Wednesday, April 19, 2017

'Igginbottom's Wrench - 1969 "Igginbottom's Wrench"

'Igginbottom's Wrench is a studio album by the band 'Igginbottom, released in 1969 through Deram Records originally on vinyl only. It has been reissued a number of times (sometimes under the group title of "Allan Holdworth & Friends"), most notably on CD for the first time on 5 March 1989, as well as a remastered edition in 2000 through Angel Air Records with extensive liner notes detailing the band's history. It is one of the first recordings to feature guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

Not so much a footnote as a toenail clipping in the annals of forgotten Deram label worthies, ’Igginbottom are known only to the privileged few as the Ronnie Scott-endorsed quartet which provided the first sighting of Allan Holdsworth in 1969. Their name may have led audiences to expect a brutalist meat-and-two- veg combo in the Stackwaddy vein; nothing could have prepared them for the preoccupied, jazzy insularity and pin-drop quietude of ’Igginbottom’s Wrench.

In an era of Marshall stacks and Big Muffs, Holdsworth and fellow ’Igginbottom guitarist Steven Robinson favoured intelligently-arranged tone clusters performed with no amp distortion and the treble rolled off. At times, as in Sweet Dry Biscuits, they sound like The Magic Band if Sun Ra had been cracking the whip instead of Beefheart.

The first revelation from this reissue is that Holdsworth patently emerged from the womb with his unreasonable talent fully formed. A mere 21 in 1969, he was already capable of unleashing those dazzling note flurries of dancing fluency that still make fellow guitarists lob their Les Pauls into the Thames. The second revelation is that he had a wonderfully appealing singing voice: check the sighing ennui of Golden Lakes and Not So Sweet Dreams. Who knew?

This is one weird-ass album, and one that will probably become better known as time goes on and more people discover that it's a very early musical document of Allan Holdsworth -- he was part of 'Igginbottom's Wrench along with David Freeman on drums, Steve Robinson on the other guitar, and Mick Skelly on bass. 'Igginbottom's Wrench, their one and only album, bears about the same relationship to Holdsworth's later work that The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp does to Robert Fripp's work, and it's curious that both albums are on the same label. 'Igginbottom's Wrench also sounds a lot like GG&F, kind of arty, theatrical psychedelia with some prominent jazz influences weaving in and out, but none of it taken seriously enough to be played or sung especially well, and it's easy to see how this recording got overlooked in 1969. It's mostly notable for the presence of "Golden Lakes," which evolved into "Velvet Darkness" and loomed ever larger in the decades to come. This shows Holdsworth at his least precise and pretentious, not in great form instrumentally or vocally (but not bad, either), noodling around in a less-than-formal setting and calling it an album. It's great fun and it will probably delight Holdsworth's fans, and anyone into late-'60s progressive rock or jazz/rock fusion.

Released on Deram Records in 1969, ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench’ was the first and only album from Barnsley’s ‘Igginbottom. The group consisted of Dave Freeman on drums, Mick Skelly on bass, Steven Robinson on guitar and guitarist extrodinaire, singer and main writer Allan Holdsworth.
Igginbottom were young lads (no older than 21) and had only formed as a band a few months before recording this album. Despite this ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench was, and is a brilliantly complex and highly sophisticated Jazz-Psych-Prog-Rock gem.
The album has heavy Jazz influences but could also happily sit in the Progressive or Psychedelic Rock sections. There is a lot to take in, song arrangements are ambitious and complex and the album really warrants several listens. In the Liner notes, Ronnie Scott writes: ‘Igginbottom are unique and completely original and although they love Jazz music and Coltrane in particular I can’t detect allegiance to any particular jazz musician in their work. They may well be the first group that has, completely naturally and unselfconsciously, evolved out of the ever converging directions of good Pop and Jazz. Their compositions (mainly by Allan Holdsworth) are fantastic and strangely moving – full of unexpected harmonic twists and difficult intervals, sung, again mostly by Holdsworth, with amazing precise intonation“
igginbottom front

Allan Holdsworth is best known for his work in the Jazz/Fusion world. He is a virtuoso guitar player and has been cited as a major influence by other guitarists such as Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Richie Kotzen, Alex Lifeson, and Greg Howe to name but a few. This album however, captures Holdsworth in a less formal than normal state, his playing is less precise and much ‘cooler sounding’ than his later stuff, in my opinion.
While many other guitarists of the day were embracing new amplification technology and heavily overdriven sounds, Holdsworth and fellow guitarist Steven Robinson used cleaner, dryer and much Jazzier sounds.

Holdsworth’s voice too is soft, soulful and in places not too dissimilar from a young Chet Baker but it’s really his guitar playing that stands out. The solos are blisteringly fast but somehow still remain laid back and groovy. Interestingly, ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench was later re-issued as being recorded by ‘Allan Holdsworth & Friends’.

The popular stand-out track is the last on side 1 – ‘Golden Lakes’ as this went on to become the influence for Holdsworth’s first solo album – ‘Velvet Darkness’, released in 1976. He went on to release a further 12 solo albums plus a range of live and collaborative records.

Track listing:

1. The Castle (Holdsworth) - 2:55
2. Out Of Confusion (Freeman, Robinson, Holdsworth, Skelly) - 2:09
3. The Witch (Holdsworth) - 3:03
4. Sweet Dry Biscuits (Holdsworth) - 2:54
5. California Dreamin' (Phillips) - 4:00
6. Golden Lakes (Holdsworth) - 5:12
7. Not So Sweet Dreams (Holdsworth) - 5:00
8. Is She Just A Dream? (Holdsworth, Kelly) - 4:33
9. Blind Girl (Robinson) - 3:46
10.The Donkey (Robinson) - 10:42


    Allan Holdsworth – vocals, guitar
    Steven Robinson – vocals, guitar
    Dave Freeman – drums
    Mick Skelly – bass


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Most impressive. There are a lot of Holdsworth homages around these days. I've not seen any that knew enough to dig down so far to uncover this. Looking forward to hearing it. Thx.

  3. Thanks for this post, the album is very hard to obtain and I am looking forward to hearing it. Holdsworth was an outstanding guitarist and will be missed.

  4. thanks for post. RIP Allan Holdsworth


  6. A true masterpiece! And an excellent release of the album.
    Thanks for sharing art, wonderful blog.
    Please listen something from the argentine guitarist Luis Salinas, he's one of the goodies.