One of the most technically proficient electric guitarists in the realm of progressive rock/fusion and an avowed perfectionist, Allan Holdsworth worked as a guitar hero for hire with many of the 1970s leading jazz fusion artists including Nucleus, Soft Machine, Gong, U.K., Bill Bruford, Jean-Luc Ponty and Tony Williams Lifetime. Holdsworth never stuck around long with any of them, moving from one group to another before establishing a solo career in the 1980s. Despite some major-label support in the mid 80s, his mathematical approach to music confounded mainstream listeners, even as he collected the praise of more popular guitarists like Frank Zappa and Eddie Van Halen.
On Atavachron (1986), Holdsworth introduced the SynthAxe, a guitar-styled MIDI controller that used strings and frets to activate the sounds on a synthesizer (Holdsworth seems to have preferred Oberheim synthesizers for this purpose). He never lost interest in the instrument, and most of his subsequent studio albums found him splitting time between the electric guitar and the SynthAxe. Perhaps because of his superlative and meticulous style, Holdsworth has always attracted great drummers; in addition to Bruford and Williams, his own albums have featured the likes of Gary Husband, Chad Wackerman and Vinnie Colaiuta. Holdsworth has also collaborated on occasion with former Nucleus pianist Gordon Beck, most recently on None Too Soon (1996), which featured two original Beck compositions alongside covers of mostly jazz songs.
When not playing the guitar (which would seem to increasingly be the case these days given his limited output in the 21st century), Holdsworth is an avid cyclist and brewmeister; he even produced and marketed his own beer pump, dubbed “The Fizzbuster.” In 2010, he recorded a tribute to Tony Williams with Alan Pasqua, Wackerman and Yellowjackets’ Jimmy Haslip, titled Blues For Tony. [Note: Allan passed away on April 15, 2017.]
VELVET DARKNESS (1976)
Good Clean Filth / Floppy Hat / Wish / Kinder / Velvet Darkness / Karzie Key / Last May / Gattox. Released on elpee in 1976 (CTI). Re-released on elpee in 1979 in Japan (CTI, LAX-139).
THE THINGS YOU SEE (1980)
Golden Lakes / Stop Fiddlin’ / The Things You See (When You Haven’t Got Your Gun) / Diminished Responsibility / She’s Lookin’, I’m Cookin’ / At the Edge / Up Country. Co-credited to Gordon Beck and released on elpee in 1980 (JMS/Cream).
The Things You See (When You Haven’t Got Your Gun) / Where Is One / Checking Out / Letters of Marque // Out From Under / Temporary Fault / Shallow Sea / White Line. Released on elpee in 1982 in the US (private pressing, AH-100) with black album cover. Re-issued on elpee in 1985 in the US (Enigma, 72031-1) and Canada (Enigma, ST-73252) with red album cover. Re-issued on compact disc in 1993 in the US (Restless, CDE-73252) with red album cover.
ROAD GAMES (1983)
Three Sheets To The Wind / Road Games / Water On The Brain, Part 2 / Tokyo Dream / Was There? / Material Real. Released on EP in 1983 in the US (Warner Bros., 23959-1B) and Japan (Warner Bros., P-6194).
METAL FATIGUE (1985)
Metal Fatigue / Home / Devil Take The Hindmost / Panic Station / The Un-Merry-Go-Round / In The Mystery. Released on elpee in 1985 in the US (Enigma, 72002-1) and Japan (WEA, P-13098).
Non-Brewed Condiment / Funnels / The Dominant Plague / Atavachron / Looking Glass / Mr.Berwell / All Our Yesterdays Sea. Released on elpee in 1986 in the US (Enigma), Germany (Enigma, 2064-1) and Japan (WEA, P-13248).
Sand / Distance Vs. Desire / Pud Wud // Clown / The 4.15 Bradford Executive / Mac Man. Released in 1987 on elpee and CD in the US (Relativity, 8152-1/2), in the Netherlands (Intima, 3293-1) and on CD in Japan (Victor, VIL-28085).
WITH A HEART IN MY SONG (1988)
Equus / 54, Duncan Terrace / Ain’t No Grief (On The Southwest Chief) / With A Heart In My Song / 999 / Sundays / So, So, Calypso. Co-credited to Gordon Beck and released on CD in 1988 (JMS/Cream).
City Nights / Secrets / 54 Duncan Terrace / Joshua / Spokes / Maid Marion / Peril Premonition / Endomorph. Released on CD in 1989 in the US (Intima, 773328-2). Re-released on CD in 2008 (Eidolon Efformation).
TRUTH IN SHREDDING (1990)
Rocks / Humpty Dumpty / The Fall / Not Ethiopia / New Boots / Ana Maria / Bathsheba. Co-credited to Frank Gambale and released on CD in 1990 in the US (Legato).
WARDENCLYFFE TOWER (1992)
5 to 10 / Sphere of Innocence / Wardenclyffe Tower / Dodgy Boat / Zarabeth / Against The Clock / Questions / Oneiric Moor. Released on CD and cassette in 1992 in the US (Restless). Also released on CD in 1993 in Japan with three bonus tracks: an alternate version of “Tokyo Dream,” “The Un-Merry-Go-Round Part 4” and “The Un-Merry-Go-Round Part 5.” Reissued on CD in 2007 with Japanese bonus tracks.
HARD HAT AREA (1994)
Prelude / Ruhkukah / Low Levels, High Stakes / Hard Hat Area / Tullio / House of Mirrors / Postlude. Released on CD in 1994 in the US (Restless, 772716-2) and France (Cream, CR-330). Re-released on remastered CD on May 15, 2012 in the US (Moonjune, MJR044) with dfferent cover.
NONE TOO SOON (1996)
Countdown / Nuages / How Deep Is The Ocean? / Isotope / None Too Soon Pt. One – Interlude – None Too Soon Pt. Two / Norwegian Wood / Very Early / San Marcos / Inner Urge. Released on CD on September 24, 1996 in the US (Restless) and Japan (Polydor, POCP-7028). Re-released on remastered CD in 2012 in the US (Moonjune, MJR043).
I.O.U. LIVE (1997)
Live tracks: Tokyo Dream / Road Games / White Line / Panic Station / Letters of Marque / Material Real / Metal Fatigue / The Things You See / Was There (Something). Released on CD on April 15, 1997 (Cleopatra).
HEAVY MACHINERY (1997)
Joint Ventures / Beef Cherokee / On The Frozen Lake / Mission Possible / Good Morning Mr.Coffee / Siouxp of The Day / On The Fritz / Tea For One And A Half / Never Mind Our Weather / Macrowaves. Released on CD on August 12, 1997 in the US (Heptagon, SH-11072).
THE SIXTEEN MEN OF TAIN (2000)
San Onofre / 0274 / The Sixteen Men of Tain / Above And Below / The Drums Were Yellow / Texas / Downside Up / Eidolon / Above And Below (Reprise) / Material Unreal. Released on CD in March 2000 in the US (Gnarly Geezer).
FLATTIRE: MUSIC FOR A NON-EXISTENT MOVIE (2001)
The Duplicate Man (Intro) / The Duplicate Man / Eeny Meeny / Please Hold On / Snow Moon / Curves / So Long / Bo Beep / Don’t You Know. Released on CD on December 1, 2001 (Megazoidal). Re-released on CD on August 16, 2007 (Eidolon Efformation) and on May 14, 2013 in the US (Moonjune, MJR053).
ALL NIGHT WRONG (2002)
Live tracks: Lanyard Loop / The Things You See / Alphrazallan / Funnels / Zone / Water On The Brain, Part 2 / Above And Below / Gas Lamp Blues. Originally recorded on May 5, 2002 and released on CD in 2002 in Japan (Sony) and in 2003 in the US (Favored Nations).
Live tracks: Zone I / Proto-Kosmos / White Line / Atavachron / Zone II / Pud Wud / House of Mirrors / Non-Brewed Condiment / Zone III. Credited to Allan Holdsworth Group, originally recorded on May 4-6, 1990 and released on CD on December 25, 2003 in Japan (Universal, UICE-1065) and on June 1, 2004 in the UK (JMS/Cream).
THE BEST OF ALLAN HOLDSWORTH – AGAINST THE CLOCK (2005)
Tokyo Dream / Sphere of Innocence / Ruhhukah / Low Levels, High Stakes / How Deep Is The Ocean? / Nuages / Devil Take The Hindmost / Home / Peril Premonition / The Sixteen Men of Tain / Looking Glass / Pud Wud // Spokes / Distance Vs. Desire / Mac Man / Against The Clock / Eeny Meeny / Secrets / Bo Peep / Post Lude / All Our Yesterdays / Eidolon / Sundays / Let’s Throw Shrimp / Shenandoah. Compilation released on 2CD in March 2005 in Japan (Alternity).
Jools Toon / It Could Have Been Mono. Co-credited to Danny Thompson and John Stevens, originally recorded on September 4-5, 1978 and released on CD in 2009 (Art of Life, AL1038-2).
BLUES FOR TONY (2010)
Blues For Tony / The Fifth / It Must Be Jazz / Fred / Guitar Intro / Pud Wud // Looking Glass / To Jaki, George And Thad / San Michele / Protocosmos / Red Alert. Co-credited to Alan Pasqua, Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackreman, released on 2CD on January 19, 2010 in the US (Moonjune).