Saturday, April 22, 2017

Allan Holdsworth - 1992 "Wardenclyffe Tower"

Wardenclyffe Tower is the seventh studio album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 1992 through Restless Records (United States) and JMS–Cream Records (Europe), and in 1993 through Polydor Records (Japan); a remastered edition was reissued in 2007 through Eidolon Efformation, containing three bonus tracks (alternative versions of "Tokyo Dream" from 1983's Road Games and "The-Unmerry-Go-Round" from 1985's Metal Fatigue) which were previously only available on the Japanese release. The album's title is a reference to the real life Wardenclyffe Tower, or Tesla Tower, designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1901. "Zarabeth" is named after a character in the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays". Wiki.

This 1992 release features Holdsworth in conversation with usual compatriots Jimmy Johnson, Chad Wackerman, and Gary Husband. Keyboards are provided not only by Steve Hunt, but also by both Wackerman and Husband. Husband in particular demonstrates that his facility on the keyboards is equal to his skill on the drums. Despite the all-star cast of characters, there are certain peculiarities to Wardenclyffe Tower that prevent it from being numbered among Holdsworth's best work. One very obvious oddity is the strange and ill-advised ending to the opener, "5 to 10," which concludes with a toilet flushing and an annoying voice-over. Mistakes in judgment aside, there is something formless about this album, something that blurs the tracks together in a meaningless way. Holdsworth has always been more of a distinctive than a strong composer, and the batch of tunes that he contributes here is not very compelling. The title track, with its power-chord verse, and his collaboration with singer Naomi Star, "Against the Clock," are his strongest moments. The presence of Hunt's "Dodgy Boat" helps but it is not enough to elevate this album to the level of Holdsworth's past successes. This is not to say that there is not meaningful music on Wardenclyffe Tower, because there is. "Against the Clock," which features not only Star's voice but also the drums of Vinnie Colaiuta, is one such success. Holdsworth makes use of the SynthAxe guitar synthesizer on several tracks on Wardenclyffe Tower, the most effective use of which is here, where his solo emerges from empty space in a constantly accelerating fashion, like a boulder rolling down a hill (although Holdsworth's ascending line sets forth the impossible scenario of falling upwards). All in all, however, there is a lack of dynamic movement in the soloists and the compositions in general. Of value to Holdsworth completists, but not of much interest to casual fans.  All Music.

This was the first AH album I ever listened to. I was 15 years old. I'm a guitar player. But at the time I was taking drumming lessons. My drum tutor recommended me AH, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eddie Van Halen. So I decided to give AH a try and this was the only album there. I popped the disc into my Discman and rode the London train.

Words cannot describe how awesome this album was. The solo on 5 to 10 nearly give me a teary eye. That's how affected I was with this album. Each and every song was amazing especially Zarabeth. There is no filler on Wardenclyffe Tower. Looking at the album cover and listening to the music took me to places where no spaceship could take me.

A few years down the line, I listened to the rest of his albums: Metal Fatigue, Secrets, Sand, Atavachron and None Too Soon. None of those albums seemed to equal Wardenclyffe. AH's guitar tone on Wardenclyffe was the best. Music-wise, it just gets right down to it. A lot of the songs on those albums are a bit meandering and I sort of questioned whether I wanted to become a collector of AH's albums. I decided not to. The only one I'll ever need or want is Wardenclyffe... and maybe None Too Soon.
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It's been years since I've listened to this CD. I am literally brought to tears when I hear Allan's haunting solo on Sphere of Innocence. I cannot fathom where his creativity comes from. It's like trying to figure out where outer space ends and what lay on the other side. It is a complete mystery. His technique is perfect, and as always, NOBODY has better guitar tone than Allan. He is simply one of the Earths gifts. It's been years since I've listened to this CD. I am literally brought to tears when I hear Allan's haunting solo on Sphere of Innocence. I cannot fathom where his creativity comes from. It's like trying to figure out where outer space ends and what lay on the other side. It is a complete mystery. His technique is perfect, and as always, NOBODY has better guitar tone than Allan. He is simply one of the Earths gifts. .

You've been raised on super groups, avant garde, fusion and psychedelia; you are looking for the next group of guitar musicians to take you to the next level.....so waiting to guide you are Jeff Beck, John Mclaughlin, Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, ....... and (sigh) the ultimate chopmeister, Allan Holdsworth. It has been said he is happier in his live outings, but in this 1992 studio album, everything he had developed to that point; the blistering solo runs, the immaculate chord progressions, as well as command of the guitar technology available at that time, ...... all are beautifully captured for you in a hi-fibre wholemeal diet. Regardless of classifications, (is this intelligent guitar-rock, jazz-fusion, progressive or cross-genre...... and who really cares?), ..... the musicians on this CD are waiting to assist in your musical evolution, and take you to that next ... or next ... and possibly even next level. .

My review focuses on one song - Zarabeth. I've been a devoted listener to all forms of guitar music for 40 years. I have no reservations in saying that Zarabeth is the greatest guitar improvisation I've ever heard, it's exquisite in all ways: song composition (fantastic chord progression for an improvisation), solo structure (just listen to AH build this art - as if it were laid out in his from head to tail, from the first note), melody (what AH does throughout against the structure is sublime), technical (utterly phenomenal playing skills and tone control, brilliant amp tone), rhythm (his phrasing and accenting control much of the emotion and impact of the solo), and lastly, emotion. I have no doubt that this solo leaves every "guitar god" out there thinking, "I know nothing about the guitar". AH is truly on another planet. .

Tracks Listing

1. 5 to 10 (5:36)
2. Sphere Of Innocence (5:58)
3. Wardenclyffe Tower (8:44)
4. Dodgy Boat (5:37)
5. Zarabeth (6:31)
6. Against The Clock (4:58)
7. Questions (4:07)
8. Oneiric Moor (1:41)

Total Time: 43:12

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, SynthAxe (1,3,6), producer

With:
- Joel Schnebelt / spoken vocals (1)
- Naomi Star / vocals (6)
- Steve Hunt / keyboards (1,2,4,5)
- Jimmy Johnson / bass
- Gary Husband / drums (2,4), keyboards (3)
- Chad Wackerman / drums (1,3,5,7), keyboards (7)
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums (6) 
 
 



2 comments:

  1. http://www92.zippyshare.com/v/GEBMmjyw/file.html
    http://www92.zippyshare.com/v/QLwBcW0l/file.html

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  2. Thanks Crimhead420
    I fell in love with his playing way back with Gong / Soft machine etc
    I saw him live several times in a SE London music pub for free...Once after another incredible gig I shook his hand and asked if he gave lessons ( I was joking...I'm a simple Bluesman) He said 'You couldn't afford me ! ' with a wry smile on his face...I suggest his work with Tony Williams is a beaut...2 albums of greatness...Keep up your enthusiasm if you can...Cheers

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