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Guitar Techniques – Alvin Lee – 2004

Ten Years After were a British blues / rock outfit comprising of Chick Churchill on Keyboards, Leo Lyons on Bass Guitar, Ric Lee on Drums, and the highly regarded Alvin Lee on Guitar. Sounding not unlike Jimmy Page on amphetamines, Alvin quickly earned a reputation as the fastest guitarist of his day – bearing in mind that this was back in the days before Yngwie – bashing came into vogue, such a distinction was still meant as a complement. If you are a fan of players like Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, or Tal Farlow, you might justifiably point out that people had already been clocking up similar note-per-second statistics for decades.

Alvin’s main selling point, however, was that he brought these levels of technical proficiency to the arena of blues / rock, and that his playing always had an exciting, high-energy feel which many argued set him aside from many of his more cerebral predecessors in other musical spheres. As the band’s name suggest, Ten Years After drew much of their inspiration from the first generation rock “n” rollers of the 1950’s (Much as the Stray Cats did, ten more years after). So it should come as no surprise to learn that this track is a good old fashioned I – IV – V, 12 bar blues in A. Fine track though it may be, we couldn’t justify devoting a third of GCTD and about half of the magazine to a full rendition of the classic live version (The rendition I have goes on for whopping ten minutes!) So I have tried to strip things down to the sections that seem most typical of Alvin’s style. Therefore I omitted the following: The sections which quote other rock “n” roll classics – the chorus where Alvin is beseeching us not to step on his blue suede shoes springs to mind, for instance.

Soloing sections which pay tribute to other players (Much of the end section seems to be a sort of Chuck Berry pastiche). Choruses where there is no guitar playing at all. What you will find in the transcription, however, is a fine collection of Alvinisms  suitable for use as rapid – fire repeating licks, along with a number of different rhythm approaches which will prove handy for any up-tempo 12 bar in A. In a live context, the most faithful way to arrange the track would of course be to keep things loose, using eye contact (and any similar means of intra-band communication that work for you) to bring the dynamics of the track up and down as dictated by the response of your audience. Listen to the original version, and you will doubtless agree that this was the approach taken by Ten Years After!

Scale – Wise, we’re largely using the trusty Am blues scale:

A  C   D  Eb   E   G ------- 1 – b3 – 4 – b5 – 5 – b7





French Magazine JUKEBOX - September 2004





It has been said that guitar wizard Alvin Lee of Ten Years After fame, was paying homage to

“Sun Records” in his searing rendition of “I’m Going Home” which the band performed live at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. While there is no way to substantiate this claim, the dynamics and style of this number certainly are reminiscent of the reckless abandon that was on display during the early rockabilly years. What is verifiable is the direction that Alvin Lee has taken in recent years, with his recording of “Alvin Lee In Tennessee” that was released in 2004. It was recorded in Memphis, together with his childhood hero and living guitar legend Scotty Moore, who is known for his excellent guitar work on the early Elvis Presley recordings, done at Sam Phillip’s studio, at Sun Records.





STRAY – SPEAKS – 2004 Interview by Kate Moore:

Del Bromham guitarist with the legendary British rock band called “Stray”. Stray once was on tour with Ten Years After as supporting act. That was a long time ago, about 1971 if my memory serves me correctly says Del, but I remember it as being great fun. I was much younger back then and Ten Years After were a hugely popular band at that time. I had seen them at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and I was at the Hyde Park free concert series when they played there in 1968. The icing on the cake though, was the day we played at the Vienna Opera House, we had just finished our sound-check and Alvin Lee came up and started jamming with us. I was a very different person then, young and insecure and decided to play piano and let Alvin play guitar. Now-a-days, I wouldn’t think twice about picking up my guitar and jamming with someone like him. Alvin and his wife invited me over to their house, that was really a mansion, after the tour, but unfortunately I was out on another tour and never did get back in contact with them. That was one of the biggest regrets of my life, because Alvin was recording in his home studio, called “Space Studios” with my heroes George Harrison and Ringo star, with a host of others too. The other thing I remember about the tour with Ten Years After, was that Alvin seemed pretty much on his own. Shall we say, that there didn’t seem to be much dialogue going on between him, drummer Ric Lee and keyboardist Chick Churchill. They still played great though!

How do you feel about Ten Years After carrying on without a key member?

This is a tricky one, because I’m split down the middle between being a musician and being a fan. What I mean is, if you have supported a band, particularly if it’s been for some time, and you have all those good memories and an association with their music, then if a band should continue, it’s great if it’s the same original line-up. But, unfortunately life is not that simple, there are so many factors to take into consideration. I have found people don’t like change, but what are the remaining band members supposed to do?

I had a similar problem a few years back when I was going back on the road under the name “STRAY”. The original line up had played some shows. Nostalgia is a great place, but I wouldn’t want to live there! It was apparent for various reasons that it was not going to work out in the long term. I was being offered more shows, but was feeling a little uncomfortable about using the name STRAY, until my publisher, David Howellis said to me, that in any other job, what I had done was like an apprenticeship and there were people out there who wanted to see me play and hear the old songs. That really convinced me it was the right thing to do. So, yes I do think these bands should reform if they feel the desire. They must be self-critical because on the other side of the coin, I have seen a couple of reformations that come over more like tribute bands. As far as Ten Years After are concerned, if Leo Lyons had asked me if I was interested in standing in Alvin’s shoes, I would have given it a go. I’m sure their new guitarist has given Ten Years After a new lease of life. Good luck to them.

As I mentioned earlier, that I had jammed with Alvin Lee during the sound check at the Opera House in Vienna. After this I was talking to him and his wife. He asked what I was doing now and that they were thinking of going to the cinema to catch a film before show time. So, Ivan Mant, one half of our management partnership, was with me at this time and all four of us went off to find a cinema. We found a little cinema, but when we got to the box office, Alvin realised that he had very little Austrian money with him. I believe they had just been to Japan so he offered the lady at the box office Japanese Yen. Anyway, we got in like any civilized human beings going to the cinema, and Alvin’s lady bought the boiled sweets to have a suck of. Now, this is where you have to take a step back and picture the scene.

No disrespect to him now, but back in 1971 Alvin Lee was right up there with the guitar heroes, like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. So, here is me (Del) 19 years old, sitting in the back row of a little cinema in Austria with Alvin Lee, but here is where the scene gets really surreal, what was the film we were watching? It was a Charlie Chaplin film, in subtitles, “The Great Dictator”. His film about a little Austrian gentleman better known to the world as Adolf Hitler! Priceless!

Interview by Battttty – February 2004




September 2004

Leo, what are your three most memorable Ten Years After concerts?

“My most memorable gig ever played, historically it would have to be Woodstock (1969) but there have been many landmarks in my career. It could have been the first show at the Marquee Club London or playing Madison Square Gardens or the Budokan, Tokyo. I’m lucky to be still playing and the shows I played last week are just as memorable for me.”

From Jazz News

By Stanislav Malyarchuk  END



2004 September, French Magazine JUKEBOX


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