Artist: Alvin Lee & Co.
Album: Live at the Academy of Music, New York, 1975
Label: Rainman Records
Release Date: 10.27.2017
I remember the show like it was yesterday. Alvin Lee was best known for his work with Ten Years After—blistering guitar solos throughout, and some great interplay with his bass player Leo Lyons, who was able to match Alvin note for note.
However, in 1975 there seemed to be a change in music. Bob Dylan’s breakaway backing band, The Band, seemed to have influence on everybody; Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos, Little Feat…this music seemed to be the flavor of the day, and the so-called music industry felt that was the direction Alvin should go. At this time, Alvin had a studio at his home he called Space Studio, and he always wanted a band similar to the Stax house band, with Booker T Jones, Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper. Alvin Lee and Co. seemed to be the answer.
I remember going to the Academy of Music show and talking to my friend Roger Raymond, who worked for London Records, the label that broke Ten Years After in the USA. We were both looking forward to seeing how Alvin was going to pull this off. The band consisted of some name-brand players: Ian Wallace on drums, Mel Collins on saxphone, Ronnie Leahy on keyboards and Steve Thompson on bass.
As Alvin walked on stage to a big ovation, you could also hear the calls for many of the Ten Years After hits. (Alvin, even with Ten Years After, never would play their biggest hit, “I’d Love to Change the World,” live.) After Alvin broke into the music—which consisted of all new music to the audience at that time—he quickly won over the crowd with “Got to Keep Moving,” “All Life’s Trials,” “Percy Roots,” “Money Honey” and “Ride My Train.”
It was great to be at the show and to revisit it on this CD. Alvin Lee & Co. shows a different side of Alvin Lee, and without doubt it is worth giving this release a good listen. Alvin Lee has done his part in saving American music.