Emergency! (album)

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Studio album by The Tony Williams Lifetime
Released 1969
Genre Jazz fusion
Length 70:24
Label Polydor, Polygram
Producer Monte Kay, Jack Lewis
Tony Williams chronology
Turn It Over
(1970)Turn It Over1970

Emergency! is the debut double album by American jazz fusion group The Tony Williams Lifetime. It was released in 1969 and was one of the first significant jazz fusion recordings.[1] The album has commonly been regarded as a pioneering, influential, and original album in the jazz, rock, and fusion genres.[2]


On the album, the band experiments with a wide range of genres including funk, psychedelic rock, hard bop, blues and free jazz. Williams can also be heard singing on the record on the songs "Beyond Games", "Where", and "Via the Spectrum Road". It was during John McLaughlin's tenure with the band that Williams introduced the young guitarist to Miles Davis, who was conducting his own fusion explorations at the time. This introduction led to McLaughlin playing on some of Davis's most acclaimed and influential albums, including In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Davis had a particular influence on the band, as Williams had played in his Second Great Quintet with Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock, and Larry Young would go on to record on Bitches Brew.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz 3.5/4 stars[5]
Record Collector 5/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[7]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[8]
The Village Voice A[9]

Emergency! was originally released in 1969 by Polydor Records and Polygram Records.[10] In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called the album a "stunner" and hailed Williams as "probably the best drummer in the world".[9] The record was later reissued on CD by Verve Records and Polygram in 1997.[10]

According to J. D. Considine in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992), jazz fusion started on Emergency! where McLaughlin was first given the chance to combine jazz and rock.[7] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Leo Stanley said that it "shattered the boundaries between jazz and rock" with its "dense, adventurous, unpredictable soundscapes".[3] Dennis Polkow of the Chicago Tribune wrote that in spite of the album's questionable sound quality, the music has an "energy and spirit" that has never been surpassed in fusion.[4]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Emergency" (Williams) – 9:37
  2. "Beyond Games" (Williams) – 8:19
Side two
  1. "Where" (McLaughlin) – 12:11
  2. "Vashkar" (Carla Bley) – 5:01
Side three
  1. "Via the Spectrum Road" (McLaughlin, Williams) – 7:51
  2. "Spectrum" (McLaughlin) – 8:52
Side four
  1. "Sangria for Three" (Williams) – 13:08
  2. "Something Spiritual" (Dave Herman) – 5:40


The Tony Williams Lifetime[edit]


  • Elaine Gongora – Cover Design
  • James Isaacs – Liner Notes
  • Monte Kay – Producer
  • Jack Lewis – Producer
  • Sid Maurer – Art Direction, Photography
  • Joseph M. Palmaccio – Digital Mastering, Editing
  • Gene Radice – Engineer, Mixing
  • Paul Ramey – Reissue Producer
  • Phil Schaap – Liner Notes, Remastering, Restoration
  • Richard Seidel – Reissue Producer


  1. ^ The Tony Williams Lifetime: Emergency!
  2. ^ "Miles and His Disciples"
  3. ^ a b Stanley, Leo. Emergency! at AllMusic
  4. ^ a b Polkow, Dennis (1992). "Tony Williams Lifetime". Chicago Tribune (August 20). Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2004). The Penguin Guide to Jazz (7th ed.). Penguin Books. p. 995. ISBN 0141014164. 
  6. ^ "Tony Williams - Emergency CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (1992). "Tony Williams". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 772. ISBN 0679737294. 
  8. ^ Campbell, Hernan M. (September 3, 2012). "Review: Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency!". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1970). "Consumer Guide (9)". The Village Voice (April 23). New York. Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Fellezs, Kevin (2011). Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion. Duke University Press. p. 271. ISBN 0822350475. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]