on 1 January 2002
You can't write anything about Alvin Lee without saying that he was once the fastest guitar slinger in the west - whatever what means! Let's get this out of the way; he made his reputation by playing millions of notes a second at Woodstock with Ten Years After. About Five Years Later he wanted to move on, split the band, and performed at The Rainbow with some top sessions musicians, who sound as though they were his mates too. This double CD is the result. It now comes with 2 bonus tracks, recorded by what sounds like the same line-up at a later date, which add another 14.5 minutes. Pity really! because they don't seem to fit in with, or match, the stuff from The Rainbow. None of the 20 tracks from the concert extends beyonds 6 minutes, so Alvin keeps things chugging along, from Got To Keep Moving to a reprise of I'm Writing You a Letter. He seems to be trying to embrace all the (then known) forms of popular music, perhaps trying to find a style that suits him best, so you don't get fed up with one almost identical song after another, although most of them boogie along with a foot-tapping beat.Besides his own compositions, there are two backward glances to The Elvis Era, with versions of Don't Be Cruel, linked with Money Honey, and later Mystery Train, Slow Down and Keep a Knocking. Tracks include a fairly standard blues, Every Blues You Ever Heard, a wonderfully funky Freedom for The Stallion which is a showcase for Mel Collins's amazing saxophone, and a whimsical All Life's Trials. The majority of the rest of the tracks feature three backing singers up front, and catchy choruses that sound like they've evolved from jamming in rehearsal. There are none of the excesses that you might expect on a live album from the mid-seventies. Alvin isn't a great singer, but at least he doesn't scream. His intention to escape the guitar-hero tag is also a blessing, and behind him the rest of the band are clearly enjoying themselves. Having bought this double album shortly after it came out, I was delighted to find that it is now available again, and very good value - but don't be put off by the (original) cover. The main problem I'm having in writing this is that I can't think of anyone else who might have made a record like this. That six members went on to form Kokomo, or that many of them had previously been with Joe Cocker's Grease Band, doesn't really help. However, as long as you are looking for something that features real musicians, if you buy this CD you won't be disappointed.
on 1 March 2012
Have owned this since it's original release on vinyl. This ranks as probably one of Alvin Lee's best pieces of work and is well worth checking out, for those not familiar with it. It's not TEN YEARS AFTER, which, made this so satisfying . Great stuff.