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Allan Holdsworth: Metal Fatigue

Sounds, March 22, 1986

Paul Elliott

(Enigma 2002-1 )***

HOLDSWORTH IS a virtually peerless guitar technician and a quite hopeless songwriter. Well, not entirely hopeless, but it's clear that 'Metal Fatigue' is designed solely to frame and flatter brilliant musicianship and, as such, boasts no songs of any real substance or character. Thus Holdsworth remains impressive rather than emotive. There's great feeling in the playing but, with every track being merely a showcase, the virtuosity lacks a purpose and a heart. Gary Moore illustrates Holdsworth's dilemma perfectly. Moore, too, had difficulty in making anything exciting out of pure improvisation - check his work with jazz-rock monolith Colosseum II for proof. However, given the right songs to work on, those like 'Military Man' or 'Parisienne Walkways' (Lynott always brought out the best in him), Gal's guitar playing becomes genuinely moving. And Holdsworth? Personally, I'd prefer to hear him get to grips with more earthy, straightforward, song-orientated material, but I'm sure that a musician of his calibre knows exactly what he's after.

A cult figure to this day, Crazy Al will no doubt remain an acquired taste savoured by a handful of connoisseurs.

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

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