Ten Years Af­ter

The Al­bums 1967-1974

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Reissues - Kris needs

Gui­tar god Alvin Lee and his jazz-driven blues rock­ers get a con­sum­mate mon­u­ment.

Ten Years Af­ter steam­ing through I’m Go­ing Home at Wood­stock ranks among rock’s land­mark ‘right place, right time’ overnight suc­cess sto­ries, cat­a­pult­ing the Lon­don blues band to in­stant mega-star­dom on the US sta­dium cir­cuit. Al­though it brought riches, Alvin Lee felt he’d be­come a one-trick rock god and left in 1974, leav­ing or­gan­ist Chick Churchill, bas­sist Leo Lyons and drum­mer Ric Lee to con­tinue with­out him.

To mark half a cen­tury since Ten Years Af­ter found them­selves lead­ing an­other Bri­tish blues explosion, their nine al­bums are gath­ered in a lovely box, along with an un­re­leased 1972 ses­sion and epic notes from Chris Welch.

Pro­duced by blues dy­namo Mike Ver­non, Ten Years Af­ter (6/10) sports feet-find­ing Lee orig­i­nals and moody blues work­outs around Sonny Boy Wil­liamson’s Help Me and Wil­lie Dixon’s Spoon­ful. Their sched­ule dic­tated record­ing 1968’s break­through Un­dead (8/10) live at Klooks Kleek. There are siz­zling jazz work­outs (Woody Herman’s Wood­chop­pers Ball), with I’m Go­ing Home earn­ing Alvin his ‘fastest gui­tar in the West’ soubri­quet.

1969’s Stoned­henge (7/10) ex­panded into pro­gres­sive rock, de­ploy­ing in­cen­di­ary Canned Heat-style dy­nam­ics on fu­ture Slade set sta­ple Hear Me Call­ing, al­though its over­all im­pact is di­luted by in­di­vid­ual solo in­dul­gences. Ssssh (8/10) could be con­sid­ered their de­fin­i­tive al­bum, pro­vid­ing slam­ming blues-rock tem­plates like their las­civ­i­ous read­ing of Sonny Boy Wil­liamson’s Good Morn­ing Lit­tle School­girl.

Recorded at Olympic, 1970’s Crick­le­wood Green (7/10) fur­ther buffed up the sound, but Lee’s re­fusal to ap­pear on Top Of The Pops stalled their only hit sin­gle Love Like A Man at No.10. Cracks were show­ing by Watt (4/10), knocked up from stu­dio jams but, in­flu­enced by their coun­try man­sions, acous­tic flavours el­e­vated 1971’s A Space In Time (8/10).

1972’s Rock ’N’ Roll Mu­sic To The World (7/10) mated their blues-rock for­mula with druggy, gospel-charged funk. Five out-takes recorded by Chris Kim­sey on the Stones mo­bile stu­dio in a French villa have been remixed by the engi­neer to pro­vide The Cap Fer­rat Ses­sions (6/10).

By the time TYA recorded 1974’s lack­lus­tre Pos­i­tive Vi­bra­tions (4/10), in­tra-band re­la­tion­ships were frayed and Lee longed to pur­sue his solo path.

Sadly, Lee passed away dur­ing a rou­tine med­i­cal pro­ce­dure in 2013. This lus­trous set shows a vol­canic tal­ent who de­served but didn’t crave his place along­side Clap­ton, Beck and Page, along with a band that swung with rare telepa­thy. Hope­fully his­tory will now be kin­der to them.

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