Tony Williams Lifetime: Vashkar
Tony Williams Lifetime
Emergency (Polydor 849 068-2)
Composed by Carla Bley.
Recorded: New York, May 1969
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Tony Williams Lifetime sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box. The poor sound quality of this band's recordings, especially Emergency, has become legendary in the fusion archives. But there is an accidental immediacy about the flawed recordings that gives this music a vitality above and beyond that a pristine master tape may have offered. You can picture this loud, distorted and wild performance taking place in your basement in 1969, recorded onto your portable cassette deck. You could imagine it was like hanging out with a futuristic punk rock band that could really, really play. (And thank God …did not sing.)
Carla Bley's "Vashkar" is quite a jaunt. The melody of the piece is an ascending riff followed by its near opposite descending riff. Young has his B-3 growling throughout as Williams chugs along at breakneck speed. McLaughlin is most effective playing the theme in unison with Young. The electric trio relentlessly pushes this piece through a small crack in the wall, causing a large fissure. The momentum cannot be stopped. Nonetheless, they do stop it on a dime to end things. You want more. But they are on to the next challenge. This is essential listening for anyone wanting to understand fusion music in any way.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky