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Allan Holdsworth - Secrets CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.63 | 70 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
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

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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