Archive for Leo Lyons

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Ten Years After

Posted in Lost Classics!, Your Sister's Record Rack with tags , , , , on April 28, 2011 by 30daysout

Spent a few days without a working computer … it was a virus and thankfully not one of those fearful tornadoes. Anyway, we dip back into our own personal collection of “hippie” records and pull out this masterpiece, A Space In Time, the 1971 LP from Ten Years After.

We’ve covered this band once before, when we reviewed Cricklewood Green from 1970. There we posed the theory that by the turn of the decade Alvin Lee and company were looking ahead to take the music forward, along with similarly minded visionaries like Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and the Rolling Stones. A Space In Time reflects that vision – it’s a combination of the usual blues-rock workouts that Ten Years After was known for (“I’m Going Home” from Woodstock, for example) and acoustic, melodic songs side by side.

The payoff was, of course, “I’d Love To Change The World,” which was actually a hit for TYA.  I remember the first time I heard it on the radio, I thought it was Traffic. Pleasantly surprised, though, I learned it was an Alvin Lee composition like the rest of the album’s 10 tunes – except for the closing “Uncle Jam” which is credited to the entire band.

“One Of These Days,” which opens the LP, is a slow builder that is more typical of Ten Years After’s blues rock style. It’s a showcase for Alvin Lee’s brilliant guitar work, and he even blows some mean harmonica on this one. I’m a sucker for these late ’60s-early ’70s things with guitar, organ fills and harmonica – and it’s a lot more tasteful than, say, Humble Pie of the same era.

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Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Ten Years After

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by 30daysout

It’s always cool to hear artists perform songs that you’ve always known from listening to records.  I remember once seeing the Who in the Houston Astrodome, and when Pete Townshend hit those familiar chords to begin “Pinball Wizard,” I literally got goosebumps because this was a song I’d heard thousands of times on the radio and on record.   It’s even better when an artist or band plays a song you had completely forgotten about.

This was the case last year at the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, held at the Bethel Woods Center in New York.  Ten Years After took the stage, and although Alvin Lee is no longer their frontman/guitarist, the band is still pretty good.  They were doing some of their familiar blues-rock things (and saving Woodstock highlight “I’m Going Home” for last) when one of the band asked, “Anybody like psychedelic songs?”  It was an introduction to the song “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain,” from the 1970 album Cricklewood Green – which is the record we’re spinning today.

Woodstock happened in 1969, and the band’s performance of “I’m Going Home” at the festival and in the subsequent movie made them huge stars.  Ten Years After, led by fiery guitarist Alvin Lee, formed in 1966 – ten years after the first appearance of Elvis Presley, who Lee idolized.  TYA was a blues-rock band, in the style of the early Rolling Stones, and before the Woodstock watershed they made a minor name for themselves by touring Europe and the United States.  Their 1969 album Stonedhenge found them turning a little more experimental, but not really “psychedelic” (despite what the title implies) – the album featured some jazz and classical touches.

But when Cricklewood Green came out in 1970, TYA could now be considered a truly psychedelic outfit.  The eight songs that appear on the original LP were all written by Alvin Lee, but bandmates Chick Churchill (keyboards), Ric Lee (drums) and Leo Lyons (bass) apparently had a lot of input in the final sound of the entire record.  The result is a more comfortable and assured set than its predecessor, mixing the trademark blues workouts (“Me and My Baby”) with some songs featuring diverse styles (the rock shuffle “Working On the Road,”, the almost country-ish  “Year 3,000 Blues” and the ballad “Circles”).  Most likely, it’s the best album of the Alvin Lee years.

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