Really sad news about the passing of Allan Holdsworth a couple of weeks back. Latterly an emigre in the US, he nevertheless retained an accent of sorts of the type heard around these parts in West Yorkshire. I saw him several times in the 90s, always as the bandleader he became from the 1980s onwards.
Perhaps his undoubted genius was fuelled by his perfectionism – to many he was a guitar god but when I interviewed him in 1994 he was often fiercely self-critical, not just in terms of how he played live (when we spoke he was grumpily complaining about his gig the night before – other tutored ears reckoned he’d played a belter) but also some of his recorded output (he dismissed the extraordinary Igginbottom’s Wrench album as a ‘horrendous experience’, disowned his first solo album ‘Velvet Darkness’ as a ‘terrible disaster’, and dismissed John Stevens’ ‘Re-Touch’ albums as ‘outtakes’ and therefore worthless.!)
Allan Holdsworth always seemed to cut a fairly enigmatic figure within the Canterbury scene, probably because he may not even have recognised the term, never mind felt he was a part of it. And that was probably what intrigued me enough to publish no less than 3 articles about him in Facelift Magazine, the other 2 of which survive on the web in the Other Facelift stuff menu further up this page.
What really intrigued me about him I suppose was him yo-yoing around any number of seminal 70s projects adding blistering solos here and there to diverse projects before moving on, apparently blind to the trainspotterish links between the bands readers of this forum might pore over. Latterly, the ‘Blues For Tony’ album with Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Haslip appeared to show him relishing the freedom once more of not being a sole bandleader whilst still pumping out those wonderfully crafted solos.
So, in deference to that, I’ll give you my Allan Holdsworth Desert Island Disc 70s solo compilation:
Gordon Beck – The Gathering (from Sunbird)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcmH3ZSw3DE
Gong – Expresso (from Gazeuse!) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuMEhD4P8PY
Uk – In the Dead of Night – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMu7XUc9OcI
Bruford – Beelzebub (from Feels Good to Me) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRl-IIPezn4
Bruford – Back to the Beginning – (from Feels Good to Me)-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJQrlHUGZlo
Gong – Sleepy (from Expresso II) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07UUCXZwpnw
Soft Machine – Hazard Profile (from Bundles)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zSZBAcQ-5M
Nucleus – Hector’s House – (from Belladonna) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jG20EvOyFg
Allan Holdsworth RIP.