Friday, 15 February 2013

Ten Years After - Swing In 1969

I have always had a bit of a weakness for Ten Years After. The live album Undead recorded in May 1968 at Klooks Kleek in London is a classic late 60s British blues album and one of my favourites of the era. What separated TYA from Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack or the other late 60s British blues boomers was their ability to incorporate jazz. Count Basie's "I May Be Wrong, But I Won't Be Wrong Always"  and Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball" demonstrate a band who definitely had the chops and could really swing. Alvin Lee had had an easy fluid jazz style and more than capable support from Leo Lyons on bass, Ric Lee on drums and Chick Churchill on keyboards.

The problem with TYA, I think, was their lack of song writing skills. Nothing written by the band really stands out and, after they hit massive success with their guitar boogie onslaught Going Home in the Woodstock film, the band gave up playing jazz and lapsed into boogie rock cliche. Within a few years the band had foundered artistically and were playing the same set live year after year. Alvin Lee eventually got bored and quit.

This clip, however, is from November 1969, after Woodstock, but before the boogie rot had set in. The band are still doing a jazz tinged set. There is fluidity to Lee's playing and the Lee / Lyons dual solo during Good Morning Little Schoolgirl is really quite impressive. This band could swing.

Ten Years After at WDR Studios, Cologne.
01 I May Be Wrong, But I Won't Be Wrong Always
02 Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
03 Spider In My Web
04 I'm Going Home

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