Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tony Williams - 1975 [2004] "Believe It"

Believe It is the first album by The New Tony Williams Lifetime, released in 1975 on Columbia Records. The New Lifetime was a jazz fusion band formed by the drummer Tony Williams with Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Alan Pasqua on keyboards and Tony Newton on bass.

The compositions Fred, Proto Cosmos and Red Alert are also featured on the Allan Holdsworth DVD Live at Yoshi's, released in 2007. Holdsworth has often stated that his time with the drummer was the most influential formative stage of his career.

By the time drummer Tony Williams left Miles Davis in '69, he had moved even farther away from the acoustic tradition than his former employer. His first recordings with his new band, Lifetime, were characterized by the sleeve instructions: "Play it Loud!" While the energy level was high and the music was infused with a rock and roll philosophy, it was nevertheless uncompromising and continued to push the boundaries; intense, daring and sometimes a little terrifying, the early incarnation of Lifetime was a literal barrage on the senses.

By '75, Williams had signed with a new label, pieced together a New Tony Williams Lifetime, and moved in a little more conventional jazz-rock direction. But unlike so many fusion records of the time, Believe It managed to be powerful without the bombastic pyrotechnics of bands like Return to Forever. Originally available on a CD that combined it with the far less successful follow-up, Million Dollar Legs , this long out-of-print title has finally been reissued by Columbia, remastered and with two bonus tracks.
Believe It features former Motown bassist Tony Newton, keyboard player Alan Pasqua and, most notably, British guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who, while already somewhat of an underground legend in his own country, had yet to make an impression in North America. Believe It changed all that, demonstrating that not only was Holdsworth a fresh new voice on his instrument, but a fine writer as well. "Fred," later re-titled "Kinder" by Holdsworth, and a staple in his repertoire for some years to come, introduces Holdsworth's unique harmonic language, with a lyrical bent that manages to be completely distinctive. And his playing style is quite simply like no other; influenced heavily by Coltrane, Holdsworth, even at this early stage in his career, is capable of sheets of sound that, punctuated by held notes and legato runs, are visceral in their impact.
No less visceral, of course, is Williams himself. While peers including Billy Cobham and Lenny White gravitated towards more overblown displays of virtuosity, Williams overpowers both with his stronger sense of groove and sheer muscularity. And while he is every bit as capable of extravagant displays of technique, he always sounds more musical. Even on intense burners like the Holdsworth-penned bonus track "Letsby," he is less concerned with how many beats he can throw into a fill; and his solo over Holdsworth's power chord ostinato is the epitome of construction.
For someone who moved the concept of rhythmic freedom so far forward as part of Miles' second quintet, Williams may have been the most overtly rock and roll-informed drummer of the mid-'70s fusion era. With an inherent sense of groove and honest energy that comes from compositions that are less contrived and more direct vehicles for improvisational flight, Believe It is one of the most compelling arguments for the validity of jazz-rock fusion, before the term became such a dirty word.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore! 28 years after its original release, this album STILL sounds as invigorating as the day it was released. Tony Williams, much like his mentor Miles Davis had a knack for picking great talent for his bands, especialy young upstart British guitar virtuosos.

As if John McLaughlin wasn't enough, he went and found the soft-spoken and ridiculoulsy innovative Allan Holdsworth, who spun melodic and fluid solos with the ease of a saxophonist. Already having stints with Tempest and Soft Machine under his belt, Holdsworth's style was jumping to the next level already, and Tony Williams did nothing to stand in the way, in fact, Allan was heavily encouraged and cheered on in his explorations by his bandmates here. Allan did things that just sounded absolutely impossible on a guitar at the time, and I remember so vivdly hearing this album at age 16 and having my jaw scraping the ground in amazement!

Armed with nothing more than a Gibson SG and a Marshall amp, Allan H just roared in an destroyed the place with his emotionally charged soloing and exploratory compositions, and a finely tuned musical sense to make te compostions of his bandmates come alive! Marrying this to William's inventive powerhouse drumming, Tony Newton's funky slithering bass and Alan Pasqua's glassy keyboards, this version of the Tony Williams Lifetime was a force to be reckoned with.

The other thing that still grabs me about this album is the open. raw live sound with minimal overdubbing, as honest and accurate in capturing this band's power in the studio as you could hope for. There's not one weak cut on here, ranging from the stomping funk of "Snake Oil" to the ghostly chord melody of "Fred" and the rip snorting brilliance of "Mr. Spock" (especially with the section where Williams and Holdsworth switch roles, Tony putting forth the solo of his life and Holdsworth bashing out angry Black Sabbath-like power chords underneath before roaring to a great close). The bonus tracks are a VERY worthwhile addition as well, "Letsby" is a slightly different take on "Mr. Spock" and "Celebration" get's more funky while still snarling like a panther (thanks again to Allan Holdsworth's raging guitar).

A serious fusion classic if ever there was and definitely worth adding to your library. Turn it up to 11 and let your jaw drop again!

Track listing

01 "Snake Oil" (Tony Newton) — 6:30
02 "Fred" (Allan Holdsworth) — 6:48
03 "Proto-Cosmos" (Alan Pasqua) — 4:02
04 "Red Alert" (Newton) — 4:39
05 "Wildlife" (Tony Williams) — 5:22
06 "Mr Spock" (Holdsworth) — 6:15
Bonus Tracks
07 "Celebration" (Williams) — 4:01
08 "Letsby" (Holdsworth) — 6:34


    Allan Holdsworth – guitar
    Alan Pasqua – keyboards
    Tony Newton – bass
    Tony Williams – drums


  1. http://www41.zippyshare.com/v/7pSlfM96/file.html

  2. Looks good... I like all the Tony Williams I've heard so far. Thanks for pointing out so many great albums.

  3. Cet album de Tony Williams est extraordinaire, avec ce nouveau Lifetime et Holdsworth (décidément un guitariste souvent associé aux batteurs - Bruford, UK, Soft Machine avec Marshall, Gong avec Moerlen...) Tony a littéralement explosé le style jazz rock et en a peut être posé là l'apogée, tout comme on l'en revendiquait le créateur avec son premier Lifetime...
    Merci pour toute cette richesse musicale et de chroniques en ce blog.
    Tony Williams, inégalé, inégalable...


  4. thanks
    "muito obrigado" from Brazil

  5. Great!, you´re the best.