on 18 May 2002
I first heard this album in a car on the way back from playing a gig in Manchester and was totally blown away by it. At the time I had not really heard much of Ten Years After or Alvin Lee ( apart,ofcourse, from the demented live rendition of 'Goin' Home' at Woodstock)but was very much impressed by the inventive, colourful and fast guitar solo work. Being a fan of guitarists such as Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), Joe Satriani and Donal Rhoeser (Blue Oyster Cult), this album fitted very nicely into my collection.
'Rocket Fuel' has a much more rock defined sound than the earlier offerings by Ten Years After - this is probably because Alvin got to pick his own line up for the backing band Ten Years Later - as can be heard right from the start in the title track. Tracks 2, 5 & 7 (Gonna Turn You On, Ain't Nothing Shakin'& Baby Don't You Cry) are typical Alvin good time boogie numbers - upbeat and light with a sense of humour - whereas track 4 (Somebody Callin' Me) is definately a little more moody, leading as it does into The Somebody Waltz which is a nice stage for not only a more intricate playing style from Mr Lee, but also show cases the bass of Mick Hawksworth and the drumming of Tom Compton.Track 6 is 'Alvin's Blue Thing' and that really says it all.Track 3, however, is a much darker proposition with an almost schizophrenic twist between verses, choruses and instrumental bridges. The clincher on the album is the darkest of all though. The Devil's Screaming (track 8) could easily have been recorded in one of Dante's hells and has an apocolyptic feel all the way through leading to an end which is pure occult.
Although Alvin Lee doesn't have the best voice in the recording business, it suits all the material on 'Rocket Fuel' and the album as a package is a must for anyone who appreciates good guitar based combos and solos. Alvin Lee must be one of the most unknown and under-rated axemen of the past 30 years.