There’s an alternative, fantasy version of the BRITS Lifetime Achievement award where true artists like Allan Holdsworth get the recognition they deserve from their native music industry.
There would also be gongs for Courtney Pine, Gary Crosby, John McLaughlin, Django Bates, Julian Joseph, Gary Husband, Bill Bruford and a few others.
Of course that’ll never happen, so let’s just celebrate the 70th birthday of one of the great British musicians. Allan will never sell the amount of albums to even put a blip on the radar of most music fans, but he revolutionised his instrument and influenced legions of musicians in the process. After a period of ill health recently, he’s back to playing and touring and there’s even talk of a new studio album.
Of course his work with Tony Williams, Bill Bruford, Stanley Clarke, Level 42 and many others is highly recommended, but I’m going to focus on his solo career for this brief best-of. Happy 70th birthday to a bona fide Brit legend.
5. ‘Non-Brewed Condiment’ (Live) from Then! (1990)
An irresistible slice of burning jazz/rock, recorded live in Japan with key collaborator Gary Husband on outrageous drumming form.
4. ‘House Of Mirrors’ from Hard Hat Area (1993)
This moving epic demonstrates Holdsworth’s unique, close-interval chord work and more reflective compositional style.
3. ‘Looking Glass’ from Atavachron (1986)
A terrific composition featuring a brilliant contribution from Tony Williams on drums.
2. ‘Joshua’ from Secrets (1989)
It’s always intriguing to hear Allan blowing over someone else’s chord changes, in this case keyboardist/composer Steve Hunt’s, and these two solos are among his best. And check out drummer Vinnie Colaiuta‘s ridiculous drum accompaniment.
1. ‘Devil Take The Hindmost’ from Metal Fatigue (1985)
For many fans, this is the quintessential Holdsworth track, featuring two superb solos which demonstrate what he’s all about. It even has a catchy melody.