Friday, October 19, 2012

Ten Years After - Recorded Live

I know that Ten Years After are far from considered to be cool these days and their excesses are well documented, but I still say that they created some fine blues-based r’n’r and I am continually amazed by Alvin Lee’s blindingly fast riffing. This is the band in a live setting from 4 different European shows in the early 70’s – at the height of their popularity. Supposedly, there are no overdubs and the band it tight as can be, with Alvin in fine voice (he was a helluva blues singer as well as player). The sound is strong – recorded on the Rolling Stones mobile – and similar to other live pieces from the group. Keyboardist Chick Churchill is often drowned out (though does add some tasty organ & piano in places), but rhythm section of Leo Lyons (bass) and brother Ric Lee (drums) hold down the fort as Alvin goes flying into the stratosphere.

Many people have criticized Lee for his “mechanical” playing, but he certainly knows his blues riffs and has no issue with throwing as many out as he possibly can! His knowledge of classical pieces is shown in the aptly-titled “Classical Thing” which segues into his “Scat Thing” before resolving into the sublime “I Can’t Keep From Cryin’ Sometimes”, where he gets a bit jazzier and even gives a nod to “Greensleeves”. He also shows that he can cop the licks of the best of them by tossing out Eric Clapton riffs as easily of “God” himself, with “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Cat’s Squirrel”, “Steppin’ Out”, as well as Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” before showing what he can do himself again in this 15 minute + tour de force. Both Alvin and Chick get to explore their chops in the appropriately-titled “Slow Blues in “C”” (prefaced by some fooling around with country licks) which then blasts into what the audience was waiting for – “I’m Going Home” – the song Lee took from a band called Helicopter (long before The Hellacopters). Made famous by the appearance in the Woodstock movie, this take is pretty similar to the one everyone knows, which I’m sure thrilled the crowd. The boys come back for an encore of their boogie-rock “Choo Choo Mama” and then flee as they realize they have used their allotment of notes for the night!

Again, if you are afraid of “jams”, avoid this one, but if you can dig hearing a well-oiled blues-rock’n’roll machine show off their licks, dynamics and sheer talent with plenty of energy and excitement, this is a solid release.