UPDATE: We have a winner! I gotta admit, the sheer number of Alvin Lee fans out there surprised me—and from all over the globe! People from Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, and Australia emailed entries! The man is definitely loved and missed. But the random winner generator (a big machine I keep in my basement, next to the still) picked someone a little more local—Reader Pam V. of Santa Fe, TX, is our winner. Congrats to Pam, and thanks to all who entered. -RS
Remember Ten Years After, the Brit blues band with the lightning-quick guitar player who got them hippie chillun at Woodstock up and dancing on the festival’s third evening? No? Well, let me remind you—
Now you remember, right? The guy doing the singing and shredding was Alvin Lee, who would lead the band for another five years, until they broke up over “creative direction.” Seems Lee’s bandmates were keen to take a lighter approach to their music—more in line with their hit “I’d Love To Change the World”—while Lee wished to crank up his amps and play the quick-fingered riffage that got the Woodstock kids all hot ‘n’ bothered.
As the band was coming apart, Lee got together with “Jesus rock” singer Mylon LeFevre in 1973 to make a largely country-rockish record called On the Road to Freedom. It’s one of the underrated albums of the era, a collection of mostly acoustic-based songs with a trove of guests, including George Harrison, Ron Wood, and just about everyone from Traffic. The title track, actually, sounds like a Low Spark outtake, with Steve Winwood’s distinctive keyboard work and percussion work by Jim Capaldi and Reebop Kwaku Baah. Lee also gets to cut loose on occasion, most notably on “Fallen Angel,” laying down a bad-ass groove and square off with Wood’s slide playing.
Lee followed up On the Road to Freedom with In Flight, a live double album that captured the essence of his concerts and enabled him to show off his hot touring band. It’s a mix of originals and covers, most notably the Elvis tunes “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Mystery Train,” played with a great, loose spirit. Think Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, with about half the personnel and a guitar player who enjoyed playing really loud and really fast.
Those two albums, plus 1980’s Free Fall, have just been reissued on CD by Rainman Records, with remastered sound and extensive liner notes. Popdose has all three, and we want to give them to you. Yes, you.
To have a chance to win, send me an email (one per person, please) with the subject line “Lee Me!” In the body, include your name and mailing address. I will pick one entry at random from the emails I receive by 5:00pm Eastern Time Tuesday, December 2. That person will win the three CDs. Also, since I and my colleagues here would rather watch Woodstock movie outtakes of hippies sleeping in mud, than share your information with others, I will personally delete all received emails after the winner is selected.
Best of luck!