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TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Tony Williams Lifetime biography
Anthony Tillmon Williams (Chicago, USA, December 12, 1945 - February 23, 1997)
The group was active on-and-off between 1969 and 1980, with changing formations (and monikers, eventually)

Tony Williams acheived great acclaim as a jazz drummer working with MILES DAVIS in mid 60's. He joined Davis in 1962 and before he left in 1969 to form Lifetime he left an indeliable mark on jazz drumming. He was said to be a household name in jazz circles. Williams recorded a solo album, titled Lifetime which was more free jazz than any other type of jazz. Williams was known to be a fan of rock music as well so in 1969 he set out on his own and formed Lifetime, with then little known guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young. They recorded the seminal album Emergency. Author Howard Mandel's claims in his book Future Jazz that Emgency and Lifetime were a huge influence on Davis and and his coming project.. Bitch's Brew. As important as that might be in realms of prog and the burgeoning Jazz-Rock fusion movement... there was the not so umimportant matter of Emergency exposing one of the premier forces in music during the 70's. John McLaughlin. Soon he would be a household name.

Other albums would follow with a bend more towards rock with their 2nd album, Turn It Over which brought bassist GOD Jack Bruce on board. McLaughlin left after Turn It Over and was replaced by Ted Dunbar and they released Ego which continuing moving rock into the realms of jazz. He took a couple of years off after commercial success began to slip he formed after a new line up and a new album which didn't reach the heights previously reached. During that time he was an in-demand session player appearing on with such artists as: Stanley Clarke and Jonas Hellborg.

In 1975 Tony Williams formed a new version of Lifetime The result of this was a never released album that Wiliams recorded with another as yet unknown English guitarist Alan Holdsworth. The album, Wildlife, was never legitimately realeased. Soon after the group, now called The New Tony Williams Lifetime did record and release a new album, Believe It, which became another classic Jazz-Rock recording. The new group included keyboardist Alan Pasqua, and bassist Tony Newton. Holdsworth, like McLaughlin before him, shown like a bright star and his name was made w...
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TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME discography


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TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.74 | 30 ratings
Emergency !
1969
4.03 | 20 ratings
Turn It Over
1970
3.93 | 10 ratings
Ego
1970
3.22 | 7 ratings
The Old Bum's Rush
1972
4.19 | 66 ratings
Believe It
1975
3.10 | 10 ratings
Million Dollar Legs
1976

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Lifetime Featuring Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Larry Young
1972
4.17 | 6 ratings
The Collection
1992
5.00 | 2 ratings
Spectrum: The Anthology
1997

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Old Bum's Rush by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.22 | 7 ratings

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The Old Bum's Rush
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by LupeLoop

4 stars This is a raucous and righteous fusion record. Sometimes frenetic sometimes sludgy. Over all of it, the non-stop, steamy, screamy singing by Linda "Tequila" Logan is a highlight. Her vocal value isn't what is pretty, but what is important. There is something fun and mischievous (possibly insane) in her meandering soulfulness. She reaches heights that are heavy with feeling. And it's a shame I can't find any background or current information about her at all on the Internet. Tony Williams' playing is expressive and explosive throughout. Here there's a pattering and peppering, and here there's a crashing on your head as you get thrown down the stairs. It's a dirty and streetwise vibe, but elegant in its precision. There is gospel, whirring jazz, and rock here of a deeper, darker kind. Even so, it sounds like they had fun playing, and even the liner notes have a kid-like quality to them. Punk bands like The Cramps and Boss Hog have ripped this heavy "out there" sound right off.
 Emergency ! by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.74 | 30 ratings

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Emergency !
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A good argument could be made that Jazz Rock Fusion began right here, when ace drummer Tony Williams, the backbone of the so-called Second Great Miles Davis Quintet, enlisted Larry Young and John McLaughlin for a plugged-in jazz power trio, charged with genuine power. The embryonic crossover was still discernibly jazz, configured around an unusual instrumental line-up of drums, guitar, and organ (no bass, no horns). But it was jazz played loud and electrified, with an abrasive edge unusual even in rock albums of the same era.

How rough is the recording? The entire twin-LP, with over 70-minutes of music, was finished in just two days, and sounds like it. The production isn't far removed from a crudely bootlegged live concert, but the raw vitality of the music itself can't be ignored...nor, unfortunately, can the awful '60s poetry, heard in "Beyond Games" and elsewhere ("You know everything is said...in the bed / And it shouldn't change...just 'cause you're wed!")

Concentrate instead on the white-hot performances surrounding those occasional spoken word digressions. The controlled fury of Williams' drumming would exert an undeniable influence on a generation of young rock percussionists (Michael Giles, Bill Bruford, etc.) The texture of Larry Young's electric organ is the aural equivalent of extra-coarse sandpaper. And no fan of John McLaughlin can afford to miss this set, which includes some of his most incendiary playing on record, approaching an almost Post-Punk level of abstraction in tracks like "Sangria For Three".

Maybe the emergency of the album's title was the inevitable crisis in the middle-1960's that saw a cross-fertilization of musical styles, with rockers looking to jazz for permission to break the rules, and fearless jazzers like Williams and Miles Davis drawn to the power and popularity of Rock 'n' Roll. Davis would of course take the hybrid style to a whole new level, but the epiphany of "Bitches Brew" would have been stillborn without the midwife of this album in attendance (after hearing it, Davis tried unsuccessfully to hire the Lifetime trio as his backing band). The song "Via the Spectrum Road" in particular functions as an unofficial prologue to the groovy Brew title "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down".

The album is primitive, no doubt. But it was fusions like this that eventually blossomed into the glorious Hydra called Progressive Rock, where no musical boundary was safe.

 Turn It Over by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.03 | 20 ratings

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Turn It Over
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars Miles wasn't the only cat pioneering fusion. Most notably was the late great jazz drummer Tony Williams, whose Lifetime band formed around him, organist Larry Young, and the up and coming John McLaughlin on guitar, cut two fantastic albums that helped pave the way. This is their masterwork, with Jack Bruce and his bass joining up, fresh out of Cream, to help them unleash an earthquake upon jazz and prog alike. This album just barnstorms, interconnecting tracks into a sonic force that never lets up. Everyone plays their respective instrument hard, fast, and excellently. It's hard to give special kudos to McLaughlin as usual, since Young and Williams play their hearts out, too. The whole first side stands as the better piece, but there's nary anything wrong with this LP. Highly recommended.
 Emergency ! by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.74 | 30 ratings

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Emergency !
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars After Tony Williams met with John McLaughnin during the recording of Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, they teamed-up with Larry Young to record this ground-breaking jazz album. It's one of the first albums by jazz musicians where the aggression and psychedelic influences from contemporary rock were incorporated so extensively. At least much more so then Davis did on his 1969-1970 albums. John McLaughnin's style is instantly recognizable here and much more prominent and frantic then on his Davis contributions.

Previous reviewers have pointed to the muddy recording quality of this album, but this harsh and trebly "in your face sound" fits the music rather well. It doesn't sound all that different from Jimi Hendrix' recordings or an early Can album like Monster Movie and it's not difficult to see that it must have served as a huge inspiration for Germany's kraut rock movement of the early 70s.

The music is loose and improvised, sometimes revealing post-bop and free jazz roots, sometimes spacey, sometimes aggressive and chaotic, sometimes riff-based and jammy, sometimes doped and over-indulgent. It won't please you if you look for structure, composition and melody, but it is sure enjoyable for its uncompromising energy and unaffected directness. Some of the tracks have vocals that are very hazy and psychedelic, not unlike the early Soft Machine actually. I'd guess that some hallucinatory aids won't harm to enjoy it.

Emergency is a remarkable album that you should sure pick up if it crosses your path in a library, but it lacks the improvisational mastership and the emotional impact of Davis' contemporary recordings. It also can't offer the compositional quality of MO's later albums, and I believe the kraut rock movement and bands like Soft Machine have more engaging executions of this type of loose, psych-rock experimentation. In short, a ground-breaking album that got surpassed in execution by the bands that took inspiration from it. 3.5 stars.

 Believe It by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.19 | 66 ratings

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Believe It
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Never one to give a musician credit just because he "played with Miles", I have to admit, however, that it's clear from this album that Tony Williams has got some chops. Most of these are great songs to either nod your head to absent-mindedly or listen intensely to what Williams, and sometimes Holdsworth, are doing.

This feels very minimalist to me, as it is clearly the Tony Williams show, featuring Holdsworth on cue for solos and rhythm, with the keys and bass often relegated to simple chugging along, if even playing at all. Fortunately, that's OK, because it helps Believe It to stand somewhat uniquely among the riff-assaults of much fusion at the time. It's tough to do minimalism while still rocking and keeping things interesting (thus ruling out punk, if that's what you were thinking!)

My favorites are Snake Oil, Fred and Mr. Spock, although the whole album fits the chill-yet-with-a-bite classification. Snake Oil is a great strutter, with a simple yet catchy bass intro, and toe-tapping melody (though it certainly gets repetitive after a while). Mr. Spock is probably my favorite, as it really pushes the tempo and has a great attitude to it--not to mention the highlight toward the end where Williams takes the solo with Holdsworth on rhythm. Great stuff!

I'm not as high on this as some due to the lack of virtuosic playing (sans Williams) and absence of creative songwriting in most places. Nothing about this album screams fantastic, but it's quite good, and a bonus is that not just proggers will likely dig it. Just a solid lineup of fusion rock songs, played very well, with a few truly memorable tunes thrown in there.

 Turn It Over by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.03 | 20 ratings

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Turn It Over
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars After great Tony Williams solo double debut, this album continues his progressive dark and heavy attack. Just look on the line -up, and you will agree - this is all-stars band with McLaughlin on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass, Larry Young on keys, besides of Williams himself.

From very first sound you will hear (and will feel) heaviness of Hammond passages and ecstatic drumming - first two compositions are Corea's, but sound much heavier than originals. Third song is psychedelic ballade with unusual vocals and heavy bass line.

At their best moments albums represents excellent energetic and heavy guitar/keyboards driven psychedelic progressive fusion. However vocals and some unfocused pieces are album's weak points.

I own 10-songs LP version, and sound quality is below average (never listened to CD version, possibly this problem was solved there). In whole - great album with some not so good moments. But if you like early Hammond/guitar led progressive fusion, dark and heavy, with doze of psychedelic, you need to listen this album for sure.

My rating - 3,5, rounded to 4.

 The Old Bum's Rush by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.22 | 7 ratings

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The Old Bum's Rush
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars After three great albums, Tony Williams released this one - not bad, but really strange one! First of all - he employed female vocalist there, with strong soul-jazzy voice. Album's mix is made with vocals in front of all the sound, so what you are listening is mostly vocal jazz-soul fusion there.

Singer's voice is no bad, but far from Julie Driscoll, who this album possibly targeted. But even bigger problem is stylistically her singing is hardly connected with music played by Tony' s team. I can't say the result is bad, but it's kind of too strange (or too experimental, depends on your taste).

If you will remove vocals, there are more interesting things - great drumming, unusual, but often interesting keyboards and very energetic and in fact brave electric experimental jazz-rock with strong r'n'b influences. Possibly, all album was strongly influenced by Brian Auger recent works.

Separate musical pieces are excellent, but in whole all the music with vocals over the top sounds weird. I still really can enjoy it, but this album is possibly Tony Williams weakest point. Not strange, the band was disbanded after release of this release, and Tony returned after some time with great New Lifetime.

 Believe It by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.19 | 66 ratings

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Believe It
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Tony Williams is one of most respectable jazz fusion drummers, still from time when he played with Miles Davis. It's a bit pity, that besides other Miles jazz fusion cohort, as Chick Corea or John McLaughlin, Tony's later solo works stayed a bit in the shadow side.

This album ( and I think it is his best ever release) is great evidence, that Tony's solo works are of the same highest standard ( or sometimes even higher!).

Musicians team ( New Lifetime) is all great - Allan Holdsworth is showing his best guitar techniques, Alan Pasqua if not too much original plays funky and very competent. Tony Newton is mostly known as Motown session bassist, so rhythm section gave strong funky-jazz feeling to all music. But whenever Allan's guitar is so energetic and fills all space with great electric rock jams, all musical mix sounds as hot jazz-funk-rock fusion.

Looking from now, all this album sounds as excellent vintage fusion recordings of highest standard. Possibly, I would like to hear some more experimental moments there, but we're speaking about year 1975, so I believe this music was quite innovative at that time.

Must have album for any jazz fusion collection.Strong 4,5.

 Believe It by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.19 | 66 ratings

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Believe It
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by karneviljay

5 stars This was truly the first time I had ever heard Tony Williams and in fact the first time I had really heard fusion that didn't bore me to death. I had been introduced to Allan Holdsoworth as a pretty young kid from my way older brother who had been studying music in college at the time. The first impression I got of this album was funky hard rockin jazz, but like any true fusion album there's more hidden treasures in the music the more you listen to it.

Though Believe It may not be in the realm of fusion/prog, anyone who enjoys good music and understands the idea of the importance fusion had on progressive rock ie., John Mclaughlin's heavy influence on Robert Fripp, will enjoy and respect the true musical value of this music. Track #1 starts of with Tony Newton's heavy envelope filtered bass in "Snake Oil" leading to the funky rocking of Alan Pasqua's clavinet and Mr. Holdsworth's highly compressed guitar leads.

"Fred" starts of the second track of this album with a few splashes of Tony William's cymbals starting of the atmospheric serenity of the melody, followed by a nice solo by Mr. Pasqua, then erupting into an monster legato fury by Holdsworth.

"Proto Cosmos" is pure fusion here. Genius fluid guitar playing by Holdsworth, and accompanied by Tony Williams polyrhythmic drumming. Mr Williams really shines here.

"Red Alert" has been stated over the years by other musicians that it was one of the most influential songs they had ever heard. This number is rhythymicaly hard and heavy, the whole band kicks butt. Check out you tube online and you can check out these guys jamming in 9/22/76 in Village Gate,NYC.

"Wildlife" starts off as a relaxing beautiful tune, and then the guitar comes in enhance the mood, halfway into the things kick up a bit with a electric piano solo and some nice bass work by Tony Newton.

And last but not least we have "Mr. Spock". The more I listen to this one, the better it gets. Everyone in the band has a chance to shine on this one. It's very unperdictable. Most importantly this album introduced me into the genius guitar playing of Allan Holdsworth. I became one of his number one fans because of this music. IMO it's not only some of his best playing but the tone he had back in the seventies with Lifetime, Bruford, Soft Machine just seemed to be quite edgier. A Masterpiece

 Emergency ! by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.74 | 30 ratings

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Emergency !
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There's no denying how innovative and groundbreaking this album was. I can just imagine the disdain shown by Jazz traditionalists back then. And as if to make an exclamation point Tony made it a double album. What a trio though with Williams on drums, McLaughlin on guitar and Young on organ. The sound quality is brutal though. This is more like bootleg quality sound, very muddy. So much so that it reflects in my rating because I can't really enjoy it at all. Even Tony's follow up "Turn It Over" sounds bad. Check out "Believe It" with Holdsworth on guitar if you want great sound quality and amazing playing. Gnosis even rates it higher than the first two.

"Emergency" opens with drums and organ before McLaughlin comes in lighting it up. It turns jazzy then settles before 5 minutes. It's intense again late. "Beyond Games" has these silly spoken lyrics. Not a fan of this one although the guitar is great at times. "Where" has no real melody at first and Tony again half sings the lyrics. It kicks in before 2 minutes and the tempo picks up 3 1/2 minutes in. An impressive instrumental display here. A calm follows with more spoken words.Themes are repeated.

"Vashkar" rocks out pretty good with the guitar and drums showing off early before the organ takes a turn. "Via The Spectrum Road" almost sounds like Wyatt singing (haha). No it's not that good. It picks up before 1 1/2 minutes. Contrasts continue. "Spectrum" is uptempo with the guitar leading the way. Young's turn after 3 minutes and the guitar returns later. "Sangria For Three" is kind of funky at first then it changes a minute in.The guitar and drums are great as the tempo picks up.The tempo continues to shift. "Something Special" has some excellent drum work on it.

Probably 4.5 stars if it sounded good, but sadly I can't even enjoy it.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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