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Allan Holdsworth - Allan Holdsworth & Gordon Beck: The Things You See CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 20 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
3 stars The background: This is a recording of an artist in transition, between being the band member in the 70's (Tempest, Gong, Soft Machine, New Tony Williams Lifetime, Jean Luc Ponty group, Ian Carr's Nucleus) and being the band leader from the beginning of the 80's.

Beck and Holdsworth had worked with John Stevens in free jazz workshops, prior to being broadcasting on BBC Radio 3, (subsequently issued on 3 CDs under Stevens' name, by the German label Spalax). The work with Stevens and then as part of a Gordon Beck lead quartet on 'Sunbird' (which sounds occasionally like the early Return To Forever), and here in equal partnership with Gordon Beck, indicated Holdsworth was trying to escape temporarily from jazz rock and trying out jazz mainstream, (although Gary Husband informs me 'IOU' was recorded in 1979, only to sit in the can for a couple of years before independent release). The search for new paths for his music and his first discovery of the big record companies' lack of sympathy for the musical artist, would also soon show with apathy which greeted the legendary 'Sherwood Forest Tapes '(approximately 30 minutes of still unreleased, demos by Holdsworth, Jack Bruce and Jon Hiseman). During this period Holdsworth nearly gave up the music business but eventually decided to leave Europe to become resident in San Diego. In meanwhile Holdsworth's reputation moved through the music industry, getting the call from the likes of Billy Cobham - look out for (still I'm afraid in bootleg form only) the 1981 Montreux Jazz Festival recording with Cobham, Jack Bruce, Didier Lockwood, David Sancious and Holdsworth.

The album: Following the release of the Holdsworth compilation 'Against The Clock' at the beginning of 2005, I seriously examined the extensive number of Holdsworth recordings not included on that double set. With both this album and 'Sunbird', I heard something that I don't remember hearing the first time of listening (in 1980 - as import LPs bought in the famed Dobbell's jazz record shop in London's Charing Cross Road) . This is unusual Holdsworth: relaxed, experimenting (but he never stops), working with his long term friend, playing the violin on one track (and it isn't the obvious one), tending to concentrate on the acoustic guitar and singing one tune. This is mature jazz (not really fusion, no strident rock rhythms) but not typical of later Holdsworth jazz, even though there is the instantly identifiable style. I love his vocal 'At The Edge' (typical of Holdsworth to appear soon as part of the IOU repertoise, with fresh title and lyrics, oddly as 'Things You See......... When You Haven't Got Your Gun). Hey like Chet Baker, on the basis of this I would kill to hear Holdsworth do a complete album of vocals and give them an English sound- fat chance. This is an album that has grown significantly on me over 20 years. Allan Holdsworth's chill out album.

While it doesn't quite make the 4 star because of its jazz content - which could frighten some away - it well worth a 3.8, and most strongly recommended to Holdsworth fans.

Dick Heath | 3/5 |


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