Back on the road to freedom is Alvin Lee's best album for a long time but it's somewhat difficult to explain why. He's still playing that blend of blues, rock and country that he has been playing for years but this time the variations on a theme are a little more immediate than say, for example, Saguitar. Whilst that album sounded, at first listen, just another revisiting of a theme and then developed into something far more subtle and innovative after some careful listening, this one hits you straight away, but then it continues to surprise with every listen.
The title song doesn't exactly revisit the original On The Road To Freedom - rather it continues the story forty years later. The soaring guitar sounds the same but different, the vocals are certainly by the same man and he doesn't sound forty years older. In fact the track sounds as fresh as a daisy and it's much like reading the sequel to a good novel - when you've finished it you really are pleased to find out how the story ends.
The rest of the album doesn't disappoint and in many ways it reminds me of Ten Years After's A Space In Time rather than Alvin's On The Road To Freedom. There is a sense of somebody laying down tracks whenever the mood takes them and then developing them later - but only sometimes; there are tracks on this album that have definitely been stopped before they were finished and they are all the better for it. Imagine some of the pencil sketches you've seen by the great artists - not major paintings but still exquisite works of art in their own right.
I've deliberately not gone through the tracks on this album one by one because I think it is for the listener to discover the hidden delights that emerge after every play but I do recommend you don't switch it off after the final track because there is a hidden bonus right at the very end that is definitely one of the unfinished works of art.
Buy this album at all costs and keep on playing it again and again.