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Allan Holdsworth - Against The Clock: The Best Of Allan Holdsworth  CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.25 | 12 ratings

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Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This collection is hard to rate, 3.5 stars would be about right. It's close to the essential music of Allan Holdsworth, but comes a bit shy of being a jem.

The two disc collection is comprised of one disc of guitar based tunes and a second consisting of Allan's synthaxe compositions. These tunes were chosen by the master as the songs which he felt represented the Best Of his solo works. Missing are tracks from Road Games and IOU. The reason is that Road Games was recently remastered and re- released, thus a worthy purchase on it's own, and the impending make-over of IOU with additional tracks that had gone missing for numerous years until Allan reclaimed ownership of the master tapes. Velvet Darkness also goes unrepresented, but Allan holds that release as an unauthorized recording of a rehearsals and unworthy of being considered as an Allan Holdsworth album.

Disc #1: Guitar. This is a very excellent collection for any fan of electric guitar. The opener, "Tokyo Dream," is a remake (from Road Games) that appeared on the Japanese import of Wardenclyffe Tower. This is my favorite AH song of all time. This version is superior to the original. Another noticable omission are the vocal tracks featuring Paul Williams (Tempest, Juicy Lucy). This may be due to PW's cashing in on Allan's name when he released a bootleg live album a few years back. Standouts include Peril Premonition and Home, examples of Allan's love of adding quirky sound montages into the intro. Devil Take the Hindmost is the tune cited by guitar shedders as the most influential Holdsworth solo. Blistering! This disc will receive a lot of spin time in my players.

Disc #2: Synthaxe. Unfortunately, some of the master tapes of Allan's first synthaxe album, Atavachron, were damaged and prevent the entire recording from being remastered. A few of the recordings did survive. One, All Our Yesterdays, is included, however, this is the one track on Atavachron that I normally skip over. It's not a strong track. It features vocals by Rowanne Mark and a bizarre improv between AH and Chad Wackerman. I'm surprised to find it here, it's not an essential tune. Eeny Meeny and Bo Peep, tracks from Flat Tire, just don't get it for me. Maybe if they were interspersed between non synthaxe tracks, I wouldn't be so tempted to hit the skip button. I have to say the same thing about the AH/Gordon Beck contribution, Sundays. It's another tune that doesn't have any snap. Distance vs. Desire is THE solo synthaxe track that reaches the climax of that instruments ability. A beautiful song.

Bonus Tracks: Let's Throw Shrimp, a lively trio excursion that bubbles and bops along. The bands sounds like they are having fun and I hope this is a solid precursor to the next disc. Shenandoah, a old American classic, is covered with spectacular grandeur and emotion. This may be the most powerful statement from Allan since Secrets. Shenandoah alone is worth the price of the disc. Simply sublime.

If I were to suggest anything for the beginning Holdsworth explorer, this disc would rank third or fourth. Get Secrets, Sixteen Men of Tain or Metal Fatigue. Build from there. If you want a compact, wide ranging collection? Get this one. Remember, Allan Holdsworth is an acquired taste. Not for the casual listener.

Dan Bobrowski | 4/5 |


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