Allan Holdsworth: Good Clean Filth


Good Clean Filth


Allan Holdsworth (guitar)


Velvet Darkness (CBS Records ZK 45482)

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Allan Holdsworth (guitar),

Alan Pasqua (piano), Alphonso Johnson (bass), Narada Michael Walden (drums)


Composed by Allan Holdsworth


Recorded: Englewood, NJ, May-June 1976


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

Velvet Darkness, which was originally released on the CTI label, came on the heels of Holdsworth's appearance on Tony Williams's new Lifetime band's Believe It. Holdsworth was also associated with the early fusion/progressive rock groups Gong and Soft Machine. But it wasn't until his turn in the states with Williams that his playing began to get the full attention it deserved. Holdsworth's Herculean performance on Williams's uneven record, particularly on the tune "Red Alert," was an important fusion landmark. Ironically, and sadly for Williams's own attempts at garnering a greater audience, Velvet Darkness was a much better album than Believe It.

Holdsworth was playing with the right guys. Bassist Alphonso Johnson, sometimes credited as "Alphonse," and drummer Narada Michael Walden were fledgling jazz-rock superstars. Pianist Alan Pasqua had played with Holdsworth in the new Lifetime band.

"Good Clean Filth" is the fun cut on the record. It does not contain the depth of most of the other pieces. But there are some searing guitar lines worth listening to. Holdsworth manages to wring the nonsense out of his axe. A mouth organ, or something that sounds awfully like it, is employed occasionally by Holdsworth to comic relief. Johnson and Walden add an element of funk. All in all, this is not the most serious of tunes. Still, it is performed at a high level, and a little bit of fusion fun never killed anyone.

Reviewer's note: On this Contemporary Jazz Masters re-release, alternate studio takes are included for the first time. The alternate take of "Good Clean Filth" is superior to the official cut reviewed above. And you should also know that Holdsworth hates this album. Details can be found in my review of another track from Velvet Darkness, "Wish."

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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