Allan Holdsworth, released in 1982 through Luna Crack Records/I.O.U. Records originally on vinyl; a CD edition was reissued in 1985 through Enigma Records and a remaster in 2008 through Belle Antique. A previous album, Velvet Darkness, was released in 1976 without Holdsworth's consent, therefore making this (in his view) his first official solo release. Furthermore, many tracks from Velvet Darkness were remade and retitled for I.O.U..
After the train-wreck disaster of Holdsworth's first solo release, the infamous Velvet Darkness,
it wasn't until three years later that he reconsidered doing a real
solo release versus the earlier ripoff of an authorized studio mishmash
product he suffered. So in 1979 he recorded I.O.U.
on a wing and a prayer and loans (ergo, an IOU recording project). With
his very successful stints with other groups in the intervening time
period, such as UK and Bruford, Holdsworth's guitar prowess and name were clearly on the map. Holdsworth now needed to be the leader he clearly was and thus release an official solo record. The real Allan Holdsworth unleashed is at last revealed on I.O.U.
in his original compositions and well-crafted soloing, versus being
merely part of a group and forced to stay within certain boundaries of
other bandmates' design. I.O.U.,
as a solo release, is high-quality jazz fusion interplay, offering
emotive compositions, ethereal guitar atmospherics, complex chordal
progressions, and intense legato explosions of guitar that set the
standard for many guitarists to come. There is no acoustic guitar this
time, but a wee bit of Holdsworth on violin appears in one song.
Allan Holdsworth makes modern fusion albums: this record has very dedicated electric
guitar sounds. I think he uses a volume effect to sometimes produce very ethereal,
echoed, urban & refined floating guitar sounds, like on the "Shallow sea" or "Letters of
Marquee" tracks: it sounds a bit like the guitar volume effect of the King Crimson's "Matte
Kudasai" track, on the "Discipline" album. When Holdsworth plays a more conventional
sound here, he quite sounds like the Pat Metheny's electric guitar on the "American
garage" album. There are no keyboards on the record, maybe just an excellent piano part
on "Temporary fault". The lead vocals sound a bit like the voice of Gary Chandler (Jadis).
Holdsworth's numerous guitar solos are very elaborated, although they are more
technically impressive than they can be catchy. The bass and drums are quite complex,
fast and refined. Gary Husband's drum solo on "Letters of Marquee" is ABSOLUTELY
DELIGHTFUL! Just turn up the volume and enjoy the power of it!
This is another great place to start for the uninitiated. But you may
want to wait. Allan just secured the rights to his earlier recording and
there is talk of re-releasing/re-mastering this album with some added
tracks which were "lost" during the first pressing. If you can get a
copy of this, grab it. This is Allan's first "REAL" attempt to bring his
music to the world and he does so in a stunning fashion. This album
consists of 50% instrumental and 50% vocal tracks. Don't be put off by
Paul Williams voice. He's not great, but he is competent (stays on key).
Holdsworth tears it up, on violin too. Some of the solos will cause you
to rewind and play over and over to try and imagine what he's doing.
Blistering, not just speed, but the fluidity of the notes (legato) and
the passion he plays with. Gary Husband marks his debut with IOU and he
sets a very flowing pulse anchored by Paul Carmichael. It's hard to
point out any single track as a stand out because the flow of the album
makes for one enjoyable listen. The Things You See and Letters of Marque
are still fans favs today.
To call this groundbreaking would be an understatement. After years of
playing "hired gun" and adding colorful embroidering to the works of
others, Allan Holdsworth in no uncertain terms served notice he had
something unique of his own to offer. Ghostly extruded chords, angular
intervalic melody lines, anarchaic drumming and Coltrane-like flurries
of notes dance collide twist and turn on themselves in ways never before
thoght possible. Having seen this lineup live (circa 1982), It was
amazing to see Allan do things on a guitar that just sounded impossible!
Gary Husband's drumming is a great example of "controlled chaos",
providing a great foil for Allan's unorthodox musical ideas as Paul
Carmichael provides solid bass support.
Allan Holdsworth's proper debut after the disastrous 'Velvet Darkness'
(and a joint venture with Gordon Beck) was a quiet but definite triumph,
fact that few seemed to notice didn't diminish the musical ripples this
LP sent out. It presented a music altogether new, led by a player who
in a big way and took the notion of jazz-rock to a different place.
'The Things You See' has Paul Williams back in great form, Paul
bass and the unstoppable Gary Husband on traps. Unassuming but
fantastically complex is 'Where is One', dotted with many little tastes
brilliance. Here was much more than just fusion. 'Checking Out' rocks
with smart arrangements and fresh ideas, 'Letters of Marque' features
atmospherics and a kick-ass drum solo from Husband. 'Out From Under' is
heavy jazz with Holdsworth's signature atonalities, demonstrating
vocal talents and musical understanding, and 'Shallow Sea' is an
instrumental showcase. There is every chance you may hate this record,
and that's okay.
It's progressive, it rocks, and in 1982 was an astounding musical
statement. Challenging, difficult and absolutely brilliant.
1. The things you see (when you haven't got your gun) (5:50)
2. Where is one (5:32)
3. Checking out (3:34)
4. Letters of Marquee (6:57)
5. Out from under (3:32)
6. Temporary fault (3:15)
7. Shallow sea (5:51)
8. White line (4:50)
Total Time: 39:21
Line-up / Musicians
- Paul Carmichael / bass
- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, violin
- Gary Husband / drums, piano
- Paul Williams / vocals