A lot of people pan this 1974 album, but this is Ten Years After returning to their roots -- and doing it superbly.
After Woodstock, everybody got Alvin Lee fever, but TYA'S sound was NEVER a one-man-act. I own all of Lee's post-TYA stuff, and he's never yet put out anything that can touch the TYA stuff as far as I'm concerned. Although "Zoom" is darn good.
That's because TYA was a BAND, where each individual player was a master of their own instrument and played their own material for each song, with the product jelling as music.
What's nice about this CD is that the mixes and arrangements allow each instrument equal presence -- just like it was on "Cricklewood Green" and "Watt" -- not consistently shoving the guitar out front, but making sure it's there when it's got the lead spot.
If I had to compare the sound and style of "Positive Vibrations" I would call it a mix between "Watt" and "A Space in Time" -- truly, two classic TYA albums.
It has the excellent timing changes within the body of songs like "Watt," and great use of acoustic guitar like "A Space in Time."
Bass, keyboard, and drums consistently play distinctive elements of the songs, not just background reference for the lead guitar.
Speaking of which, Lee's work on this album is -- there's no other words for it -- superbly tasteful. He's not trying to show off at all, but works his notes into intricate patterns that, again, are reminiscent of "Watt."
Although 1972's "Rock N Roll Music to the World" is an excellent album, the sound, mix, and production on that album was and is too Alvin Lee-focused, but with "Positive Vibrations" it is the band playing as the band again -- cleanly, and doing it well.
As for the lyrics, they're written with the same flavor and level of skill that any of Lee's other stuff ever was. I like them. He's a guitarist, not Wordsworth.
Anyway, if you listen to this album and think "Watt" and "A Space in Time," and enjoy TYA's jazz/blues rock fusion material, you'll find this album grows on you.
It is really very, very good, and it is a sad statement of the times -- then, and now -- that the legend of Alvin Lee's blistering fingers still overshadow the last great effort the full band put out in their original days.
If you dust this baby off, I think you'll find a true Ten Years After gem.
It does not appear to be remastered, however. Neither BGO's website, nor the CD make that statement. Only the Amazon.com description. But the sound is still excellent because the original was done properly.