Tony Williams Lifetime: Red Alert


Red Alert


Tony Williams Lifetime


Tony Williams Lifetime The Collection (Columbia Legacy CK 47484)

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Tony Williams (drums),

Alan Pasqua (keyboards), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Tony Newton (bass)


Composed by Tony Newton


Recorded: New York, July 1975


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

This collection, a combination of the two releases Believe It and Million Dollar Legs, features what was known as The "New" Tony Williams Lifetime. Long gone were the original members of the trailblazing group: John McLaughlin, Larry Young, and eventually Jack Bruce. But it was six years later, and Tony was still pushing the concept. Many of his fusion contemporaries were already finding the commercial success that Williams was still searching for. For the most part, Tony was trying too hard to please, and it showed. The two "New" Lifetime records were uneven at best. Parts of Million Dollar Legs are simply unlistenable. But Williams's immense talent and the contributions of the young and exciting guitarist Allan Holdsworth provided a few outstanding performances, among them "Red Alert."

Composed by bassist Newton, "Red Alert" is anxious and compelling. In unison, Newton and Holdsworth open with urgent low-register lines. The players step into a higher register and then back again. Williams's insistent pounding is like a rapid heartbeat. Pasqua's electric piano serves as a bit of a salve, as he is not asked to be as demonstrative as his band mates. Meanwhile, Holdsworth lets loose with synthesizer runs. Of course, he was not playing synthesizer! Holdsworth was still in the early stages of his illustrious career, but you could hear in his solos that he was going to be different. "Red Alert" is both a demanding tune for the player and a warning to the listener. Be prepared to be knocked over.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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  • 1 chris mccabe // May 02, 2008 at 02:51 AM
    Red Alert is but one enormously great take by Allan and Co. Proto Cosmos has been a staple live performance by Allan for decades, and is probably one of the most famous tunes off that album. There are at least 4 or 5 very good, solid tunes on this record besides Red Alert. Try Fred, too.