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Allan Holdsworth: Road Games

Guitar Player, December 1983

Tom Mulhern

After spending the better part of a year with bassist Jeff Berlin and drummer Chad Wackerman (best known for his work with Frank Zappa) guitarist Allan Holdsworth has settled into both a new band and a fresh set of material. and the results are striking. His first album in over two years is short (about 28 minutes) and only contains six songs. Yet it is filled with captivating new additions to the vocabulary of electric guitar: breathy chords, cascading twinkly arpeggios pseudo-fiddle lines (highlighted in the song "Road Games" multi-octave rips and more. The legato electric guitar melodies haunt and tease, echoing and shimmering through multiple chorus and delay effects.

When Allan solos, as on *Road Games," all hell breaks loose. The combination of Holdsworth's and Berlin's chords and interwoven melodic work - especially on "Three Sheets To The Wind," "Road Games" and "Tokyo Dream" - spawn complex undulating harmonies that fill the entire spectrum. Berlin's bass solo on "Water On The Brain" moves like lightning laid down complete with multiple voicings, daredevil trills, and rhythmic hopscotching. Although the bass mix is a bit muddy on Jeff's showcase (and at a few other points), it doesn't diminish the energy and deftness of the bassist. Vocals are spare (veteran bassist Jack Bruce makes an appearance as a singer; Paul Williams also contributes), and therefore there's a lot of room for high-powered instrumental interplay. In all, Road Games is a strong showing from this new-age power trio. Warner Bros., 23959-1B. [TM]

Transcribed by Per Stornes
Updated: February 1, 2001
Scheduled update: None

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