Friday, August 11, 2017

16: Road Games (1982-84)


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Going to California
     Throughout the latter part of 1981, Allan Holdsworth tried to get a label interested in putting out his self-produced master tape of I.O.U.'s eponymous first album, but was unsuccessful in getting any kind of real attention. Running out of options in the UK, in early 1982 Allan decided to bring his I.O.U. band over to America. With the help of Sharon Sudol (a friend of bassist Paul Carmichael's?), they were able to schedule a series of sold-out shows, and were stunned by the incredible reception they received from States-side audiences.
     "We hadn't even played together for a year until we came to America. I was repairing bad amplifiers and fixing guitars (and selling guitars and equipment) to pay the bills...As far as being a (working) musician then, I didn't do any sessions - I can't read - and the kind of sessions that were available I wouldn't have done, anyway. I would have rather worked at a factory. And with England being such a small place, if you do a tour there, that's it. You can't do another for a year. It was like a last shot (going to America) because I'd seen my name come up in various American magazines, and I'd thought, 'Oh, that's interesting - they seem to know about us - it's like a last chance’. The singer, Paul Williams, who was working with us at the time, he lived in America - he lived in California - his wife was American. So they invited the band over to stay at his house, and we looked for gigs out there.  
     "And then we met that guy Mike Varney who has that Spotlight column in Guitar Player magazine, and he talked to a San Francisco club owner who had three clubs to give us a gig. I don't know how he did it, but he did. To go from two years of banging our heads against the wall to playing again - it was overwhelming and unexpected...it was a shock going from the Green Man (pub in London), playing to 12 people, to selling out the Roxy. We couldn’t believe it. You have to understand that when we came here, I didn't even have a guitar. I'd sold the last instrument I had to pay for the mix in an album we paid for ourselves. I had a couple of special amps, but that was it, so you can imagine how I felt when we saw people actually waiting to hear us play." (16, 33, 24, 40, 27)
With Paul Williams
The concerts for the 1982 I.O.U. tour typically included these numbers (sometimes sequenced differently):
  1. Where Is One
  2. Water On The Brain (vocal version)
  3. The Things You See (When You Haven't Got Your Gun)
  4. Letters Of Marque
  5. White Line
  6. Prayer (Gary Husband solo piano) or Song For My Father (Husband on keys with Paul Williams vocals, duet), later Jeff Berlin's "pop/classical" medley on solo bass
  7. Drifting Into The Attack (ie - Gattox/Gas Lamp Blues)
  8. Out From Under
  9. Checking Out
  10. Unaccompanied Lead Guitar Cadenza
  11. Was There? (including drum and guitar duet interlude)

Edward Van Halen
     "I don't want to seem 'ego-ed out', but there are very few guitarists who I could listen to that make me turn my head and go, 'WHOA! How did he do THAT?' And Allan is about the only one." - 1982 Eddie Van Halen interview with Jas Obrecht
     One of Allan's biggest fans at this time was star guitarist Edward Van Halen. Allan had shared a few bills with Van Halen during his 1978 U.K. tour, but this time Allan and Edward actually got a chance to do some jamming together..
     "I met Edward a few years ago when I was working with U.K. I didn't know him then, but we said hello to each other. He came down to our first gig at the Roxy, and I was trembling in my shoes at the thought of all the people being out there. At any rate, he came to the gig, and I was talking to him afterwards, and I said, '(Tomorrow) we're coming down in the afternoon to do another soundcheck. Why don't you bring your guitar?' I talked to Jeff, too, and told him to come down. So we had a bit of a blow in the afternoon. We thought it would be a good idea to do a jam together at the end of that night. So we worked out one of Edward's tunes. We finished our set, came back on and played this tune together. It was great. It was fun -- kind of a nice contrast to the rest of the gig." (11)
     Allan also did a brief Q & A session at the Guitar Institute of Technology:
     “I never thought I'd ever do things like that before. I couldn't believe what someone would ask me. I couldn't possibly be any good at teaching anything right. They were really good about it, in as much as all I had to do was play, and I kind of answered things. They asked all the usual questions; you know, the usual 'Which scales do you use?' 'I use the Richter scale in the attack mode!' No, they were great, they were really fantastic." (10)
"Here is a shot with a fellow that some might recognize. Taken during a rehearsal to prepare for a show at the Roxy, in L.A. Eddie showed up while we were away at lunch, where we found him sitting on the edge of the stage with a purple Kramer. For rehearsal and the show, Eddie played through a Musicman combo...two are onstage along with a Roland amp (not used)...they belonged to The Roxy as house amps. Eddie still sounded like Eddie." - "HipKitty" (?)
     Van Halen recounts this period in a slightly different chronology:
     "I was in the process of helping (Allan) get a record deal with Warner Bros., so I picked him up, took him to some meetings and somehow he ended up spending the night at my house. When we woke up, Allan said, “Shit, I have to be at GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology) at noon to do a seminar.” So I raced him down there just in time. Before I knew it, I was on stage with him and his band, and we were both answering questions and playing together. It was quite fun actually and very interesting, especially for the students/audience. Because Allan and I play very different, we answered the same questions very differently. I was very nervous at first because I didn’t know any of the songs, but I managed to improvise my way through it.
     "The second time Allan and I played together was at The Roxy in Hollywood. I got up and played the last song with them, which was a riff that Jeff Berlin (Allan’s bass player) and I came up with (essentially an arrangement of the Bruford tune "Five G" - ed.), so I was more comfortable because I was familiar with what we played." - "Ask Eddie"
     Encouraged by his surprising popularity in America, Allan eventually decided to move to California on a more permanent basis, and ended up independently releasing I.O.U.'s debut album  ("...we just started selling them at the gigs. That’s kind of how it all started – and it hasn’t gone very far from then..." (33)). This initial LP release would be the "black record" - two printings, one with a New Jersey contact address, and a later one with a California address.


Road Games
     By summer of 1982, Gary Husband and Paul Carmichael returned to the UK. Nonetheless, Allan stayed in California, and began developing a relationship with the major label Warner Bros.
     "Edward Van Halen brought a guy from his record company to see us when we played at the Country Club in Reseda, and he liked it, and from that we managed to get a record deal. I want to record a new one anyway, and get it out straight away, because it was two years previous to I.O.U. that I played with Bill Bruford in U.K., and a lot of progression has gone down since then. I feel that my music and playing have developed. It's really important that we do this new album and get it out quick, so that when people hear it, it's not second-hand, not old." (12)
     At some point Jeff Berlin (Allan's old band-mate from Bruford) became the new I.O.U. bass player, and in late 1982 Allan met Frank Zappa's drummer, Chad Wackerman. Chad recalls the audition process:
     "When I joined his band I auditioned for him (I’d already been playing with Frank Zappa, and none of these gigs are full-time - even Frank’s gigs had big gaps). It was just the two of us - no bass player - improvising for an hour and a half, and he taped it. He thought that anyone could play a tune; he was more interested in interaction." (94, 69)
Photo: Eddie Coralnick
http://paulwilliams-uk.com/archive.html
Recording
     With Chad as drummer and Jeff Berlin on bass, Allan and Paul Williams were able to proceed with new album plans in the first half of 1983. However, Warners was unhappy with Paul on lead vocals, and wanted someone with more "star-power".
     "(Ted Templeman) wanted to change the personnel of the band which caused terrible problems, and I put myself in a lot of trouble because of it, by trying to keep it the way it was originally. For example, they wanted to use a different drummer and a different singer - Geddy Lee or someone - and I wanted to use Paul Williams. But they said there was no way - they weren't putting the album out if we used Paul." 
     At one point Allan had Joe Turano singing over his newly-recorded tracks, but Templeman was not satisfied by Joe's performance, and these tapes lay dormant until they resurfaced on the 2016 Pledge release "Tales From the Vault" (which included Turano-sung mixes of "Material Real", "Road Games", "Was There?", and "Water on the Brain"). Warners was finally placated when Allan enlisted his old friend (and more importantly, former Cream singer/bassist) Jack Bruce to take on the lead vocals. However, Allan still had problems getting Templeman's personal approval (as producer) of the session tracks. After yet another cancelled meeting (April 1983) ...
     "That was it for me, the old steam whistle, with the lid open at the top of my head. I couldn't cope with that; I just said, 'Forget it, let's not even bother.' Then, after a bit of hemming and hawing, they called back and said, 'Okay, do it on your own.' He used to listen to singers over the telephone and never came in the studio, never heard a note. But listening to guys over the phone is pretty hilarious! So he told me to approve it myself- so I did."
     With Allan himself now as the album's producer, I.O.U.'s original vocalist, Paul Williams, was brought back into the band...
     "At the last minute I switched the mixes on 'Road Games', the title track, not because Jack wasn't good, he was, but because of my friendship with Paul. I made a personal decision at that point that I couldn't afford to put Paul on all the tracks and have the album never come out, so I stuck him on just the title track. (Later) Templeman spotted it and said 'We're not putting the album out'. So I called him and talked to him and he said 'Do you really want this thing out?' and the reason I did, was that we'd put so much work into it, so much aggravation. I still liked some of the music, even though it hadn't been recorded properly and could have been done a lot better, but he said 'If you really want it out, we'll just let it go'. So that was the last conversation I had with Ted Templeman. Apparently he told my manager that he felt sorry for me and just put it out because of that." (above quotes: 23, 49, 13)
     Chad sums up the experience:
     "...the Warner Brothers exec. producer told Allan 'Look I’m not going to put this thing out unless you have somebody famous singing on it', and I think two suggestions were Geddy Lee or Linda Ronstadt….He (Allan) struggled but at the end of the day he did what he wanted to do. So few people in this world get to live the way they wanna live and do exactly what they want to do – he wanted to play his own music… Of course the financials were never there…it was always a struggle. And the guys in the band were into it for the art, too. I think I got paid something like $230 for 'Road Games' and that was the only record I got paid for. We just did it, because it was really just important to play this stuff." (69)
Mixing
     Unfortunately, more problems with Warners erupted in the post-production mixing stage:
     "We started recording at Music Grinder which was run by Gary Skardina and Ron Felicia, very cool people - but then Ted (Templeman) decided that he didn't want me to use that studio and told me we had to move to a WB studio called "Amigo". Then the shit hit the fan. Ted told me I couldn't use my engineer and that I had to use an engineer he liked, directly working with Ted, not me! He wasn't like a guy who was working for the band, he was working for the producer - who wasn't there. 
     "We were starting to mix and then we had to stop because Ted said there was another "FAMOUS" band in one of the other rooms that was having problems with the 2-inch tape machine they were using. THIS IS WB so rather than rent another 2-inch they decided to steal our machine. %^&*()(*&^%$%^&* Then transfer all our 2-inch tapes to a 3M Digital machine - quite possibly a pioneering digital machine, but it sounded horrendous (in my opinion). That’s when I threw up my hands and basically gave up." (89, 23, 49, 13)
     At this point, Frank Zappa stepped in and tried to help out with the mixing situation...
     "During this time, I met Frank Zappa, who was very kind to me. I told him my story about the WB problems (I don't think he was a fan of WB either) and he very generously offered to let me use his amazing studio. He said, 'go get a couple of 24 track tapes from WB', which I did. I had to sneak them out, as they were vaulted, but I managed to get a couple of reels out. I took them over to Frank's house and he introduced me to his engineer Mark Pinske. He mixed 3 tracks in one evening. His mixes also showed the destruction that the transfer to the 3M machine at Amigo caused. However, we ended up not using them as Ted Templeman would not allow it." (89)
     These Mark Pinske mixes were ultimately mastered in 2016 by Robert Fiest and, like the Turano mixes, released on "Tales From the Vault". These Pinske-mixed tracks sound punchier and "less-produced" in my opinion, and include "Material Real", "Three Sheets To The Wind" and "Tokyo Dream".


I.O.U. (Mark II)
Chad Wackerman, Rod Morgenstern, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Morse
     Shortly after an August 1983 tour with Steve Morse's band on the bill, Jeff Berlin decided to leave I.O.U.
     “When you start a band, you never really know how it's going to turn out and whether the personnel are going to get on with each other. It's difficult, and you always take a chance - you just do it with people you like. I've always loved Jeff Berlin's playing - he's an incredible musician. He's also one of my special friends. But the band wasn't really working out - as well as the fact that I always thought that Jeff should have his own band - because he's such a strong musical personality. He has a more confident type of character than I have - he has that band leader strength. It was obvious that he and Chad weren't getting on too well. So what do you do? We parted company, but obviously I'd like to work with him again under different circumstances.” (16)
     By January of 1984, Allan found bassist Jimmy Johnson (Flim & the BB's), and I.O.U. "Mark II" was essentially solidified. Allan continued touring America with Paul Williams and the new rhythm section, with some East Coast dates featuring old friends Gary Husband and Gary Willis filling in (the following year also featured some dates with keyboardist Larry Cohen guesting). Some 1984 Japan dates were filmed (for TV) and released on an unauthorized (although easy to find) video under the name of "Tokyo Dream", and in 1985 another Japan tour featured long-time collaborator Gordon Beck guesting on keys.

     Chad and Jimmy have often spoken fondly of their many years playing with Allan, and below they describe how they approached working out their parts for Allan's compositions:

Chad Wackerman:
     "He doesn’t tell you what to play, or suggest beats or grooves. Rather than focusing on a 1-bar pattern, he strives to make the whole tune groove. There’s a great amount of freedom playing with him and we know that he’s not into the typical clich├ęs. One thing I had to learn was to play more aggressively in contrast to Allan’s delicate approach in some sections. His compositions are often very rubato, and while the A, B, C sections are played the same, it’s between the sections where he might adjust the time to fit what he’s hearing and feeling, thus lending to odd-time feels - a spontaneous style of arranging, one would say. With soloing, we’ve been playing together for so long and are able to read each other, make those turns together, musically and dynamically, while still surprising each other, too. 
(from Drumhead Magazine 35, late 2012) 
     "He wanted people who did things organically in his music – or they could bring something to his music that he enjoyed. He didn’t want to tell anybody what to do, because he didn’t enjoy being told what to do, and in some bands in the past he had a hard time with certain characters being very demanding about what they wanted to hear – probably more guitaristic stuff – and he didn’t enjoy it. And he didn’t want to put that on somebody else. It was really tricky for him to pick a band, and usually the guys – we just loved the music so much.  We got completely inside of it. 
     "What he would often do – if he was writing a tune, he would always write it in rubato. Very few tunes are written with a loop or a drum machine.  There were a few in the 80s – but most of them were written in rubato. And he would get together with the bass player (for many years with Jimmy Johnson) and they would experiment with changing the roots of the chords in these tunes until he was really happy – but again it wasn’t rhythmic yet. Then he would bring in myself (or Gary Husband, whoever was playing with him at the time) and we would figure out a feel, kind of a basic tempo, really. And then he’d play the guitar part to us...and then it would be up to us what we wanted to do with it. 
     "Rhythmically, he would write in phrases. So he’d have a phrase, and then have a space. And often, when we were getting together playing the thing at tempo for the first time, we’d be working on how much space each phrase needed after – when it was finished. It could be short phrases or long phrases, so it ended up being a lot of odd time signatures and very organic-sounding because of that. It wasn’t like 'we’re playing in 7 now, we’re going to force everything mathematically into a pattern of 7 beats per bar'. No, it was more like, here’s a phrase, it’s like a sentence. Then you have a pause, you have another sentence. And even just working on the pauses would tell him how the music felt… So it didn’t matter that he didn’t read, the stuff was so great. 
     "And everybody would get completely inside of it and there was a huge kind of pride about playing this kind of really innovative, different music, that also had room for all of us to be completely creative inside of it. It was really a fabulous experience – it just felt like this music was really precious. His guitar-playing was something else, but even on the compositional side, he’d be kind of killing us in some of these ballads, with some of the chord progressions that he’d come up with, so beautiful and so different, like nothing else.
     "He was really hard on himself too, but he would grow through it, he would come up with new stuff.  There’d be a point where he felt 'Oh I’m not TRULY improvising tonight, I didn’t do something that was brand new tonight', and he’d be incredibly hard on himself as an improvisor, showing that there always needed to be something new in it. But by doing that, he never rested, he’d always come up with some new stuff. A lot of people think he’s being all apologetic after a show, and part of it, I think, was that search. But (and these are my words not his) my feeling is that if he was content, that would stop his growth.  I think it was connected with that, personally."  
(from Chad Wackerman Interview on Pods & Sods - Remembering Allan Holdsworth Part 2)

Jimmy Johnson:
     “If a guitar player tries to play a bass part, he’ll find out that it’s physically easy to do (playing the roots and stuff) but the actual approach is what’s odd for people. I think that applies to Allan. His music is really rich harmonically, but it’s kind of flexible with respect to which chord tone he wants to hear on the very bottom. The chords are often complicated to the point where any of 3 or 4 different notes will work fine. So, instead of actually presenting me with a chart with the notes he wants on the bottom, we experiment with the parts and come up with them together. It’s really fun. He has some specific ideas sometimes: if there’s a pedal point, he’ll say it. But on a lot of the stuff, where the chords are going by in a hurry, we’ll just sit down and figure out what works, and I’ll try to write a bass line that leads and makes some melodic sense on its own.
     “It’s really tricky playing a trio with Al, because when he starts to take a solo, I wish I could be comping as cool as he comps. I can’t do it. Jeff Berlin can play a lot of voicings, but I’m more of a one-note-at-a-time guy. It’s actually more fun for me, because I don’t have to systematically think it out. I can play the bass note, hear the chord and then take it from there… I’m not really trained enough to know which scales are supposed to fit where. People say, ‘Well, you’re playing a half-demolished something-or-other scale there’, and I say ‘Really?’  It’s just by ear – I’m just trying to play melodies that hold together. And in playing bass lines, I guess some of that applies as well. I want to lead to the next note. If there’s a little hole I’ll jump in. I’ll take a chance.
     “We never know where he’s (Allan) going. But if he starts to go, we usually go too. It all flows out. Husband was the wildest for that. If Allan would really start wailing, Gary would start really wailing, and the whole band would just go to the moon… You’re proud to come into a town and be playing with Allan. It’s one of the few gigs like that, and I’m really glad to be involved.”  
(from Guitar World Jimmy Johnson Interview 1989)

Music Analysis: Road Games


     Only six songs were completed before Templeman pulled the plug on this album, but at least all six are great, memorable pieces. The three vocal tunes are driven by "rock vamps", and "Water on the Brain" serves the same purpose that "Letters of Marque" did for the previous album (that is, provide room for rhythm section member solos). "Three Sheets To the Wind" and "Tokyo Dream" are both superb examples of Allan's complex harmonic constructions, but are somehow made more "accessible" through carefully-crafted orchestration.

     It could be said that in this album (and to a lesser degree in the next one, "Metal Fatigue") Allan seems to have emphasized the "rock" elements of his style. For example, most of the songs are hinged on "riffs", rather than a chord-melody theme (such as in "I.O.U.'s "The Things You See", "Out From Under", "White Line", etc..). The rock riff concept is something that Allan had explored in everything from Soft Machine's "Hazard Profile" to I.O.U.'s "Checking Out", but on "Road Games" this device becomes a kind of "gateway" element for broader audiences to latch on to (in my opinion).

Road Games

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar (Jackson Charvels)
Jeff Berlin: Bass
Chad Wackerman: Drums

Paul Williams: Vocals ("Road Games")
Jack Bruce: Vocals ("Was There?", "Material Real")
Joe Turano, Paul Korda: Backing Vocals

Recorded at Music Grinder
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Three Sheets
To The Wind
4:14 Produced by Allan Holdsworth, mixed at Music Grinder by Robert Feist
     "Three seems to be a magical age for children.  The idea for the title of this instrumental originally was inspired by children.  It’s that time when they really start to go crazy, and their personalities start to develop very fast. They tend to do things with a kind of abandon, which reminded me of the old English expression "three sheets to the wind" which is sometimes used when someone behaves that way."
The higher production budget of WB opened up the sonic landscape for Allan's compositions. Besides the song's artful exploration of layered guitar textures, Allan's solo here traverses many modulating rhythms and harmonies, making it one of his most colorful of the era. As a side-note, "three sheets to the wind" apparently also means being overly intoxicated. It's possible that the various "stumbling/descending" chordal sequences might reflect this state of drunkenness (just a guess!). This first tune features a chord-melody theme, but the next tune goes into more "rock riff" territory.

0:00: Falling intro figure A, syncopated main chord-melody theme (closely followed by the rhythm section) ending in variation of falling figure A, repeat with variation, figure A extended.
0:43: Descending chordal sequence (textural) over pedal bass.
1:08: Guitar solo (Scholz Rockman (13), with subtle swelled guitar chords), over main theme harmony (modulating).
1:52: Solo continues over descending chordal sequence/pedal.
2:16: Solo (2nd chorus) continued over main theme harmony variation.
2:59: Solo continues over descending chordal sequence/pedal.
3:24: Main theme, accented A figure, theme repeat with figure A extended as coda.
2 Road Games 4:14 Produced by Allan Holdsworth, mixed at Music Grinder by Robert Feist
Vocals: Paul Williams

This tune has a catchy hook, but also includes a rare instance of Allan using tapping as a rhythmic device for chordal motifs. The guitar solo is a classic. Jeff Berlin has a nice outro bass solo at the end.

0:00: Fanfare figure leads to pedal accent, then clipped main riff figure (harmonized guitars) over jolly, jaunty bass.
0:28: Bridge: Rhythmic figure derived from opening fanfare melody, punctuated by tapped guitar cadenza, rising accents.
0:41: 1st verse over main figure, pedal harmony (chorus) with sparkling arpeggio textures.
1:10: 2nd verse, bridge sequence.
1:41: Cadenza of two-handed tapped chords over rhythmic accents/handshakers.
2:05: Guitar solo over main riff verse figure, alternating with pedal harmony with harmonized guitar ostinato.
2:53: Bridge sequence, 3rd verse.
3:23: Pedal harmony (chorus) with sparkling arpeggio textures (bass solo/guitar harmony drone).
3 Water On
The Brain
Pt. II
2:49 Produced by Circumstance, mixed at Warner Bros. Studios (Amigo) by Mark Linett
     "Originally sung with Paul Williams, this was supposed to be on the old IOU record… but the tape was stolen and was recovered AFTER the original album was done" (89)
This catchy, driving tune was employed in almost every single Holdsworth concert as a showcase for the rhythm section members. The "recovered" version with Paul Williams on vocals and Allan's guitar solo can be found on the 2016 "Tales From the Vault" release.

0:00: Syncopated/accented main theme (separate lead and rhythm guitar tracks), accented groove, repeat.
0:51: Bridge cadence.
1:02: Bass solo (featuring Jeff Berlin scaring the pants off all future bassists attempting this song).
2:19: Syncopated/accented main theme, accented groove.
4 Tokyo Dream 4:04 Produced by Allan Holdsworth, mixed at Music Grinder by Robert Feist
     "When we were trying to get the IOU band off the ground in England, it was a very difficult time. We didn't get to play a lot of gigs, and when we played, there would often be Japanese people in the audience. I was always surprised by how much they knew about us. Japan always seemed a mysterious place to me, but people from there seemed to know so much about us. I always wanted to travel to Japan just as a tourist, but I knew if I could ever get the band there, with a bit of luck, we'd do well. During that time Japan was just a distant dream, and when I moved to California, I wrote this as one of the instrumentals for the Road Games project... Pedal steel guitar kills me - it's such a beautiful sound... I used it for some of the accompaniment chords on 'Tokyo Dream'. (16)
This song has a beautiful harmonic and melodic structure to it. It features skillfully-crafted layers of multiple guitar/pedal steel tracks as well (some of them possibly pitch-shifted or based on delays). The opening arpeggio sequence and main riff have chords which require right-hand tapped double-stops and melodic ornaments (sometimes with sliding).

0:00: Drum fill, intro arpeggio with added right hand tapped interval, falling accented chords, syncopated main riff with overdubbed high register double-stop figures (pitch-shifted?).
0:31: Arpeggio intro/accents developed with right hand sliding notes, main riff reprise.
1:18: Guitar solo soon joins over pedal steel guitar groove (based on main theme harmony, bass adds arpeggiated comping).
2:41: Arpeggio intro/falling accented chords developed, main riff, drum coda.
5 Was There? 4:09 Produced by Circumstance, mixed at Warner Bros. Studios (Amigo) by Mark Linett
Vocals: Jack Bruce

This song features an exciting guitar/drums duet near the end, which is something explored by jazz pioneers like John Coltrane ("Interstellar Space"), and would be further developed by Allan himself in "The Drums Were Yellow" from 1999's "The Sixteen Men of Tain". In live renditions, this duet would often be extended, and farther down the line the live guitar/drum duet would be inserted into "Devil Take the Hindmost".

0:00: Insistent, syncopated main guitar riff ("alarm motif"), joined by accents and 1st verse vocal, modulating.
0:27: Bridge, heavy funk riff figure.
0:52: Main riff with drum rolls, bridge variation.
1:37: Guitar lead over galloping bass (pedal vamp developed from heavy funk riff).
1:51: Main riff with added drum rolls, bridge, heavy funk riff figure.
2:29: Wild guitar/drums duet.
2:57: Main riff with add'l textural special effects, vocal verse joins, bridge extended.
3:48: Final heavy funk riff figure. 
6 Material Real 4:41 Produced by Circumstance, mixed at Warner Bros. Studios (Amigo) by Mark Linett
Vocals: Jack Bruce

This tune features a relatively short guitar solo, but the cadence harmony (opening and closing the song) will become a signature Holdsworth structure, and be a part of many future concert improv sections. The ending sequence highlights a drum solo from Chad. The 2003 "Sixteen Men of Tain Special Edition" (reissued on the recent Manifesto Holdsworth boxset "The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!") also includes "Material Unreal", which consists of a newly-recorded version of the cadence harmony and drum solo following Bridge C.

0:00: Swelled/delayed guitar chords intro.
0:25: Cadence harmony.
0:44: Syncopated main riff with 1st verse, Bridge A with accents.
1:07: 2nd verse, Bridge A variation w. added accents.
1:32: Bridge B, with accents.
1:59: Bridge C (instrumental guitar layers).
2:14: Cadence harmony, heavy, chorused guitar figure over main riff variation.
2:40: 3rd verse.
2:53: Guitar solo over Bridge B, then Bridge B with vocal.
3:20: Bridge C, cadence harmony with textural guitar effects and drum cadenza, final "unreal" chordal swell.

     Despite the problems Allan encountered while assembling Road Games, the end result is one of his most accessible albums. However, the inclusion of Paul Williams was a step too far, and Templeman decided that Allan was off the label. Fortunately there was enough time to record just a few more tracks on WB's dime...leading to Metal Fatigue.

Gear Evolution
     The below chart is a summary of Allan's evolving equipment collection throughout this crucial period in his career. The information below has been pieced together from interviews, photos and videos. In reality, Allan's descriptions in published interviews were largely a simplification of his actual set up, but this overview might give some insight into Allan's ever-restless search for the "perfect tone".

Chronology of Allan's Gear in the Late '70s/Early '80s
(based on various interviews)
Guitars
Effects
Amps
1978: UK
Dick Knight attaches custom (wide) necks to Boogie Strat bodies.
Allan plays through Marshalls and L5 amps.

  • Boogie Strat w Dick Knight neck, DiMarzio (Gibson copy) PAF pick-ups 
  • Tony Williams period $300 Strat w Dick Knight neck (maple with ebony fingerboard), 2 PAF humbuckers
  • Boogie Telecaster ash body, fitted with a Fender Jazzmaster neck
  • Ibanez L5 copy acoustic cello guitar
  • 1938 Gibson cello guitar (Kalamazoo?)
  • Gibson Firebird 7
Dynacord digital delay   between clean L5 amps to give a stereo effect

Pete Cornish custom router bay
Lead: Hot-rodded 50W Marshall (or 50W Burman (Pro 501) custom head) w 4x12 cabs (Celestion speakers)

Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps
1979: After Bruford (Holdsworth & Co, etc)
Along with the Knight-modded Strats, a red Gibson SG gets some play.
Allan meets the Hartley Thompson amp people, surprised at how good their solid-state lead tones are.
Beck and Holdsworth at l'Espace Cardin, 1979
(Photo: Christian Rose, for Jazz Magazine June 2017)
  • Boogie Strat w Dick Knight neck (DiMarzio PAF's (cream?), one volume and one tone control - treble/bridge pickup only)
"The bridge pickup is for leads, and the neck pickup for chording. I usually leave my volume control set between 8 and 10 on the guitar, and the treble pickup's tone is adjusted to about 5 or 6 - enough to roll off some of the top end."
  • Tony Williams-period Strat w Dick Knight neck (first fitted w SG Custom center position PAF pickups, then DiMarzio PAF's)
  • Red Gibson SG
  • Ibanez L5 acoustic cello guitar
  • 1938 Gibson cello guitar (Kalamazoo?)
(L5 amps include a built-in limiter) Lead: Hot-rodded 50W Marshall, Hartley-Thompson transistor amp (set for 2 different lead sounds, depending on bridge/neck pickup)

Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps, Vox AC-30, 50W Hiwatt 
1980: False Alarm
Allan says his favorite guitar is now the SG...
Two volume pedals are used to control the stereo sound.

  • Red Gibson SG Standard (becomes main guitar)
MXR Noise Gate/Line Drivers

2 volume pedals - a mono one for the level of the signal going to the digital delay, and a stereo one for the chording amps.

Experiments with chorus units and limiters for the chording (rhythm) channel.
1981: IOU w. Paul Williams
The Dick Knight Boogies return.
The Hartley Thompson amps are perfected.
  • Tony Williams-period Strat w Dick Knight neck, bound for extra width, ebony fingerboard, custom black-cover DiMarzio pickups, 3-way pickup selector giving either pickup, or out of phase. 
"The other switch brings in a capacitor which gives me extra brightness at low volume."
  • Boogie Strat w Dick Knight neck, maple fingerboard (DiMarzios are traded for Seymour Duncan 59s)
(Guitars sold to pay for mixing "I.O.U.")
Dynacord digital delay (tight delay) between clean L5 amps to give a "stereo" effect

L5's include a built-in limiter
Lead: Hartley-Thompson transistor amp (set for 2 different lead sounds, depending on bridge/neck pickup), 2 cabs each with two Goodman GP-12 speakers

Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps

(all amps except HT's sold to pay for mixing "I.O.U.")
1982: America
Grover and Allan
http://www.jacksoncharvelworld.net/earlyyears.html
Grover Jackson makes Allan three nice new guitars.
Allan relies on A/DA and Yamaha delays to create spatial sound fields.
Hartley Thompsons are brought over from the UK, while Fenders are used for clean tones.
     "Just before I sold my Stratocaster, I met [Charvel luthier/designer] Grover Jackson in London. We went out for a few beers and he was willing to listen to ideas I had about certain woods, whereas a lot of other people wouldn't. They'd say 'you can't make a guitar from this wood or that wood.' But Grover listened to everything... He told me that when I came over to the States, he was going to make me a guitar. When we came to California, I didn't have a guitar (I had a guitar, but it was just a cricket bat). (Grover) made me three Strat-style guitars from various woods - the one I preferred was made from basswood. I had him make the necks wide at the top [near the headstock] like Gibsons, and about 2 1/4" wide at the body end of the neck. So that means there's a good 1/8" on either side of the outer strings, which is really nice. The strings used to really fly off the edges of the Stratocasters. We used Gibson string spacing and Seymour Duncan pickups. I'm really happy with the guitars Grover made. They're the best guitars I've ever owned." (11, 16)
  • Red, maple neck, ebony fingerboard and a basswood body, custom Seymour Duncan pickup (see below)
  • White, maple neck, ebony fingerboard and a jelutong body, Seymour Duncan 59N (see above pic)
  • Clear finish, maple neck, maple fingerboard and a spruce body, custom DiMarzio pickup (seen in I.O.U. chapter top)
All with one pickup in the bridge position, one volume and one tone
Two A/DA STD-1 units (Stereo Tapped Delay, 55ms to create stereo effect, for both rhythm and lead channels)

Korg stereo volume control between the A/DA STD and the stereo rhythm amps (controls volume of chordal channels simultaneously)

Steelmaster mono volume pedal, controls volume from rhythm guitar to the A/DA (mainly for noise reasons)

Yamaha E-1010 analog delay (for textural echo SFX)

(custom rack, see below)

Lead: Hartley Thompson, Fender (occasionally)

Rhythm: HT, also Fender Twin Reverbs, Fender Princeton IIs, Fender Super Champ into Yamaha 200w power amp and Marshall 4x12 cabs
Guitar Player, Tom Mulhern, Dec 1982
1983-85: Road Games
Allan relies on the red Charvel mostly, but soon gets turned on to some Ibanez prototypes.
His delay effects become more complex, as he mixes manufacturers to get more organic mixtures.
Jeff Berlin, Allan Holdsworth, Edward Van Halen
http://www.jacksoncharvelworld.net/earlyyears.html
Four Jackson Charvel Guitars (blue one is the new addition), all w. one tone and one volume control, plus pickup selector and custom "brightness" switches.
  • Red, maple neck, ebony fingerboard and a basswood body, custom Seymour Duncan pickup (shown above)
  • White, maple neck, ebony fingerboard and a jelutong body, Seymour Duncan 59N (also middle position)
  • Clear finish (blonde), maple neck, maple fingerboard and a spruce body, custom DiMarzio pickup
  • Blue, 2 custom Seymour Duncan pickups
  • Charvel prototype (similar to Ovation Viper), also with Seymour Duncan pickups.
  • 1956 Gibson Super 300
  • Ibanez electric prototypes
  • Ovation '83 Collectors Series
  • Chapman Stick
Multiple delay lines for textural/spacial effects:

Two A/DA STD1 (stereo delays)

Lexicon PCM41

Dynacord DDL 12

Yamaha E1010 (analog delay)

Also:
Scholz Rockman (on "Three Sheets to the Wind")

Two AMS units (DMX 15-805 Digital Delays?)
Lead: 2 Hartley Thompson 100w amps (later 200w) w 4 Yamaha 4x12 cabs (mixed Yamaha and Celestion GI2 speakers)

Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps, later 2 Yamaha P-2200s (200w), plus 2 Yamaha PGI pre-amps, S412 speakers

Next: Signs of Metal Fatigue
Previous Chapter: I.O.U. (1979-1981)

The numbers in parentheses after Allan's quotes above refer to sources listed in the Bibliography
For more detailed information on this chapter, see the Annotated Chronology.

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