Emergency! (album)

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Emergency!
Lifetime-Emergency.jpg
Studio album by The Tony Williams Lifetime
Released1969
RecordedMay 26 & 28, 1969
GenreJazz fusion, jazz-rock, progressive
Length70:24
LabelPolydor, Polygram
ProducerMonte Kay, Jack Lewis
Tony Williams chronology
Spring
(1965)
Emergency!
(1969)
Turn It Over
(1970)

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]

Composition[edit]

According to jazz scholar Christopher Meeder, the Lifetime eschewed the funk influence of Miles Davis' early fusion music with a mixture of heavy rock drumming and the "light, rapid swing" that was Williams' signature. "Emergency! synthesized the best elements of free jazz, modal jazz, and British rock", Meeder wrote, "and added a rhythmic complexity in tracks like 'Via the Spectrum Road,' a blues of sorts in the unusual time signature of 11/8."[3] In Paul Hegarty's opinion, the music was more oriented with progressive music's rock side rather than its jazz, fusing psychedelic elements while featuring "reprises, crescendos, an oscillation between the simpler time signatures of rock and the more progressive metres of jazz". He cited "Via the Spectrum Road" as an example of how Williams' singing approached the "non-rock, non-jazz softness" of progressive rock pioneer Robert Wyatt.[4]

"Via the Spectrum Road" was viewed by Stuart Nicholson as one of the album's most blatant explorations of rock rhythms. "Spectrum", on the other hand, utilized rhythms from post-bop. Composed by guitarist and Lifetime member John McLaughlin, it was first recorded for his 1969 Extrapolation debut and was regarded by Nicholson as an extension of that album's "free-flowing approach ... but reinforced by the volume and energy associated with rock".[5]

A mistake during Emergency's production led Meeder to believe it helped lend a "raw power" to the music: "A cynical engineer used to recording mainstream jazz recorded the band carelessly, allowing the tape to distort, unintentionally adding satisfyingly raw edges to the album."[3]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[6]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[7]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz3.5/4 stars[8]
Record Collector5/5 stars[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[10]
Sputnikmusic5/5[11]
The Village VoiceA[12]

Emergency! was originally released in 1969 by Polydor/PolyGram Records,[13] receiving widespread acclaim from major American publications.[14] In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau hailed Williams as "probably the best drummer in the world" and was astonished by the album,[12] calling it "a frank extrapolation on the most raucous qualities of new thing jazz and wah-wah mannerist rock".[15] Coda was less enthusiastic, finding it "intriguing" with some "substantial" pieces of music but not as much as other hard rock bands attempting the same kind of music, nor as imaginative and coherent as the music Williams, McLaughlin, and Young had made outside the group.[14] The album was later reissued on CD by Verve Records and Polygram in 1997.[13]

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.[10] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Leo Stanley said that it "shattered the boundaries between jazz and rock" with its "dense, adventurous, unpredictable soundscapes".[6] 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.[7] Mojo regarded it as "jazz-rock's equivalent of Are You Experienced?".[16]

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 Special" (Dave Herman) – 5:40

Personnel[edit]

The Tony Williams Lifetime[edit]

Production[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

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Tony Williams Lifetime: Emergency!
  2. ^ "Miles and His Disciples"
  3. ^ a b Meeder, Christopher (2012). Jazz: The Basics. Routledge. pp. 217–18. ISBN 1135887128.
  4. ^ Hegarty, Paul; Halliwell, Martin (2011). Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock Since the 1960s. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. pp. 107–8. ISBN 0826444830.
  5. ^ Nicholson, Stuart (1998). Jazz-rock: A History. Canongate Books. p. 140. ISBN 0-86241-817-8.
  6. ^ a b Stanley, Leo. Emergency! at AllMusic
  7. ^ a b Polkow, Dennis (1992). "Tony Williams Lifetime". Chicago Tribune (August 20). Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  8. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2004). The Penguin Guide to Jazz (7th ed.). Penguin Books. p. 995. ISBN 0141014164.
  9. ^ "Tony Williams - Emergency CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Campbell, Hernan M. (September 3, 2012). "Review: Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency!". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1970). "Consumer Guide (9)". The Village Voice (April 23). New York. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Fellezs, Kevin (2011). Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion. Duke University Press. p. 271. ISBN 0822350475.
  14. ^ a b B.T. (October 1970). "Tony Williams". Coda. Vol. 9. p. 20.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 21, 1970). "Jazz Annual". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  16. ^ Anon. (2007). Mojo, Issues 158-161.

External links[edit]