Album review: TEN YEARS AFTER, THE BLUE AEROPLANES (Access All Areas)

Ten Years After - Access All Areas

Edsel [Release date 29.06.15] CD/DVD

Right up until his untimely passing in March 2013, Alvin Lee always bemoaned that he’d been typecast after Woodstock.  And this 1990 TV concert demonstrates that he still carried the albatross of ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’, ‘Love Like A Man’ and ‘I’m Going Home’.  These are all great songs but Lee found it difficult to shed the “Captain Speedfingers” moniker forged  years earlier at that legendary festival.

After a decade and a half apart, Ten Years After had reformed in 1989 and made the album ‘About Time’.  Lee is joined by Leo Lyons, Ric Lee and Chick Churchill and includes two tracks from that album, ‘Bad Blood’ and the excellent ‘Victim Of Circumstance’ bravely updating the band’s essentially blues rooted sound.

The gig (and a particularly fluent version of ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes’ ) attests that the charismatic guitarist had never lost his finesse or showmanship – and his passing was a really sad loss for British guitar music.  ****

Gallon Drunk – filmed at the Town & Country Club in 1992 – are captured in their ascendancy.  Their eclectic mix of psychedelia and punk was captured on their debut album ‘You, The Night and The Music’ and three tracks are featured here.   To some, this concoction might be highly infectious.  Others will reflect that the band name is wholly appropriate, and then some.  **

Bristol’s The Blue Aeroplanes are also filmed at the T & C Club in 1992.  Their brand of jangly guitar-driven pop rock afforded some comparisons with heavyweights R.E.M. (with whom they had toured) and influenced Manic Street Preachers amongst others.

Frontman Gerard Langley comes over as a cross between Pet Shop Boy Neil  Tennant and Julian Clary (less so in the interview snippets) but the essentially high-energy set is surprisingly compulsive.  The setlist is a mix of tracks from their acclaimed 1990 album ‘Swagger’, a couple of  covers,  but only one from then current album ‘Beatsongs’.

As with another band previously reviewed in this series – Jah Wobble -  the Aeroplanes had their resident dancer and Wojtek Dmochowski is captured in all his glory on the DVD.   The uninitiated might even think a “fan” had wandered onto the stage but then this was the early 1990s and things were a little more organic and spontaneous.

Two months before this gig the Aeroplanes appeared at Glastonbury which may have been their finest hour (filmed for the BBC).  The band – essentially a vehicle for Langley – went through many personnel changes and were beset by the usual record label issues and internal wrangling.  This even stalled the release of 1994′s ‘Life Model’ (from which another song here – ‘Broken And Mended’ – is taken).  ****

Finally in this round up of AAA releases, Matchbox  are best remembered for updating fifties Rockabilly in the eighties.  Captured in 1980 the visuals are understandably the worse for wear (compared to the other releases) although ‘When You Ask About Love’ the band’s big hit that year is included.  ***

As ever these Edsel releases are well annotated and with three of the bands still active today – there is an element of relevancy as well as historical record.

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Related “Access All Areas” releases

Album reviews (incl. Asia, Jah Wobble)
Album reviews (incl. Sad Cafe, Rick Wakeman)


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