Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tony Williams - 1970 [2011] "Turn It Over"

The better of the two albums the Tony Williams Lifetime recorded in 1970, Turn It Over, is a far more focused and powerful album than the loose, experimental Ego, and one of the more intense pieces of early jazz-rock fusion around. In parts, it's like Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys with much better chops. It's more rock-oriented and darker-hued than their debut, 1969's Emergency!, and the temporary addition of ex-Cream member Jack Bruce on bass and vocals alongside stalwart guitarist John McLaughlin makes this something of a milestone of British progressive jazz. The album's primary flaw is that unlike the expansive double album Emergency!, these ten songs are tightly constricted into pop-song forms -- only a swinging cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Once I Loved" breaks the five-minute mark, and then only barely -- which reins in these marvelous soloists too much. This is particularly frustrating since pieces like the two-part "To Whom It May Concern" feature some outstanding solos (especially from McLaughlin and organist Larry Young, the group's secret weapon) that are frustratingly, tantalizingly short. Expanded to a double album, Turn It Over would probably surpass Emergency! as a pioneering jazz-rock fusion release; as it is, it's an exciting but mildly maddening session. All Music.

I had the great good fortune to see this band live many times during their brief tenure together. They were the most energetic, exciting and musically brilliant fusion group ever. This recording captures much of that excitement very vividly, as well as Tony's less than compelling vocals (he should have left the singing to Jack Bruce). The singing aside, the instrumental performances are transcendent. These guys took no prisoners and explored sonic realms that remain untouched since. Buy this CD, if for no other reason than the fact that Tony's drumming establishes, for all time, his pre-eminence as the greatest modern drummer. Nobody like him - EVER! By Richard James Schiffer.

I saw this lineup twice and this disc is so hot! Everybody's playing is through the roof.I wish Jack sang on this,but I know he had not been in the band very long yet.John,Tony and Larry could swing so hard and groove so deep....and with very unconventional jazz sounds at times.The music sounds crazy,powerful,druggy and total genius.Tony was not the world's greatest vocalist,but what the hell?He was almost great....had a cool texture in his sound at times. I will never get sick of this.The One Word bonus track should be in a time was what was happening in 1970!! By David E.Stoltz.

If you are like me and owned every lp and cd incarnation of this awesome music then you will love this. It has all the grit and sheer power of the best with extra clarity and presence to boot. Neil Young said he didn't like digital because it ruined the sound of his distortion. Well, here is all that massive distortion and ruckus as clear as can be! The guitar and organ jump in to the room like never before. The grunt and groan are more intense. I am so glad Esoteric got this nailed! Many thanks!!! By groover.

Tony Williams Lifetime was the unit that adhered most to rock. Turn It Over continues the format of the brilliant Emergency: song formats that open to jams with Larry Young's amazing organ and John McGlaughin on guitar. Turn It Over also has Jack Bruce on bass.

It is also a more rocky album than Emergency. With the songs and solos more condensed, they hold more power than even the acid bath of the 1969 double album. Bruce's bass takes the chore of being the bottom from Young, allowing the organist to open up more. The result us jazz that rocks as hard as some of the hardest out there, then or now.

Having been a devoted Jack Bruce fan & musician myself, I first saw Tony Williams Lifetime at the Capital Theatre in Portchester NY at age 14. I was somewhat confused by what I heard, however so so interested that I could not move througout the concert. The music was not rock,blues or jazz by any of the traditional standards. (NOTE: Fusion had yet to a common genre). Jack played incredible bass, and in fact was reading off charts most of the night... The band was at its infancy and this may have been their first real gig... In spite of being confused as well being blown away by this new sound, I was confident that this new music was ahead of its time. John McLaughlin was playing riffs I never heard before.. Tony Willaims was so so new & fresh... (and with a no frills Gretsh Drum set), Larry Young produced sounds you never heard before on the Hammond. This was a band with no restictions, with a new powerful sound that was not quite ready for prime time... A few months later they were playing at Ungano's (A Small NY Club), being under age I was at first not allowed in, however I had some rare pictures of Jack with Graham Bond & Alexis Korner, Mr. Ungano showed these to Jack... & Jack invited me in to his dressing room. Jack asked if he could have the pictures... as he did not have them himself.. I obliged, we sat and talked for about 20 minutes... Also in the room was John McLaughlin playing & Larry Young talking to a reporter.. They performed that evening in front of a crowd of about 20... can you believe it!!!! They were doing things from Jack's Harmony Row LP (yet to be relesaed) and several tunes from Turn It Over, which was just released. This album was the true creation of what we now know as "Jazz Fusion", the interplay is so spectacular with a mixture of fine jazz & hard driving rock... The CD is meant to be played at a fairly high volume. The band shines on Chick Corea's - To Whom It May Concern (Pt 1 & 2), Coltrane's: Big Nick (Jack on the Upright Bass), Once I Loved (William's vocal & Young's organ display a spooky rendition of this classic), Vuelta Abajo is a hard driving rock/jazz power tune. There is not a bad track on the CD... I have read a few other reviews on this masterpiece and I can see why some can say it is dated a bit, however one must remember this was well before we were listening to Chick Corea's Return To Forever, Larry Coryell's Eleventh House,Miles Davis's true eclectic period (post Bitches Brew),John Abercrombie, Jeff Becks (Blow By Blow Masterpiece), The Mahavishna Orch..w/John McClauglin,Dave Liebman, just to mention a few... If you are a risk taker and innovator... This CD is for you... A True Classic!!!! ...PLAY IT LOUD!!! By Thomas Ferrandina.

CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2257 (2011, Europe) Remastered by Ben Wiseman w/ a bonus track.

Tracks Listing:

1. To Whom It May Concern Them (4:20)
2. To Whom It May Concern Us (2:55)
3. This Night This Song (3:44)
4. Big Nick (2:43)
5. Right On (1:49)
6. Once I Loved (5:08)
7. Vuelta Abajo (4:57)
8. A Famous Blues (4:10)
9. Allah Be Praised (4:36)
10. One Word (3:45)

Total time 34:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Williams/ drums, vocals, co-producer
- John McLaughlin / guitar, vocals
- Larry Young (Khalid Yasin) / organ
- Jack Bruce / bass, lead vocals (10)