1974

January to June

TEN YEARS AFTER / ALVIN LEE - Newspaper Articles

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New  Musical  Express -  January 19, 1974

 


Photo by Pieter Kentrop

         

 

Beat Instrumental – January 1974

Alvin Lee On The Road To Freedom!

Old “Speed Fingers” himself talks about a new friend and a new direction: 

 

Almost ten years later, Ten Years After have proved their point in both name and deed, but Alvin Lee, guitarist, song-writer and front-man with the band, has recently brought out an album which shows his interest and ability in other musical fields, and one which moves right away from his “Speed-Fingers” image. Ten Years After have been together since 1967, playing their own brand of rock `n´ roll and jazz-influenced numbers in a stormy act that has been to the States 18 times, and most other countries in the world.

His new album, “On The Road To Freedom,” consists of country, blues gospel and rock-flavoured songs written mainly by Alvin and his friend Mylon LeFevre. Mylon is a guitar-picker and singer from Georgia, U.S.A. who first met Alvin in the States, when his band, “Holy Smoke,” opened some of Ten Years After’s shows.

  

PLAYERS:

The list of musicians who played on the album is staggering, but Alvin explained that they “just dropped in”- and see who did: George Harrison, Stevie Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ron Wood, Reebop, Mick Fleetwood, Andy Stein, Bob Black, Tim Hinkley, Mike Patto, Ian Wallace and Boz Burrell !

“On The Road To Freedom” -  is important in many senses for Alvin, being the first album recorded in his new home studio, and the first brought out by his “Space Productions” production company. He also feels that the recorded music is a side of him that’s long been unexpressed, and when Beat Instrumental went down to his country manor, hidden deep in the Berkshire countryside, he and Mylon were keen to tell how their friendship and album came about. Mylon began by telling how, when they were in the States together, he and Alvin used to spend hours in hotel bathrooms – “we used to call it “Bathroom Music” – picking flat-tops-and generally having a good time with country-flavoured music. Why in the bathroom?

Well, just think how good anything musical sounds in the bath and you’ll see why.

“Our managers ended up trying to keep us apart, thinking we were a bad influence on each other. Because we’d miss planes and sleep just spending the nights pickin´ our guitars, because you get a beautiful sound in a bathroom,” he said. Since then, a strong friendship has developed between the two musicians, and when Mylon came to England in the summer, he found Alvin hard at work building his studio, in a barn near the main house, together with friends and musicians. Everybody worked to get the studio ready, and in between working, Alvin and Mylon together, with the musicians previously mentioned, were able to play, record and get material together. Alvin explained, that when they started recording there were no definite plans for an album, and with the tremendous freedom offered by his own studio, he and Mylon were able to do practically anything they wanted.

 

ALBUM:

“We had often talked about an album in the past, because our tastes are very similar in a number of ways. We don’t plan albums, though, we record, and I think that if you can record freely, and then worry about whether it’s going to be an album, single, tape or whatever afterwards, it’s a better approach. When you’ve got to play music for something in particular, it becomes something else,” said Alvin. “We wanted to be as relaxed as possible, which you can’t get when you’re paying 30 pounds an hour. We’re right out in the country here, and can play and record any time. There isn’t even a clock in the studio, just so there are no time worries. Sometimes we’d go in during an evening, and not come out until the middle of the next afternoon! “When we started recording, and all these musicians started dropping in, it was amazing how well they fitted into the music. George Harrison, Tim Hinckley and Ian Wallace all live locally and we go round to their music rooms and studios and play. Some live in London and like to come out here for a few days´ rest because it’s so relaxing. “It was very strange at times how everything worked out so well, at one point we ideally wanted a Nashville steel guitarist, and then we found there was one in town, and the next day he was up here”! That was Bobby Black of  “Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen”. “I think one of the reasons we like the album so much is the fact that it’s completely home-made, recorded and mixed here, and even the sleeve shots and design done here. That makes you a lot prouder of something”. Alvin has always divided his time between actually playing, and handling the production side of recording. His interest in the production side goes right back to when he had his first tape recorder. “I like machines, in fact cameras, precise machinery, I get off on that. The production interest stems from wanting to have more control over what I play. It’s frightening to think that 30 or 40 years ago it was all mono, with musicians playing into a horn and straight onto a disc – the facilities today, with a 16-track, are just amazing, and I’m still learning. “I’ve also learned a lot just inviting people down here, because everybody has a different approach to making and recording music, and most people have one and stick to it. I’m seeing lots, and it’s really interesting. I haven’t co-ordinated anything yet because I’m still learning, but I’m very excited.

 

APPROACH:

“On The Road To Freedom” is an approach to music, but what I also want to get into in the future is using a 16-track almost as an instrument and supplying sound sources, and taking them through pipes and around corners, but not like is done with a synthesiser, which is almost ready-made. I think a lot more can be done with recorded natural sound. “One of my heroes in this field is a guy called Tod Dokstod, who does what he calls “Organised Sound” and he’s even done an album with an orchestra, but what he did was record all the different instruments playing different notes, cut the tapes up, index them, and then fit them together for the “organised sound” – it’s really amazing. “Being a musician, I want to use all these advantages. The sky’s the limit really, with the facilities in this studio. But you can’t buy time, and that’s what becomes the main factor”. Although all this seems far away from his accepted role with Ten Years After, the band’s followers needn’t worry: “We’ll keep Ten Years After together for the people more or less. I can’t see the band as an object, though, because it’s been going so long. A lot of bands say: “We’ll do this or that,” but Ten Years After have always been very much into the validity of following through and progressing at the right pace, it’s like finding a channel and exploring it, rather than trying them all. And that may be the success of Ten Years After – we went out on a limb and stuck with it, where as, if we had tried to play all the types of music we thought people would buy, it would not have worked.

BOXING:

“For me, Ten Years After is like a workout, or a boxing match with a guitar. I go on and do everything I can with the instrument, and the rest of the band do the same. It’s quite mind blowing, but it’s not the sort of music I can sit in the living room and listen to. “Playing fast is like a reaction really. When you learn to drive a car, using the steering wheel and pressing the break and accelerator, it becomes automatic, and when you get in, you become a part of it.

It’s the same with the guitar, get in the groove and you’re away. “Some nights with Ten Years After, it’s really silly, I can stand on stage and just listen to myself playing, and think, “Oh! That’s amazing,” and the guitar seems to be playing itself. The fans are pushing and I can really let it flow. “I never really try to play fast, that just comes with time. I might try to play intensely, but I’m also trying to create whirlpools of sound, rather than just play notes. I play a lot of notes, but they’re all based around patterns and chord formations, up and down the neck.

 

FASTER:

“There are a lot of faster guitarist than me, I’ve heard them. Olly Halsall is very fast and fluent, but people don’t think it’s fast because it sounds easy, and it slides around.

“Every musician at some stage, has to decide which direction he’s going to take, which is what I did when I decided to have these guitar workouts as my thing, and I’ve really enjoyed it, but the more ground you cover, the less there is to do. Things have slowed down a lot now, and we do two major tours and an album a year, but that’s because it gets harder the longer you go. “It’s the same with the instruments. When you start, in the first year you go from playing nothing, to playing tunes, and the ground you cover is fantastic. Then you get into style and new licks, and it all slows down. That’s the state I’m in now, with that side of my playing, I maybe, pick up a new lick and work it into some phrases about once a month.

“That’s why it’s so good having Mylon here, he has all the enthusiasm that I lack, and it seems anything we say, “let’s have a go at,” we can do, it’s the way our characters work together. On my own, I probably wouldn’t do so much, because the enthusiasm has been washed out of me a bit, but now, I fiddle around on everything, playing harp, piano, bashing the drums, it’s almost as if I’ve realized my own potential, which is quite frightening”.

RED TAPE:

Alvin and Mylon also hope to go on the road with some of the musicians who played on the album, but as they explained, there’s a lot of red-tape involved before ten “known” musicians can do it. “It seems a crime really, not to get anything on the road, everyone wants to play, and as far as I know, everybody who’s heard it likes it. We might go on the road anonymously. Our attitude was to have something fresh and musical, and the fact that it comes across on a piece of plastic is fantastic”.

SPACE:

Alvin’s “Space Productions Company” now allows him to record other artists and have their albums and material released through Chrysalis and although he’s looking forward to recording and producing artists at his studio, he wants to be personally involved in all that’s done there, and not use it as just another commercial studio. It’s situated in a barn near  the main house, completely insulated, with the control room raised up at one end and the observation window high in one wall. Giant oak supports reach from the studio floor into the high roof, a nice “down on the farm” touch, but there the similarity ends, for the desk and recording equipment are very sophisticated indeed.

CONTROL:

The control room features an 18 - channel Helios desk, with two channels for reductions. It also has monitor mix facilities, so that one can monitor mix recordings, while actually listening to it, band or 16-track, without switching to reduction. There’s also a remote box in the studio with a PPM meter and slider-fader, so that one man can go in and record himself.

The desk also has direct injection sockets so that guitars and other instruments can be plugged straight in. The recorders consist of a 16-track Studer with Dolby M16, A Studer two-track and two Revox machines and both Tannoy and JBL’s because most American musicians are used to them.

 


Your Letters and Queries

1. Dear Beat Instrumental, I would be very grateful if you could give me details as to where I  may find information on the design and circuitry of “humbucking” pickups and their advantages. You have helped me before and I hope you will help me again.

From Andy Wason, Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

2. Dear Sir, I have been intrigued for some time now about guitar pick-ups. However, I have been unable to convince myself why some guitarist alter their pick-ups when they already have perfectly good ones which came with the guitar. For example, guitarist Alvin Lee of  Ten Years After, altered his Gibson Humbucker pick-up for a conventional make and also Clem Clempson of Humble Pie had a different pick-up fitted to his Gibson Les Paul. Is this something unusual, or something to do with the sound? Also,  please could you tell me what is a better pick-up to replace a Gibson Humbucker on a Les Paul, and what types of pick-up Alvin Lee, Clem Clempson and Jimmy Page use now.

Yours faithfully, Wilhelm Heidenoldendorf, West Germany 

 

Reply To The Questions Above:

The main feature in humbucking pick-ups, is the use of two magnetic poles under each string instead of one, resulting in a fuller sound and the cutting of hum and extraneous noise, very useful in a recording situation. Single-pole-pick-ups give a thinner tone generally, but the actual strength of the output is dependent on pole size and the windings. One guitar which can be switched to either single – or double – pole operation is the new Dan Armstrong six-string model, which has a single sliding pick-up.

We couldn’t contact either Clem Clempson or Jimmy Page, but Alvin Lee, who uses a Gibson ES-335, has two humbuckers fitted, and one Fender Strat pick-up (single pole), situated between them. The Fender pick-up is wired to a separate volume control, and wired in parallel with the bridge humbucker – that’s how he gets that variety of sound!

For further details on humbuckers, we suggest you write to Henri Selmer and Co. Ltd. Woolpack Lane, Braintree, Essex.

 

 

 

 

Record Mirror - January 26, 1974

Peter Harvey Meets Chick Churchill:

 

The fact that Chick Churchill can sing has probably never occurred to fans of Ten Years After. Chick always appears to be a phantom figure, stuck behind the organ, while Alvin Lee takes the spotlight. For six years now, he’s let his music speak for him, but early last year he decided that Ten Years After was no longer enough, and though the event passed quietly enough, towards the end of the year, Chick produced a quite distinctive solo album. That he did after discovering his own voice didn’t do his songs justice hardly matters, it’s the sensitive thoughtful nature of his work that provides the impact. After all, you’d hardly expect gentle music from the keyboard man in one of Britain’s raunchiest rock `n´ roll bands.

Luckily, the voice problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise too. Since they are such a matey (close / friendly) lot at Chrysalis Records, Chick was able to pull in one of his stable mates in order to  present the songs. Ravers are sure to know the singer, Gary-Pickford-Hopkins – the wild Welshman who fronts the Jethro Tull spin off band, “Wild Turkey”.

But once again this is a familiar face in an unusual guise. To be fair, Chick did sing on two of the songs, just to prove that he could do it, but for the rest of the album it’s Gary out front, while Chick plays his own compositions / arrangements and watches over the production too.

Up in the control room here at Morgan Studios, he was pouring over the desk doing a re-take on one of his songs, looking for all the world like a seasoned engineer. “I’ve learned a hell of a lot about recording if nothing else,” he admitted, taking a short break while the back-up vocals trio, consisting of three very lovely ladies, had a breather. Chick explained, that the track they were working on, “Broken Engagements” had failed to show up as a single in Britain so, “soulful harmony singing was being added” at this moment, in order to boost its chances in the American Music Market.  They worked over the track again and again, and to be honest, it’s haunted me ever since. His songs are all like that: maybe a little weak upon your first listen, but given a respectful amount of time, eventually they stick in your head.

 

In between the takes, Chick managed to provide the story behind his remarkable musical about face. “I had been writing songs for about two years and I had collected quite a few when I decided one day to listen to them all. I found that I didn’t like any of them, so I sat down and wrote twelve new ones and that’s the album. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But having taken on the project, Chick characteristically went about it with a thoroughness that is well known to his friends. What most people don’t realize, is that Chick Churchill is a Classically trained musician, so he got right down to it and wrote / did the strings arrangements.

“It had been six years since I had done anything of a classical nature, so I was a bit rusty, but I really wanted to do it. I suppose I was a bit fed up, as I had got to be known as a backing musician. People are going to be a bit surprised by the songs, basically I just had something in me that I wanted to get out and couldn’t get it out with Ten Years After”.  Chick laughed when I wondered if this solo project might produce problems. “No, it doesn’t matter how successful the songs are, I’m always going to play with Ten Years After – though maybe they would let me do a solo spot”. He says he’s not after Ten Years After fans, and if they should buy the album out of curiosity, it’s sure to be a surprise. There’s a fair number of ballads on there, with thoughtful lyrics and melodic lines, and throughout Chick plays, piano, organ, electric piano, mellotron and even a Moog Synthesizer. He’s joined on this album, by what Chrysalis describes as their “Central Casting Call” some of the best musicians who record for the record label: There’s Bernie Marsden from the band “Wild Turkey” and Martin Barre from “Jethro Tull” on guitars, Cozy Powell from the band “Bedlam” and Ric Lee and Leo Lyons from “Ten Years After” Ric drums – while Leo shares bass duties with Rick (Roger) Hodgson from “Supertramp”.

Chicks wife was also in the recording studio watching all the activity, and she confided:

“That when Chick becomes interested in something, he has to become an authority. He suddenly took an interest in meteorology and we ended up with a weather station on the roof of the house…………but this is the best thing he’s ever done”.

 

 



French magazine BEST, No. 67, Février 1974
Many Thanks to TYA fan John Tsagas for the scan

 

 

Sounds Magazine – February 2, 1974

Ten Years After News – Spring Tour and Ten Years After Album

Ten Years After are to play a short British Tour in the Spring, which includes an appearance at London’s Rainbow Theatre on Saturday April 20, 1974

The tour comes prior to the release of a new Ten Years After album, currently being recorded at Alvin Lee’s home studio (space-studios) which is as yet untitled. (Positive Vibrations – will eventually become the title of this album). It will also be the band’s first album since their

“Recorded Live” double album released last Summer.

Following the British Tour, the band go to America for a month - long tour, which begins on May 15, 1974.

Full British dates are as follows:

  1. Sheffield City Hall – April 18th
  2. Birmingham Town Hall – April 19th
  3. London Rainbow Theatre – April 20th
  4. New Castle City Hall – April – 21st
  5. Manchester Free Trade Hall – April 22nd

 

Ten Years After’s last appearance in Britain, was when they headlined the London Music Festival at Alexandra Palace last Summer.

 

 

 

 

March 2, 1974  - New Musical Express

News Desk – Alvin Lee Rainbow Headliner

Alvin Lee is to play a solo concert at London Rainbow Theatre on Friday, March 22 (box office opens this week), with a band of guest musicians. This gig takes place exactly a month before he returns to this same venue as a member of Ten Years After for their sold-out concert there on April 20. Explained Lee this week: “The musicians I have recently become involved with at Space Productions Recordings have shown so much potential that I feel this is something which should be made available to a live audience. If this concert is as good as I think it will be, I hope to be involved with more in the future. I am trying to escalate my involvement with as many musicians as possible”. Although the musicians who will back Lee at the Rainbow have not been named, it is significant that he originally formed Space Productions to record his album with Mylon LeFevre and guest on that included: Ronnie Wood, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ian Wallace, Mick Fleetwood, Mike Patto and the mysteriously-named Harry Georgeson. A track from the Lee – LeFevre album is released by Chrysalis as a single on March 8th – it is the George Harrison song “So Sad”. But it is stressed that Lee is not leaving Ten Years After – in fact, they are currently recording at his own studios, and they have a new album coming out in April. (Positive Vibrations).

 

 

 

 

 

March 1974 - Pop Magazin Aktuell

 

 

Woodstock machte Alvin Lee Gitarrengiganten, zum ungekrönten „Speed - King“ auf sechs Saiten. Eine Rolle, die er während langer Zeit genüsslich auskostete, jedoch eines Tages völlig über hatte. Der Musiker in Lee verlangte sein Recht und seine Befriedigung.

Der Ten Years After - Boss rückte plötzlich mit Sprüchen raus wie „Ten Years After sind nichts anderes als eine reisende Juke-Box.“ Schock bei den Mitmusikern, Schock bei den Fans. Lee bewegte sich in der Folge immer öfter auf Solopfaden; Jamsession mit allen möglichen Leuten , bloß nicht mit den Musikern seiner eigenen Band. Im vergangenen Jahr dann kam eine Gemeinschafts- LP mit dem amerikanischen Gospelsänger Mylon LeFevre auf den Markt. Die Klatschtanten hatten Hochsaison. Ten Years After am Ende?

Und heute, 24 Stunden vor dem Alvin-Lee-Solokonzert im Londoner Rainbow (Begleitmusiker: Boz BurrelHinckley, Ian Wallace, Mel Collins, kein Mitglied von Ten Years After), überkugeln sich die Splitgerüchte einmal mehr. Alvin selbst dementiert zwar Trennungsabsichten nach wie vor, wenn auch nicht mehr  mit dem gleichen Nachdruck wie ehedem: „Ich werde sicherlich nicht derjenige sein, der über das Schicksal von Ten Years After entscheiden wird. Dazu habe ich kein Recht. Sollte eine  Trennung wirklich beschlossen werden, muss dieser Entscheid von der ganzen Gruppe gefällt werden. Ich gebe zwar ehrlich zu, dass Ten Years After allein  mich nicht ausfüllen könnten und dass ich meinen momentanen Solo-Projekten erheblich mehr Befriedigung abgewinne. Trotzdem bestehen nach wie vor keine konkreten Pläne, Ten Years After aufzulösen. Es kann jederzeit etwas passieren, das die Gruppe wieder zusammenbringt...oder sie vielleicht auch vollends auseinanderreisst. In Kürze wird ein neues Ten Years After Album auf den Markt kommen: (Titel) „Positive Vibrations-“ erscheint bei uns Mitte Mai). Für April ist eine Englandtournee geplant. Im Juli gehen wir nach Deutschland, Skandinavien, und Amerika. Was nachher geschieht, weiß kein Mensch. Abwarten...Vielleicht  finden wir eines Tages den richtigen Rhythmus wieder, vielleicht auch nicht...“

Dass die Fans auf letztere Lösung hoffen, steht jetzt schon fest; denn wenige Tage, nachdem die Vorverkaufsstellen für das TYA-Konzert im Londoner Rainbow geöffnet worden waren, war die Halle bereits bis zum letzten Notsitz ausverkauft.

 


 

New Musical Express  - March  9, 1974

ALVIN LEE SOLO?

Will Alvin Quit Ten Years After?

Despite Official denials, the New Musical Express understands that Alvin Lee is seriously considering leaving Ten Years After – following their short British Tour next month – to embark upon a solo career. As exclusively revealed last week, Lee is playing a solo concert at the London Rainbow on March 22, 1974 and is apparently regarding this as a trial gig which, if successful, could hasten his decision to quit the band.

A friend and fellow musician of Lee’s told New Musical Express this week: “Alvin would have gone solo some time ago, but he lacked the confidence. We’re all hoping that the Rainbow gig will give him that confidence. If it works out satisfactorily and he gets good reviews, he tells me he will then take the plunge as a soloist. His contract has now expired, so there’s nothing to prevent him doing so.”

Chrysalis, on the other hand, insist that Lee is still an integral part of Ten Years After, and point out that the band are at present recording at Lee’s own private studio. A spokesman said he had “no reason to suppose” that Lee intends on leaving.

Meanwhile, Lee has now fixed his backing group for his March 22nd concert at the Rainbow. It comprises of bassist Alan Spenner, and guitarist Neil Hubbard (both former Grease Band members), ex-Vinegar Joe keyboards player Tim Hinkley, and two ex-King Crimson men, Mel Collins (horns) and Ian Wallace (drums), vocal backing are by Kokomo.

 

 

 

  

 

 

March  9, 1974 - Billboard Magazine

Ten Years After Tour of United States Set:

New York – Premier Talent Agency here announces that it has set a one-month U.S. concert tour for Ten Years After, Columbia Records act. At least twenty one cities are on the schedule, which kicks off in Boston in mid-May and will continue through mid-June.

One-nighter tour will also include two dates, each in Boston and San Francisco, as well as a headliner show at Radio City Music Hall here in New York City. The band is currently working on a brand new LP, it’s expected to ship prior to the upcoming tour, while leader Alvin Lee is also working with Mylon LeFevre on a follow up to their 1973 Columbia album, “On The Road To Freedom” – as a duo. 

 

 


 

New Musical Express -  March 16, 1974 

Monday Afternoon in Reading, and the time seems right for Alvin Lee to come clean. With a Rainbow concert set  for himself and “friends”, plus rumours of a possible solo career, it’s been looking more and more likely that  Ten Years After are finally about to self-destruct.  Lee’s activities lately have been somewhat hard to follow. Over the last year he’s drastically cut down his work with TYA, recorded an album with Mylon Le Fevre----a white gospel singer from Georgia who still “believes” despite some varied drug experiences –and is currently recording with musicians like Boz, Tim Hinckley and Ian Wallace. Add to that the fact that Lee has not exactly been over complimentary about Ten Years After,  after referring to them as “a travelling jukebox,” quite frequently, and not with any great affection.

 So what goes on?   “ONLY ALVIN might have some ideas on that.” muttered a stray engineer, toying with various mechanisms at  Lee’s Reading home studio and indicating a certain amount of bewilderment himself. This was before Alvin himself lumbered in a few moments later, wearing the usual clogs and denims but looking a good deal fresher than he has for some time. One feels that although Lee isn’t the most obvious rock casualties, his experiences of almost continual touring with Ten Years After left him stunned for a spell.  

 Right through he hung on to a sort of South Yorkshire accent –pronouncing fun as ‘fon’—but the whole Woodstock  Guitar-Hero phase and the huge amounts of money that rolled in afterwards left him with a general blankness. He firstly found it difficult to cope, then later once explained how he found it hard to relate to anybody outside the rock world at all. At the time, he over compensated for that with a kind of flashy panache that quickly became transparent, especially on stage. Subsequent attacks on the size of his ego no doubt added to his discomfort.  Now he appears more acclimatised, and he’ll be the first to admit that his work outside TYA and in his own studios with musicians of his choice has been what’s really helped him out.  

 Meanwhile, the rest of his house and property—the acres of ground, stables, and rows of greenhouses—go more or less ignored except for the attentions of a couple of gardeners who toil away daily, apparently oblivious to the musicians who come and go. Lee has also had to devote time lately to the promotion of his album with Mylon. Also on the Rainbow concert since his record company, Chrysalis, didn’t seem “over-interested” in either project. There’s the distinct impression that as they’re basically Ten Year’s After’s label, they don’t want to get involved in anything that might split the band for good, presumably feeling that TYA still have a few more profitable years to run. It seems to have been left to Lee himself to look after the advertising and the organisation of his solo work.  

 Ironically, Lee feels his activities outside the band have really saved TYA—and right now he claims he has no thoughts of leaving. “The fact is. I don’t think Ten Years After would be going now if I hadn’t had the opportunity to do something else. Last year there was no doubt it was getting predictable, but you really can’t fight that. You can’t suddenly say: ‘Right, we’ll go on the road with a new sound, new material and new attitude. ‘You can’t just do that to order. “I’m not going to be the one to say Ten Years After is finished because I don’t really think it’s up to me to do that. It would have to be up to the band as a whole. “Truth is, I’m just not satisfied playing for them alone and at present I get more satisfaction out of these other things. But there are still no plans to specifically break TYA up. At any time there could be something to put them together or tear them apart, I don’t know.

 “There aren’t many musicians who can play in about three different bands at once, but I don’t see why it can’t be done or why I shouldn’t try. All I know is that something like the Rainbow concert is better than sitting at home watching TV or going out on the road playing all the same old numbers again. “There’s nothing to suggest that if the Rainbow concert is a success then I’ll become a solo performer. Playing with a few different musicians has just meant that I’ve learned more in the last year than I have in the previous four, which can only help Ten Years After.”  

 ACCORDING to Lee, the new album TYA recorded with the hopeful title of “Positive Vibrations” is more constructive than recent records. Again, he says, the home studio has helped in allowing the band more time to come up with something new. It seems they’ve even been moving a little away from the usual, almost standard 12 bar rock/blues. “I mean, we’ve tried to avoid just jams and verse-chorus numbers, I’ve tried to play the role of producer more and tried to create something more structured –to think about it more in advance rather than to just let everybody play it, and how it comes out is the finished product. That’s what’s happened in the past.” He closes the subject for the moment by saying he doesn’t really see very much point in talking further about TYA, since the Rainbow concert is uppermost in his mind. But he still hasn’t formulated any particular plans on what will take place. As yet, only the line-up is roughly settled. The material has yet to be  worked out. “It’s not going to be the heavy rock that people expect from Ten Years After it’s not going to be the sort of country stuff from the Mylon album—it’s going to be something completely different again.” He says definitely.  “We’d thought we’d play the gig simply because we’ve been having such a good time in the studio.  It’s the obvious thing to do—almost it’s an alternative. “Then, in July, Mylon’s coming over again and we’ll record another album and play a proper tour. That’s another alternative. It’s been a year of alternatives really.” 

 Lee’s whole demeanour as he discusses his options contains a noticeable dead-pan lack of excitement. His equanimity is as such, you feel if he witnessed the end of the world, he’d make it rather sort of matter of fact. Since a number of notable names turned up on his album one wonders if they’re liable to show up at the concert. Hari Georgeson for example, alias George Harrison. That’s unlikely because from Lee’s remarks, he now appears rather embarrassed about his connections with Harrison altogether. “It’s really something I want to avoid in a way, because I want this concert run for the sake of the music rather than the names. It’s nice to play with great musicians but often people take more notice of their names than what they play. “With all due respect to George, his song ‘So Sad’ on the Mylon album is great—but I don’t know whether it’s  representative of the album as a whole. You know, he just came down for a couple of nights, we recorded it and that was that, and he said we could do what we liked with it. “But then, everybody connected with the business wanted it to be the single, and I’m sure George’s name was the weight—not the song. However, they insisted on it in America. “Now it’s been released as a single in Britain which just shows it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between the music and the selling potential. “On the Rainbow gig the selling potential is irrelevant as far as the musicians are concerned. We’re prepared to lose our pants on it. I’m not making any concessions at all.”  

 SO ALVIN’S not just in it for the money, as has been suggested on a few occasions in print? “Oh that was an American article—Lester Bangs. You can’t believe anything he says. “Money’s just a reward—not a motivation. The only pressure there happens when your manager comes up and says: ‘Oh you ought to do a tour now otherwise you’re going to be in the red’. That does happen. Now the Lee really does look like lifting himself out of the stodgy format that is Ten Years After, presumably the rest of the band are also rather concerned. Ric Lee, Leo Lyons and Chick Churchill must be feeling a slight draught, despite Lee’s denials that he’s about to leave them. “Maybe all this has caused some difficulties between us, but there were difficulties anyway. There was resentment last year when I wanted to take three months off and not go on tour. “At present we have a new album to release, a British tour set up, and it’s just a matter of following that through. Afterwards we’ve got no plans—things might work out, they might not. “You must remember that they’ve all got their own projects as well. Chick’s got his solo album: Ric is managing a band: and Leo’s playing some sessions. It’s not like they’re all totally dependent on TYA. “Personally I couldn’t have survived much longer without doing something outside the band. I was lost. I used to think once you’ve become a success—that’s it, you could relax. But I found I really wanted to be out working. The fact that I didn’t know how to do it just made it worse.”

 The future will tell how successful are Lee’s efforts to escape  the role of super-speedy guitarist with which he looked like being saddled for eternity. Up to now the only offering available is the Lee-Mylon album, a pleasant if not classic record. Meanwhile, the future of  Ten Years After continues to hang tenuously in the balance.   


New  Musical  Express  - March 16, 1974

 

 

 

 

New Musical Express  - March 23, 1974

U.K. Tour By Alvin & Mylon

As speculation mounted concerning the possible departure of Alvin Lee from Ten Years After to pursue a solo career, he revealed to the New Musical Express this week, that he is planning a full concert tour with Mylon LeFevre in the early summer. Said Alvin: “Mylon is coming over so that we can record another album together, and we are planning a series of gigs for around the July period”. Meanwhile, Alvin’s solo concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre tomorrow (Friday), when he will be supported by a pick up group of “Friends”, (see photo) is to be recorded for release in two or three month, as a live album.

It is possible that the live material will be supplemented by a few studio tracks. The concert is also being filmed by the independent “Tattooist Company” for distribution throughout the United States and Europe, though it is not yet clear if it is intended for T.V. or cinema screening.

 

 


Many Thanks to Claudia Staehr (from Herb's Collection)

 

 

 

Record Mirror – March  23, 1974

Alvin Lee Records Concert

Alvin Lee’s Rainbow concert this Friday is to be recorded for a live-plus-studio tracks album, set for release in two or three months time. The event, which has been stressed as a one-off project, will also be filmed by an independent company for world wide release. With Alvin Lee will be Alan Spenner, Neil Hubbard, Tim Hinkley, Mel Collins and Ian Wallace.

 

 

 
 

New Musical Express – March 30, 1974

Alvin Lee’s concert at the Rainbow Theatre on Friday was an unusual event  to say the least. It’s not often that a major rock star artist takes quite this kind of step in attempting to break out of a musical impasse, and the presence in the audience with the likes of the one and only

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Rod (The Mod) Stewart all added to the heightened sense of the occasion.

The band behind Alvin was made up of top shelf talent, that included Ex- King Crimson (Crimzoids) Ian Wallace (on drums) Mel Collins (sax / horns / flute/) and from Vinegar Joe, Tim Hinckley (Keyboards) along with the man nucleus of Kokomo, which is the very latest in a line of British attempts to get closer to real American music with a loosely formed band that that is heading towards sneaky, underhanded and backdoor funk.

As might be expected, the overall result was an unruly assorted blend / mixture of  rough edged blue eyed soul combined with Alvin’s white tea sipping English rock / blues.

It proved to be a fairish enough combination, to be honest. Even though one felt there was a struggle for good material towards the finish line.

With Alvin looking incredibly nervous at the beginning, he wisely didn’t overly force his hand, his personality, or push his guitar work into the show. The entire idea was obviously one of an integrated band, performing as the meat and potatoes of the evening, while Alvin added the butter and spices as needed. He expected the band to support itself, without him as the front man, Alvin preferred to be one of the boys in this group. The problem was, that when he did stand down from the spotlight, things tended to disintegrate. An example was the number when Alan Spenner supplied the vocals. While Spenner is a great bass player, the only bassist, or so legend has it, to be offered a gig by Motown, but he still needs some more experience as a lead vocalist.

However, for the first half of the show, the band put in some very sharp playing and spurred right along by some great back-up singing supplied by Frankie Wilson, Dyan Birch and Paddy McHugh. On a number such as “Step Back” (the writer means “Let’s Get Back”) Alvin put in some very poignant economical guitar playing. It was a largely different stance, compared to his prominent role in Ten Years After. With completely new material to perform and despite some calls from the audience for “Going Home” on different occasions the goal for the evening remained straight forward and right on track. This part of the show produced some excellent songs for the live album that was being recorded. Things became weaker when Alvin indulged himself with a few Elvis Presley impersonations on “Don’t Be Cruel” with the back up singers adding a taste of the old Jordinaires backing sound. From there the band went head on – straight to rock `n ´ roll which, as usual stimulated the crowd into varying stages of frenzy, but it all seemed lame compared to what had gone down before. Anyway, Alvin Lee and Company had already proved their point, and the project was a fair success, so in the end, nothing was really lost. Article by James Johnson (additional text and corrections added where needed)

 

 

 

From Sounds Magazine 1974

 

ALVIN LEE CONCERT – NOT MUCH HAPPENED:

 

Alvin Lee and Company:

At the Rainbow – hmm – a bunch of good people but was it a band? Much as I’d like to say yeah it was, and Alvin Lee had found a new path to follow after years of thrashing and grinding the circuit with Ten Years After, it didn’t really work. However much it might not have been intended, the show still had an uncomfortable aura of Star and Back-Up Musicians: it was partly due to a curiously flat feeling from the audience, which wasn’t helped by your die-hard Ten Years After freaks yelling for boogie and partly I think because the people on stage never really loosened up. From out front, it felt as if everyone was holding back, being just that little bit too polite to each other for the music really to feel right. It was an odd feeling. All the component parts were right, and you’d be hard pressed to put together a better British Band than, Alan Spenner, Neil Hubbard, Tim Hinkley, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace and the three KoKoMo singers – unless of course you went for KoKoMo itself or a revived Grease Band – but somehow for most of the evening it added up to less than you’d expect.

You couldn’t fault it from a purely objective point of view, and yet I only felt my appreciation move from head to heart as well for a couple of numbers. The most notable was Alan Spenner’s old Grease Band tune “Down Home Momma” – not just because it was Alan out front, but because it was one of the few times when they all including Alvin, played as a band.

Another was the Alvin Lee song just before that, though I didn’t catch the title. But those were relatively early on in the set, and afterwards it dropped into a competent but unexceptional groove. For the most part I found myself listening to individuals – particularly Mel Collins and the Spenner / Hubbard powerhouse – rather the band.

Shame – I’d been hoping for a really goodnight, but after it was all over I felt as if nothing much had happened.

By Steve Peacock    

 

 



 

    Record Mirror  March  30, 1974  

    Alvin gets it out of his system:  

   

 

SUCCESS IN TERMS of wealth for Ten Years After guitarist, Alvin Lee, is a  500  year-old manor just outside Reading. It stands in 50 acres of farmland which he lets out.

His white Porsche is parked alongside a fleet of Wagons. Alvin is busy getting  things together in his studio, (a converted outhouse) for his solo concert, which took place at London’s Rainbow theatre last Friday. A concert which has caused considerable speculation as to whether TYA is on the verge of breaking up or perhaps Alvin is contemplating leaving. As I make my way into an ultra modern kitchen I’m nearly knocked off my feet by Alvin’s enormous Irish wolfhound. Alvin comes through and after few words of greeting he shows me into a very medieval looking lounge. It’s dark and much of its décor is wood carvings. Alvin lights up a cigarette and settles himself on the settee. “People thought because I was doing this solo concert TYA were breaking up, but in fact this is preventing that,” he assures me after putting the obvious question to him. “I’ve found that all my musical frustrations and things I wanted to do were channelled into TYA which is unfair. TYA is a unit to me which exist quite happily within its own scope and I don’t want to start saying I want TYA to do these numbers and begin changing the format of TYA. I’d rather do it outside and leave TYA as the music making group it is. By doing this it gets it out of my system.” Discussing the music he would be playing at the Rainbow, Alvin said it was going to be quite different from what he’s been into before. “It’s different to TYA and the album I did with Mylon Le Fevre, On The Road To Freedom, which was basically country. This is more funky R & B using background singers,” he explained as he chain-smoked. “I’ve chosen a lot of material I had which suits this line-up and some I’ve written specially for it. Altogether we will have spent just one and a half weeks rehearsing here at my studio. The whole thing is a test to see if it can be done and hopefully I’ll do things like it more often.”  Lee fans will be pleased to know that he’s recording a live album at the concert and also getting the event on film.  

What are the chances of taking the Alvin Lee show on the road?

“We’re thinking of doing a couple of clubs afterwards, but I have a TYA tour in the middle of next month which takes me through to July. It would be very easy to take this band on the road because we’d all be rehearsed, in fact I could set on a world tour, but I don’t want to get that involved.” Alvin describes what he’s doing at the Rainbow as much quieter than TYA which he says is a bit of a barnstorming band.  “With TYA you really go wild, freaking out and do everything you can. This concert is getting into more tasty things with structured arrangements,” he adds. What a lot of people fail to realise is that Alvin is not the only member of TYA with interests outside the band. As Alvin pointed out they have all got other things going. Leo Lyons has been involved in producing UFO, Chick Churchill has done a solo album and Ric Lee has a drum clinic going.  

 I raised the question had TYA ever thought about changing their format?

 “We had lots of criticism from the press saying that we weren’t progressing, so we sat around and talked about it,  answered Alvin. “I said that our original concept was that we never played the music people wanted us to play and it would be a mistake now to start playing what people wanted, particularly the press. We did a gig about six weeks after one of our American tours which we didn’t rehearse, it was just like stepping out from a holiday and we really enjoyed it because it was fresh. It was a great gig and everyone was happy and to me that confirmed we shouldn’t change our music. The music develops into its own thing—if we say we’re going to do this kind of music then it’s a false change and not a progression.”

 Alvin recently described TYA as a travelling juke box, a remark which I asked him to expand on. “That wasn’t  meant as a detrimental remark,” he said. “It’s just a natural reaction from playing every night. Touring with TYA  is like going on  manouvres, it’s not like my original concept of being a musician.” “You’re due on every night at a set time and you have to play.” “My prime motivation in making music was not to be a rock ‘n’ roll star or an entertainer or be out on the road every night, it was to be involved with musicians and creating music.” Alvin who made his first public appearance as a guitarist when he was 14, was with the band at the historic Woodstock festival. Hardly surprising is the fact that he and TYA didn’t enjoy playing once the film was released  because a lot of the audience came simply to see what they were about after seeing them on the film. “I was very surprised at the impact Woodstock had, it was in the middle of a tour for us,” Alvin recalls. “We’d done a few big festivals and Woodstock itself was fine. But when the film came out about five months afterwards it put us in a whole different category. The film put us on a different track since it took our last number of the show which was  a heavy rocker and established us as a rock ‘n’ roll band to all those people who saw it which wasn’t really the truth. It might have been more representative on reflection. I wasn’t aware a film was being made at the time.” In Alvin’s mind the new TYA album, Positive Vibrations is the best they’ve done. “I’m quite looking forward to going back to TYA because it’s going to be almost like a rest for me,” says Alvin. “TYA now works so smoothly, there’s very few hassles because we’ve worked so much—we’ve done 18 US tours—you just go out there and do it, there’s no worries ‘cos everyone knows what they have to do.”  

 Did Alvin think TYA perhaps neglected  Britain a bit?

 “In retrospect looking at what there’s available to do, no” he replied. “You can cover England in about 12 gigs. I like playing Britain because to me it’s like the roots of what I’ve ever done, I understand the British audience. They’re not as demonstrative as American audiences, most bands prefer playing in the States. The halls here are inadequate to say the least—apart from the Rainbow and Sundown everything’s like town halls.” Alvin surprised me by saying TYA wasn’t as loud as people think, he only uses a 100 watt amplifier. “The volume we do get comes out of the sound system and that’s just a matter of turning it up to what ever’s necessary. It doesn’t help anybody if you’re hurting people’s ears—that’s not the way to put music over.” Finally before Alvin had to take his leave since everyone was ready in his studio for rehearsing the Rainbow concert, I asked him if he’d ever ‘hang up his guitar’ as you might say. “It’s nice to have lots of people listening to what you do, I’ll always be playing in pubs if that’s all I could do.”

Article by ROY HILL 

 

 

 

Teen Magazine – March of 1974

Young n´ Loving   
Fifty Cents  

 Alvin and Mylon – Brothers and Stars:

It’s an old but beautiful story, the friendship of Alvin Lee and Mylon LeFevre.

There’s Alvin: lead guitarist and star of Ten Years After; tall, blond, stolid Sagittarian; very together English guy. Then there’s Mylon: blues singer, black-haired, admitted Libran eccentric; a Georgia boy newly clean from years of heroin usage, who drawls: “If it wasn’t for my friend here, I’d be dead.” The friend-Alvin-looks embarrassed and talks about the new album they’ve made together that’s called “On The Road To Freedom.” (1973) It’s likely no work’s been more aptly named, because for both it marks a liberation: Alvin from the artistically stifling confines of the band Ten Years After and Mylon from the far worse restricting terrors of drug addiction. I met them both when they were in Los Angeles recently, and heard the story of their friendship firsthand. First, from Alvin: “I first met Mylon when Ten Years After were touring the United States, Mylon and his band used to open the show. We did, let me see, four tours together and we became good friends. Mylon takes up the tale: “Man, Alvin and I would get back to the hotel after a gig and it freaked me out. Here was this English dude who knew all the old blues songs I grew up with. So we’d just sit up half the night, picking and singing. “I’d been on the road since I was fourteen and things were getting kind of rough. I was just a Georgia country boy and when I got to the city – man – I didn’t know about drugs. I didn’t know what it’d do to you, all the bad stuff. So I just started using and by the time Alvin came along and helped me I had a $300.00 a week habit.

 

Alvin Lee - Using Dee Anthony's Boat - For A Little Test Drive

“He took me to his house in Jamaica for a holiday, kept me away from the hard stuff and started spinning me dreams about the kind of album we could make together.” According to Alvin: “I’d started building a studio at my house in the countryside just outside London. So Mylon came over with me, actually helped build it and we started laying down tracks. It was as simple as that.” Mylon chips in: “That saved me, man. I was away from heroin users, there was no way I could score and so many people, like George Harrison and Steve Winwood, were really on our side. They all contributed something. Wrote a song. Sat in on a session. It was great. Sometimes I’d sneak away to the local pubs and get drunk. Alvin said: “Okay. But while you’re gone I’m going to just keep on recording.” And he would. One time when I got back he’d laid down everything. So all that was left for me to do was shake a tambourine. I didn’t get drunk too often after that.

“The best thing Alvin’s done for me I guess, is he’s shown me by his own example, the kind of life he lives, that it’s possible to run your life and not have your life run you. He’s a very together guy.” Alvin smiled: “Well I’m not that together, but I try to act as though I am. I find that helps a lot.”  

Next on the agenda: a song writing holiday in Jamaica and then a tour. Since Alvin Lee, is Ten Years After, where does that leave his old band? He said: “I have certain commitments to Ten Years After which I intend to complete. We’ll be making an album early 1974, and we’ll be touring. I think it’s to combine my work with the band and Mylon. We’ll work something out.” “On The Road To Freedom” is successful on several counts: It gives us Mylon’s superbly bluesy voice and Alvin’s surprisingly delicate, restrained guitar work.

There’s little doubt, as you listen to it, that it’s been a labour of love.

Now the last word goes to Mylon: “Heroin’s the sneakiest thing in the world. You think you got it under control and then you turn around and you’re hooked again. I’ve been clean two years now, but only because Alvin’s stuck beside me. Says he’s going to give me a medal when I’m clean for five.” With such a friend it’s likely he’ll make it.

 




Hit  Parader  Magazine - April 1974

 

ALVIN LEE – TEN YEARS AFTER

AN APPRECIATION

Article Written By  Leonard Brown

Songs and Stories Special Edition

 

One day they’ll be writing about all of this excitement as a “Golden Age of Music”. And it’s a fair bet that some Toynbee of tomorrow will make his reputation by proving in scholarly terms that Ten Years After was the most important, and possibly the only durable and prototypical band of its time.

  Four young musicians, that future historians will remark, about whom a few facts have been preserved, and these largely the work of an anonymous early chronicler who set them down in that archaic form known as a “bio”. (Here there will be a footnote, of course, stipulating that bio writers were less concerned about their facts than with the rapturous style they affected, the point of the bio apparently being to extol the merits of its subject. It further seems that bio-writers were paid to speak praises).

Having qualified his source and offered a wink of caution, our historian will then proceed to elaborate on his thesis with juicy excesses of enthusiasm which would shame the most venal bio writer amongst us. We can only be grateful that the members of Ten Years After will never see his words, lest their modesty be offended….

To turn the page and take a peak – our special privilege here – is a treat, however, for those who really dig Ten Years After. What will this man of letters say? From the perspective of time beyond, he will look back and report:

By the year 1973, the band known as Ten Years After has emerged from it’s formative cycle, uniquely intact and poised for its greatest period which then lay ahead. The four, Alvin Lee guitarist and vocalist; Leo Lyons, bassist; Chick Churchill, organist, pianist; and Ric Lee, drummer, had (in the words of the bio) “got Ten Years After together, had stayed together and grown together”. Hence, if one cares to survey the accelerated evolutionary course of pop music in what might be called the post-Beatles era, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the most significant trends are epitomized by the career of this outstanding group, Ten Years After.

Moreover, one could see an increasing influence by Ten Years After upon the direction of musical  change and development. The immense popularity of Ten Years After,  as well as the musical innovations of the band’s members, prompted other artists to raise their standards of performance, so that the effect upon music generally was to stimulate technical perfection and encourage artistic integrity.

There follows a welter of footnotes, and a couple of these are relevant. First, the two Lee’s of Ten Years After are not related to each other: and a quote from an obscure source: “Keyboardist Chick Churchill out-phrases and phases out the memory of that other Churchill”. (Whoever he was.)

To speak of the band in 1972, bringing “rock & roll music to the World,” to quote the title of their most recent album (Columba), is to praise a polished and matured Ten Years After, at a point five years later. For Ten Years After was fledged  in 1967. Before that year, Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons had worked together in the provinces, in Hamburg and in London, a route similar to that yellow brick road along which so many British musicians had scuffled from subsistence to stardom.

Fortune’s touch was on Lee. Some kids arrive with the silver spoon plus a bowl to put it in, but Alvin was luckier. His father was a collector of ethnic blues recordings, funky old 78’s,  and as a child Alvin heard little but the root-sack of pop music at its best. Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, and the whole beloved roster of shouters and strummers and mumble-ers, and tricky pickers. He couldn’t have had a better prepping for his share of the action when blues later seized it’s hour in British music of the mid 1960’s. Another event was fortuitously timed to remake our music historian’s chosen subject. In the mid-50’s, the Presley tidal wave hit the shores of Blighty. Again, lucky Lee was at the precise age to be impressionable, wide open to accept-and later elaborate upon-the Elvis manifesto.

Leo Lyons, like Lee, was from Nottingham, and for what it’s worth, so were Robin Hood and his Merry Men. If Robin was as near to spot on with his bow-and-arrow as Leo Lyon learned to be with his bass, then all the stories are true. Leo Lyons, -there’s nothing in the source material to indicate his astrological sign, but he even looks leonine- was noted in his pre-Ten Years After days as a fast –jamming bass player. His preference for jazz fingering established him as a flexible and resourceful equal player with the other members of the group.

Our scholar digresses to say that the majority of bass players were a sad lot back then, made to stand out of the way and play rhythm effects , “Whomp, whomp, lump, lump….” And so on. However, Leo Lyons could play flashy riffs and variations, which gave him a unique status amongst his peers. If this seems to be a distortion of things as they are, remember that our historian is reporting from the distant future, and besides, it’s that there are far fewer great bassists than there are guitarist. Further, it’s also true that Lyons is incredibly quick and agile on an instrument  of very severe limitations. No questions, he’s one of the great bassist of our times.

These two, Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons, were joined by the other two, Chick Churchill and Ric Lee in 1967. For a break, the band was booked into London’s famed Marquee Club, which incubated whole generations of British Rock Artists. Ten Years After was playing blues, into the unswerving musical commitment  which initially bucked the trends. “We would do an occasional ballroom where we would die a death,” Leo Lyons told a reporter in reminiscing about the bands first year. They weren’t exactly a rich band , according to Leo, with second hand  equipment and an old van to haul it in.

As a house band at the Marquee, Ten Years After began to pick up prestige and a following. Then came 1968, and the Windsor Festival, an annual blues and jazz event. Ten Years After played it collective heart out for 20,000 people. Then 20,000 people stood up and roared their approval of Ten Years After.

Stepping Stones: Marquee Club and Windsor  Festival, recording contract , and their first album. On the back of that first album is a picture of four very serious young guys with Beatle haircuts. And shirts with collars – Alvin Lee in a zipper jacket. Chick Churchill in a leather jacket, looking straight at the camera, maybe hoping someone will show up to pay for this so they can go free when it’s over. Scared and just unbelievably wet behind the ears.

There was some nonsense in the liner notes on the first album. John C. Gee manager of the Marquee Club, wrote them. “I got to know the group pretty well over these past few months, but even so, the mystery about their past still persists. For example, the organist Chick has no other name.” Well, what would you do if you were a kid playing loud music and owning the name? Leo Lyons was hyped as an ex-cowboy actor who played in German produced Westerns. (Achtung, Herr Dillon...“) And Gee spoke of a ring in Ric’s ear, the mark of a very Bohemian life! The “mystery” was, that there was no mystery, just comfy British middleclass boys who had, for reasons only other musicians could understand, chosen a trade which is tougher, more competitive, and on the average, less rewarding than say, had carrying.

Ric Lee, for the record, was a woodshed disciple of Gene Krupa, the innovator who first played drums as a solo instrument, and a student of all that was good enough to be preserved on shellac or acetate. He listened to the big bands – Buddy Rich, Duke Ellington, Louis Bellson. Given an opening, he would tell any interviewer of his dream to be a big band drummer. He too cut his teeth on ethnic blues, but quickly outgrew the simplicity of the older form. Today he is absorbed by the complexities of Afro-Cuban percussion techniques, which is a logical phase of his development, and of the dedicated musicians quest for origins.

As for Chick Churchill, he is that rarest bird of all, the rock musician who can read and write music. He was a child prodigy, and began coaxing classics out of the piano when he was a mere five-year-old. Alvin Lee has spoken of Chick as being “the best musician in the band”.

To characterize Chick Churchill in a couple of words. He’s shy in conversation, and laid-back in performance. Where Alvin Lee is flashy, Churchill is quietly impressive. Leo Lyons works in great bursts of energy, and Ric Lee plays clean, crisp sets. Each of the four is visually as well as audibly distinctive, each a different presence from the others.

But, it was in terms of their total energy that Ten Years After broke through to fame via the short and unforgettable excerpt from their performance at Woodstock in the film of that name. Woodstock was a stunning experience for Ten Years After, as it was for all who played or listened during those fabled days and nights of music. The picture? “I saw it. I saw the film, and I couldn’t relate to that person up there doing that…..” Alvin Lee saw Woodstock as a mixed blessing. An hour and a half of hard and heavy jamming had preceeded the out of context climatic performance of “I’m Going Home” which had always been the Ten Years After wrapper-upper. Lee’s sense of form was offended. To get the feel of Lee’s attitude, you would have to experience a Ten Years After concert. A Ten Years After concert is a faithful as a band can be to the basic premise of all concerts. It gets the people off by structuring the tensions of its program into an ascending curve of excitement. It’s not unlike theatre, having a beginning, a middle, a climax and a ending. As formal as a corrida, as breath-taking as a sky dive- as surprising as a new lover, Ten Years After puts the audience through changes and turns in direct response to it’s high energy command. At the right moment, they jam, and when the moment is intuitively right again, they tie all the parts together into an irresistible, tightly, executed spasm of musical fulfilment. It’s orgasmic. No other word quite says it.

From beginning to end, the suspense is in knowing what this amazing band can do, but never exactly know, how it will all be accomplished.

Historian or biography  writer or sixteen year old at his or her first concert – all alike have joined the great international tribe of Ten Years After fans, because Ten Years After is just about the best there is……

For our future historian, these last few details……

Woodstock thrust the band’s career into the super – dimension of stardom and audiences screamed for “I’m Going Home” – which Ten Years After stubbornly saved for last, as it always had. The recording pace stepped up, and Alvin Lee, speaking for the band’s feelings in the matter, described the problems of the studio. They wanted live sounds on their albums, but the live recordings which were released were never wholly satisfactory by the bands criteria.

Until “A Space In Time” Ten Years After seldom endorsed its own product without reservations. (Their audience agreed – “A Space In Time” became their first gold album).

When they returned at last to the spotlight and the studio, they were as they had been, four musicians doing what they wanted to, in the way they wanted to do it. Nine albums, eight tours, and an un-counter number of sets and sessions later, their faces on the newest photographs are cool and confident and unguarded. Times have changed. The music is always changing. Ten Years After is part of a whole, affecting its art and its times and moving surely with the motion of these currents, occasionally returning to the small concert halls, in an attempt to re-establish the intimate communication necessary to make the emotional growth of their music relevant to their audience.

Here that future historians will begin to tell us what comes next, but we may have to wait a bit to see that page.                   

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Stone -  April 11, 1974


On The Road To Freedom - Alvin Lee and Mylon Le Fevre 

Two often unpersuasive musicians have combined to make an album better than any of their past work. Alvin Lee and Mylon LeFevre may have always been talented, but their performing contexts did not highlight their strengths, each has released the other from the conventions in which they both stagnated.    

On - On the Road to Freedom, we discover that Alvin Lee isn’t just a slick blues guitarist and purveyor of boogie, and that Le Fevre can do more than spew out gospel jive. The new music doesn’t conform to any idiom just a general feeling of Southerness. The original material has a self-scrutinizing aspect that is simply stated and credible.  Among the best are Lee’s “Fallen Angel,” “Carry My Load,” and the title cut. The two non-originals are beauties. Ron Wood’s “Let em Say What They Will” is a good-natured but hard-nosed guitar rocker. George Harrison’s “So Sad” (No Love of His Own)” sounds to me like one of his best songs. Both writers perform on the album.  Le Fevre and Lee sing with a virile dignity reminiscent of Eric Clapton’s singing on Layla. They have my respect, and their partnership is too mutually beneficial to be limited to a single album.      

By Bud Scoppa  

 

 

 

 

New Musical Expresss

From April 20, 1974

Playing In The Band by Rex Anderson

  

What you do is, just before you leave the office you realize your notebook’s full so you grab a few leaves of foolscap, fold them in half and then fold them in half again so they fit in your pocket. Then when you start to chat to Alvin you produce same and start jotting things down on the first square. Then you realise that Alvin is talking nineteen to the dozen and the pen is flying to get everything down. You fumble about to find another sheet. You leave very pleased with yourself having gleaned a lot of information useful to guitarist who want to follow in Alvin’s footsteps. Then with one thing and another, you don’t bother to write anything, because someone else has already done something on him in the New Musical Express anyway. Weeks after, like now, you realise there’s a bit of a buzz about the band as set up for that solo concert and rumours that despite his denials at the time Ten Years After could possibly split, so perhaps that amazing Rainbow concert will be the first of many. It’s then you drag that makeshift notebook from the bottom of your satchel and realise that your notes would make a good basis for a Waddington’s word game. Anyway, this is how it all happened. Alvin was planning the solo concert as a way of recording some twenty-five songs he’d written, and he assembled a band that included Ian Wallace on drums (who is left handed and plays with the hi-hat on the right in case you ever get confused). Tim Hinckley on piano, Mel Collins on sax, Alan Spenner on bass plus the vocal powers of Frankie Wilson, Dyan Birch and Paddy McHugh. The result was a tight funky sound that degenerated into some great rock and roll and attracted an audience that included Harrison, McCartney, Starr, Stewart and others.

Anyway, as I was saying, at the time he had all this planned a few very select journalist were invited to Alvin Lee’s country estate out by Reading for a look at his private studio, a game of snooker and a chat. Now Al is a big fella – at least nine foot three and well built – and he scared the daylights out of me, so I crept into a corner with my drink and chatted to Ian Wallace until a former member of the New Musical Express staff, now working as a part-time flunky, ushered me into the great man’s presence.

As it happens, Al turns out to be just about as scared of me as I am of him and to cut a long story short, we became the best of friends on about page three of my notes, half way down.

“My dad used to collect records, 78’s blues, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Mother used to strum a bit of guitar.”   He doesn’t really talk like that. This is direct from my notes for the sake of accuracy. “She had a four-string tenor. My brother played clarinet. That was the first thing I tried. I took lessons for a year but I couldn’t get into it.” So he took up guitar, spent a year learning the basic chords and then started applying them to music. Like we all did I guess. “I wanted to get involved in the music of that time, which was Elvis and Bill Haley. Then the British blues bands started up around, people like John Mayall and I found I knew a lot about it because of my father’s  records. “I joined a local band as a rhythm guitarist, and pinched all the lead guitarist’s licks. They were playing Shadows stuff and Chuck Berry.”

So as I’m constantly plagued by people who write in and ask how to play lead riffs, I asked Alvin if he knows the answer. Should you learn to read music, for example? “I don’t think reading music is the way to learn. If you read you play notes, which is what music is, but you should really be learning to play phrases.” Now this is true, and it had never hit me before. Until you’re really good at playing and reading, you don’t learn much from reading music except how to read and a few difficult “stretches”. You don’t learn to hear what you are playing or to listen really because music becomes something visual. This is really good advice. Read on…

“I just used to listen to records so much that the phrases from them were in my head. Listen until you can sing it, and then copy it, and play round it. That way you can develop your own style.” Now that really lays it on the line, and it helps me too, because I’ve always been a rhythm player and want to be a lead player. You may know your way round the guitar, or organ or bass or whatever, but it’s no good just using your manual dexterity in the hope that something good will appear – because it won’t. There must be someone out there with enough maths to compute the odds against hitting five random notes that come out sounding melodic.

The answer is to pinch some other lead guitarist’s riffs.

 

 

 

 

 

HARRISON TOUR SET: „THEY’RE ALL HUSTLING HIM“  

SAY’S ALVIN LEE

From Rolling Stone Magazine – April  25, 1974

 

London – George Harrison is touring the United States this fall. That much is certain. But that’s about all that’s certain. Originally, reports out of Los Angeles early last month had Harrison’s lawyers setting up a tour for September, with plans for twenty five concerts in twelve to fifteen cities. But the story, which leaked earlier than any tour principle wished, and included a rumour that Harrison would be accompanied by the reclusive Eric Clapton, generated a flurry of denials.

 Now it appears the tour is on and that Harrison will most likely be working with Ringo Starr, Alvin Lee (Leader of Ten Years After, whose recent album with Mylon LeFevre featured Harrison as guitarist) and drummer Jim Keltner, and Eric Clapton may yet be involved.

The newspaper reports took Clapton by surprise. Speaking from his country home near Guildford, Surrey, Clapton told Rolling Stone “My first reaction was, “What A Drag”. Then I thought, “Well, it’s not such a bad idea”. After seeing the news story, Clapton spoke with Harrison and was left uncertain. “I can’t give you an instant denial, because it might happen”.

He said, “but it seems unlikely because of the way things are planned”.

 At Apple Records in London, mean-time, A & R chief Tony King was still trying to squelch talk about the tour as “anything more substantial than speculation”. As late as March 25th, King maintained that no decision on “booking or details of musicians have ever been made”.

But the man most likely to produce the tour Bill Graham said otherwise.

Graham as named in the original as the producer with the inside track on the tour. But the appearance of the story, only a day after Graham had returned to San Francisco from talks with Harrison’s two attorneys in Hawaii, angered Harrison’s London lawyer, who thought Graham leaked the story. Graham denied it, but the Harrison representatives were reported talking with other potential producers.

 Reached on March 22nd, Graham told us: “It’s at such a state now, that I can’t comment. I just got back from five days in London. Until it’s all spelled out, no comment”. But you could almost hear the victorious smile over the telephone. In London many of those around Harrison confirm that he is set to tour. Having just returned from a two month vacation in India, at the home of Ravi Shankar, Harrison minus beard and looking understandably refreshed, is starting work on a new album at the studios  built into his house at Friar Park.

 Already he has been swamped with offers from people wanting to be part of his tour. “You should see the situation he’s in,” said Alvin Lee. “Everyone wants to be involved, more people than he could possibly work with. They are all hustling him. It’s ridiculous”.

Still, said Lee, “He wants to tour”. Even Tony King, the man in charge of keeping the official Apple line polished, admitted that Harrison seemed encouraged by what he had heard about the Dylan tour (Produced by Bill Graham and his FM Productions).

RANDOM NOTES

 

 

 

 

Melody Maker  - April 27, 1974

Ten Years After - Live At The Rainbow Theatre 

He stands legs apart rocking backward and forwards on his heels. The eyes are screwed tight shut, the shoulders hunched, the face contorted. Below him, charging lemming- like towards the stage come wave after wave of bush-jacketed faithfuls: Dancing unsteadily in the aisles, rhythumlessly  clapping and stamping their plimsolls frantically apeing  his every move. Blistering salvoes of notes come tearing through the darkness to greet them, great grinding waves of riff rock. Alvin Lee is one of a seemingly-diminishing breed of guitar super heroes. A note-bending. lick-swapping master of the high speed run, his fingers blurring on the frets. Surely, you think, there must be a limit to the number of notes which can be crammed into any 12 bars? Well, if there is, Alvin has yet to hear about it.

His speed can be breathtaking. At London’s Rainbow Theatree  on Saturday his complete mastery of the particular subsonic facet of rock Ten Years After are into virtually eclipsed the work of Leo Lyons, Ric Lee and Chick Churchill, and these three are no slouches themselves when it comes to acceleration. Lyons put in some spectacular bass work, Chick Churchill darted around his keyboards and Ric Lee provided  an absolute air raid of a drum solo; but it remained Alvin’s show.  

At the sound of the first note of the first lick a rumble of warm familiarity would sweep round the theatre. TYA tried out a lot of new material, which was greeted with considerable emotion, though whether this was due to its musical content or merely because it was Ten Years After remains open to debate. But with the old favourites there could be no such doubt. “Good Morning Little School Girl”  brought the show to life after a quiet beginning and “Walk Like A Man” (Love Like A Man) transformed a fairly placid audience into a great jerking, shaking, shuddering mob. And that mob was up on its feet and moving as soon as Alvin sent out the first driving message of “I’m Going Home.”  

The rock n’ roll TYA pound out is often unremarkable. Indeed, Alvin Lee’s voice is sometimes extremely ordinary . What puts them in a league above so many of the bands who have followed in their wake, is Lee’s guitar and his Ferrarri-paced playing. Earlier Rococo had battled bravely to keep the crowd patient before TYA came on. Neat and tidy in their music, they deserved a fairer hearing.

 

By Kit Galer.  

 


 

 

 

New Musical Express – April  27, 1974

Alvin & Mylon – “So Sad” (Chrysalis)

Could it be the “So Sad” I wrote many years hence, 1966 I think it was, and for the Mersey’s?

No, it appears to be one of those extended titles. It’s by a straight duo known as Alvin and Mylon, who sound like a defunct 1950’s duo who turned out surf music. In fact, it’s two very close neighbours of Keith Moon’s Sherlock & Watson. Alvin is, of course, the famous Alvin Lee of nearby Berkshire, and Mylon is the Mylon Lefevre of Atlanta, Georgia.

The record? Some fairly George Harrison slide, from Alvin and a nice vocal from Mylon. I’ve always liked Mylon’s voice, in fact he helped us out with some of the backing vocals, on the “Tommy” film. Most unfortunate, really, because we had to rub them out later on, due to a bad tape recorder overheating. This appears to be quite a mediocre song as I look at the label, I see it’s actually written by George Harrison. I think he’s done better in the past and I don’t know if this choice of song is a particularly good one. An interesting thing, that our George has produced a rather remarkable single, and which isn’t released yet: I have had the pleasure of hearing it, being in a certain rather In, “The In Crowd”. Just you wait folks, until you hear it for yourselves.

 

 

New Musical Express - April  27, 1974

 

 

Band On The Run - Ten Years After / Rainbow  

 

Ten Years After just don’t cut the bread. I find it hard to recall just when I heard a more boring, bored and listless performance. Coming to prominence in 1966, TYA these days are like the ancient family dog nobody has the heart to put down. As far as I’m concerned they’ve had their day, and what they now present on stage is unexciting nostalgia, capitalising on what may have once been a worthwhile contribution to rock. Significantly, the only remark of any value that Alvin Lee uttered at London’s Rainbow on Saturday was: “Oh yeah, this is another new one (number) I keep forgetting. They all sound the same to me” I don’t think he was joking, because I was of the same opinion.  

I found his attitude insulting, for reasons other than that comment. He took the stage centre, turned his axe upp way above the other instruments and stretched his artistic capabilities as far as the width of the Strand, when we all know he has more talent than that. Anybody would have thought he was there under sufferance, which may I suppose have been the case. Their act reached its nadir when Lee encapsulated all the old Cream lick’s in one solo, and then de-tuned his guitar and continued to play. Admittedly the audience response was rarely short of ecstatic, and they spasmodically pumped their hands during the numbers in what appeared to be attempts to relay adrenalin to three members of the band: Alvin and Ric Lee and (Chick Churchill, Leo Lyons (on bass) alone gave an impression of sincerity and interest in what he was doing.  

For me the only excitement of the whole night was when a top hated gentleman kicked somebody out of his seat two rows forward. Which is odd considering TYA’s act is obviously rocks-off orientated. The music including a couple of newies, like the reworking of “Lucille” called “You’re Driving Me Crazy” and the earlier “Look Into My Life” was one monotonous riff, with Lee barking vocals like a fairground hustler , then acting out his role as an inexcusably loud King Khord. There were actually moments when Churchill had to physically hammer his keyboards like a set of congas to be heard over the lashing six string.  

Competent musicians TYA may be, entertainers they certainly are not. Their stage presence was as flat as a Woolworth’s portrait reproduction. Alvin Lee’s delivery of notes at an immense speed resembled a production line worker knocking rivets into a car body: precise motions, but without any other purpose than holding something together until it’s time to go home. (I’m Going Home that is) Sorry, but it was a relief when it was.

By Tony Stewart

 

 


 

 

Our Thanks to John Tsagas for this contribution!

 

  

 

 


BRAVO MAGAZINE

May 2, 1974 

Zum Letzten Mal Mit Alvin Lee?

Ten Years After beginnen in diesen Tagen ihre Deutschland – Tournee

Hier könnt ihr Ten Years After sehen:

1. Mai – Hamburg, Musikhalle, 20Uhr

2. Mai – Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle, 20 Uhr

3. Mai – Ludwigshafen, Friedrich – Ebert- Halle 20 Uhr

4. Mai – München, Circus Krone, 20 Uhr

5. Mai – Sindelfingen, Messehalle, 20 Uhr

 

 

 

“Choo – Choo – Mama” fordern die Zuschauer im Londoner Rock Tempel Rainbow in Sprechchören. So heißt der Song, den 3,000 Fans an diesem Abend von Ten Years After  Boss und Sänger Alvin Lee bei seinem ersten Solo – Concert hören wollen. Aber Alvin  schaltet auf stur, „Ten Years After – wer ist das?“ ruft er ins Publikum zurück. Seit sieben Jahren spielt er mit Ten Years After zusammen. Gemeinsam mit Bassist Leo Lyons gründete er die Gruppe. Mit ihr erlebte er die schönsten und erfolgreichsten Stunden seiner Karriere. Aber jetzt ist er dabei, die Brücken zur Vergangenheit abzubrechen – so wie man Blätter aus einem Tagebuch einfach herausreißt und fortwirft. Trennungsgerüchte gibt es bei Ten Years After bereits seit zwei Jahren. Aber ein Konzert im letzten August im Londoner Alexandra Palace brachte die Versöhnung und schweißte die Band noch einmal zusammen. Oder war es nur ein kurzer Burgfrieden?  Mit seiner Solo – Lp „On the Road to Freedom“ grub Alvin das Kriegsbeil wieder aus. Und am 22. März zeigte Alvin Lee seinen Freunden, wie weit er zu gehen bereit ist. Wie eine Bombe platzte die Nachricht von seinem Solokonzert in den Londoner Pop – Frühling. Mehr noch: Alvin hatte sich für dieses Konzert eine Supergruppe zusammengestellt, die durchaus in der Lage ist, Ten Years After in den Schatten zu stellen.

Bassist Alan Spenner und Gitarrist Heil Hubbard stammen von der „Grease Band“, Pianist Tim Hinkley von „Vinegar Joe“ und Mel Collins und Ian Wallace sind Ex–Mitglieder von „King Crimson“. Dazu gehört ein dreiköpfiger Chor. Fast 50,000 Mark hatte Alvin in dieses Konzert investiert. Er sang nur neue Songs  - vom Jazz über Blues bis zum Rock. Stunden dauerte die Show, die mitgeschnitten wurde und als Live – LP veröffentlicht werden soll.

Den Höhepunkt erreichte sie am Schluss, als Alvin vom Beatles-Song „ Slow Down“ bis zu Elvis „Don’t Be Cruel“ mit alten Rocksongs die Fans aufputschte.  „Das Konzert hat bewiesen, dass ich auch allein meinen Weg gehen kann“, sagt Alvin. „Vielleicht wird unsere Deutschland – Tournee im Mai die letzte sein, die ich gemeinsam mit Ten Years After unternehme. Für den Sommer plane ich jedenfalls schon eine Tournee mit meinen neuen Freunden. Was ich endgültig mache, entscheidet sich in den nächsten Wochen. Da werde ich über meinen neuen Manager noch einmal mit Ten Years After verhandeln.“

Written by - K.E. Siegfried  

Photos by – C. Kranz  

Note: This was the transition period, between Alvin’s split with Ten Years After and the start of his solo career

  

 

 

 

Ten Years After – Positive Vibrations

From Billboard Magazine – May  4, 1974

The first offering from the group in some time, the album proves well worth the wait. Opening selections are smooth and well conceived, with that laid back rock feeling. Further on, heavier rock numbers surface and the combination provides a rich format for the group’s abilities. Mix and arrangements are excellent throughout.

Best Cuts: Positive Vibrations – Stone Me – I Wanted To Boogie and Look Me Straight Into The Eyes.

Dealers: Proven sellers, and group’s followers should be anxious to pick this one up.  

 

 

 

 

7 May 1974 at "Palais des Sports", Paris 

 

 


Click here for the PDF file DE BRIC ET DE "ROCK"  - French Interview

Thanks to John Tsagas (Greece) for this rare contribution

 

Palais des Sport Paris, France 101 - Ten Years After In Concert May 7, 1974

Set List : Rock and Roll Music To The World – Nowhere To Run – Good Morning Little School Girl – It’s Getting Harder – Hobbit – Love Like A Man – Slow Blues In C  - Look Me Straight Into The Eyes – Classical Thing – Scat Thing – I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes – Silly Thing – I’m Going Home – Sweet Little Sixteen

 

 

 

 

 

New Musical Express  -  May 11, 1974

 

Ten Years After  - “Positive Vibrations”  

Ten Years After nowadays resemble a one time football international who’s sadly playing out- his final-days in the Southern League and hoping to hang on for another season. This album confirms the impression, that they’re on a course of turning out colourless, anaemic boogie-ing until their day finally comes. Alvin Lee never seems very interested in the proceedings and since his efforts dominate the album it’s rather knocked on the head from the start. His guitar rambles tamely through a collection of unremarkable songs that too often feature lyrics that are coy and clichéd as well as dated in the most embarrassing way.

“Can’t Explain / Feel no pain / feeling so stoned / just keep goin’ on / and I don’t give a damn / ‘cos I am what I am

…..I mean what’s it all about?  

On the positive side there does seem to have been an effort made to present a softer, more considered TYA compared with previous albums. It lacks  much of the usual flash and thunder and occasionally the band does groove together in a desultory fashion. That’s how it is on “It’s Getting Harder” with a neat rhythm, clipped drumming from Ric Lee and chunky brass playing (probably from Mel Collins, though he’s not credited).

Little Richard’s “Going Back To Birmingham” is put down much as the original with Lee’s guitar taking the piano Line. At least it moves. “Nowhere To Run” and “Your Driving Me Crazy” are standard TYA boogie while Chick Churchill takes his one obligatory keyboard solo on “Look Me Straight Into The Eyes”. The closing number “I Wanted To Boogie” is self-explanatory.

Otherwise tracks like “Without You” are so tepid they’re almost painful to listen to. It’s hard to credit such total blandness from what was once a great rock band. That’s the saddest part about it really. TYA seem to have fallen into a false security through the devotion of their many remaining fans. However, none of the band are as talent less as they appear here. I think Alvin should end it now.

By James Johnson 

 
 

 

Will TYA stay together or split? Fans are concerned after disappointing tour in May

 
BRAVO No. 26 - 1974

   
 

Record Mirror – May 18, 1974

Ten Years After Reprieved

Ten Years After – “Positive Vibrations” album review

Well, after putting down Ten Years After recently for a very boring live performance at the Rainbow Theatre, I’m glad to admit that they deserve some reprieve for this album. It justifies my little faith in them and should put down the critics who’ve suggested in the past that they died a death musically after Woodstock. The first side of the new album is quite amazing with so many different themes from the aggressive “Nowhere To Run”, an authentic rocker,

“Going Back To Birmingham”, the subtle title track “Positive Vibrations” and “Stone Me”,

this track can only be summed up by its title, laid back with Alvin Lee effortlessly drawling through his lethargic vocal style. Chick Churchill is prominent on piano throughout the entire first side and comes through strongly, particularly on “Positive Vibrations”. The second side starts with the more familiar Ten Years After style on “It’s Getting Harder” with Alvin adding the sharp, lightening lead touches and Leo Lyons pushing an extremely funky bass line, but I can’t really understand the inclusion of “You’re Driving Me Crazy”, which sounds like a carbon copy of the rocker on the first side. Also, the first few chords of “Look Into My Life” sounds awfully like the beginning of the Good Morning Little Schoolgirl song  from the earlier Ten Year After days and it’s a repetitive line throughout the song. On the whole,

Positive Vibrations should do very well, because it’s a “grow on you” album, although I liked the songs the first time around. The band all pull together with surprising enthusiasm, but I only hope that some of it will rub off on their future stage acts. 

Article by J.B.

 

 

 

 

GUITAR: The Magazine For All Guitarist 

From May 1974 – Volume 2 Number 10

   

 Tony Jasper – Introduction:

Alvin Lee first hit the music scene in 1967 when a new and untried group called Ten Years After stole the thunder at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Windsor. Since then, Ten Years After have sold millions of records and toured the States eighteen times; they were one of the featured groups at Woodstock in 1969. This March, Alvin took an independent step with an album on Chrysalis “On The Road To Freedom”, in partnership with Mylon LeFevre, and a Rainbow gig with a band called Alvin Lee & Company. But he insist  that Ten Years After is not breaking up: he just wants to further his musical interest, which encompass more than rock and roll and blues. He says he is first and foremost a musician, and consequently loves the guitar. I asked him when he first took up the instrument.

 Alvin Lee: I picked one up when I was two! My mother used to play a four-string tenor guitar. When I was twelve I decided I must play an instrument properly. Actually I started on the clarinet; my brother in-law played one. I had some lessons and my interest lasted for about a year: it made me listen to Benny Goodman and so to Charlie Christian, Christian is still one of my favourite guitarist. 

 Tony Jasper: So you started playing guitar?

 Alvin Lee: Yeah, I started having lessons when I was thirteen; one year later I played in public with a local band called “The Jailbreakers”. I played rhythm first, and picked up lead lines from the lead guitarist in the group. I had heard a lot of blues because my father had a large record collection of that kind of music. But all that had nothing to do with the guitar music I was playing. 

  Tony Jasper: What were you learning on guitar?

 Alvin Lee: The chord lessons I had were kind of  “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “All of Me” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”! I bought jazz records by Kessel – in fact, all the guitarist of that era. After I had learned the basics and adapted the guitar to making the music I liked, I became a big Scotty Moore fan. I played a lot of country-ish material, and this got me into jazz. I went through a country picking phase and a jazz picking phase.

My rock and roll phase started with Chuck Berry: I like his feel very much, he’s one of my all time favourites. That’s basically where my style came out of. Much later I discovered George Benson. He’s one of the few who started out as a rock and roll guitarist and went on to jazz.

Quite a lot of jazz guitarist go the other way. I find moving from rock to jazz very interesting:

You’ve got the feel and then you develop your technique and go further. Whereas once you’ve got the technique, it’s difficult to develop feel. I’ve never read music, and I don’t think it’s a good thing. In most cases it doesn’t encourage you to extemporise and form your own style. I never did want to read music. I didn’t sit down playing tunes or songs: I sat down and played, and saw what came out, and found sounds I liked and remembered. After a while it develops into your own style.

  Tony Jasper: How long did you practice? 

Alvin Lee: I used to do at least four hours a day, sometimes more. Now I tootle around a lot. I play a lot of acoustic.

  Tony Jasper: What guitars have you collected?

Alvin Lee: There are quite a few! My stage guitar is a Gibson ES-335. I’ve done a bit to that: I’ve taken the covers off, and put a Fender back pick-up in the middle, so it sounds like a Fender and like a Gibson. That’s great – I don’t have to swap over!  I’ve also got an ordinary 335 without that extra pick-up. It’s about fifteen years old. They don’t make them as good as that now.

  Tony Jasper: What have you done to that, anything?

Alvin Lee: Everything! It’s got a different neck on it. All it’s still got is the basic body. I’ve done all the pick-up changes, rewired it inside. I’ve got a stereo Gibson too, but I don’t use it a lot. Stereo is a bit fidgety – there are too many things to muck around with. With a stage guitar I just like to use the front pick-up or both: there’s enough variation there without having to go to a six-position switch. In the studio I use a Martin acoustic, a metal Dobro, a Yamaha acoustic and a Yamaha nylon-string, two Ovations, one nylon, one steel-string. And an old Gibson Melody Maker which has a really good tone. If I see an old Martin in a guitar shop, I buy it. You can do things with it because the basic body is there. Nowadays they’re much lighter. The old ones were heavy.

  Tony Jasper: Let’s talk about you and Ten Years After. How do you find the musical relation?

 Alvin Lee: Well, it has to be done where they don’t tell me what to play and I don’t tell them. If we play a number and one of us doesn’t like it, then it’s unsuitable. I mean, I’m doing my own thing my way at present. I like a lot of country stuff, for instance, while Leo likes something more meaty.

  Tony Jasper: If you could choose to jam with a group, who would it be?

 Alvin Lee: JJ Cale. I love the feel. You know, I’ve been through practically every kind of guitar, even classical and Spanish. I like to adapt and play with all kinds of musicians. As far as rock goes, Ten Years After are a great band.

 
Tony Jasper:
Some rock guitarists have named the Rolling Stones as one band they would like to belong with…

 Alvin Lee: I’ve never thought of the Stones as much of a group, as a musical group. They’re more of an image than a sound. I don’t know…I mean…No, I won’t knock the Stones.

  Tony Jasper: Well, who impresses you on the current scene? 

 Alvin Lee: Steve Miller. I’ve got all of his albums. Then I’ve been getting into the  Mahavishnu Orchestra  and Chick Corea. Really, I can get enjoyment out of anything, but then I like playing. Anything I can do to learn more licks and more feel, then it’s obviously a help. I listen to simply anything I can do in the jazz field. On the other hand, at the moment the people in my band – that’s “Alvin Lee & Company” – have been turning me on to some
R & B, Phil Upchurch, a lot of stuff I once missed out on. I love its simplicity. I think all artists go through a phase of doing their utmost and then return to find the essence of being simple. A simple guitar lick, just a couple of notes, but it sits and fits right. Like a hemi-demi-semi-quaver run is all very clever, but often it can be tasteless: it’s a question of fitting it in rather than letting it come. You have to have the feel – a matter where every note counts without overstating. Like the Band. I really enjoy listening to them: they don’t put an extra note in unless it’s needed. Very tasteful.

  Tony Jasper: Yes, their lovely laid back feel is very American, lots of ease, seeming to go with the country. 

 Alvin Lee: Well, most of this music was American in origin – blues and jazz. English forms have developed, but I think from American origins. English folk seems about the only pure English music.

  Tony Jasper: How do you like your audiences to react?

 Alvin Lee: I’ve always enjoyed “listening audiences” (audiences that listen), but you take them as they come. In the end you don’t have any control if you play in public. I play my best to come over, but I play better if I feel they are with me. Then again, I like them to jump around a bit. I mean, you can play quiet and people listen, play loud and let them jig – you have that kind of control. Ten Years After don’t need gimmicks. The music is the focal point. I don’t want to be involved in the entertainment side, jokes and all that.

If you want to improve as a band, it should start with the music. So many bands are out on the road with thousands of pounds-worth of props, trucks, their own stages, fifty roadies…Somehow, current music seems less musical to me. What’s coming out of Britain, I wonder? What’s Gary Glitter all about? Years back, bands associated with the music; they were into that. A lot of newer bands move in vogues and trends and keeping the kids happy.

 
Tony Jasper:
Do you see quadrophonic sound offering anything?

 Alvin Lee – Reply: I don’t see it affecting our music. We mixed a quad album with “A Space In Time”. To my mind it’s not much better than stereo, just a bit more complicated. On a live record, you can have more effects, but basically I prefer to mix live in mono. You have such a wide speaker set-up and many miss the stereo mix. To give everyone a reasonable listen, then mix in mono. 

 Tony Jasper: Finally, let’s imagine you’re throwing a feast: who from the guitar world – dead or alive – would be sitting at your table? 

 Alvin Lee: A meal of guitarist? Sounds delicious. Dead or Alive? Django would have to be there. George Benson, Ollie Halsall, Scotty Moore… (a long pause)…Rock musicians, hmm…Oh Hendrix – he was an innovator. It’s difficult, this one. I get a lot of enjoyment from any music when someone picks up a guitar. Sometimes it can be frustrating to listen to a great player, knowing it will take you another ten years to get anywhere near them! 

 


   

  

 

   

 

 

 

 

Record Mirror – June 8, 1974

 

Alvin Lee is not splitting with Ten Years After and that’s official, a spokesman told Record Mirror this week. “Rumours have been going on for some time that Alvin was leaving Ten Years After, because of his work away from the band with George Harrison and Mylon LeFevre,” the spokesman said. “He’s been doing a lot of recording in his own recording studio, but from all reports, everything with Alvin and Ten Years After is okay. The band are currently touring America and we’ve heard nothing to indicate that Alvin wants to leave  Ten Years After”.

 

Ten Years After On The “National Scenes” 1974 

June 7th – 9th Shrine Auditorium Los Angles, California

June 11th Bakersfield, California

June 15th Santa Barbara, California

June 18th – 21st  Fresno, California

 

Ten Years After:

On June 13, 1974 Ten Years After headlined at The Cow Palace.
The advertisement is from the June 8, 1974 San Francisco newspaper for the upcoming concert on June 13th.
 

 

MS -   June 7, 1974  

Ten Years After and Alvin Lee & Company  -  In Flight

 

Alvin Lee has come a long way from being the energetic youth let loose in Studio 2 at Decca’s Recording Studios in West Hampstead. The album he was laying down then with Chick, Leo Lyons and Ric Lee was titled after the group, “Ten Years After.” That was in 1967. Ten Years After had spent part of it constantly filling London’s Marquee club and had achieved a standing ovation from some 20,000 people at the 7th National Jazz and Blues Festival, Windsor. Seven years on the rumours circulate of Lee leaving Ten Years After to pursue fresh pastures with the Alvin Lee and Co. band. London’s Rainbow saw the initial appearance of Alvin Lee And Co. band. Neil Hubbard, Alan Spenner, Tim Hinkley, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace and the Kokomo singers provided a goodly diet of right funky music.

There were voices busily shouting for TYA numbers. Lee heard, smiled and waved and went his own way, even to an assortment of Little Richard and Elvis numbers, with a “Don’t Be Cruel” of sufficient standard to make most Elvis freaks pay at least a little attention. Speculation may rage; the whispers may become loud noises; Lee, however waves gossip aside, “There’s no intention to split up TYA. As far as I know the others want to carry and that accords with what I feel. It boils down quite simply to the fact of TYA not wishing, for a variety of reasons, to have a crowded diary and Alvin having the urge to do more music and let loose in other musical directions. Certainly TYA have not been far from his consciousness –at  his 16 track studios based right where he lives in an old, historic house in Berkshire, “Positive Vibrations” has emerged as TYA’s new album.

The same place witnessed the warm-up to Alvin Lee And Co. Band plus tracking for the enjoyable Chrysalis Released disc, “On the Road to Freedom,” in which Gospel background artist, Mylon LeFevre  joined Alvin. Among backing  musicians were well-known people like Jim Capaldi, Hari Georgeson, Mick Fleetwood, Ron Wood and Stevie Winwood.

Lee on his Rainbow gig; “The whole thing was an experiment. We didn’t have that much time to rehearse. If it works I hope it will lead to more similar things. The concert was recorded on our mobile truck, 16-track. No it’s a test case to see if my company, Space Productions can carry the recording side off. “I mean it will be easy to get out on the road. We’ve done all the rehearsals. Maybe we will do a couple of clubs. I mean we could even set off on a World tour. “It’s the involvement I enjoy. I love getting musicians together and aiming at a goal.”  

Lee on TYA and his And Co. band project; “I think what I’ve been up to recently prevents any break-up. I’m letting all my musical frustrations be channelled elsewhere. Ten Years After, to me is a unit which exists quite happily within its scope. I don’t want to start saying I want to include these and these numbers. I wouldn’t want to be after changing the format of TYA, I’d rather do it outside that form and use TYA as a kind of communal music making group—which it is.  

“I don’t want to inflict my personal music tastes on that set-up. Now I can develop all round in the way I feel. I think what I’ve been up to is making a sound quite a way from TYA. For one thing it’s much quieter with not so much balls. For me there isn’t so much sweating out on the guitar. This latest thing of mine is more tasty, structured. Don’t forget the others have been up to some things. “Leo has been producing UFO. Chick has done a solo album. Ric has been developing rock lyrics and a few other things. Everyone has been getting involved with different scenes.

“I mean you might say why doesn’t TYA, as it were, progress. We’ve had this criticism from various quarters. We sat around and talked about it. I said our, original concept was to play the music people wanted us to play. We can’t hit it off playing the music we wanted. I think for instance some press criticism owes something to a difference between them and the fans. “The fan comes because of the band, whereas sometimes the press reporter arrives because it’s his job and he has a wider range of musical commitments and has different expectations. “We did this Alley Palley gig when we came back from America. The place erupted and I thought everyone was happy with it, you know, a great gig. To me it confirmed  the decision not to change the music. TYA has it’s own sound.  

The thing to do even if I were frustrated would be other projects, that way I can enjoy playing with Ten Years After. I haven’t reached the stage of not enjoying playing with the band. As to my remark about Ten Years  as a “Travelling  Juke Box” – Well it’s not a detrimental remark. It’s a natural reaction from playing every night and  always being somewhere, new hotels, different flight plans. As you say it’s like pressing a juke box button. You know for the next month you’re due on stage at 8 p.m. You have to play whether you like it or not. Lee talking in general, “Woodstock was a great help to TYA, through the film, record and being associated with an epic happening a whole load of new people latched on to us. I don’t go for the big events. I prefer to do the kind of concert where there’s six or seven thousand people. I think that’s the maximum for doing a really good concert. Over that you have problems, often sound ones, with the size of the place.    

“What I think of our playing on the Woodstock album is that there have been better versions of the number but for a live, recording well it was not to bad, the film spot was really good. The film when it came out became part of a great hype, of course, with “I Was There” buttons and so on. “By taking our last number it established for many people that we were a rock n’ roll band. I mean in TYA we do rock n’ roll but that’s not all of it! I thought at the time if they had filmed , “I Can’t Keep From Cryin”  or one of the more structured things it might have been more representative. “I think existing within the music world is about controlling what’s going on. So many people don’t, there are so many things happening to them and they have no base and so groups break-up.  

“My own control over things has increased since making the album “On The Way To Freedom” in the studios  here. I mean there’s a created production company and we did the cover advertising and everything else.” Future Lee territory means the TYA album, a live-recorded album from the Rainbow gig , and a likely second with Mylon, when the member of the famous Gospel family comes over in June. He has an interesting comment on “So Sad,” the single from “On The Road To Freedom.” “We played our recording to George Harrison. George looked at us and said he assumed it was a demo! It wasn’t. We went away and did some things to it. That guy is a perfectionist. He will take hours and hours laying things down. I have great admiration for him.”   

Still worried about a TYA split? One thing to remember, talk of this sort has been going on for at least two years but Lee himself will not be leaving the scene  whatever happens. As he says, “I can’t stay away from music for longer than a week.”  

 


 

 
ALVIN LEE "IN FLIGHT" WITH NEW BAND:
 

In an effort to expand his musical horizons, Alvin Lee has suspended his activties with Ten Years After and undertaken a tour with a new band to perform material from his second solo album, "In Flight". The grind of touring and the limitations put upon Lee by "the violent thrashing and gritting of teeth" in the Woodstock festival film had reached the point of exhaustion. Ten Years' attempts to break into more lyrical areas had failed, and Lee was spending his time between their gigs recording songs totally atypical of the band's previous output.

 Alvin ultimately retired to his country retreat to consider his next move. One night he was visiting at George Harrison's home, and discussed his dilemma with Harrison advisor Terry Donan. Donan insisted that most musicians don't possess enough independence to follow a direction of their own choosing.

"Well" said Lee "I can choose to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it." Donan called his bluff: "If you're as independent as you say you are," he taunted, "then why don't you put on your own solo concert at the Rainbow Theater in London?" 

 

The rest as we know is history and thanks to Donan's idea Alvin pulled off one of the greatest concerts of all time.

1975 CBS Inc. Circus Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Melody Maker  - June 22, 1974

Ten Years After  - “Positive Vibrations” (Chrysalis).

TYA  Boogie On

No messing about, straight into the funky riff and blues-stained vocals on “Nowhere To Run.” You might say “I’ve heard all this before.” But that is a definition of popular art. It’s very familiarity is part of the reason for the survival of a brand of music that some thought exhausted by 1969. But here they are, one of the oldest bands in captivity, still going strong . And after a few bars, your head starts to nod and feet do wiggle in a kind of Pavlov’s dog reaction. And tunes like “Positive Vibrations” are quite pleasant, with Alvin singing very nicely and playing unusually laid-back guitar for a TYA gig.  

Chick Churchill’s piano rings merrily and Chick elsewhere adds electric  piano, clavinet and a spot of Moog. And as we progress further, why “Stone Me,” has an extremely effective boogie beat with a trance of harmonica from Alvin that takes us back to the steamy blues clubs of yesteryear. Ric Lee swings’dem drums and it’s a lot of fun. TYA vocals in general seem to have taken a turn for the better, with less of the old anguished yelling, and more tuneful harmonizing as detected on “Without You.” But just in case old TYA fans are impatient with all this trend towards sweet nothings, “Going Back To Birmingham” has Alvin cutting a rug and slashing the carpets. “It’s Getting Harder,” has Churchill getting a big band sound from his keyboards, and lots of wah-wah chucking away.

Note the excellent production here, which is maintained throughout, and helps make this one of the best, if least publicised of their albums. The rest of the material continues through some sprightly rock n’ roll. “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” a neatly arranged “Look Into My Life,” and “Look Me Straight Into The Eyes,” and a cheerful farewell “I Wanted To Boogie.”  

Plain home cooking for the average enthusiast.

By Chris Welch  

 

 

 

 


 

Ten Years After – Positive Vibrations Review – 1974

It is claimed that Ten Years After have confounded their critics just by releasing this album and scotching the growing rumours about their impending split. If that was the aim in producing this work, then they have succeeded, but no other target has been reached. This is a collection of ten instantly forgettable tracks that boogie very smoothly, but offer nothing of originality or interest. I’m afraid that Alvin Lee is still playing the licks that have sustained him in sybaritic ease the past few years and there’s a general feeling of listlessness.

“It’s Getting Harder” at the beginning of side two, almost gets into the James Brown groove and it’s probably the best track on the album. The record was made at Lee’s back garden “Space Studios” and the recording sound is no better than average.

Review by R.H.

 

 
 

Positive Vibrations 1974

Positive Vibrations, or is this just word play on the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” ?

I could see how some would say that Ten Years After had run out of steam at this point.

This being their last studio album and all. As certain parts sound like the group is just coasting, but that is the view of the jaded music critics. The less cynical music fan will most likely find it acceptable, enjoyable and worth the money spent. Especially, if they can find it in the thrift store, for fifty cents.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch advertisement for TYA's "Positive Vibrations"

 

 

 

 

PLAYING THE LEE'D GUITAR!
From Music World & Beat Instrumental Magazine
From June of 1974 Issue

Probably the only British musician who looks on his 19th States tour as a rest is Ten Years After's Alvin Lee - and that's not just a line. In March he played London's Rainbow with friends and reckons that to start with it was the most nerve-racking gig he'd had since he first went on stage.
At the moment he's probably on the boards somewhere in the States ripping notes from the weathered 335, his travelling companion for the past eight years - back in his established place at the front of Ten Years After, and enjoying his rest.
But back to his Reading country house for a minute, and shortly before departure. Will this really be a rest?
"Ten Years After works very smoothly and it'll be like a holiday, playing every night. I'm really looking forward to it, and it'll be a rest more than anything."
Alvin Lee's Rainbow concert in March was recorded for a live album which he expects will be released in August. Like his album with guitar picker Mylon Le Fevre, it's evidence of his expanding musical interests, but he doesn't intend to let them conflict with Ten Years After.

They've recently been rehearsing material from the new Positive Vibrations album to incorporate into the act.
"I was thinking of augmenting the band," said Alvin, "and using other musicians , but they weren't very keen on that. I can see their point though - that Ten Years After is Ten Years After, and shouldn't expand out of its depth. Add a fifteen piece orchestra and it wouldn't be Ten Years After.

BOOGIE

"Where Ten Years After scores to my mind is with the choogling boogie thing, it gets going and can't be stopped, and that's the bands essence. The influences of what Chick and I have been doing are coming in subtly. Ten Years After's music is very much high energy, a conglomeration of the four of us. For the last album we had about twenty numbers and a lot of them were like new things Chick and I have been doing. But we had to agree. Unless Leo and Ric and everybody have lines they can work with it's not the music of the band. It's nice to think of the band keeping an identity."
Although he's keen to keep Ten Years After touring, do his other interest mean that the band is now a finance vehicle?
"It has been said so before and, in fact, the situation is like that, unfortunately - but I haven't let enter into my decisions. If I was not to work for Ten Years After, I could do the band's commitments on my own and get more money. But I make money a side issue, and don't want it to be my motivation . I find that if you take care of the music the rest takes care of itself." The just reward I wondered? "No, not always. I don't do anything because the money's better - it always kicks back if you do that," he said.
He admitted to not making any money out of the Rainbow concert, but stressed it was for fun more than anything.
"It started when Ian Wallace, Tim Hinckley, Mel Collins, Boz Burrell and myself started a sort of Muscle Shoals rhythm section called The Gits. It got so far we started recording and getting different singers down." (Alvin has a fair-sized 16 - track studio in a barn near the house.) "Then - this was about a month before the gig, Terry Doran heard us and said why don't you do a concert? I had one of those flashes and just said yes. We booked the Rainbow the next day, had organisational meetings, and got into it like a project."

INSANE

The band he finally got together consisted of himself, Mel Collins, Tim Hinckley, Alan Spenner, Neil Hubbard, and singers from new band Kokomo. Rehearsals began at the home studio ten days before the gig.
"It was a bit insane really. This place was really buzzin". We got up at nine one morning for a slit-eyed photo session, and then went into the studio for about twenty three hours. We got fifteen numbers arranged and rehearsed that time, and felt very confident with eight days to go. But the next day was a washout, and nothing worked. With the gig four days away we found we'd got fifty five minutes of material - for a two hour show! But because of the Press saying it wasn't just a fun gig, it was me trying to prove that I could go solo, it all became important and heavy.
"When the singers came down we ran through the whole thing once and found we had an hour and ten minutes. We then ran through loads of stuff that everybody would know, like Mystery Train and Jailhouse Rock, and we got five numbers to slip in. They were just sort of banged off," he laughed, "we thought we'd worry about ending off on the night."

The band got to the Rainbow during the afternoon and although they hoped for a complete run-through and a meal, there was never time. "Suddenly it was all on us…and I was really nervous. More nervous than I've been since I first went on stage. I was getting these very weird flashes of thinking I was just on the road doing a tour…and then thinking about the different numbers, and the choruses, and who takes the first solo and the words. The words were incredible. I couldn't remember half the words. I would be about to kick off and then I'd see this totally different band in the environment where I'd seen Ten Years After for the past six years. Very weird, but great in its own way."

Alvin has now had a good chance to listen to the tapes since the gig and reckons that everyone felt a bit insecure for the first half an hour. After that it all got a lot more positive - "but looking back it seems silly doing all that work for one gig. It would have got really tight in two or three nights."
Alvin's new albums are coming out through his Space Productions production company, and together with his studio, this means that he can now record and release albums by other artists. But the time problem and the fact they're released through Chrysalis means he can't just record and release who he likes and when he likes: "I'd like to, and there are a couple of things, that are very loose at the moment, which might come together in the distant future. But I don't want to approach somebody and say I'll do a deal with you. I'd prefer them to approach me - but in fact they don't like to do that either, so it's something of a stalemate."

CHANGE

Alvin mentioned that two years ago he didn't believe in jamming, and working and playing outside the band. Now he's involved with a confusing number of musical directions - when did he first begin to change?
"The stopping point came when I felt like I'd written every song I could think of with Ten Years After, and played every solo…all I was doing was pinching bits from this and that and putting them together differently, and it was starting to get repetitive. That's when these different forms, styles and attitudes started to develop as a recorded thing rather than a hobby.
"I started finger - picking guitar, but never as seriously as working with Ten Years After , and that's where Mylon came in. We started playing a lot of country and Chet Atkins things.
That was a medium for me to play those tasty Fender Telecaster - type licks, rather than the Gibson screamers."
But for the moment anyway, it's back to those Gibson screamers and Goin´ Home. He's had the battered, sticker - covered 335 for close on eight years, and with a Strat pick-up wired in reckons it gives him all the sounds he needs with Ten Years After. Although he readily admits to there being faster guitarists, Alvin too is fast when he wants to be. Two players he loves to listen to are Chet Atkins and George Benson.
"As far as speed is concerned George Benson is amazing. When he plays a run it just goes whoosh, right up the neck. Now that's speed."

 

 

 

 

 
 

 New Musical Express - June 29, 1974

Article by Barbara Charone – Chicago

Alvin Lee does a nifty sidestep to Stevie Wonder’s “Living In The City” in his posh hotel suite towering high above Chicago. But don’t be misled, because today our lightning fast guitar whiz is bored. Boredom has been one of the Ten Years After headman’s big problems of late…a severe case of career frustration and “where is it all leading to?” “If you’re going to ask about Ten Years After breaking up,” the road manager advises me, before I start, “forget it. He ain’t talking”. Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, incidentally, were in Chicago for a gig.

A sold-out gig. So despite all the adverse talk, Ten Years After are still very popular here.

“You can’t worry about what people are going to say or you’ll never do anything , “Alvin opens defensively. It’s like my London Rainbow solo concert. Everybody said, “You can’t do that, people will say Ten Years After are breaking up,” But I did it, and everybody said we were breaking up. And sure enough we didn’t. “I told the band I guaranteed them three months a year working with Ten Years After, covering an album and a world tour, which is all we’ve ever done, really. And that’s the way it is. “What the band are worried about, naturally, is whether I’ll have more success on my own, than with them. “In the beginning it was very hard, but the whole reason I did solo projects, like the Rainbow was because I was bored and frustrated. It got to a stage where” and he pauses, demonstrating pent up frustration and “well, I’ll tell you it got pretty bad. But now, the band understands. Besides….” He smiles. “I don’t want to be responsible for telling three guys, that they’re out of work, or for telling 300,000 people they can’t see the band anymore. I hate reasonability”.

The impetus behind Lee’s solo projects of late, has been to rejuvenate his career and counter the circus-like life of a touring rock and roll band, which is enough to drive anyone crazy.

 

He says reflectively :”When I first became a musician, it was to escape from a nine-to-five job. And when I went back home a few months ago, I walked down the same road I used to walk down when I was sixteen and used to work in a factory. And I knew I couldn’t have taken thirty years of it…working in a factory”. So Alvin got out of the factory all right, then found himself trapped in the confines of the rock biz. Going on stage like a juke-box, pumping out old material. “When I made the album with Mylon, I got more involved with the music than I had done for a long time. And it reminded me of when of when I first started making music. “You know, you start in the beginning with a little local band three nights a week, and it’s a groove. Then the band takes off nationally, and internationally, and then, that’s how it’s been with Ten Years After. There are two or three years when no one knows what’s happening. You don’t know what it all means. And through that period we just worked like donkeys”. Alvin laughs: ”Well, if anyone wanted to book us, we were there, and we kind of burned ourselves out. Obviously, the full scale rock `n´ roll circus days are over for Alvin Lee. Although just five weeks a year touring can be fun. He expresses his doubts about the whole thing: “If you want to do an American tour, and play loud rock `n´ roll, I suppose that’s fine. But people don’t really want to hear sophisticated music. I even had my doubts about using acoustics at the Rainbow, because I mean, the majority of kids take downers, and come to gigs to scream and boogie. “It’s quite silly playing a song when there’s dodging and shouting going on in front of the stage. That’s not what I’m here for”. There’s no doubt that Alvin is thinking particularly of America in this respect. You see, over here, they squeeze thousands of kids into over-grown garages. And after too many years of touring, these barn-yard arenas, he’s decided to opt for smaller shows in a Rainbow like concert atmosphere. “I want to do some dates with Mylon, but I’d like to sort myself out first. I’m trying to get the kind of situation where I can do what I want, without all these problems. To me it’s simple: “I wake up in the morning and if I want to do something I should be able to. It’s like that song “Positive Vibrations” and if I want to do something, I should be able to just do it”. Still, Alvin Lee seems happier now and perhaps more musically content than he’s been since his pre-Woodstock days, when Ten Years After were on the brink of super-stardom. “before the film, we had a good-sized audience who came for the jazz and blues and the quieter stuff. They were the moustached kids, ya know what I mean? It was great. But after Woodstock, we became just another rock `n´ roll band”. Well at Chicago, 12,000 kids were waiting for Alvin Lee and Ten Years After to come on stage, and play their guts out. And not one of those kids thought that Ten Years After were just another rock `n´ roll band. Article by Barbara Charone

 

 



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