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Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency ! CD (album) cover


Tony Williams Lifetime


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.91 | 46 ratings

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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.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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