Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tony Williams - 2016 (1975) "Believe It" - (1976) "Million Dollar Legs" - (1979) "The Joy Of Flying"

Digitally remastered two CD set containing Jazz drummer Tony Williams' three albums for Sony, dating from 1975, 1976 and 1979. The first two feature guitarist Allan Holdsworth whilst Joy Of Flying has, amongst others, George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Brian Auger, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn and Ronnie Montrose. Williams, who played with everyone from Miles Davis to John Lydon's PIL, sadly died at the young age of 51 in 1997.

After the original Lifetime split, Tony Williams tried desperately to make the next "great album".
He found his opportunity when he found Allan Holdsworth, a prog-rock veteran of Tempest, Gong, & Soft Machine.
Holdsworth approached the electric guitar with a jazz feel, his Gibson SG Custom sounding often like John Coltrane's saxophone.
Tony Williams and Holdsworth found common ground, and each brought in a musician capable of expressing the power and energy that Williams felt his music had been lacking. Bassist Tony Newton, a veteran of Motown sessions, was picked by Williams to hold it all down. Holdsworth was taken with the abilities of keyboardist Alan Pasqua, who not only could lay out the head of a piece,but was a fine soloist as well.This was to be the last edition of Lifetime, but this album, released in 1975, re-established the band as a force to be reckoned with.

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!

I'm a drummer and have been playing 56 years. Among my most influential drummers Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Lenny White, Mitch Mitchell, Chuck Burgi, Buddy Rich to name a few, I always have to reach back to Tony Williams who was so acrobatic, fluid, musically driven and down right AWESOME. "Believe It" was totally satisfying and inspirational, the guitar work by Soft Machines Allan Holdsworth is.....ah....PERFECT and timeless, I had this album when it originally was released and over the years wore it thru and had to replace it. 100% satisfied

1975 was still a year of great fusion records and this one is without a doubt one of them. Tony Williams returned with a brand new, fresh approach to his sound. The music feels tight but it's actually quite loose, thanks to the masterful musicians he picked. The opener Snake Oil is a killer track with a pounding, funky bass line and a riff that must be heard to be believed.
Allan Holdsworth's guitar work fiery yet mellow while Alan Pasqua and Tony Newton are both impressive on keys and bass respectively. Producer Bruce Botnick mahe sure Tony's drums sounded strong without making them invasive to great result. Needless to say, his drumming is amazing throughout and on the closer Mr. Spock, he takes to the spotlight for the delight of the listener. 35 years on, this has earned the status of a fusion classic.

The album's final piece, Holdsworth's "Mr. Spock" is an all-out jam of epic proportions.
Pasqua and Newton' primary task is to hold the piece together, for this showcase is all about electric guitar and drums.
After the pace is set and Pasqua takes his solo, Holdsworth plays a solo which has been described as no less than "apocalyptic",pulling out all the stops, and throwing caution to the wind.

It would be an understatement to say that there was a fair amount of variety on this set. Drummer Tony Williams is heard in two duets with keyboardist Jan Hammer, with a quartet also including keyboardist Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott (who unfortunately sticks to lyricon) and bassist Stanley Clarke, and he welcomes rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, keyboardist Brian Auger, guitarist George Benson, Hammer and tenorman Michael Brecker on other tracks. Much of this music is closer to R&B than to jazz, although there are many strong moments. But the most interesting selection is certainly "Morgan's Motion" which matches Williams with pianist Cecil Taylor in a powerful (and completely atonal) collaboration.

Track Listing:

Disc: 1
  1. Snake Oil
  2. Fred
  3. Proto-Cosmos
  4. Red Alert
  5. Wildlife
  6. Mr. Spock
  7. Sweet Revenge
  8. You Did It to Me
  9. Million Dollar Legs
  10. Joy Filled Summer
  11. Lady Jade
  12. What You Do to Me
  13. Inspirations of Love

Disc: 2
  1. Going Far
  2. Hip Skip
  3. Hittin' on 6
  4. Open Fire
  5. Tony
  6. Eris
  7. Coming Back Home
  8. Morgan's Motion


 "Believe It" & "Million Dollar Legs"

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

 "Joy Of Flying"

    George Benson - Guitar
    Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer, Brian Auger, Tom Scott - Keyboards
    Stanley Clarke, Paul Jackson, Mario Cipollina - Bass
    Michael Brecker - Saxophone
    Ronnie Montrose - Guitar
    David Sanborn - Alto saxophone
    Ronnie Cuber - Baritone saxophone
    Barry Rogers - Trombone
    Randy Brecker - Trumpet
    Ralph MacDonald - Percussion
    Jon Faddis - Trumpet
    Cecil Taylor - Piano



  2. Thanks CH
    I had the vinyl & older CDs but not this remaster...For its time...Great music !

    1. The 2004 edition of "Believe It" I think sounds better.
      The 2000 edition of "Million Dollar Legs" I think sounds better.
      "The Joy Of Flying" sounds exactly the same as the 2014 edition IMO.
      All three of those editions are posted here! :-)