Dan Miles talks to Dan Perloff from Manifesto Records about the work that went into last year's box set, the upcoming "Live in Japan" album, as well as possibilities for future archival releases. Highly recommended! http://www.friendsofdanmusicpodcast.com/allan-holdsworth-live-in-japan/?fbclid=IwAR11K8Zu728pxVxMjONeXoFoey77C8MD10TVxaJL4ex9chUNv2AubIokRrA
A double feature today! An unpublished article from 1982 by David Ashcraft has come to light, and Mr. Ashcraft has kindly allowed us to share it here, along with his photo. --- “Allan Holdsworth is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest guitar players in the world. Even fellow guitarists (normally a very jealous bunch) are unanimous in their admiration of his skills. Players as diverse as Pat Metheny, Eddie Van Halen, and Carlos Santana all cite Holdsworth as one of their favorites. Yet despite all of the praise from peers and outstanding reviews Holdsworth is one person who remains unconvinced. When asked about his unmistakably original guitar sound, Allan replied “It’s just a beginning of what I’m trying to get from the guitar. I really feel that I’m just at square one. My previous albums were just someone trying to find their way”. Although he discounts his past, Holdsworth has an impressive list of recordings that few will close to equaling. He has played with Bruford, U.K., Soft Machine, Tony Williams, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tempest and Gong as well as recording two solo albums. All of these diverse recordings feature Allan’s stunningly inventive and fluid solos regardless of the rock, progressive, or jazz context. Holdsworth is unconventional in both his approach and his philosophy of playing guitar. While conducting a workshop at Creative Strings Allan shocked the aspiring musicians in attendance by admitting that he doesn’t know how to read music. He felt that this has aided his improvisational style, since instead of worrying about which notes went with which chords he just used his own ear and determined for himself. This has resulted in chords that don’t exist in most textbooks, but that work in the context of Holdsworth’s eloquent musical vocabulary. Allan has made major contributions to all of the bands that he has played with, but somehow they never satisfied him enough to cause him to stay. I asked Allan why he had moved around so often in his career. He answered, “It’s instinctive for me to want to move on. It’s seemed like people only wanted a certain part of me. Essentially I’d been asked to do a certain thing – play guitar solos. With Bruford, U.K., and Jean-Luc Ponty I never had the opportunity to contribute my own ideas. Finally the sheer frustration of only doing one thing got to me. I left in order to express the other parts of what I thought I could do”. He added almost apologetically, “I suppose that I was being totally selfish. I could have carried on as a guitar player and just done solos and no one would have known I could play a chord”. One of the reasons why Holdsworth had felt stifled in U.K. and Bruford was because both bands had a thick keyboard sound. Allan felt that the “heavy dentures” (as he referred to keyboards) left him little rooms except for solos. “There wasn’t enough air in it for me. There was no space in the music. The keyboards were always filling up every available hole. It reminds me of the classic joke name for keyboard players, ‘Phil All-Gaps”, because that’s what it was like”. While Allan was still in the Bruford band he rehearsed with a trio that included former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Jon Hiseman of Tempest and Colosseum. Although contractual obligations prevented this unit from ever recording, Holdsworth liked the format so much that he decided to leave Bruford and form his own trio. He found an excellent drummer in Gary Husband whose explosive playing proved to be a fine complement to Allan’s intensity. What he didn’t anticipate were the difficulties he would encounter in getting the record industry interested in his music. “I sent demo tapes of the trio to virtually every record company, but no one wanted to hear about it. At this point I found that I couldn’t support myself by playing music. I couldn’t get a record contract and no one wanted to book us for live gigs”. Since Holdsworth’s progressive style of music was not fashionable his band was met with a general sense of apathy from the English public. “It ended up that it cost us money to play. Our expenses (sound system and all) cost more than we were paid. We’d go to a gig and have to say at the end “How much do we owe you to play?’. That’s where the name of the band, I.O.U., came from. It’s a perfect name”. Lacking record company interest or money, Allan went ahead and recorded an album using borrowed funds. “I had to sell that white (Fender) Strat that I used in U.K. and Bruford in order to pay for the cost of mixing the album. I really loved that guitar – it broke my heart to sell it”. Even with the master tapes of the excellent I.O.U. album completed, Allan could not find a record company willing to release it under any kind of reasonable terms. Disgusted with the music industry, Allan and the band decided to press the album on their own. Allan ended up having to make a living by repairing amplifiers and modifying guitars. By January of 1982 he had been trying to get the trio concept to work for two years, and he was doubting himself due to the lack of success. He felt that he has “missed the boat” and was extremely close to the point of giving up playing altogether. “I was prepared to tell my wife if I couldn’t do it in America I was going to give up music. I was offered a job at a guitar factory, and I’d rather do that than piss in the wind. I’d gotten tired of that. I would never stop playing for myself, but I was ready to give up recording. There was only one thing that kept me going. I couldn’t stand the thought of playing in some back room three or four years from now, playing six times better than I’ve played in my life, and have people talk about things that I’d done five years ago”. This irony also applies to the I.O.U. album that represents Allan’s most recent and advanced music. “There are so many things that I’ve done in the past that I hate that anyone can go out and buy. I like this new album but (due to the lack of distribution) no one can buy it”. In order to finance the American tour and pay off bills Allan sold nearly every piece of equipment that he ever owned. After three years of barely playing at all, Allan was amazed to find out that their first U.S. gigs had sold out the Roxy Theater in L.A. The overwhelmingly positive response and continued sellouts have rekindled Allan’s confidence in himself. “The people are what’s important – they’re so inspiring and encouraging. I feel that I’ve got a new lease on life and this tour has been the turning point”. Allan’s Hartford date was a complete success as the band filled the unlikely confines of Cell Block Eleven in a concert sponsored by the Hartford Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. In the year since they were recorded the songs from the I.O.U. album had been developed and expanded upon in ways that surpassed even the strong original versions. The band proved to be a sympathetic unit that meshed tightly in support of each other. Gary Husband’s exuberant drumming propelled Holdsworth’s fluid excursions. The sheer power generated by these two musicians created an intense energy that kept building and climbing. Fortunately the tension would release to allow the tunes to breath and the audience to catch their breath. Englishman Paul Williams (who had sung in the band Tempest with Allan) provided his muscular vocals on roughly half of the songs which gave them an additional dimension. The solid bass of Paul Carmichael blended with the delicate guitar chords and also provided a launching pad for Holdsworth’s improvisational flights. Instead of displaying the usual guitar hero stage movements the unassuming Holdsworth takes a different approach. Closing his eyes, knitting his brow and gently swaying to the sound, his movements were largely confined to incredible fret hand configurations. Allan’s remarkably wide reach would take on the appearance of a nimble spider slithering up and down the fretboard. It was then that one realized how much freedom Allan had with the trio format, and how well he carried the responsibility of being the only melody instrument. As Holdsworth said, “I had to do this – it was important for me to break away”. With his typical desire to continually progress Allan is now considering adding another member to the band – either a keyboard player or another guitarist. “I’d like to have someone who knows when to stop playing. I used to do this all the time, and I liked playing chords behind someone else’s solo. Due to the restrictions of the trio format I don’t have the opportunity to interact with another lead instrument, and I’d like that”. For once the musical decisions are Allan’s, and he feels that his current band and album represent his best work to date. “It’s the first thing in my life that I’ve done that I’ve been close to in control of”. The next move is now up to a record company to offer Allan an acceptable contract. It is indeed a tribute to the shortsightedness of the music industry that a proven talent as great as Allan Holdsworth has been forced to record, finance, and release his own album. The future looks extremely positive for Allan and I.O.U., especially in America. There is talk of a major record company signing the band, and they plan on returning for a second tour in the fall. Now that a crucial corner has been turned in his career we can all look forward to watching Allan establish himself as a potent musical force of the eighties. -David Ashcraft
Repost from Manifesto Records: "Manifesto is proud to announce that December 7th marks the first release from the Allan Holdsworth Live Archive series, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH I.O.U. LIVE IN JAPAN 1984. LIVE IN JAPAN 1984 is the final live set by Allan Holdsworth’s I.O.U band, featuring live versions of material from his first three solo albums; I.O.U., the Grammy nominated Road Games and Metal Fatigue." Order Now: goo.gl/bVugxp
Steve Hunt Reminisces On Playing “Distance Vs Desire” Live https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q7eeiwhGmo Comments by Steve Hunt on the Unreal Allan Holdsworth, Nov 2, 2018: Amazing to hear. Allan runs through those changes and scales like butter. So many and so freakin’ hard too. I'm just glad he didn't ask me to take a go at it. Ha. Allan would play the "head" and then I would take over for the solo section. So I never learned what the exact chords were for the head, although I could hear it's along the same ideas that are in the solo section. I still have my cheat sheets that I made for this back then. Quite emotional hearing this live again. I guess I just didn't realize back then how rare this would be playing this out live. Once he stopped taking out the SynthAxe we never played [it] again, for obvious reasons. So maybe just the 87, 88 and possibly 89 tours this was played. During those tours Allan loaned me his 2nd Oberheim Matrix 12, (basically two Xpanders in one, with a keyboard). The one he used he had sawed off the keyboard part of it. (I think Chad may have that one still.) So I was able to use the same patches he used on the record. I think the fact that it sounds different live here between when he plays the chords and when I play them is because his synth was going through the same rig as his chordal guitar did. So he had all the "Holdsworth" chorusing and delays that his Matrix 12 went through. Massive beautiful sound. I had some stuff in my rack that Allan helped me with to try to get that huge stereo sound he's so good at getting. He had those massive double racks of gear full of delays and chorusing units and who knows what else!! Haha. So, the story on the backing track is this. In 86 Allan was touring with the trio and using the SynthAxe. On the tunes he played with SynthAxe he would use a backing track for the solo sections. I'm thinking because it's much stranger to have the chordal sound of the synth drop out and then solo with synth sound than it is to have the chordal sound of the guitar drop out and then solo on guitar. So on tunes like Non Brewed and Looking Glass he would have the chords play on a cassette that Chad ran. Chad told me that on one track there was a tambourine click track and then on the other track would be the chords on SynthAxe that would run into Allan's rig. They hated that. Chad told me it was awful, constantly having to hear tambourine click for the entire tune. And they couldn't change anything from night to night. So when Allan was opening up on the Stanley tour that I was on playing with Stanley, he asked me to take over for the cassette. Haha. I was more than happy to accommodate!!! So basically I got the Holdsworth gig because they hated playing with a cassette. :) :) Ok, what ever it takes, I was good with it. I don't remember Distance vs Desire being on the set list of that tour, or the 86 tour. (I saw the 86 tour when he opened for Chick, and I remember hearing Synth Chords during the solos and having no idea how they were being played.) Anyway, that's the story on that. I'm just glad they didn't like playing with a cassette!! Lol! Comments found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/361803263942657/permalink/1819999408123028/ The comments were edited together and slightly proofread for clarity by The Allan Holdsworth Archives.
Next year it's 50 years since Allan's recording debut came out. The Archives is lucky to be in possession of an original 1969 Deram pressing of Igginbottom. We also bring the following liner notes written by Ronnie Scott and producer Mick Jackson: --- I first heard "Igginbottom" a couple of months ago in the "Upstairs" room at the club. It was before the regular evening session had started and I was there at the request of a pop group called "Love Affair' who had heard Igginbottom in Bradford and asked me for my opinion of them. To say that I was impressed would be understating the case. Since the "pop revolution" started some twelve or sơ years ago it had seemed inevitable that out of the countless numbers of aspiring young guitarists involved in the music there was bound to appear, sooner or later, musicians possessing not only youthful enthusiasm and revolutionary ideas, but the technique and talent that is necessary to produce any art worthy of the name. "Igginbottom" is one of the very few groups I have heard that fulfils that hope. Yet Igginbottom is an enigma. They are not a pop group. They do not equate volume with excitement or electronic noises and psychedelic light shows with musical progress. Their music is not designed to cater to an audience of fifteen year old girls, neither is it aimed at the vast majority of pop audiences who are intoxicated by the pretentious euphemistic nonsense churned out by the press, in which every performance by their particular favourites seems to have had the effect of a gigantic orgasm or the coming of the Messiah. Neither is Igginbottom a jazz group in the accepted sense of the term, although have played the tapes of the group to some of the most diehard jazz musicians I knowand all of them expressed unqualified enthusiasm. "Igginbottom" are unique and completely original and although they love jazz music and Coltrane in particular I can't detect allegiance to any particular jazz musician in their work. They may well be the first group that has, completely naturally and unselfconsciously, evolved out of the ever converging directions of good pop and jazz. Their compositions (mainly by Allan Holdsworth) are fantastic and strangely moving full of unexpected harmonic twists and difficult intervals, sung, again mostly by Holdsworth, with amazingly precise intonation. These are not tunes to hum after a first or second or even a third hearing, but the more you listen the more you'll hear. And the standard of musicianship is phenomenally high by any standards. The interplay between the two solo guitarists gives the group a totally individual sound, rich with beautifully executed filigree runs and unusual voicings, completely free of cliches. The bass guitar and drums complement each other and the front line excellently, coping with the changes in metre with rare expertise. That four young men from Bradford who have been together for only a few months can produce music like this, performed with complete sincerity and lack of pretentiousness, is little short of amazing. "Igginbottom" are ready for you. The point is - are you ready for "Igginbottom?" RONNIE SCOTT This L.P. is a story. It is a story of a musical progression that four people have lived through. The first track representing the beginning of their career together; The second depicting the period of unrest and confusion they went through trying to find themselves; The third is their first achievement after having found themselves and the rest is just straightforward progression. 'Igginbottom are a group of young men from Bradford in Yorkshire who's collective and individual musical talents are nothing short of profound. Indeed Dave Freeman, Alan Holdsworth, Mick Skelly and Steven Robinson, whose ages are only 21, 21, 20 and 20 respectively are capable of holding their own in the company of such outstanding musicians as Barney Kessel, John Williams and, their friend and mine, Ronnie Scott. • Their musical routes lie in the abundance of young groups that sprang up all over the north with the advent of Beat music six or so years ago, although 'Igginbottom as a group have only been together for three months. It will be interesting to see how far they will have progressed in three years when this album is the result of those three months. I would like to be able to define or categorize their music, but the words elude me, as I find their style of playing and composing original, and perhaps even unique, although some clue is provided in the fact that Alan and Steve, the two guitarists, have been influenced to some extent by saxophonist John Coltrane, All this seems too good to be true, I know, but in answer to any sceptic, listen to the album and then decide. In summing up I'll stick my neck out. 'igginbottom are the only group of musicians to authentically fuse Jazz and Pop. MICK JACKSON.
Amazon is now taking preorders on this album. The first 1000 will receive a bonus DVD of the concert. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HSLVBJW/?tag=imwan-20&fbclid=IwAR3lPbu7MOW355DrT_R8OD8T0QMRztUt3gNsJ6noUMhmMH1YlYRq4GbeYxI
Two beautiful hi-res shots by Peter Figen, posted April 2017. (Next in comments.) Here are his words: "We lost another really great musician last week. Allen Holdsworth died in Southern California. He was a guitar player's guitar player. Look up some of his youtube instructional vids and be blown away at his total mastery of the instrument. I shot these around twenty-five years ago, more or less, for Guitar Player Magazine. In both shots he's holding the famous Synthaxe guitar synth and you can see the incredible reach of those fingers allowing him to play chords others can only imagine. These are two that hold up over time. Both shot on RZ67 on Fuji RFP. Drum scanned on a Howtek." ❤️
Some items from Allan's home studio are up for sale on ebay. The Archives has word from good authority that these are authentic and that the sale is approved by the estate. See comments for more items. Items are added at the dealer's discretion. Apart from that, we have no more information, and we are not involved in this operation.
Here's a rare little treat: Allan talks about recording with a speaker isolation box, from Guitar World in 1992: “I often used to record guitar in my garage, because I didn't have a room for it," says Allan. “So I designed a cabinet with a speaker and a microphone on a stand. The speaker was positioned in the middle of the box so that the air space in front of it was equal to the air space behind it. The box was pretty big-it looked like a coffin for a 10-foot-tall guy. The baffles slid out, so I could put in a different speaker in a matter of seconds, without moving the mic.”
Here's little nugget that came to light recently. It's an interview in Sounds with Bill Bruford, in the early days of U.K. It takes places during a band rehearsal. About Allan's role in the band, he said, rather prophetically: "Allan is very much a free-range flight man on guitar and if you want Allan in your band then you have to team him up with worthwhile musical arrangements for him to free-flight in, as it were. Allan might feel that some of the compositions are a bit too tight for him and he'll be looking to open them out a bit. But maybe for Eddie they're not tight enough yet."
Here's a bit of a treat: A 1973 interview with Jon Hiseman on his band Tempest. Here's what he had to say about Allan: "Alan Holdsworth, our guitarist, is limitless. He's got it all there. I heard about him on the grapevine, and apparently when he played at the guitar festival at Ronnie Scott's, the other guitarists couldn't take it. Barney Kessell kept investigating the guitar to see if he had special strings. Alan couldn't understand it either - he just does it." “The emotional range of the guitar is colossal, and that's why it's so popular. But Alan is outside the normal range of standard electric guitarists."
INTERVIEW FROM FUZZ MAGAZINE IN SWEDEN, 2000 Recently a Xerox copy of a story from Swedish magazine FUZZ from May 2000 surfaced. The original story was published in Swedish, but The Archives has made a provisional translation. If anybody is fluent in English AND Swedish, please feel free to improve the translation. The author’s name was unintelligible on the source, so any help is appreciated in identifying him.
The Allan Holdsworth Archives is dedicated to preserving Allan's legacy. Part of this means seeing how Allan influenced younger musicians. One of these musicians is Juan Dhas from Colombia, who is an outspoken Allan fan, and even plays a Holdsworth model. You can hear the influence, but Juan has used this to forge his own distinctive style. Listen to this beautiful tune from Juan's new solo album "Catharsis". The Archives can't speak for Allan, but we would like to think this would have brought his approval.
Allan at The Bottom Line, NYC, June 16th 1982. Pictures by Robert Artese. Robert Artese has supplied these pictures he took of the IOU band back in 1982. The Archives did a quick retouch job, and is posting the pictures here with Robert’s permission. The lineup was Allan, Paul Williams, Gary Husband and Paul Carmichael. The setlist (also provided by Robert) was: "Where Is One", "Water On The Brain", "The Things You See", "Letters Of Marque", "White Line", "Song For My Father", "Out From Under", "Material Real (intro)" / "Gattox (The Blues)" / "Material Real (Ending)", "Checking Out", "Was There (Something)?". Thanks, Robert!
Today, August 6, we raise our glasses and cheer to commemorate Allan's birthday. He would have been 72 this year. Thanks to photographer Rick Gould for this lovely photo. Don't forget to vote to induct Allan in the Downbeat Hall Of Fame: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/83readersdb