover graphics and notes are included.

 Flat Tire by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.82 | 29 ratings

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Flat Tire
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

3 stars In order to adequately understand this review, I will try and very briefly explain what a SynthAxe is and does. Back in the 80's this instrument was invented. It looked like something that fell out of a UFO. It was guitar-like with sets of strings, and other onboard controls that allowed the triggering/(playing) of synthesizers. What was unique was that guitarists could therefore play a synthesizer without needing a great amount of keyboards expertise. The SynthAxe was the interface that interpreted very uniquely a guitarist's skill into synth sounds.

For the guitarist, Allan Holdsworth, it was yet a whole new way to achieve the sounds unvoiced in his soul and in ways he just couldn't do with a standard guitar. Holdsworth has always sought for a horn-like voicing with that ability to manipulate a note in a myriad of ways. He is known for being one of the most unique stylists on guitar but it is the SynthAxe that allows him to go places a guitar can't reach. And now the review . . .

SynthAxe, SynthAxe, SynthAxe, and some more SynthAxe -- so imagine Holdsworth's Sand, Atavachron (w/no guitar but all parts SynthAxe'd), yeah, that Holdsworth Enigma label era, yet . . . a very melancholy, introspective, uhh, inner-struggles-angst-new-agey- synthjazz-with-that-Holdsworth-flair. Will jazz fusion folks get into this? Read on.

I have listened to this SynthAxe showcase at least 5-7 times now. Some cuts are absolutely beautiful in their pristine simplicity and chordal-synth progression "intros" and "scene-settings", visualmusicks I should say. Yet after such moments of synthy, dreamy bliss the mood then "weirds out" towards fusion with typical Holdsworthian solo-abandon frenzy, get the picture? I venture to say that this release will take most Holdsworth fans many listens to "sink in". If you are a devoted guitarhead -- I doubt you will get off too much, oh well. You may just walk from this FLATTire. If you dig synths in jazz, SynthAxe gymnastics, and can appreciate a very unique musician's singular vision then by all means have a FLATTire. See the tunes echoing in the unseen life-movie in Holdsworth's head . . . birthed during a very difficult period in his life . . . as the liner notes detail. Synthesizer-driven, visual music adherents, adventurous jazz fusion fans, admirers of all things Holdsworth, and SynthAxe players are urged to add this to their collection. Holdsworth is the SynthAxe man. It's a very uniquely rewarding listening experience.

 Live - Then! by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Live, 2003
4.04 | 25 ratings

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Live - Then!
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars Holdsworth's THEN! on the Alternity label is playing now and I must say this is definite must-have!! Just to hear Zones I, II and III is worth the buy as these compositions are totally live improv and boy do these cats let it rip. The other 6 tracks smoke too -- sheesh, and they sound this superb live!! -- oh how this makes me want to nail my guitar case shut and pack it away for another decade!

I am very thankful folks like Chris Hoard doggedly persisted in getting the perfectionist AH to finally let this THEN! be released. It amazes that just because something like the guitar voicing might not perfectly suit AH, something as superb as THEN! might not have ever been released.

AH, please listen up man! You are too darn good technique, performance, and composition-wise to keep gems like this from your fans just because you may not be 100% happy with a voicing technicality. Heck, AH, you could play on a used Fender Squire Tex-Mex Tele through a Montgomery Ward's Airline Amp and a Radio Shack cord and you would tear it up. We love ya man!! Let more of these "hidden away" "not-so-perfect" archival releases come to light. My picky & jaded reviewer ears say you did a superb job in final edits, mastering, etc, etc and THEN! is superb!!!! You are the fusion man AH! Also, of course the rest of the band was awesome, awesome, awesome. I really enjoyed hearing Steve Hunt use AH's SynthAxe patches via the keys -- very nice effect! Johnson and Husband equal bliss beats in perfection and grace.

Chris Hoard and Derek Wilson, thanks again for offering us this! I know this took years of work to nudge AH into seeing it as a worthwhile release. Do tell, Allan -- this sucker kicks! Do it again! Recommended!

 Against The Clock: The Best Of Allan Holdsworth  by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2005
4.38 | 13 ratings

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Against The Clock: The Best Of Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

5 stars Honestly, this is a great sampling of Allan's muse-driven soul over the decades, his compositional music the channel, his technical finesse the clarity without compare. It is hard to not say this "Best of" release is great because as a long-time fan of Allan, after hearing him stretch on U.K.'s first release and then his slaying me with his Bruford work -- well, every solo outing was just another fusion guitar oasis in the desert of corporate pop rock ennui. This collection offers that long-awaited Japanese version of "Tokyo Dreams" and then two more unreleased tunes -- and Allan's treatment of "Shenandoah" is exquisite, deep soul travel material there -- wow! This will be a great way for many to re-discover a well-kept secret -- the enigma, Allan Holdsworth.
 Anders Johansson, Jens Johansson & Allan Holdsworth - Heavy Machinery by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.88 | 7 ratings

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Anders Johansson, Jens Johansson & Allan Holdsworth - Heavy Machinery
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars Remember Jan Hammer and Jeff Beck jamming together with lead tradeoffs ad libitum forever amen? You will hear many similarities in guitar legend Holdsworth and keysman Jens Johansson springboarding off each other. A big difference soon unfolds -- this duo just plain smokes, cutting early into the fast lane and getting right down to business. Things overall are compositionally interesting, noticeably precise, big and phat, just more intriguing than those Hammer/Beck excursions. It immensely helps havin' monster-everywhere drumming, a veritable demon-wind blowin' at their backs like Anders Johansson kept rock steady.

It was refreshing to hear Holdsworth get funked up and get in a rockin' groove thang for a change on many cuts. His guitar tone seemed bigger -- perhaps augmented in places with some background triggered synth-echo delays and textures. Jens Johansson was outstanding in his mosaic of keyboard styles and voicings. He nearly duplicates that signature Holdsworthian lead phrasing. An expertly interwoven synthesis of sound and rhythm is present. Great jazz-rock fusion happens here.

An intensity propels this musical meeting. Drummer Anders Johansson and Jens Johansson have roots that dig deep: playing with axe-shredder Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Ronnie James' Dio, and a host of other metal ventures. Latter-day Mahavishnu Orchestra bassist Jonas Hellborg has collaborated with the Johansson brothers as well. Simply put, herein lies vast versatility. Invite guitar genius and innovator Allan Holdsworth over to jam and you spark unforgettable fireworks of furious fusion. Holdsworth fans, this is a must. Rockers and jazz-rock fusionists alike will delight in this recording.

 Atavachron by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.17 | 66 ratings

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Atavachron
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

3 stars For a little background, back in the '80s the SynthAxe was invented. It looked like something that fell out of a UFO. It was guitar-like with sets of strings and other onboard controls that allowed the triggering (playing) of synthesizers. What was unique was that guitarists could therefore play a synthesizer without needing a great amount of keyboard expertise. The SynthAxe was the interface that very uniquely interpreted a guitarist's skill into synth sounds. For guitarist Allan Holdsworth, it was yet a whole new way to achieve the sounds unvoiced in his soul in ways he just couldn't do with a standard guitar. Holdsworth has always sought a horn-like voicing with the ability to manipulate a note in a myriad of ways. He is known for being one of the most unique stylists on guitar, but it is the SynthAxe that allows him to go places a guitar can't reach. This release was special in that it marks Holdsworth's first use of the SynthAxe alongside electric guitar. The SynthAxe sounds more like a keyboard than a guitar. It has a wider sound spectrum than keyboards and in this release you will hear a myriad of synthscapes and effects. This release offered a semi-progressive symphonic element and served to ever stretch the boundaries of jazz fusion. Beautiful female vocals in one song framed by surrealistic visual musicks of the SynthAxe and keyboardy leads by Holdsworth may have turned guitar fans off, but this effort is clear evidence of the genius Holdsworth was demonstrating release after release. And as expected, Holdsworth continued to strive for that reed voicing and phrasing on his guitar solos, which merely pushed him to his best.
 I.O.U. by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.06 | 118 ratings

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I.O.U.
Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

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 and a prayer and loans (ergo, an IOU recording project). With his very successful stints with other groups in the intervening time period, such as UK and Bruford, Holdsworth's guitar prowess and name were clearly on the map. Holdsworth now needed to be the leader he clearly was and thus release an official solo record. The real Allan Holdsworth unleashed is at last revealed on I.O.U. in his original compositions and well-crafted soloing, versus being merely part of a group and forced to stay within certain boundaries of other bandmates' design. I.O.U., as a solo release, is high-quality jazz fusion interplay, offering emotive compositions, ethereal guitar atmospherics, complex chordal progressions, and intense legato explosions of guitar that set the standard for many guitarists to come. There is no acoustic guitar this time, but a wee bit of Holdsworth on violin appears in one song.
Thanks to ProgLucky/ Dick Heath (Oct 2009) for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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