Saturday, May 6, 2017

Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Guitar great Allan Holdsworth sadly may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten, especially thanks to the two-disc Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection and the 12-CD box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! The Allan Holdsworth Album Collection.

As I had not listened to or kept track of Holdsworth for over a decade, I was shocked to read of his passing – and just as shocked to read it on the front page of Yahoo News. For someone as on the fringes of the mainstream as Holdsworth was, the decent print and online media coverage of his death has been somewhat heartening.

Although I had lost touch with Holdsworth's happenings in recent years, I immediately recalled the irresistible, Oriental guitar-and-synth hook of "Tokyo Dream," one of the highlights of the 28-track Eidolon compilation and obviously one of the most memorable Holdsworth tunes for me.

There are plenty of other great cuts on the album, which like the box set both was overseen by Holdsworth and came out just a week before he left us. Actually, all the songs, most of them instrumental, are great, as they all feature Holdsworth's virtuosic guitar and synthaxe playing.

But in terms of overall composition, hooks, and general awesomeness, my top ten tracks are as follows: "The Sixteen Men of Tain," "Eidolon," "Ruhkukah," "Low Levels, High Stakes," "Peril Premonition," "Non-Brewed Condiment," "Tokyo Dream," "Temporary Fault," "The 4.15 Bradford Executive," and "Curves."

Although 70 is too young to go, and it would have been nice to have Holdsworth with us for a little longer, at least he made it to 70. In his final years, the distinctively eagle-faced Holdsworth looked like a cuddly, lovable old grandpa, which by all accounts he was.

Holdsworth's was a life well lived and well played.

Well played, Mr. Holdsworth. Well played.

--Raj Manoharan

Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs – The Music (2017), by Michael Nesmith

CD Fan Review

Released in conjunction with Michael Nesmith's memoir of the same name, Infinite Tuesday provides a fine introduction to and overview of Nesmith's music career from 1965 to 2005.

The collection is similar to George Harrison's first greatest hits album in that, just as the Harrison compilation featured his top songs with The Beatles, this retrospective includes Nesmith's lead vocal performances on his select Monkees compositions. Chief among these are the first recorded version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," which showcases Nesmith in top form as a singer.

A solo highlight is the very pensive and existential "Opening Theme – Life, the Unsuspecting Captive" from Nesmith's 1974 concept album The Prison.

Also included here is "The New Recruit," a rare, cheeky anti-war song with endearingly goofy Gomer Pyle-style vocals recorded by Nesmith under the name Michael Blessing before joining The Monkees.

Infinite Tuesday isn't quite as infinite as it could be, as Nesmith has recorded new Monkees and solo material in recent years. But as a short primer on his official, physically released non-Monkees work, it gets the job done.

--Raj Manoharan