Believe It features former Motown bassist Tony Newton, keyboard player Alan Pasqua and, most notably, British guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who, while already somewhat of an underground legend in his own country, had yet to make an impression in North America. Believe It changed all that, demonstrating that not only was Holdsworth a fresh new voice on his instrument, but a fine writer as well. "Fred," later re-titled "Kinder" by Holdsworth, and a staple in his repertoire for some years to come, introduces Holdsworth's unique harmonic language, with a lyrical bent that manages to be completely distinctive. And his playing style is quite simply like no other; influenced heavily by Coltrane, Holdsworth, even at this early stage in his career, is capable of sheets of sound that, punctuated by held notes and legato runs, are visceral in their impact.
No less visceral, of course, is Williams himself. While peers including Billy Cobham and Lenny White gravitated towards more overblown displays of virtuosity, Williams overpowers both with his stronger sense of groove and sheer muscularity. And while he is every bit as capable of extravagant displays of technique, he always sounds more musical. Even on intense burners like the Holdsworth-penned bonus track "Letsby," he is less concerned with how many beats he can throw into a fill; and his solo over Holdsworth's power chord ostinato is the epitome of construction.
For someone who moved the concept of rhythmic freedom so far forward as part of Miles' second quintet, Williams may have been the most overtly rock and roll-informed drummer of the mid-'70s fusion era. With an inherent sense of groove and honest energy that comes from compositions that are less contrived and more direct vehicles for improvisational flight, Believe It is one of the most compelling arguments for the validity of jazz-rock fusion, before the term became such a dirty word.
John Kelman - allaboutjazz
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