Enter Ten Years After::
and Emotional……Says It All:
TEN YEARS AFTER –
Released October 27, 1967 (as Deram SML – 1015)
Their self titled
first album – What’s missing is exactly what makes this
album so perfect.
Producers: Mike Vernon / Gus Dudgeon
Dudgeon – who later went on to become the producer of
”Space Oddity” and a large portion of Elton John’s hits.
remembers: “That Gus Dudgeon had been in the engineer’s
chair at Decca studios when, ironically, we had failed an
audition there some months prior to making this first
album”. Similarly, we had auditioned for BBC Radio about
the same time, which was another route into the business.
If you were on radio, the record companies and publishers
would hear you and get interested. Just as with Decca, we
failed our audition for the BBC in the same glorious
afterwards however, at an all-nighter at the London
Roundhouse, John Peel, a respected BBC Radio One DJ, saw
us, around three in the morning, on a bill with the Jeff
Beck Group. From this show, John, became a champion of the
group and invited us to do sessions for his show, which we
did and that increased our popularity enormously.
So much for
Mike Vernon: Our
producer Mike Vernon, at that time a staff producer for
Decca which is Deram’s parent company, was also producing
John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac. An avid blues fan, Mike
persuaded Decca to sign us, following our unique
performance at the seventh annual Windsor Jazz and Blues
Festival where we had received a standing ovation for our
- I Want To Know
- I Can’t Keep
From Crying Sometimes (Al Kooper)
- Adventures of a
Young Organ (Churchill)
- Losing The Dogs
Lee / Dudgeon)
- Feel It For Me
- Love Until I
- Don’t Want You
- Help Me (Sonny
- Portable People
- The Sounds
- Rock Your Mama
- Spider In My
- Hold Me Tight
Two years before
their performance at Woodstock 1969, the band released
their debut self titled album. It was fresh, raw,
passionate and left the listener feeling exhausted after
the last track called “Help Me” was finished. What the
album represented was the high energy of their live set
at that time. All they had to do was go into the studio,
get it down on tape.
Mike Vernon, formed the Blue Horizon Label. This in order
to provide him with an outlet for his beloved blues music
and now the entire catalogue is very collectable. In the beginning
the records on this label were primarily sold by mail
order, this was back in 1965-1966. In the spring of
1967 Fleetwood Mac were signed on to Blue Horizon Records,
which in turn prompted a sensational distribution deal
with the major record label CBS.
Ten Years After,
were four unknown lads, from some still unheard of – dirty
murky industrial town / city located in the Midlands of
England – where soon after, Ozzy Osborne, “Black Sabbath”
would also be formed. Jon Lord from Deep Purple and Stevie
Winwood came from this same area of England.
According to Ric Lee: “Ten Years After”, our first album
for the Deram label, released on vinyl October 27, 1967,
and was a collection of studio recordings of our live set.
THE REAL REVIEW:
- I Want To Know
Right from the start this song is an outstanding
toe-tapper, more of a jazzy swing number with a blues
base and an intense rocking guitar riff, with plenty of
tastefully played guitar solos included. There’s also
some great, but very muted piano work by Chick
Churchill, although his organ interludes are short burst
of sporadic fills that resemble Alan Price’s work with
the Animals. The bass sounds like simple plodding along,
but in fact is essential to the overall feel and
emotional texture of the song. The drums are as strong
and as brash as the guitar work, but yet subtle, as they
don’t obstruct Alvin’s nasally meek / high vocals.
Special Note Of Interest:
This song was written by Paul Jones,
front man for the 1960’s rock band “Manfred Mann” who’s big hit at that
time was “Do-Wha-Diddy-Diddy” (Dum-Diddy Do”) and the
famous “Mighty Quinn the Eskimo”. Later on they also hit it big with
“Blinded By The Light” as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did a
cover of this song that was written by Bruce Springsteen
and appeared on his “Greetings from Asbury Park” album. In
1977 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took this song right into
the number one position.
Paul Jones is now the host of BBC 2
radio show. But back during the time his
“I Want To Know” song was written, he was going through a
divorce, so he needed to disguise his real name for credit
on this tune. Thus the Paul Jones pseudonym is McLeod.
According to Ric Lee: “We found “I Want
To Know”, together with “I Can’t Keep From Crying”, and
the archetypal Willie Dixon number, “Spoonful”, while
searching various blues compilations for material to make
up our live sets.
These tunes, together with a selection
of other stuff, were first played in a bedroom at the
Madason Hotel, Sussex Gardens in London, where we were
living at the time, in a vain attempt to secure a record
deal by auditioning for a small time A & R scout from
Island Records. He wasn’t impressed. As I recall though,
our performance was quite remarkable, considering that the
A & R guy and the four of us were cramped into a largish
bedroom; the drum kit squeezed into a corner and the amps
and speakers balanced on beds”.
- I Can’t Keep
From Crying, Sometimes 5:34 (Al Kooper – The founder of
Blood Sweat and Tears)
According to Ric Lee: “I Can’t Keep
From Crying”, has of course, since become a Ten Years
After standard. This recording, made while the song was in
its Ten Years After infancy, is much more mellow than
subsequent recordings and Alvin’s guitar influences, Wes Montgomery and George Benson shine
As powerful and potent as the first
song was, to kick off this album, this song is just as
strong in its execution. Quietly sinister, murderously
hypnotic and as disturbing as getting a cold shower right
in the middle of a hot one.
Alvin’s voice is more suited to the
quiet numbers as he is more able to control the
sensitivity through his subtle vibrato, thus emphasizing
the emotional sincerity of the number. A weepy blues song,
pleading for his baby’s return and missing her right down
to his soul. From the break of day until the sun
disappears for the last time from his sight, the sadness
just grows deeper, more real, and the pain in his heart
and soul never seems to end.
But, what makes this song so intense
and heartfelt, is in the music itself.
The lyrics are poetry, and can stand
alone. The music is there to support the lyrics but not
intended to add anything directly to the message. The
music reinforces the feeling of loss, and adds no comfort,
respite or resolution to the song.
The bass and drums are the heartbeat –
Chick’s organ work and Alvin’s fluid guitar intensity,
represent the emotional tide that ebbs and flows between
tears, loss, and the terrible unknown. Pacing the floor,
thinking, regretting and praying down on your knees, tears
are endless, loss is horrible – you can hear it and feel
Then, it’s Chick’s organ that brings
the entire piece back together once again, Alvin’s vocals
are now resigned to the loss as he continues to plead and
relate the sad story.
The song fades away uncontested. It
began sad and ends the same.
- Adventures Of A
Young Organ 2:37
Even the title shows Chicks quick wit
and humour – it reminds me of Dylan Thomas’s book
“Adventures in the Skin Trade.
Chick’s chance to shine, a solo exercise, sounding like
some Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and a little Monk thrown in
just for good humour. Ric does a good job in a supportive
role. Chick and Alvin are a cohesive little unit here, as
everyone just jams right along effortlessly – which is the
entire point – floating along, unrestrained. Just fun and
According to Chick Churchill: “It began
with me just “Nooding” the basic theme and then Alvin
added some more ideas”.
Eric Clapton and “Cream” covered this
song in 1966, one year before this Ten Years After album
was released. It would be very easy to praise, and stick
to the old mantra of “Clapton Is God” but we’re here to
praise “Caesar” as it were, so what about Alvin Lee’s
interpretation? How does Ten Years After respond to a
cover version of this number?
In short: As if it were their own
composition. Alvin’s guitar work is so raw, and fluent.
His vocals are smooth, yet strong and soulful. Ric’s
drums have an excellent echo-e sound to them, and that raw
sound really makes it all come alive. One thing of note, the song is not too
long to make it tedious.
- Losing The Dogs
A bouncy chain gang song, with an
upbeat tempo. A little fun ditty. A rather happy tune that
relates a relatively sad story. Every time I hear this
song it reminds me of
Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s
farm no more. It’s an amusing well done tune,
infectious and guaranteed to lift your spirits and set you
off running first thing in the morning. A shuffle, a driving beat – whistling
meant to give it a down home feeling, very effective.
Gus plays tambourine and Chick plays a
“Jangle” piano; which is an upright piano on which the
hammers were adapted by sticking drawing pins into them,
so that when they struck the strings, a brassy, jangling
sound was emitted.
The Lyrics Say:
“Well you’re working for the boss man
all day long, the trouble with my life is that I lived it
wrong. Got to loose the dogs to keep running on. When you
wake up in the morning baby, I’ll be gone – I’m gone.
They’re never going to get me on the (County Work) farm
again, cause´ I ain’t working like a dog – ain’t working
Don’t know why I bother, boy, don’t
know why I care – the preachers been to see me, I’m going
to the chair – see if I care – burn me up. No more work for me man, I don’t care –
I’m going to the chair.
One fan states the following:
“This album was their best ever due to
the beautiful freshness in sound and attitude, which has
Another fan says:
“The production is just as muddy and
dizzy as the album cover itself. All the better I say, as
this really delivers the raw, honest, effect of a very
young, happy, energetic and powerful band, just letting
loose and getting their kicks. Unlike their later
recordings that were much more produced and sometimes
almost too polished.
- Feel It For Me
A catchy song, that is really very
short but makes use of every minute. Alvin’s guitar work
is excellent and so prominent as it drowns out everything
else being played. Chick Churchill’s talent and
contribution on this number is totally wasted here. Ric
Lee does an excellent job of providing the necessary tempo
for Alvin to work off of. Meaning, Ric is to be given much
credit for refraining from cutting loose here, and playing
very economically…that is what is needed for the proper
feel and intensity.
Ric Lee says: “Feel It For Me” is a
rudimentary blues riff behind Alvin’s lyrics as is “Love
Until I Die”, which is a variation on the “Crossroads”
riff. Some very impressive harp blowing by Alvin, which is
the focal point of this track.
- Love Until I
This is the shortest song on the album,
and that’s a real cryin´ shame. As it has all the
ingredients of a great song that you’d wish would never
The main riff is from Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues”.
Seems that Alvin is being overtly obvious about his
attraction / infatuation with Eric Clapton’s playing and
his work with Cream. This will also be apparent in the
next song as well.
- Don’t Want You
This song takes it’s driving and
recognizable melody from the traditional blues. Eric
Clapton uses the exact same chords on his version of “Hey
Hey” on his unplugged version. The mood is relaxed,
nonchalant, laid back, with a definite front porch, down
home Mississippi / Louisiana feel to it – rocking chair
/shot gun / guitar approach.
Ric Lee: “Don’t Want You Woman”, is a
Big Bill Broonzy style tune written by Alvin on which he
plays acoustic guitar, Leo plays an upright string bass
and I play snare drum with brushes. Chick sat this one out
on this album, although when we did the tune at the
Marquee Club one evening in an “acoustic spot”, he played
good old “steam” acoustic piano”.
- Help Me (Baby)
I Can’t Keep From Crying and Help Me
are the essential “TEN-YEARS-AFTERISH” Anthems. Raunchy, Raw, Funny, Witty,
Uncompromising and Damn Memorable. As rock and roll is meant to be – good
booze, bad women – sex drugs and rock and roll, 1960’s
From Ric Lee: “The final track from
the original recordings is the Sonny Boy Williamson
classic “Help Me Baby”, which we always refer to as “Help
Me”, as per the title here.
John Gee says in his liner notes for
the vinyl release in 1967, that the track was “recorded in
one take in a studio plunged in atmospheric darkness”. The
atmospheric darkness bit is true, but not the one take
part. We always recorded several takes of each song and
then chose the best. After struggling to achieve something
close to a live performance of this track, in the sterile
confines of the studio, we finally cracked it and left to
do some gigs over the weekend. Returning Monday, we
listened to the various takes, but somewhere along the
line, and due to the constant swapping of tape reels, a
portion of what had been decided as the “master” was
inadvertently erased. Frustrated and annoyed, we went back
into the studio and “banged-off” another rendition.
Whether the anger and frustration helped or whether it was
because we’d been out playing live over the weekend, I
don’t know, but the performance “happened” and that’s the
take you hear on this album”.
ROYAL SOUND STEREO
– TEN YEARS AFTER 1967 – SML-1015
JOHN C. GEE –
Manager of the Marquee Club – London England
This album was
described by one person I know as “Pretty Emotional”. He
had arrived in Studio 2 at Decca’s Recording Studios in
West Hampstead during a run through of the final edited
tapes, and quite obviously, to judge from his expression,
this remark was an understatement. But then you can’t
suddenly blurt out, “It’s bloody marvellous” or can you?
I almost did, but
then one usually tends to exaggerate and magnify in the
emotional heat of the moment.
reflection, I can say with complete honesty that this
album really is “Bloody Marvellous”. It is a notable
achievement by a group of musicians who feel so strongly
about their music that just about everything they play
bears the stamp of authenticity and integrity.
The production of
this LP was not only a lot of hard work – it was a labour
of love also, and everyone concerned, Mike Vernon, the
producer, Gus Dudgeon, the engineer, and of course, the
Ten Years After, is to be congratulated on a distinguished
first. And, if you’ll pardon the pun, they should all
receive some sort of “decca-ration” !
If this album is
your introduction to the Ten Years After you will
doubtless want to know the who, why, what and wherefore of
the group. I only wish I could give you some background
information about them, but the fact is every effort I’ve
made to delve into their musical pasts has been a waste of
I have heard it
rumoured that they met one night in a bus shelter in a
North Wales town and having discovered that they each
played a musical instrument, decided to form a group.
Rumour becomes pure fantasy when one is then assured they
were stranded in that same bus shelter for one whole
I first met them
one afternoon at the Marquee Club in the late spring of
this year. I was working away in my office when suddenly I
heard the strains of Woody Herman’s “Woodchoppers Ball”.
Seized with curiosity, I entered the Club and there on the
stage were these four guys obviously having a wild
(Woodchoppers ?) ball. To this day I’ve never discovered
how they came to be there, and I’ve never bothered to ask.
I know that I was wildly excited with their playing and
gave them a date to play at the Marquee. Since then they
have played several dates there and had audiences on their
feet screaming for “encores”.
At the 7th
National Jazz and Blues Festival at Windsor this year they
received a fantastic standing ovation from an estimated
crowd of 20,000 people. It was the kind of reception that
used to happen in those old Hollywood musical movies – a
kind of dream – except at the Windsor Festival it was a
dream come true.
I have got to know
the group pretty well over these past months, but even so,
the mystery about their past still persist. For example,
the organist Chick has no other name! He just can’t recall
ever having been called anything else but Chick! Leo
Lyons, who plays bass, did unveil himself to me in one
unguarded moment when he mentioned that he had worked as a
cowboy in several German “Western” – type movies. Ric Lee,
the dark, handsome drummer, wears a ring through his right
ear and, I suspect, has led a very Bohemian life !
Alvin Lee, the
lead guitarist and singer (no relation to Ric Lee) I have
discovered comes from Nottingham and nobody knows the
troubles he has seen – and nobody seems to care !
About their music
there is no mystery whatsoever. It is the kind of music
that only an old-fashioned square wouldn’t dig. It is
simple and compelling. It is direct and full of guts. It
is firmly entrenched in the Blues with a strong Jazz
basis. It is all these things but it is the genuine feel
about the music, above everything else, that distinguishes
this group from other similar groups – and the feeling
that communicates to every audience they play for.
Mike Vernon wanted
to break away from the usual type of material that the Ten
Years After perform on their club appearances, and
accordingly five original numbers were dreamed up for this
- I Want To Know
– is a brisk opener with Alvin taking the vocal. A
tremendous toe-tapping start.
- I Can’t Keep
From Crying, Sometimes – has an underlying riff that is
highly effective, and the whole thing has an Oriental
tinge about it. Note Ric’s urgent drum work on the
- Adventures Of A
Young Organ – is an original, whimsical instrumental
featuring Chick on organ and Alvin.
- Spoonful – has
a torrid Alvin guitar solo. Watch out for the coda which
is really wild!
- Losing The Dogs
– another original, has an unusual lyric contributed by
Alvin and Gus Dudgeon, the engineer, who also plays
tambourine. Chick plays jangle piano, and it isn’t
strictly for the birds!
- Feel It For Me
– another original, opens Side Two, and Love Until I Die
yet another original has some impressive and expressive
“harp” blowing from Alvin, and an apologetic ending, I
- Don’t Want You,
Woman – is minus Chick but has Leo on string bass, and
Ric on the wood blocks. Some delightful acoustic guitar
- Help Me – is
the old Sonny Boy Williamson favourite which breaks up
more clubs than the Move ever did. Here it is recorded
in one take in a studio plunged in atmospheric darkness.
Nine minutes plus of the Blues which sends cold shivers
up and down your spine. A truly great performance from
the Ten Years After.
UP-DATE: The new
re-mastered Ten Years After Album.
Mixed from the
original four track master tape by Paschal and Mark
Done in November of 2001 at The Audio Archiving Company –
Also some tracks were re-mastered and compiled by Paschal
Byrne in December of 2001.
production, tape research and artists liaison : Is Mark
Powell representing the Decca Record Company LTD.
co-ordination : Andy Street at Universal Music.
Thanks also to Ric
Lee for his valued assistance, photographs and
Of this their
first album, the following needs to be said.
In June of 1968
Ten Years After began a seven week tour of the U.S.A.
which was also the start of seven years on the road for
the band, with very few breaks in between. All of this
touring was due to the initial release of this album and
from word of mouth from the fans who were now getting
turned on to TYA and their unpretentious music and stage
The bands follow
up to this album is “Undead” a live album that basically
followed them to America and pushed them over the top in
1968, at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West first and then the
newly opened Fillmore East respectively.Ten Years After
would go on to make and release fifteen albums.
According to Alvin
“The first album
was, in fact, basically our live set. We didn’t have to
think much or write anything and the album was recorded in
“The album was
officially released on October 27, 1967 but Decca Records
only pressed one thousand copies of the LP and they sent
them all to the label’s Manchester branch, making it
unavailable in the rest of England for weeks.”
“At the age of
23, I realized that the giant record companies were not as
big as we thought.”
Alvin Lee: “When I left New York in the middle of August,
to return home after a nine week trip, I knew that it was
only a matter of time before Ten Years After would be one
of the biggest groups on the American Circuit.”