Rock Goes to College [Winterfold]
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Recorded on March 7, 1979 for the BBC television program Rock Goes to College, this collection of eight songs presents one of the truly great ’70s jazz-rock fusion ensembles at the peak of its power. Featuring drummer Bill Bruford (between incarnations of King Crimson), bass wunderkind Jeff Berlin, keyboardist Dave Stewart, vocalist Annette Peacock, and guitarist Allan Holdsworth (before he had been “discovered” by Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola, and the guitar community generally), the pure creative energy and technical mastery displayed here are often breathtaking. Holdsworth’s playing will obviously be of particular interest to GP readers, and his contributions alone are worth the cost of the disc. His lengthy and impossibly liquid legato lines, fluid finger vibrato, idiosyncratic whammy articulations, atypically voiced chords and arpeggios, and other aspects of his singular style are already fully present, and his soloing is superb on every tune. Among the other highlights are Berlin’s mind-blowing slapping solo on “5G” (a technique that was still relatively new at the time), Stewart’s implementation of synthesizers and electronics on “The Sahara of Snow Part 1” and “Forever Until Sunday,” and everything Bruford plays.
—Barry Cleveland