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.
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.
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
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
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!
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!
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
07 "Celebration" (Williams) — 4:01
08 "Letsby" (Holdsworth) — 6:34
Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Alan Pasqua – keyboards
Tony Newton – bass
Tony Williams – drums