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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Allan Holdsworth

None Too Soon

Review by Gary Hill

Originally released in 1996, I’m putting this under progressive rock because Holdsworth has been in prog bands (most notably UK) and because we often land fusion under that heading. This is definitely fusion. It’s also quite a strong disc. In fact, I remember seeing Holdsworth live around this same time and it was one of the most amazing shows I ever saw. While the disc doesn’t capture that kind of intensity, it’s more diverse and it’s simply amazing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Countdown

There’s a quick bit of space before Holdsworth screams out with some killer guitar playing. After a time it shifts out to more of a pure fusion sound (the earlier guitar solo movement felt almost metallic). It works back out to more of the furious jamming. This is an awesome (but short) number that really kicks.

Nuages
This cut is mellower. It’s more like a jazz ballad, but Holdsworth solos over the top like crazy, taking it up quite a bit from that ballad label. A more melodic keyboard solo is nice. It evolves from there in more melodic ways. This is slow and very much like mellow jazz.
How Deep Is the Ocean
More pure fusion is on order here. Although this is sort of mid-tempo, the rhythm section is purely on fire. Holdsworth shows off his knack for crazed soloing, but stays more purely melodic in the process. This is an awesome piece, and precisely the kind of thing that really awes me from Holdsworth. Everyone shines on this number.
Isotope
Piano drives this more than the previous tunes. It’s another smoking hot jazz tune. Again everyone puts in amazing performances. I particularly enjoy the bass solo segment, but then again, I’m a bass player first and foremost. There is some seriously incendiary instrumental interplay on this cut.
None Too Soon Pt. One / Interlude / None Too Soon Pt. Two
Piano opens this and holds it for a short time. Then it works out to more of a pure jazz arrangement. Later Holdsworth fires out into some awesome soloing as the rest of the musicians jam around very well. It drops way down to atmospheric sounds as they continue. It grows back out into some more awesome fusion jamming with some great texture as they move forward.
Norwegian Wood
Here we get a full on jazz treatment of the Beatles song. There aren’t any huge surprises here. It’s a typical jazz arrangement in that it works on variants of the central themes. That said, with this bunch of musicians, you just can’t beat it.
Very Early
A slow moving and melodic arrangement starts this off and it works through some variations. There is some great piano work on the cut. It really builds up in an organic and steady procession, gaining intensity and volume. As the bass solos later this gets a bit more atmospheric. Again, they grow things out from there. This really has an organic and natural texture to the way it evolves. It’s a great tune.
San Marcos
Coming in fairly energized, this one works out in traditional fusion ways, but again, these guys jam in ways that’s far from conventional.
Inner Urge
Powering in, Holdsworth drives this from the onset. After a time it drops back for a bass solo. When it works back out to more energetic jamming piano shows itself in a solo over the top of the other instruments. The jamming gets very intense as it continues. Holdsworth drives some melodic soloing over the top beyond that point. While melodic his soloing is still crunchy in texture and soaring in scope. His playing gets quite powerful from there. It drops down to a little spoken bit at the end.
 
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