The Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency! LP
Label: Be With
The Tony Williams Lifetime's Emergency! is a furious, stunning, seminal album. In 1969, it's explosive sound divided critics in both jazz and rock but is now rightly regarded as groundbreaking. A musical statement so bold and irreverent that it was revolutionary. With Emergency!, provocative percussionist Tony Williams unified the most vital sounds of the era and galvanized the creation of jazz fusion. A sprawling double-LP that shattered the boundaries between jazz and rock, it forged fresh frontiers by unleashing dense, courageous and fantastically mysterious music. The group was founded by Tony Williams, a member of Miles Davis's radical 1960s quintet, out of his desire to fuse the influences of modern jazz and rock music. To effectively meld the scorching bop of Coltrane with the raging rock of Hendrix. Like all the very best records, Emergency! takes multiple listens for your brain and body to decipher everything going on, to truly process and appreciate the details that our senses are throwing at us. It's a mesmerizing, rough sound yet the intuitive interplay of all three musicians is super-tight. The tunes are strung out and jamming but retain a tight rhythmic focus. The incendiary title track immediately presents jazz-rock's chaotic birth. After Williams's ominous snare-roll signals the brewing storm, the snarling band blasts its way through the gate in truly breathtaking fashion, fuzzed-up wahed-out guitar riffs vying for prominence with gnarled, insistent organ. Thrillingly, Williams manages to both acrobatically crash over every element of his drum kit while keeping the whole groove undeniably funky. "Beyond Games" is a gloriously volatile freeform, featuring Williams' bugged-out vocals, whilst the 12-minute "Where" is another deep, wild jam. With the buoyant "Vashkar", we begin to experience jazz-rock's many angles; imaginative melodics, taut dynamics and as torrent of searing heat. Perhaps the most economical track on Emergency!, it's the most instant. The laconic "Via the Spectrum Road", a brilliant pop-psych tune, was sampled by Showbiz & AG on their classic debut LP. It oscillates between a tranquil funk groove and strutting improv interludes. The pyrotechnic jam "Spectrum" wakes things up again with pure, molten jazz lava and crazy soloing from all involved. A breathtaking, kaleidoscopic 13-minute cycle through ferocious noise, "Sangria For Three" is a sublimely frenetic detonation of distilled (acid) jazz rock. Closer "Something Spiritual" finishes this jaw-dropping set with a driving, unrelenting heavy guitar and organ freakout, backed high in the mix by Williams's untamed funk before unsettled dissonance rides you out. Mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis and cut by Cicely Ralston for Alchemy at AIR Studios.