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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Allan Holdsworth

Warsaw Summer Jazz Days '98

Review by Gary Hill

This is one of four live albums from Allan Holdsworth that I've covered for this issue of Music Street Journal. As I've said in some of the others, Holdsworth might well have been the greatest guitarist to ever live. This show might be the best of the bunch, too. The music is fusion, but of the variety that only Holdsworth could do. Each musician here really puts in a stellar performance. In addition to the audio CD you get a professionally shot DVD. What is different this time is that the track list is a bit different on the DVD and there are tracks included there that aren't on the CD.

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Track by Track Review
The Sixteen Men Of Tain
The fusion textures bring this in with a rather melodic approach. It eventually gets into the screaming hot type of jamming that you expect from Holdsworth and company.
Looking Glass
Another that starts with a melodic fusion approach, this grows outward as you'd expect from there. Insane jamming ensues with Holdsworth purely shredding.
Above And Below
This number is a mellower one from start to finish. Yet there is still plenty of drama and magic built into it.
Water On The Brain - Pt. II
A faster fusion jam brings this into being, and the musicians begin to create intriguing musical structures as they explore the sonic landscape. This has some of the most impressive bass work of the whole concert. This works through some great changes along the road.
Material Unreal
The opening concepts on this are so classy and dramatic. The track works outward from there with some of the most dramatic jamming of the whole show. The instrumental work is nothing short of amazing. There are some awe-inspiring guitar passages on the number. It also makes great use of the contrast between mellower and more powered up zones. I should mention, too, that this has some particularly impressive drum work.
As you can probably guess, this thing is chock full of incredible and intense instrumental work. Of course, Holdsworth just slays on his guitar. That's always a given. This is such a powerhouse number.
Letters Of Marque
This is another tune that features some standout bass work. In fact, the bass guitar seems to be on fire at times. This is another powerhouse fusion number from start to finish. There is a rather extensive drum solo built into this. That contributes to the fact that, at almost 12-miniutes of music, this is the longest number of the disc.
I love the slightly humorous introduction on this number. The guitar soloing on the track is definitely not played for laughs, though. It's purely on fire.
Here we get another fast-paced jam that has some killer fusion jamming in place.
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