The better of the two albums the Tony Williams Lifetime recorded in 1970, Turn It Over, is a far more focused and powerful album than the loose, experimental Ego, and one of the more intense pieces of early jazz-rock fusion around. In parts, it's like Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys with much better chops. It's more rock-oriented and darker-hued than their debut, 1969's Emergency!, and the temporary addition of ex-Cream member Jack Bruce on bass and vocals alongside stalwart guitarist John McLaughlin makes this something of a milestone of British progressive jazz. The album's primary flaw is that unlike the expansive double album Emergency!, these ten songs are tightly constricted into pop-song forms -- only a swinging cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Once I Loved" breaks the five-minute mark, and then only barely -- which reins in these marvelous soloists too much. This is particularly frustrating since pieces like the two-part "To Whom It May Concern" feature some outstanding solos (especially from McLaughlin and organist Larry Young, the group's secret weapon) that are frustratingly, tantalizingly short. Expanded to a double album, Turn It Over would probably surpass Emergency! as a pioneering jazz-rock fusion release; as it is, it's an exciting but mildly maddening session.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason