1989

TEN YEARS AFTER - "About Time" - Magazine Articles

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  Their Last and Final Album With Alvin Lee - At Least It Ended On A High Note - Recording Wise

 

 

NOVEMBER 1989

Release of the 12th LP by

TEN YEARS AFTER

"ABOUT TIME"

 

Chrysalis 210 180


click picture to enlarge

"Unfortunately, the album came out

at a time when I think the personnel 

at the record company were changing; 

the album wasn't a huge success

  sales-wise."

 

Leo Lyons

 



 

 

 



 

click picture to enlarge


 

Old Wine In New Bottles – Ten Years After

Article By Chris Welch

Metal Hammer Magazine

 In days of yore when guitar heroes were bold and bands played the blues, Ten Years After were one of the giants. They were the band who stormed out of Nottingham’s fair city, playing rock and blues with a flair and drive that was astounding. The team of Alvin Lee, (guitars), Chick Churchill (keyboards), Ric Lee (drums / percussion) and Leo Lyons (bassist) won over first the club goers of the 1960’s and then battled to the top of the festival circuit.

They hit a break  peak in with their performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, when Alvin Lee was known as the fastest guitarist in the West after his burn up on “I’m Going Home”. With albums like “Undead” and “Ssshh” Ten Years After became one of the  most successful and popular touring bands of the age, and along with Jethro Tull helped found the fortunes of the Chrysalis label. 

Formed in 1966 they broke up in 1974. Most of the ex-members went into producing and publishing, while Alvin carried on with such bands as: “Alvin Lee & Company” and “Ten Years Later” which ran from 1978 to 1980. In recent years, Alvin has been touring mostly in the States and Germany. But now the original line up have got back together and made an album “About Time” which is undoubtedly one of the best produced and performed in their career.

Says Alvin: “Terry Manning was the producer and we did it in Ardent studios in Memphis, Tennessee. It took ten weeks and we had fifty songs, believe it or not, to choose from. We all played together and did it the old fashioned way. It was a high tech studio, with high tech equipment, and we used a low tech method. Terry was particularly good in keeping the playing simple, to give the basic rock and roll effect. Whenever we tried to get clever, or Ric wanted to put a bar of 5/4 time in, he’d say NOPE!” Ha-Ha! One of my favourite songs is “Victim Of Circumstance” which is five minutes long and took me six minutes to write. I sat down with the guitar and a tape recorder and the riff, melody and words all came at once. It doesn’t happen a lot these days. I don’t know if it will be a single, we leave that up to record company. We have always done a variety of rock and blues tunes on our albums with the odd commercial track. There’s one track called “Waiting For Judgement Day” which I really wrote for Deep Purple. I played it to them without a guitar solo, then I played a version with guitar on and liked it so much I thought we’d keep it for Ten Years After”.

 

Legends:

Ten Years After reformed briefly for the Marquee Silver Anniversary in 1983. We hoped somebody would pick up on it then  but it was bad timing. Any band members who were over twenty years old were considered “Boring Old Farts” – but now we are “Living Legends !”.

Later Alvin was approached by German promoter Reiner Haensel who wanted the original Ten Years After for four rock festivals in Germany. Lee called up the boys and they were all keen to play again. After a couple of days rehearsal they were ready to play the festivals.

“There were 20,000 fans at each festival and they had banners out welcoming us back. The obvious thing to do was put the band together again permanently, by public demand. That was last summer. We decided that rather than do a nostalgia tour, we’d put out a brand new album, and do it properly. Chrysalis gave us the green light and said they wouldn’t have us go to any other label. I have been accused of jumping on the bandwagon, but we started this over a year ago. Now everybody and their uncle is reforming now, from The Rolling Stones, to The Who.

We are starting a world tour with dates in the States, at the end of October, then we come to Europe in December. We do our first English tour in January. Our first English tour in fifteen years that is! Then we’ll be off to Australia and Japan”. How did Alvin Lee feel about being able to come back after so long? “It’s great to have the band back together again. We broke up in 1975after many years of abuse and over touring, and it was a unanimous decision. Everyone had had enough at the time, but now there is more energy and enthusiasm than there ever was. It’s better than it used to be, we’re playing better as a team and I have certainly kept the licks up. I’ve been listening to the young kids coming up, and there are some great guitarist around. I particularly like Joe Satriani, and Robert Cray, and Eddie Van Halen. When I heard him I thought “Hello, hello, I had better start practising!” Jeff Healey is good too.

“I’ve kept working. I’ve done club tours of America and festivals in Europe with my own band, which kept me alive and happening. You try retiring and find its too boring, so the only thing to do is get back to your roots”.

Alvin used to get knocked for playing too fast, but now EVERYBODY wants to play fast. How did Alvin feel about that? “Yeah, a lot of it seems a bit pointless when it’s mixed up with outrageous images in order to get attention, but good bands always come out of that situation. Who they will be I couldn’t tell you. Hopefully not W.A.S.P. I don’t care for them.”

 

Take It – Guitar Speak 1988-1989

Alvin recently did the “Guitar Speak” tour for producer Miles Copeland in which he joined forces with ten lead guitar players including “Steve Howe”. Alvin says: “I thought it came off pretty good. At the end we all played a rock `n´ roll medley. I shouted – “Everybody Take It” and we all played the “Johnny B. Goode” solo in unison. Well….nearly all of us anyway. I won’t say who couldn’t make it ! There’s a video of the show knocking around”.

Ten Years After have already done their own video for “About Time” featuring the track “Highway Of Love” which they made in Hollywood, California. They just play and there’s an attempt at acting or as Alvin says, “Walking through cornfields”. They’ve also done thirty gigs together including a concert in East Berlin, in front of 80,000 people. In Hannover they did a huge show when they played a lot of new songs. They plan to play future shows with fifty percent old favourites and the rest new stuff.

“This is the easiest album that we’ve ever had to re-create on stage except for one track, “Wild Is The River” which I don’t think should have gone on myself. The record company  particularly wanted it on as a crossover single. But I think everybody should ignore it !!!!!! It’s quite a catchy little number, but a bit too poppy for “Ten Tears After”.

The band didn’t play at the 1989 “Makes A Difference Festival” in Moscow which was suppose to celebrate the anniversary of Woodstock. Explains Alvin Lee: “No, I kind of didn’t feel right about recreations of Woodstock. To me it was a great moment, but I wanted to let it remain a cherished memory. To recreate something like that is impossible. We had all sorts offers. We had one offer to do a Woodstock package of all the bands that were still left alive. But I felt the same way. It was too much of a nostalgia thing. It’s more important to move into the 1990’s. We’re all looking back to the 1960’s too much. At the gigs we have been doing, all the fans have been eighteen year olds, and they are not coming to see the band as it used to be. They’re a brand new audience and we are turning on young people to our kind of music that they haven’t heard played live before. The big question remains: Were Ten Years After wearing flared  jeans on stage? “No sir. We are not stuck in the 1960’s. Although I do hear flare jeans are coming back into fashion again too!!!”.

 

 


METAL STAR Magazine

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Alvin Lee ("Ten Years After") Interview

He gained his reputation after people started referring to him as the fastest guitar player on earth. Between 1967 and 1974, he did 30 tours of the U.S. He knew Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. He performed at Woodstock and was featured in the film of the same name. He is Alvin Lee and his band is TEN YEARS AFTER. It's been 15 years since the release of his last album, but make no mistake about it, Alvin Lee is back. ABOUT TIME (Chrysalis Records) is Alvin Lee and TEN YEARS AFTERS latest vinyl effort. Recently, Alvin Lee spoke with us about the music business he knows.

Why did you feel now was the right time to put out an album?
It was last summer and I got a call from a promoter in Germany, and he said is there any chance of getting TEN YEARS AFTER together for these four festivals in Germany? I called up the guys and they all said yeah, we'd love to do it. I kept in touch pretty much on a social level, but we hadn't done any work together. We did The Marquee Anniversary about 5 years ago. But, nothing much came of that. There wasn't much interest around at the time. It was all New Wave then. Anyway, we had a couple of rehearsals and played these festivals in Germany. Twenty thousand people at each gig! There were banners out saying "Welcome Back TYA!" Basically, it's by public demand. We would’ve been fools not to realize that people wanted to hear the band. I don't really know why. There seems to be a movement back towards the older bands now. It seems to be rampant in fact. But, I'm not going to complain about it.

How were you able to support yourself all these years?
I’ve been a working musician all the time. I’ve been doing gigs under the name of the Alvin Lee Band. What I did, kind of my backlash against the business was, I wanted to earn a living as a musician without the interviews and the media stuff. But, it was good for me. The fact is, it's kind of club circuit. I've toured America 12 times over the last 10 years. Thing is, nobody really gets to hear about it on the club level. You hit town and maybe there's a thousand people there, and it doesn't actually get out into the papers. It's been enjoyable. My ambition was to be a working musician, and that's what I’ve been doing. I think this is an opportunity to get back into the mainstream, and kind of carry on where we left off. But, we've all had our ears open for the last 15 years.

When you performed at Woodstock did you think it was a big deal?
Not really. It was a good festival. It was a big deal personally. I enjoyed it. It was a spectacular event. The main thing to me that made it different was flying in by helicopter. I had a safety harness on and was hanging out over a half million people. Not the kind of thing you forget easily. Actual playing wise it didn't seem that special. It was just basically another gig. Even after we'd done it, apart from being declared a national disaster by the government, it didn't seem that big a deal. I think the movie is what made it big. And, that didn't come out till a year after we played. In fact, we were doing 5,000 seaters a year after Woodstock, and when the movie came out we were kind of catapulted to the 20,000 seat bracket.

As I understand it, Sly and the family Stone and Janis Joplin were sandwiched between ten years after. Is that true?
I don't think that was the way it happened on the actual gig. It may have been that way in the movie. I think we played after (Joe) Crocker, possibly before Country Joe. The reason I have any memories of the Festival at all, apart from the helicopter ride, was we were about to go on, Cocker had played, and the storm broke, which is still one of the highlights of the Festival to me. (Laughs) God's own light show. The stage got flooded and there were sparks jumping around. In fact, nobody wanted to go on. They thought it was dangerous. There was a 4 hour gap. I took a walk around the lake and kind of joined in the audience as it were, which was great. I got to see it from the other side of the fence.

The groups and performers who played Woodstock were not as concerned with gimmicks and show-biz as many of today's performers are. You have to wonder how many of the people in attendance at Woodstock can relate to today's music.
We were called underground movement in those days. It was the time when we could get on stage and play in street clothes, like jeans and t-shirts. You didn't have to bow and do the show-biz kind of thing. It was pure, one hundred percent music. That was what it was all about. It was about the playing, and of course the extended solos, and the ten minute songs. It might’ve been self indulgent but it was a very healthy situation for a band to be able to play just the way they wanted to play. I think that attitude is what is interesting people today. It's a good healthy attitude towards music.

Youy knew both Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. What do you remember about them?
I held them both in high respect. Jimi Hendrix was a phenomenal guitar player. He was an innovator. There's lots of good guitar players but I think he was the one guy I actually couldn’t pin down where his roots were.

And Janis?
Janis Joplin and I used to get along pretty well. She used to call me "Babycakes" whatever that meant. She was great. To me she was like one of the boys. I never hardly thought of her as a woman. She was like an ass-kicking rock'n'roller, a lot of energy, a lot of power. I first met here at the Fillmore East. I think it was TEN YEARS AFTER'S first concert at the Fillmore East. We were supporting the Staple Singers and Janis. We all had a jam at the end. She was great. She turned me on to Southern Comfort--got me drunk as a skunk. I was watching the show from the wings, and saw people handing her bottles of the stuff. I saw here tip her head back and drink half a bottle. So I thought it probably was like Red Ripple, some wine or something. She came offstage and gave me a bottle and it tasted nice and sweet. I got very drunk. In fact, I woke up backstage at the Fillmore East about 2 hours later and everybody had gone home. I didn't even know the name of the hotel we were staying at. Some guy was sweeping up and I said, "Do you know where all the bands are staying?" Amazingly enough, he gave me three addresses and I found out where we were.

Do you like the term superstar?
Not really. No. I've always considered myself a musician. I was your actual reluctant rock star in those days when things kind of took off with TEN YEARS AFTER. I never felt comfortable being a superstar or a rock star. It's just something that people say. My idols have always been John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, the old blues guys and Chuck Berry. Those guys, they get to 60 years old and they're still playing. To me, that's what is important. Hopefully when I get to that age, I'll still be playing too.

© Gary James All Rights Reserved

 

 

 
 
 

Many Thanks to Ralf Langenscheid for his Promo CD of "About Time" 


 

About Time 1989 (Bitter Sweet)


For me this is another Ten Years After enigma, it's so damn good, full of energy and full of all the hope and promise that we fans had been waiting for. Was this to be the start of Ten Years After phase two? The door was open but once again it wasn't meant to continue .
All the moving parts were in place, the oil was added, and the fuel and the spark were all there, but the desire and camaraderie was not. The emotional fabric that once held the band together, has long since been missing, never to happen again with all four original members present. For me, it died long before the 1983 Marquee 25th anniversary performance.

Two songs by Leo Lyons made the final cut, the rest are all Alvin Lee compositions, and what the hell happened to Chick Churchill's contributions? Surely, someone in control of choosing the new material, mainly Terry Manning, could have and should have dumped "Saturday Night" and "Wild Is The River" as high school sophomoric / moronic bull-shit, and added a ten minute keyboard jam by Chick in there respective places.

Thus, this is the Ten Years After swan song, and it dies a death equal to that of One Last Cold Kiss by Leslie West and Mountain. It's easy to see the break, just read the song credits. Lyons / Crooks or Lyons / Nye / Crooks and in the other corner we have Lee / Gould - Lee / Hinkley or just Lee. The fact is, it's all about Alvin Lee. Looking back we are now able to see who the weakest link in Ten Years After was, and who brought his guitar but not his loyalty or passion to the project.

1. Highway Of Love - isn't about love at all, but about lust- instant gratification and burning up the rubber. It is a rocker, it is good, and it is enjoyable. Only the guitar work is burning up time, the last minute or so is a waste, at least in audio terms. On the video it works much better with the visuals of a concert hall.
2. Let's Shake It Up-- same as above. It reminds me of Gonna Turn You On, from Rocket Fuel. It also is good and works great, but again too long for my liking. Alvin has a new sound in these two tracks, a kind of flat guitar pick, close to the string bridge, that creates a hollow squeal sound….and Alvin uses that effect when ever possible on this cd.
3. I Get Shook Up-- is a nice change of pace for sure, yet typical of Cricklewood Green or Sssssh side one, two rockers gets you the slow number on the third track recipe. A good song on its own merit, but misplaced here. It should have found a spot at number ten and ended with Outside My Window.
4. Victim Of Circumstance-should be in third position and followed by Working In A Parking Lot, but that's just my impression. Victim, is a great song, as it has all the working elements going for it-truth-anger-frustration-and a thumping rock and roll beat on which to ride comfortably along on. When Alvin says, I'm gonna write my MP (member of parliament) and say "what the fuck's goin' on," he means it. The same applies to the line "I get the shit they get the chances, I get to walk they get to ride". The passion and conviction is right on the money! Way to go Alvin-About Fucking Time!
5. Going To Chicago-a nice bouncy little tune, with a nice change up in tempo now and then. Would make a good sound-track for a blues player biography. The layers of guitar work (or over laying guitar work) works very effectively, thus giving the song a real authentic feel and down home feeling about it. It's different, it's off beat for a TYA song, but it works very well indeed. The downfall is the rhyming….Alvin is the master of the lame cliché and empty talk.
6. Saturday Night--even Cat Stevens singing about Another Saturday Night and he just got paid, is more impressive and tells a cute little story. This piece of worthless SHIT, rubbish, mull….is right up there with the best of the Bay City Rollers….how this ended up on any Ten Years After album is beyond me…another bad / sad mistake for sure. This song alone just ruined the rest of the cd, it killed the momentum and the spirit of hope for the band and for us fans…so long Alvin…it's been fun but now your killing us with this Half-Assed Crap!!! It's long overdue for Alvin to move on, if for no other reason than to save the band, he has to go.
7. Bad Blood-having to follow the last song is not an easy task, to say the least, but by the end of Bad Blood you've shaken off the bad taste and rotten feeling that led into this masterpiece. The tone is solemn, not pleading, but about a man just relaying the facts of a very unfortunate situation and his honest opinion and emotions about his situation. The song comes in slow with a sinister riff that pulls you in and won't let go, kind of like a quick-sand pit, the more you listen the more you want to squirm, and if you move you're over your head and dead. It's a rock and a hard place and "you can't help being born with bad blood". The last production of a long hard line, Alvin sings, gonna rise up, gonna tear you down-some souls ain't for saving can't help being born with bad blood. Right Right, You're Bloody Well Right you are Leo! A strong song and one of the few to hit the mark of excellence on this collection.
8. Working In A Parking Lot-is my personal favorite as I could relate to the situation. Where Alvin's song Victim Of Circumstance leaves off, this song is Leo's appropriate reply. I'm sure it's a matter of coincidence and by no means intentional, but it's so ironic that these two founders of Ten Years After came to the same conclusion having been on the same road for so long. These two songs alone speak volumes. The music is urgent, powerful and driving. Ric's use of a cow bell in the beginning sets the tone that this is to be a unique rocker with a message. Chick's keyboard work is clean yet gutsy adding the right flavour. The song has such a strong groove that it's a real shame it has to end at all. I could imagine this song as the albums opener and main theme while incorporating the other material into the mix…it could have been the Ten Years After concept album.
There's also another observation that needs to be pointed out. All through their career there has been four members, but so many times in their photo shoots Leo, Ric and Chick are shoulder to shoulder close together, and Alvin is always at a noticeable and intended distance from the other three. Look at the cover of "About Time" and it's unmistakeably apparent, Alvin is at arms length away from the others.
9. Wild Is The River (The River Of No Return) -Alvin says in the lyrics "for me there'll be no turning back" and "I have seen the writing on the wall it's telling me it's time to go" and "all I know is that a change is for the better and for me there'll be no turning back".
10. Outside My Window--the blues turns power ballad in the late 1980's. The words ring true but the soul is washed away between all the slick background extras. These extras soften the blues feel into mush and pop. Although Alvin's guitar work and vocals stay respectable, the overall feel is that of KISS doing BETH. It's very nice, it works somewhat but so what? In the final analysis it comes across as filler fluff and looses everything it was attempting to build up, and simply falls flat on its face out of sheer boredom.
11. Waiting For Judgment Day-starts of rocking right out of the gate, but because of Alvin's vocals and uninspired rhyming it becomes mediocre preaching-dooms-day rhetoric. But the music is fantastic! Remove Alvin's vocals and lyrics and it's Ten Years After rocking into the 1990's sounding better than ever before, and I'm one hundred certain that's the exact message, image and statement they were shooting for. Bulls-Eye!!!

In Conclusion:  This is a tough one.
On one hand this recording is inspired, on the other it's Ten Years After "NOW" working with their session musician and hired hand Alvin Lee. As a long time fan, it was a welcomed release, not only the music contained therein, but release from the Alvin Lee syndrome.
Although the band attempted to force a couple of short lived tours around Europe, the writing was on the wall for all to see…and has been since 1974's release of "Positive Vibrations".

Not a bad way to end the "Classic Years" with Alvin Lee. It could have been much worse. It could have ended tragically, like Lynard Skynard or the Allman Brothers Band. Or it could have just faded into rust like the Merry Pranksters famous bus sitting in an Oregon corn field. But that's not the TYA we know and love, they're survivors, rock and roll survivors, Woodstock icons, living legends.

Alvin Lee may have bailed out before the final chapter has been written, and the final curtain call and bows have been taken, but that makes no never mind at this point. Ten Years After rocks! Ten Years After rolls on!

Leo Lyons captured it best: "sign read welcome to view, I got no view at all, looking out the window, staring at the wall, if I could see 'round corners things would look real good".
Leo Lyons, Ric Lee and Chick Churchill have finally turned the corner, and things are looking real good!

Review by Dave

 

 

 
  

 



 

GOLDMINE MAGAZINE, FROM OCTOBER 6, 1989

ABOUT TIME 

 

Although several of the reformed rock groups recording and touring the country in this reunion year also played at what has become 1989’s big commemorative event, the 1969 Woodstock Music And Art Fair, only one remains primarily identified with the event. The Who and Jefferson Airplane both played there, but it is Ten Years After, a band that broke up fifteen years ago, that will always remain tied to its extended treatment of lead guitarist Alvin Lee’s “I’m Going Home,” as shown on the split screens of the Woodstock movie released a year after the event.

A closer examination of the band’s career, however, reveals that that performance, while not unrepresentative of the group’s music and concert work, gives us only a small reaction of Ten Years After’s importance to rock history. And with a new album, aptly titled “About Time” and featuring the group’s four original members, there may be some history yet to be written.

 Ten Years After originally appeared in clubs in London as part of the ongoing blues revival that had already given birth to the Rolling Stones after having been founded by such figures as Alexis Korner and John Mayall.

Alvin Lee, born December 19, 1944 in Nottingham, and bassist Leo Lyons, born November 30, 1944, in Bedfordshire , were childhood friends who grew up together in Nottingham. Both were playing by their early teens, combining American blues and jazz influences, and Lee even backed John Lee Hooker at the Marquee Club in the early 60’s.

In 1964, with Lyons playing drums, (not true at all according to Leo 2007) they performed in Hamburg, West Germany and elsewhere in Europe as “Britain’s Largest Sounding Trio.”

Back in Nottingham, under the name “The Jaybirds”, they acquired Ric (no relation to Alvin) Lee, born October 20, 1945, Staffordshire as drummer, from “The Mansfield’s” in August 1965. In 1966, they moved to London, where they picked up work in clubs as well as accompanying the play “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” and touring as backup group to the Ivy League. By November, they had been taken on by manager Chris Wright, whose agency with Terry Ellis, named Chrysalis ( Chris / Ellis), would have a major impact on their career. They also acquired keyboard player Chick Churchill (born January 2, 1949, in Flintshire). (not true as Chick was born in…)

 After a single gig under the name “The Blues Yard”, they became “Ten Years After”. In the spring of 1967, they were overheard by the Marquee Club’s manager, John Gee, playing Woody Herman’s “At The Woodchoppers Ball.” This led to a residency at the influential club and to the band’s signing to Decca Records, which would release their recordings on the new “Progressive” Deram label.  

The group’s first, eponymous album was released October 27, 1967, featuring both standards like Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and originals by Alvin Lee. It didn’t chart, and neither did a one-off single, “Portable People” and “The Sounds,” issued in February.

 For so active a road band, it was appropriate that their second album, “Undead”, was recorded live, at Klooks Kleek Club. Featuring “At The Woodchoppers Ball,” “Summertime” and  “I’m Going Home,” it was recorded August 16, 1968 and issued September 21. In Great Britain, the album reached number 26, while in the U.S. it got to number 115.

By this time, the band had begun to tour the U.S. at the behest of Bill Graham, who arranged gigs at his Fillmore clubs. By the time of their demise, they would claim to have done more U.S. tours – 28 – than any other British Invasion Group. Alvin Lee now claims more than fifty U.S. tours himself.

The touring would affect Ten Years After’s U.S. popularity drastically, but the influence of America – especially the psychedelic influence which also had its impact on the band’s music, as can be heard starting with their third album, “Stonedhenge”, recorded from September 3rd to the 15th 1968 and released February 22, 1969. Continuing the group’s gradual sales increase, it peaked at number 6 in the U.K. and rose to number 61 in the U.S. 

 A contract negotiation saw the group signed directly to Chrysalis, which licensed their records to Decca. In later years, when Chrysalis became a record company, many of  Ten Years After’s albums would be reissued on that label.  

In June, the group recorded a new album, “Ssssh” and then returned to the U.S. to tour, hitting the festival circuit. They played on August 15th and Ssssh issued the same month became their biggest selling hit yet, reaching number 4 in the U.K. and number 20 in the U.S.

Their next album was “Cricklewood Green, a slight return to the blues, albeit psychedelic blues, which was issued in April of 1970, again going to number 4 in the U.K. and hitting number 14 in the U.S. with a single,

“Love Like A Man,” which reached number 10 in the U.K. but only got to number 98 in America.

 With the release of “Woodstock” the movie in August of 1970, Ten Years After became a major concert attraction, though its relentless schedule was beginning to hurt the quality of its record releases.

“Watt” was issued in December of 1970, and got to number 5 in the U.K. and to number 21 in the U.S. indicating that, despite Woodstock, the bands record sales were levelling off. The band then took three months off the road to prepare its next album, which would be its first under a new contract with Columbia Records.

“A Space In Time,” featuring a more electronic sound and more reflective songs from Alvin Lee, was issued in August and became Ten Years After’s biggest U.S. seller, going gold by December and producing the Top 40 hit “I’d Love To Change The World.” It was to be, the band’s commercial peak. 

 Deram picked this exact time to issue a compilation of unreleased British tracks, called “Alvin Lee & Company,” which reached number 55 in 1972. The bands official follow up was “Rock & Roll Music To The World, and was issued in October of 1972 and only got to number 43 – followed closely by their “Recorded Live,” album (known as the official Ten Years After “Bootleg”) and was released in June of 1973 – it reached number 39.

 At this point, the group took six months off for solo projects, among them Alvin Lee’s album with Mylon LeFevre , entitled “On The Road To Freedom,” which reached number 138 early in 1974. And by that point, Ten Years After was in the studio once again, but by the time they’d finished recording “Positive Vibrations,” they had all decided to disband, playing a farewell gig on March 22, 1974, at the Rainbow Theatre in London.

Not surprisingly, their final album only reached number 81. The following year, Ten Years After reformed for a single lucrative U.S. tour in July and August, and that was it.

 Most visible since the split has been Alvin Lee, whose bands, including one called “Ten Years Later,” have put out albums periodically. There have also been periodic Ten Years After compilations, and in the last year Decca has issued the first three albums on CD, while Chrysalis has put out the rest, so that the band is one of the few 1960’s acts to have its entire catalogue in print and on CD.

 And now comes “About Time,” which, on a July day in 1989, brought Ten Years After’s  four original members (plus their manager Derek Sutton) together to sit in a hotel room in front of “Goldmine’s” tape recorder and talk about their past, present and future.

 Goldmine: Let’s start at the period in 1966-1967 at which the band got the name Ten Years After and signed to Decca Records.

Alvin Lee: Originally, it was the Jaybirds. That was the band with me and Leo. For a short period, we were called the Blues Yard, (for only one or a few gigs at that) then we decided that tied us down to one kind of music too much. The first happening thing in London was the Marquee residency and that’s when we decided we needed a name to take us through into the 1970’s as it were. Ten Years After has got no real meaning, it’s just a nice phrase. It’s not particularly 10 years after anything. We did realize that by accident it was 10 years after Elvis Presley became famous, to us in England, anyway. But we were nearly called “Life Without Mother”. That was the second one / choice.

Ric Lee: Yeah, it could have been worse.

Alvin Lee: (no relation to Ric) I quite like that, actually . So, the name was picked and the Marquee residency led—it was the situation in those days where we were getting a good name on the club circuit in London and we got approached by Decca Records. Did we want to make an album? And I think we were one of the first bands to actually make an album first, because in those days you used to make a single and if it did any good then they’d let you make an album.

Ric Lee: (no relation to Alvin Lee) Funny thing about that was we did an audition for them a few weeks before, didn’t we?

Alvin Lee: We actually did an audition for Decca and failed it, and then they called us up a few months later and said, “We want to make an album with you.” We just got hooked up with the wrong A&R man when we did the audition.

Goldmine: Tell me about Mike Vernon, the producer of your first three albums.

Alvin Lee: He was kind of an in house producer, to be honest he wasn’t that active. He turned up and helped out. He wasn’t a great force. He admitted himself that he didn’t really understand what we were trying to do.

Ric Lee: Mike was a very pure blues fanatic.

Alvin Lee: Yeah, he was a pure blues fanatic, and remember the “blues boom” that John Mayall started? That was probably the turn-around for Ten Years After to take off. Because I’d been brought – my father used to collect chain gang songs, very ethnic rural blues stuff, and of course, for the occasional one o’ clock set in the morning when you do three sets a night, we’d do a bit of the blues and a bit of jazz; there was no real outlet for it. And then, when the blues boom happened, suddenly I had a whole list of, a repertoire of great blues songs which I could start putting in the set.

Ric Lee: Plus the rock `n´ roll, Little Richard stuff we’ve always loved.

Alvin Lee: Right, in other words, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, early Elvis, and blues.

Goldmine: The reputation of the band was always that it had a much more diverse set of styles than many of the blues bands of that time.

Ric Lee. I think that’s the different people in the band. As Alvin just outlined his influences, mine were jazz, like Joe Morello, Buddy Rich, those types. Leo’s were Scott La Faro in those days.

Alvin Lee: Bill Black and Scott La Faro!

Ric Lee: He was the bass player with Bill Evens. Scott was killed in an automobile accident very early on, unfortunately…and Chick Churchill’s influences were, Oscar Peterson, and that area, and I think when you put those four influences together, that’s why you get the amalgam you get.

Alvin Lee: I did used to like Count Basie quite a lot too, I think the swing thing we all came together on that.

Ric Lee: And George Benson, before anybody ever heard of him.

Alvin Lee: And Brother Jack McDuff. At that time, when we were teenagers in the 1950’s there wasn’t really that much, apart from the blues and very ethnic R&B, before we’d heard of Chuck Berry. We were mainly listening to American swing jazz for our inspirations. So we had a four-piece band and we were playing Count Basie numbers, which didn’t sound much like Count Basie, but our own style came out of it. And “Woodchoppers Ball” was a Woody Herman song. In fact, we used to do backing work and back cabaret artists and when they went off waving, we used to play “Woodchoppers Ball.” And sometimes we’d carry on for five minutes and go down better than the orchestra we were backing.

Ric Lee: We actually got two gigs out of that, on our own, just on the strength of doing that as a play-out song for another band. But we used to do it at a rate of noughts’ as well. It was about fifteen times faster than Woody Herman!

Alvin Lee: I remember John Gee suggested that we do a concert with Woody Herman and play “Woodchoppers Ball” together. I said, “I don’t think that’ll work, somehow!”

Goldmine: Tell me about Ten Years After, the first album.

Alvin Lee: The first album was, in fact, basically our live set. We didn’t have to think much or write anything. And the album, I think, was recorded in two days, one of those situations where you record the song, and say, “Thank you,” and they don’t even let you listen to it, and then you just went on to the next one.

Ric Lee: We had a problem with “Help Me,” didn’t we? We were trying to get the atmosphere of that onto the album. We did about three takes of it, and the third take was really happening. It’s a very, very slow number. It’s very difficult to get the feel of it in the studio as opposed to live. And we came back and the tape operator had wiped the first one clean – (erased it altogether).

Alvin Lee: I’ll tell you, it was 10 minutes long; they weren’t used to long numbers, and what they used to do was record one number on this side of the tape and turn it over, and record another number on the other side. And the two overlapped, because we used to do long numbers. We were the cause of them stopping that particular way of recording.

Goldmine: Did you have any problem moving from being exclusively a live band, to now doing studio recordings? 

Alvin Lee: Oh, yeah. Straightaway, the technicians then weren’t used to – you couldn’t go in with four Marshalls. It was un-heard-of. They’d think you were a maniac and they’d always get you to play through smaller amps. So we had a hard time just getting our own sound happening, because they encouraged you to play quieter. Also, they want you to do the backing track and then they go back and you overdub the vocals. The first time I’d done that…lose a little of the feel by doing that, too.

Ric Lee: Also, drum-wise, you’d only have probably two mikes live, one overhead and one on the bass drum, which tends to get a better balance across the kit, on the top of the kit, on one mike, if you place it correctly. In fact, I found out, Terry Manning who was just on the new album, (Ten Years After – About Time – as the bands producer) was telling me that he engineered the Led Zeppelin 3 album, and John Bonham insisted on having two mikes on the kit when he recorded. He said, “I’ll get the levels, you place the mikes to get it right.” Which I think accounts for the drum sound he got on the albums.

Alvin Lee: That’s right, you’ve got to control your own dynamics.

Goldmine: I assume, being in the studio for the first time, though, this was the sort of situation where, pretty much, the engineers were setting things up and more or less telling you.

Alvin Lee: Yeah, they just said, “You just play and leave the rest to us.”

Ric Lee: Which is your first mistake.

Alvin Lee: And from doing that, then we started to experiment ourselves, and take more time and get more complicated , which finally leads up to the situation today where some bands take a year to make a record. We never got that bad. I think that eight weeks is a maximum. I’ve seen a lot of bands, you get through two albums and you’re doing your live set, you record your live set, then you have to start writing new material and often you can see bands start to droop a little because you’re playing stuff you’ve had in your set for five or six years, and it’s very rehearsed and very tight, and basically you just play it and it’s recorded as it is. But then you get to the point where you’re writing material and you play and you want to hear it back and see how it sounds. It gets to the point some bands start writing in the studio, which is very dangerous, because it can go on for months, that way. The first two albums were easy, then you have to start thinking.

Goldmine: You had to go from being a band that played primarily cover material, to being one that played primarily original material. Was that a natural transition for you?

Alvin Lee: It was, really, but as I say, when you’re on the third album and suddenly you need eight new or ten new songs, you can do a couple of covers and then try to write the rest yourself; that’s a vast departure. I think on the first album I wrote about three or four, maybe five, (one of which was co-written by Chick Churchill, and one by engineer Gus Dudgeon), which is not to hard. When you have to come up with a whole album concept and everything else…

Ric Lee: It must also be difficult to get stuff with a band that’s got as diverse influences as we had then, getting stuff that suits everybody to play.

Alvin Lee: It was trial and error, to be honest. We were experimenting a lot in the studio. We’d say, “Let’s try a country-style number,” “Let’s try a slightly funky number.” We weren’t saying, “This is definitely our music.” Was the second album Undead? (asked Alvin).

Ric Lee and Goldmine: Yes

Alvin Lee: That was recorded live at Klooks Kleek and I remember when it came out I was delighted. I heard it in L.A. when we came here on the first tour (1968 – Fillmore West) and I thought, “Well, that’s it. What can we do? That’s everything. That’s probably as best as I’ll ever play.” I thought it really captured the band at its best. And I kind of had an inkling that there were going to be problems in the future recording, because what was on  those two albums encompassed everything the band could do.

Goldmine: Up to that time

Alvin Lee: Yeah

Goldmine: The next album, “Stonedhenge,” sounded like a movement in the band’s sound to different kinds of things.

Alvin Lee: That was the first experimental album, and also the influence of the West Coast. The San Francisco thing, the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, were already creeping in there, with the strange sound effects and oddities going on.

Ric Lee: That was the album, also, we all did a separate track, which was a bit of a giggle.

Leo Lyons: Twenty years later, perhaps, not so much of a giggle!

Goldmine: It was very much in keeping with the times.

Leo Lyons: Yes, it was

Alvin Lee: Absolutely.

Ric Lee: (speaking to Alvin) They tried to get you to do a mini-opera at one point, because the Who were doing it. Didn’t they?

Alvin Lee: Yeah, it was mentioned. I think it was good that everybody had a little chance in those days to do something special, and different, as well. What we were doing with those albums, because of the psychedelic kind of influences, you record different songs, but then you try and tie it together and make a concept, so you make the whole album like a “trip”. So that one side would be a twenty minute piece, although it may be five or six different songs in it, and we’d link them up with sound effects and try and make a little adventure out of it.

Goldmine: One of the things too, that was happening at this time, in a career sense, that I note, is that you finished a contract with those three albums.

Ric Lee: No, the contract was for six albums. The other three were on Decca, as well.

Leo Lyons: To a certain extent , you’re right, because there was a production company that came in between, so it was the formation of Chrysalis Productions. When we got a production deal with Chrysalis  between us and Decca, we were allowed to record whenever we wanted to, with a budget. Prior to that, we were told when to record, how long we were recording, and more or less we had to record at Decca studios. So we moved over then to an independent recording studio called Morgan Studios, and it’s now called The Workhouse. And that was an eight track. So the “Ssssh” album was the first one that was done on the eight-track. So Ssssh for us was the turning point.

Goldmine: By this point, also, the band was growing in popularity. Did that put greater pressure on the band? Ssssh came out just after you played Woodstock.

Alvin Lee: Woodstock was not a particularly – it was an event, obviously, we were aware when we arrived. But we weren’t ready for any event, it was just another name on the date sheet.

Ric Lee: We’d done a bunch of quite large festivals. It was just another festival.

Alvin Lee: In fact, we weren’t even that aware that it was that different when we left there. Obviously, it was special, but we weren’t aware that it was going to be remembered so strongly. Had it not been for the rain storm, we’d have probably flown in by helicopter, played, and gone out again within two hours and probably would never have even seen it. But we were about to go on and the rain storm broke. There was no way anybody could play with the sparks flying up on stage. The rain storm was actually the highlight of Woodstock for me. I thought it was better than all the bands. There’s no way half a million people can run for shelter, so they just sat there and started singing, and I took a walk around the lake and kind of joined in with the audience and experienced it first hand, which was good.

But we didn’t play that well at all, because when we finally did go on there was a lot of brouhaha, because nobody wanted to go on first due to the risk of shock, and I think we took the plunge eventually and said, “Oh, what the hell. If we get electrocuted, we’ll get good publicity.” And we went out and actually had to stop playing during “Good Morning Little School Girl” and re-tune because of the atmospherics. The storm had done so many changes in the atmosphere, the guitars went way out of tune. I actually had to say, “excuse  us, but we’ve got to stop and re-tune.” The audience didn’t seem to mind; they were just having fun anyway. But it wasn’t particularly a good gig, playing wise, we didn’t rate it at the top. It’s all in retrospect that it’s such a huge event.

Goldmine: One of the things, obviously that had a big effect was when the Woodstock  movie came out a year later.

Ric Lee: I think the pressure probably came then.

Goldmine: Was there a reaction immediately after the festival?

Alvin Lee: Not at all. We went on for a year playing the same three to five thousand seat venues. When the movie came out, we suddenly shot up from 5,000 seat venues to 20,000 seat venues.

Leo Lyons: I think what happened with the movie was, it opened up all the small towns in between the large towns we were already playing.

Alvin Lee: It crossed us over to the masses rather than a cult following thing. It was the end of the underground. A lot people say that Woodstock made Ten Years After, but it only catapulted us into that mass market and in a way it was the beginning of the end. Going into the ice hockey arenas, where you can’t hear much, the sound’s terrible, you can’t see the audience, it wasn’t that much fun and it was a decline of enjoying touring as much as we had done previously. Also, the sad thing about Woodstock it seemed it was the peace generation all coming together, and then they all went back home again, and never got together again, as it all dissipated afterwards.

Goldmine:  By talking about Woodstock, we’ve skipped over the next album, Cricklewood Green, which almost shows a moving back towards blues or a more basic sound.

Alvin Lee: It was still experimenting, but I suppose we did start looking for our roots. We didn’t want to get too far from the roots. Cricklewood Green had “Year 3,000 Blues.” “I thought that was quite an innovative song at the time, a blues based on living in the year 3,000. Automatic bloodhounds chasing people. 
Leo Lyons: I think by the time of Ssssh and Cricklewood Green we’d been exposed, quite overexposed, to the American drug culture of the time, too and I think that had an influence on the albums.
Alvin Lee: On Cricklewood Green, at one point, “Working On The Road,” which is still one of my favourite songs, actually, the tape slurs. It slows. Somebody leaned on the tape machine when we were recording it, and nobody even noticed at the time! So that gives you a clue as to what state we were in. Producers, engineers and band, no one noticed it.

Goldmine: There’s also a fair amount of quieter music that you play on these albums, Ssssh and Cricklewood Green, and the next one, “Watt”, and in some cases slower music. I wondered if that was a reaction since there was so much writing about the speed at which you could play.

Alvin Lee: Yeah, I was kicking against that criticism. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have done that, but in those days I hadn’t quite got my professional opinions sorted out, my own attitudes. I was having a few personal problems. I was starting to become marketed, and I felt like a box of cornflakes, and I wanted to be known as a musician and not a pop star. Now you’ve brought that up, that’s the first time I’ve realized that was the period that started. And probably I wasn’t too aware of it at the time, but I was definitely having thoughts in that area.

Goldmine: Part of the effect of the Woodstock film was to separate you out as a celebrity apart from the group.

Alvin Lee: Yeah,, we had always been a communal band, and I was trying to kick against that to some degree. I was actually trying to de-escalate the “getting famous” aspect.

Leo Lyons: Which probably made it even worse.

Alvin Lee: Also, you’ve got to remember, for the idealistic 1960’s, it was also very un-cool to be rich and famous. It wasn’t one of the things we were striving to be. We were striving to be credible musicians, much more than trying to be pop stars. I’ve never wanted to be a pop star, it was never an ambition, and it seemed to be happening, and I was kicking against it. I was kicking against the criticism. People were saying I was just a flashy, fast guitarist that didn’t really have any taste and couldn’t really play, and that was upsetting me. So I suppose that was all coming into the music.

Goldmine: One album that stands out is “A Space In Time”

Leo Lyons: Well, that was a new contract. That had a lot to do with it.

Alvin Lee: Ah, but remember, we’re talking of working on the road, which was the Ssssh album, “Working on the road for fifteen years, blowing my mind and blasting my ears” (Working on the road is from Cricklewood Green), and I was basically saying, “It’s time to take a break.” And I was campaigning for a break, because in those days, we would do like a ten week tour of America, come back to England for three days, then do a five week tour of Germany, then another three days off, then onto Scandinavia and Italy, and after that somebody say, “You’re in the studio next week for the next album.” And I was writing songs in the taxi on the way to the studio, and not really having any time. Watt was definitely suffering from no time to write. In fact, even the original title –  was suppose to be called “WHAT” and not “WATT” – but it came out as the latter.

Leo Lyons: Ten Years After What, wasn’t it?

Alvin Lee: I eventually dug my heals in and said, “I’ve just got to have some time.” And I wanted six months off, which was ludicrous. I think it ended up being about three or four months off. It gave me time to sit down with the acoustic guitar and write some good songs, and I think “A SPACE IN TIME” was the culmination of that. A bit of time and there was the space to write A Space In Time ! 

Chick Churchill: That was why it was called that, is it? I never knew.

Alvin Lee: I think “A Space In Time” is still my favourite Ten Years After album, because we had time to work on it. “I’d Love To Change The World” was that on “A Space In Time?” asked Alvin.

Goldmine, Ric, Lyons, and Churchill: Yeah

Alvin Lee: I was embarrassed about that song because I don’t like preaching in music. I like music to be apolitical and I thought I was maybe pushing my luck. To start off, I was criticizing freaks and hairies in the first line, and I thought, “ I’m going upset a lot of people with this song,” and I very nearly didn’t even put the song forward. But it was a good song and it’s a good job I did in the end. But I don’t think it’s a typical Ten Years After song. In fact, we never have played it live.

Sutton: Much to the management’s disgust!

Alvin Lee: The record company would come to the gig and say “When are you doing your hit?” And I’d say, “We don’t play it.” “What? I said, “What’s the point? It’s a hit already.” But, you know, it was evident that people didn’t come to the concerts to hear us play the records, they come for the whole emersion in the live concert thing.

Goldmine: Is there a point here where there’s a diversion between the albums and the live gigs?

Leo Lyons: Very much so, yes

Ric Lee: Yeah, Right

Alvin Lee: What album was “Choo Choo Mama” on ?

Leo Lyons: The live one.

Chick Churchill: Live.

Ric Lee: No, Rock and Roll Music To The World.

Alvin Lee: And that was the one after “A Space In Time” and after the “I’d Love To Change The World” and we didn’t play it live. After that embarrassment, (Columbia Records president) (Clive Davis) actually picked a song, I don’t know which one it was…

Chick Churchill: “Tomorrow I’ll Be Out Of Town.”

 Leo Lyons: “The Positive Vibrations” album you mean. What a wonderful title.

Alvin Lee: A very inept title, in fact. That was the least positive thing we’d done.

Goldmine: I guess the band had broken up by then.

Ric Lee: It almost didn’t get finished.

Alvin Lee: Of course we were also going through the Country House Syndrome there. We all had nice houses in the country and were starting families and things like that and there wasn’t really that much will to go out and sit in the Holiday Inn for six months.

Leo Lyons: Funnily enough, there were one or two tracks on the “Positive Vibrations” album that I quite liked, some of the rocker tracks. The Little Richard number, “Going Back To Birmingham,” I quite liked that and one or two others.

Alvin Lee: Also, the other syndrome of a band breaking up was that we were all building our own home recording studio’s and nobody wanted to go out and play, we all wanted to stay in and make our own music. I think it’s a natural thing to happen. I think we just weren’t communicating. We’d just spent all those years working together and I think quite naturally we all just drifted apart a bit, and started to find other interest besides the band.

Sutton: That tour you did, that 1975 tour, was a very big tour, and then you just stopped touring.

Alvin Lee: We were just bribed into doing that tour. We had broken up by then, we were just bribed to go and do one more.

Sutton: But it was enormous and it was a huge tour, and then you stopped touring, and it was not like a lot of other bands, where it gets worse and the audiences get fewer and then suddenly it falls apart.

Alvin Lee: I think in a way, it was quite fitting that we finished then, because we were always very honest. It was a very honest band, there was no bullshit, no hyping, and really, the honesty was going out of it, and we got disenchanted with that. We were going out and playing automatically. I think I started quoting the band as being “a travelling jukebox.”

Goldmine: I think “honesty” is a good word here, because it would be natural that there would have been pressure on you (Alvin) to hire some people and call it Ten Years After and go out there.

Alvin Lee: Yeah, it was suggested at the time.

Goldmine: You called the band Ten Years Later.

Alvin Lee: Yeah, but that was considerably later, anyway.

Ric Lee: That’s because I sued him! (Laughter)

Goldmine: There’s a long time between that break-up and now.

Leo Lyons: Fourteen years. The positive thing of Woodstock – we’ve talked about all the negative aspects of it – is, that is probably the reason why we’ve got the opportunity, in many respects, to be able to start all over again.

Goldmine: What brought about the reunion?

Alvin Lee: It was sparked off by a German promoter who called me up and said he’d like to book Ten Years After, the original band, for four festivals in Germany, which was last summer 1988, which then prompted me to call `round the guys, and say, “How about it!”

Goldmine: The new album, “About Time” came out on August 22, 1989. Is there a tour?

Alvin Lee: Yeah, it starts on October 1st U.S.A. 

 

Article Written By William Ruhlmann

 

 

 

Ten Years After – „About Time“ 1989

 

Ten Years After are back, fourteen years after their last album release. The original line up of guitarist and vocalist Alvin Lee, bassist Leo Lyons, keyboardist Chick Churchill, and drummer Ric Lee remain intact, and under the guidance of record producer Terry Manning, who is best known for his work with the famous ZZ Top, Ten Years After resurfaced with a killer of an album.

Manning has brought Ten Years After right into the late 1980’s with a fresh new sound and eleven “hook – infested” songs, all of which are written by the band.

“About Time” is an album full of potential classics. You’ve got the rockers like:

“Let’s Shake It Up” and “Victim Of Circumstance,” the blues epic “Bad Blood”  along with the jazz influenced “I Get All Shook Up”.

All the other tracks are equally strong and of high quality, making them more than worthy for radio airplay. One of the jewels in this crown called “About Time” must be guitarist / vocalist Alvin Lee, who gives a positively dazzling display of fret-board magic. In this world, full of Yngwie clones and all on one big speed trip, Alvin Lee may be a forgotten hero of yesterday, but he plays with soul, and that’s something the latter modern guitarist seem intent on missing out on.

Ten Years After have returned in a fashion worthy of success, something which I wish them with this new album.

I strongly recommend that you buy this album.

 

By Steve Brown

 

 

 

Ten Years After – About Time Review 

From Raw Magazine – By Malcolm Dome – 4 Stars Top Rating Given

 Strange as it may seem, I never liked Ten Years After. Yet they played seminal Blues Rock, the sort of music that shaped my tastes, and they operated between 1967 and 1975, the period when I was most susceptible to influence. Still a brief history lesson: Ten Years After featured guitarist Alvin Lee, drummer Ric Lee, key-boards-man Chick Churchill and bassist Leo Lyons (who some may recall has also produced bands such as UFO and Magnum). They played at the legendary “Woodstock Festival” in 1969, and made a huge impact on subsequent generations. Now they’re re-united once again. And they produced a quite brilliant exposition in high tension Blues, that successfully manages to be both a contemporary statement, yet also holds firmly to its roots. Under the production guidance of Terry Manning of ZZ Top and Molly Hatchet fame. Ten Years After have returned in sharp shape and flaming at the frets. This is mightily impressive stuff from veterans who sound so fresh, you’d have thought they’d just been plucked from the meadow. The songs certainly have a ZZ-Top feel, but then that’s almost a given.

Manning’s tight involvement, besides this comes across just as the album ZZ-TOP should have made after 1983’s.

“Eliminator” !!! We get the tyre – screech of “Waiting For Judgement Day”. The wailing flamboyance of “Highway Love” and  candlelit sensitivity of: “I Get All Shook Up” the ballad-ish carousing of “Outside My Window”…a veritable cornucopia of flashing guitars from Alvin Lee, (perhaps the original high speed master), sonic reduction rhythms from Leo Lyons and the other Lee, (Ric)…and nicely stated keys from Chick Churchill. “About Time is proof that reunions can be worthy. It’s a vital, valuable album – that comes Highly Recommended !

 


 

 

 

 

 

From November 23, 1989

Ten Years After – Life After Death

The Ritz, New York City, Staten Island

Article by Sylvie Simmons

  Who would have thought it ? Ten Years After, seminal 1960’s Rockers, do a comeback tour (like every other bleeding seminal 1960’s Rockers this year) having only played together as a band once or twice in the past fourteen years, and they play a show tighter than Rod Stewart when it’s his turn to buy a round ! And bursting with energy like they’re a bunch of sixteen year old boys on testosterone overdrive rather than a band who played “Woodstock 1969” for Christ Sake, twenty years ago it made my ears bleed, my fingers twitch and my old heart soar.

The last time I saw guitar legend Alvin Lee play was at the execrable “Night Of The Guitars” thing in 1988, where (Leslie West aside) his flying fingers, shooting like amphetamined  meteors up and down the guitar, he woke me up after an hour of terminal boredom. It boded well; but what about the others ? Weren’t they selling Tupperware – Door to Door after the band called it a day in the middle 1970’s ?

Still, the comeback album, “About Time”, promised fine things too. As Malcolm Dome said in his review, “It sounds like the album ZZ Top should have made after “Eliminator”. It does onstage too, though without the dancing and the beards.

 Live Ten Years After completely forgot about plugging stuff off the new album, until five or six songs into their set, and launch into chunks of their back catalogue. A hell of a back-catalogue it is: this lot were not only pre-NWOBHM, they were pre-Old WOBHM, back when it was still called – “British Blues Rock”.

“Hear Me Calling”, off of a twenty one year old album, is ace Blues Boogie, shuffling along in the gutter like a happy tramp and then launched with a slippery-fingered guitar solo that sounds so easy. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”, is a pile-driver of a Rock Riff, and sounds, well-dirty. It’s played with more balls than a herd of bison, and Alvin Lee flies off onto some astral plane of guitar-diddling. He hasn’t lost it at all.

But such serious finger massacre calls for slowing down and we do get some blues, featuring a tasteful and definitely non-parpy keyboard bit from Chick Churchill, like a beefed –up bar piano. Ric Lee’s drum solo a bit later is similarly no-nonsense, no upside-down platforms and lasers, just a muscular jungle beat.

Alvin’s long guitar solo, meanwhile, is an axe aficionado’s dream: gritting his teeth and pumping out power, thwacking it with a drumstick, giving it a drubbing on the mike-stand, taking it higher and higher until you think you’re going to witness the first ever self combusting Gibson.

There’s not much more to say, except that, Ten Years After still sound great, and you can’t even get pissed off that they only did two encores (well, how can you follow “Going Home” ? )

When they’ve played for an hour and three quarters ?

    

 

Ten Years After In Concert At The Ritz, New York

It’s been fourteen or fifteen years since Ten Years After last played in New York, or played in America for that matter. It’s only one year less since they last played at all ! Back together again with the original line-up and a brand new album, called (Appropriately Enough)  “About Time” to promote one thing is clear: Ten Years After are not trying to cash in on past glories.

Some things, of course haven’t changed. Alvin Lee still grimaces the way he used to lower jaw jutted out, mouth turned down sharply at the edges, and still regularly lets rip with those bluesy , jazz-tinged  solos peppered with fluid, rapid fire clusters of notes that stamped

Ten Years After with a different hallmark to most others of their ilk in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

But far from sailing a wave of nostalgia, Ten Years After are picking up where they left off, and also with a detectable determination  to prove wrong any cynics who might think that

Ten Years After in 1989 have nothing more to offer than playing a back catalogue of favourites to audiences who remember them from the last time around.

A major success of “About Time” is that the band have succeeded, in the difficult task of coming up with some modern sounding material whilst staying true to their roots. And when playing live the fact that it can at times be difficult to distinguish between the old and the new prevents the band suffering the kind of “Schizophrenia” that can easily arise from playing songs separated by twenty years or more. Though it may be fairly safe to assume that the new songs: “Let’s Shake It Up” – “Bad Blood” – “Victim Of Circumstance” – are the main sources of enjoyment as far as Ten Years After are concerned, and understandably it is their “Classics” that are perhaps the most warmly received – such as “Love Like A Man”, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and in particular, the still epic, frenetic “I’m Going Home”.

But rather than the “Oldies” being churned out in an off-hand, crowd pleasing manner, they are characterised by an injection of the sort of energetic chance-taking improvisation that is sadly lacking these days outside of the blues and rhythm and blues idiom.

“Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” is typical of this approach, whereby the guitar and bass interplay between Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons builds steadily from exploratory stabs to full blown jamming – superbly executed and genuinely exciting. Plus a song that I didn’t catch the name of, but introduced as: “An Acid Blues” though loudly echoing the late 1960’s and early 1970’s turned out to be a hypnotic tour de force performed with admirable style.

  Ten Years After are certainly not the new kids on the block, and they are more or less doing what they’ve always done. If there’s any surprise, it’s that fifteen years on, they are probably doing it as well as they ever have.

By Paul Henderson

     

 

 

 
 

About Time Reviews – What The Fans Say:

This is a fantastic album. I bought it following a live show at the Old Hammy Odeon in London after Ten Years After got back together in 1988. It really captures the flexibility of the band moving smoothly from rock and roll to blues through the genius of Alvin Lee’s exciting fluid guitar work. I do not like all of Ten Years After’s 1960’s compositions, many of which now sound dated, but this album is instantly recognisable as Ten Years After, but is also very modern.

Gene Cooper

 

This album has some great songs that are well worth listening to more than once. The “Highway Of Love” and “Working In A Parking Lot” come to mind. I have yet to listen to an album since the Beatles, where every song is a hit and I enjoy listening to the whole album.

I rate it as a good album

Lance Bruce

 

This album came out at the perfect time and every song is great. Alvin’s guitar work is right on. The song selection is a very good variety of work. It could be perceived as more commercial than their work in the past, but it’s still Ten Years After style and sound.

I recommend this to any Ten Years After fans and those not familiar with the band and wants to listen to good blues and rock `n´ roll.

Brad Wilson

 

As good an album as any before. Why hasn’t this cd gotten more notice? “Working In A Parking Lot”, is the best rocker ever by them. It’s worth buying the album just for this cut.

Play it at Ear Damage Level.

Drew Hines

 

 

Bad Reunion Album – Two Stars

This is a reunion album from 1989. All four original band members are here. It’s fifty four minutes long. The sound quality is good, but not excellent. The album cover looks cheap, but there are liner notes. Ten Years After’s last studio album (Positive Vibrations) was released in 1974. The group did get together and play concerts many times in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

But this is the first studio album to be released in the last fifteen years.

This is one of those embarrassing reunion albums, where the group tries to mould their sound to the musical taste of the times. Here, Ten Years After tries to sound like Van Halen or one of those other corporate rock bands of the big hair 1980’s, like Bon Jovi or Y & T.

Instead of playing blues, or blues influenced rock, Ten Years After tries to play hard rock / pop. Many of the songs are just bad. Worst is that Alvin copies the guitar tricks that were created by Eddie Van Halen and others popular during this time.

There are three good tracks where the band reverts back to their old sound, but they are just mere copies of earlier work. Those songs are, “I Get Shook Up” – “Outside My Window” and “Bad Blood”. On Bad Blood, there’s an organ line that sounds like it came right out of the eighties, from some band like “YES”. Ten Years After have a number of great live albums that are worth searching out. Unfortunately, the band has been doing the same live shows for decades, with only a few minor changes to play one or two songs from their latest studio album. But, is still worth seeing.   

Ten Years After’s  1989 album “About Time” their swan song album, peaked at number 120 with a Titanic anchor tied around it, out of the top 200 records of that period.

 

 

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