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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Allan Holdsworth

Hard Hat Area

Review by Gary Hill

Originally released in 1993, this is getting a reissue here. Allan Holdsworth’s brand of fusion is always strong and this is one of his better albums. I saw his band live once, and it was one of the most amazing musical experiences I’ve had. While this doesn’t live up to that, it’s still very good.

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

Track by Track Review

This introductory piece is suitably textural and yet powerful. It’s a short cut.

The cut fires out of the gate with some killer fusion textures. It’s melodic and yet incendiary at the same time.
Low Levels, High Stakes
Somehow the section that brings this in makes me think of Yes, just a bit. From there, though, a piano driven segment brings it more into pure jazz territory as it works through this mellow motif. It evolves out from there through a number of changes and alterations as the pure fusion really drives this.
Hard Hat Area
While this starts rather tentatively, when it does kick into high gear, Holdsworth’s guitar purely fires out in some serious power. Before it ends they take it back to more melodic fusion.
This is a fairly melodic fusion cut. It’s got a lot of great jamming, but stays reasonably constant in terms of direction and sound. It’s one of the more accessible pieces here.
House Of Mirrors
The opening here is quite mellow and melodic. After going through like that for a while they up the volume a bit, but keep it slow and melodic. As this works through several changes, it starts to feel a little like Genesis at times. This really does stay quite melodic and fairly mellow throughout. Still, it does soar and there is a lot of exploration. There’s an extremely pretty segment at the end.
There’s more of a freeform element to this closing jam. It’s got some cool fusion, though. It gets pretty crazed at times.
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