Album review: ALVIN LEE & TEN YEARS LATER – Live At Rockpalast

Repertoire [Release date 10.06.13]

Alvin Lee & Ten Years Later actually came 5 years after the dissolution of Ten Years After. It was essentially a virtuoso power trio who relentlessly toured The US and Europe and on this live DVD and CD are to be found still blowing up a storm in Germany, as back home all things turned to punk.

‘Live At Rockpalast’ finds the denim clad guitar hero Alvin Lee sharing a curious looking bill with Peter Gabriel and a latter day Paul Butterfield line-up in front of 10,000 wild fans who were obviously oblivious to the rock and punk divide.

TYL also marked a time when Alvin was still notionally moving away from his Tears Years After persona,  though the slight change of name suggests he couldn’t quite let go. However, It did mean cutting back on TYA material, with only the inevitable extended rock & roll work out of ‘Im Going Home’ and the equally live favourite ‘Choo Choo Mama’ featuring from his back catalogue.

That’s not to say he doesn’t still fire on all cylinders, because after all speed was always of the essence for Alvin.  And yet you suspect the fact he wanted to get away from his past had a debilitating effect on this band as it is self evident they are desperately lacking new material.

Take away the extended solos – most notably Tom Compton powerhouse drum solo which climaxes with him flying off his drum stool and Mick Hawksworth’s party piece on fretless bass, including the theme from ‘The Pink Panther’ – and you’ve accounted for a significant chunk of the show.

The two tracks from the band’s ‘Rocket Fuel’ debut album are little more than vehicles for yet more soloing, while the blues standard ‘Help Me’ finds Alvin playing harp and chording his famed red Gibson 335 with a drum stick. Next up is a rather pedestrian tribute to Hendrix with ‘Hey Joe’, before a belated brace of TYA favourites.

Alvin introduces ‘I’m Going Home’ with a brief burst of scat singing and momentarily reprises the ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ lick he played earlier on ‘Aint Nothing Shakin’,  before indulging in the kind of  rock & roll, ‘call & response’ routine he apparently was trying to get away from.

Not that the crowd mind at all, as they lap up the incendiary playing. And as the footage suddenly segues into ‘Choo Choo Mama’ Alvin leaps back to his early rock & roll years in Germany with The Jaybirds. The band tear into ‘Rip It Up’, which is climaxed by Hawkworth’s perilously throwing his bass in the air, before he makes a nicely executed recovering catch.

Two encores ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ are sandwiched between a full 5 minutes of the baying audience calling for more. They came, they saw and they sure rocked, but when the lights come up TYL are a bit like Chinese food which tasted good at the time but soon leaves you feeling hungry again. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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