The Righteous Empire is back! But unfortunately this is not a day for celebrating that, today I want to celebrate the life of one of my absolute favourite guitar iconoclasts, Mr Alvin Lee, of the solid band "Ten Years After" who passed away this week at the age of 68. The first time I heard the violent guitar wielding of Lee, I was 19 years old, watching the Woodstock vhs at a friends house in Scarborough Ontario. After listening to the repulsive, self-indulgent set by The Who, I was about ready to turn of the TV, when I heard the greatest 8 word intro in rock music, slightly slurred and cool as a cucumber, Lee humbly steps to the mic and utters... "this is a thing called.... I'm Goin' Home" Then before I knew what was happening, Lee was in the middle of the lightning fast intro riff of the tune, and just when I caught back up to the song, the rest of the band explodes into the powerhouse jam of the aforementioned song. For the entire 10 or 11 minutes of this menacing rollercoaster, with sudden bursts of energy, and cool calm reserve this song kept me glued to the screen and dead to my surroundings. The heavy driving bass of Leo Lyons chugging in the back and grooving to the tune could be the best element of this footage if it wasn't for Lee commanding the immense crowd with his righteous fretwork, but still deserves honourable mention, especially in the current pop musics limp bass players who simply follow the four chord progression of the common pop tune, playing with their little pick- which is an abomination of bass work, but thats another post altogether! So with Lee and Lyons controlling the front, there's Ric Lee on drums and Chick Churchill on the organ keeping the time and filling the air with the sweet tones of a Hammond B-3, all combined completes the quintessential rock sounds of that era, and does so with so much attitude that I actually felt cooler just listening to it!
After the dust settled and I regained my equilibrium, I made it a point to get everything this man had put to tape. Starting with "A Space In Time" was a pretty big misstep on my part, because nothing ever lived up to this record. I've got the entire TYA collection, but that slice of history has been in heavy rotation in my playlists for years! With an amazing legacy and a decadent contribution to the ranks of musical history, Alvin Lee has immortalized himself as a GUITAR GOD and is sure to leave his tones ringing in the ears of fans as long as the master tapes survive!
To commemorate Alvin Lee and Ten Years After I'm going to post one of my personal favourites "Live at the Filmore East 1970" that was recorded Feb 27-28 of that year, making it just over 43 years old, and just as relevant now, as they were then!
Thanks for reading, and I hope you dig the righteousness of this music as much as I do!
And just for good measures, and in case you haven't seen it, here's a link to watch "I'm Going Home" live at Woodstock