Alvin Lee and Ten Years After is synonymous with British blues/boogie, some of his best stuff can be found on his early albums, like this one.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Ten Years After
ALBUM: A Space In Time
SERIAL: CHR 1001
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Alvin Lee – guitars, vocals * Leo Lyons – bass * Ric Lee – drums * Chick Churchill – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 One Of These Days * 02 Here They Come * 03 I’d Love To Change The World * 04 Over The Hill * 05 Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘N’ Roll You * 06 Once There Was A Time * 07 Let The Sky Fall * 08 Hard Monkeys * 09 I’ve Been There Too * 10 Uncle Jam
By the time I discovered Ten Years After in 1975 they were in the midst of their final U.S. tour billed as Alvin Lee & Ten Years After. The band performed just about a mile from where I lived at the time, supporting Peter Frampton at what was then called the Long Island Music Center.
Moving to New York from Chicago that hazy summer, I was just getting my bearings in my new environment and didn’t go to the show but as high school began a couple weeks later, I heard quite a bit about the concert from people who were there and particularly about Alvin Lee. No one knew it back then but Frampton recorded his set that night and part of it would end up on the mega-selling ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ album released a year later, but my curiosity was piqued by a supposed guitar god with a geeky first name who ‘blew Frampton away’.
It wasn’t until a few years later I ran across a dusty old cut-out of the 1974 Ten Years After LP ‘Positive Vibrations’ and I gotta say, I was not impressed in the least. Despite the cool psychedelic sleeve, the set was nothing but bland boogie rock and about as exciting as your average Savoy Brown, Humble Pie or Status Quo wank-fest.
What I really wanted was a copy of their fantastic single ‘I’d Love To Change The World’ but for some reason that was a difficult prospect in 1978 so I opted, grudgingly I might add for a copy of ‘A Space In Time’ from which said single was pulled. Fearing I made another costly mistake, once the needle dropped my trepidation washed away and even if ‘One Of These Days’ was bluesy, it was good and wasn’t all that different to what I was hearing on those early Foghat LP’s at the time.
Giving this a spin today, there is so much to recommend, not only quality songwriting but the underlying psychedelic feel in the production. The folky dirge rock of ‘Here They Come’ recalls The Way We Live and their classic ‘A Candle For Judith’ album and then there’s that hook-laden single. Top 40 in the U.S. and UK, ‘I’d Love To Change The World’ with its strong John Lennon influence and totally un-PC lyrics is as relevant as it was in 1971.
The ‘Eleanor Rigby’-like strings on the pop-psych ‘Over The Hill’ definitely resonates with this Beatles fan although I’m not sure why ‘Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock N Roll You’ was picked as a single? Very Sha Na Na/The Guess Who old-timey rock and uninspiring to say the least although I’m sure it sounded great coming out of Juke Boxes in Midwest Truck stops and greasy spoons.
‘Let The Sky Fall’ is slow moving but excellent with tasty soloing from Mr. Lee and ‘Hard Monkeys’ as well as the spacious ‘I’ve Been There Too’ follow suit. Although the jazzy instrumental ‘Uncle Jam’ that closes the album is nice and short enough at just under two minutes although I wonder why it was included at all?
Perhaps that final cut was a swipe at Chrysalis who were pushing the band towards more commercial fare, while Alvin Lee had other ideas. ‘A Space In Time’ would be a pivot point for the guitarist who moved on to various side and solo projects reflective of his Blues rock tastes. In 1989 the original Ten Years After line-up reformed for ‘About Time’, a disc which apparently received favorable reviews but barely sold. Yet this would be the final chapter for the band with Alvin Lee passing away in 2013 due to complications following a routine surgery.