1969

TEN YEARS AFTER - August to December

 

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New Ten Years After Album Review – From Alvin “Fiery Fingers” Lee:

"After five weeks of unbelievable hard work and good fun, I hereby pronounce our latest album SSSHHH “In The Can”. We are very happy about the recording quality of the new album, as we personally hired Morgan Recording Studios to enable us to do twelve hour sessions up to midnight, as we find this is the best time for recording. Also, the studio is equipped with much more advanced equipment and we have enjoyed using an eight-track (Sculley) for the first time. Two of the tracks on SSSHHH we have been playing “Live” in concert for the last few weeks. These are “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” “I Woke Up This Morning”, both of these numbers are a progression from the basic twelve bar blues which we originally played. Other tracks are: “Bad Scene” “Two Time Woman” (Mama) “Stoned Woman” “If You Should Love Me” “I Don’t Know That You Don’t Know My Name” and “The Stomp”. They are all brilliant and you should buy a copy immediately on release in mid-September, or better still, you can buy the American import from Simon’s Stable, 97 Portobello Road, London, W.L.L. towards the end of July.

Don’t forget – Alvin"

 

 

 

 

“We have attempted with this album to lay down the basic Ten Years After music and at the same time create an atmosphere which involves  more than what is heard. A lot of things have been left in, which previously technicians would have hidden. We have attempted to compensate for the lack of visual and physical experiences, by adding sounds to the basic tracks. The major problem of being Ten Years After, has been to record an album”.

Alvin Lee

 

 

 

The release of  Ten Years After's  fourth  album  -  August  1969

Alvin Lee takes over as the producer on this album and it is destined to become one of the top
"Underground" Rock LP's of that period  

 "We moved over to an independent recording studio, called "Morgan Studios" and that was an eight track. So the "Ssssh" album was the very first to be done that way, and for us was a turning point".

 Leo Lyons

 

 

 

Ten Years After - 1969

Ten Years After are a group I think will go even further, because if their increasing popularity, their excellent stage act and terrific albums – including “Ten Years After” – “Stonedhenge” and “Ssssh”.

They have a strong reputation, both here in the UK and also in the States (where they spend a lot of their time), and are admired in both Western and Eastern Europe. They’ve been invited to appear at many jazz festivals including – “Newport” – “Montreux” – “Berlin” and “Bath”. Ten Years After are also a group’s group, in that they are the most widely acclaimed musicians in the business.

Ten Year After: Alvin Lee (a brilliant guitarist) Leo Lyons (bass) Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill (keyboards).  

 

 

 

Reviews by Fans

Ssssh Review:

A band That Stayed Close To Its Roots

A hard rocking blues statement that is perhaps Ten Years After’s defining album. Ssssh! Was in a way their last “all” blues album relying on some great covers and originals with Alvin Lee firmly in control as leader. This album precedes the greatness of the Cricklewood Green album, which took off commercially as a bluesy, English, Jazzy, Folk - rock `n´ roll album, showcasing them into super-stardom of their day. Their psychedelic explorations of sound and texture took off with Cricklewood Green, but shades of these explorations are found in all their past works…but Ssssh! Is all primal raw blues and in a way their most true blue record.

Bill Hillman

 

Ssssh Review:

Is Ten Years After’s best recording. It has everything you need, roaring vocals, searing guitar work, thundering grooves and an overall ass-kicking vibe. The album lets loose right from the opening track with “Bad Scene,” a great song that predates the punk movement by at least seven years. The sudden changes and different riffs in the song would normally stun any other band into submission, but on here, it’s just a real groove and psychedelic in a good way.

“Stoned Woman” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” are both the hottest rockers, the latter having one of the most intense guitar and bass solos I’ve ever heard. These guys make Cream sound like sissy-pants by comparison.

You’ve also got some nice sounding ballads, such as “I Don’t Know That You Don’t Know My Name”, the soul soaked “If You Should Love Me” and the country tinged flavour of  “Two Time Mama”. Besides all of this, you also have some good old fashioned blues rock, such as the John Lee Hooker – based – “The Stomp” and the very basic, but still memorable and infections sounding “I Woke Up This Morning”. This is Ten Years After in their finest hour.

 

Ssssh – The Best Ever

I grew up with this album. I wore out the grooves and the cover was worn and dog eared. It planted the seeds for a long evolving appreciation of the blues. I bought it for the cover only, it looked cool. They certainly weren’t getting any radio air play that I had heard. My favourite song on the album was, “The Stomp”.

 

 

 
 

Ten Years After Ssssh

Ten Years After made two great albums. Ssssh is one of them and has just been re-released.

Cricklewood Green, the other one, hasn’t. In 1969 Ten Years After released two albums, “Stonedhenge” and “Ssssh”. The former pictures the band on the gatefold, the later has Alvin Lee’s face on the front. Sandwiched between them was Woodstock – the event that transformed the clog- shod, fast-fingered Nottingham guitarist into a superstar. This is a no frills, no bonus tracks, no free gifts reissue (Ok, a potted history booklet) of one of his / their finger movements, equal parts speed-digit virtuosity and bash it out British – Blues – Boogie – Energy. Exemplary stuff – “Stoned Woman” – “Two Time Mama’s” fine slide guitar, the slow blues, “I Woke Up This Morning”. The high point is the only cover, Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. Banned by U.S. radio, of course. And responsible for an epidemic of bedroom air guitar.

By Sylvie Simmons

 

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

Very Rare Photo of Ten Years After 

 

 

Ten Years After performed at the “Catacombs” venue on August 30, 1969. The concert took place immediately after their appearance at the Woodstock Festival and right before their performance at the Texas International Pop Festival. It wasn’t a very large place, yet it still had a handful of national acts like Ten Years After and Jethro Tull. The Catacombs was the first exclusive rock and roll club in Houston, Texas. Catacombs 1, opened in 1966. Catacombs 2, opened in 1969. In 1972 the venue closed for ever.

 

 
  

August 1969 - Two Weeks After The Historic Woodstock Festival:

THE TEXAS  INTERNATIONAL  POP-FESTIVAL 

September 1, 1969 - Labor Day Weekend

 

Ten Years After at the Texas Pop Festival
Photos by Steve Campbell 

 

  

The “Texas International Pop Festival”  or “The Best Little Woodstock in Texas”

Known these days as: “The Rock Festival That Time Forgot”

It took place from August 30th to September 1, 1969 – and just two weeks after the now historic Woodstock Festival. Woodstock generated a half million people over the three day period, while the Texas Woodstock reported 120,000 to 150,000 during the same time frame.

The Texas Pop Festival was held in Lewisville, Texas, just north of Dallas, at the now defunct Dallas International Speedway. Thousands of hippies, music lovers, and lovers of peace converged here to see and hear their favourite bands perform. Staring the following acts:

B.B. King – Freddie King – Ten Years After – Janis Joplin – Johnny Winter – Grand Funk Railroad – Led Zeppelin – Sly and the Family Stone – The Incredible String Band – The James Cotton Band – Santana – Space Opera – Tony Joe White – The Nazz – Delaney and Bonnie and Friends – Chicago – Rotary Connection – and Herbie Mann plus others.

Ten Years After performed on Monday September 1st.   

As this festival was much smaller than Woodstock, it definitely worked to its advantage. This one wasn’t plagued with wall to wall traffic jams, hygiene problems, lack of toilets or over crowding in general. There were no fights, and the dozen or so arrests were mostly from people trying to sneak in, but the fences this time held, keeping the festival from becoming a free-for-all, like in New York State. It also, didn’t rain, which made a world of difference. One person died from heat stroke, and one baby was born there, proving yet again that God has a very interesting sense of humour. In many other respects, the two festivals could have been identical. Yes, there were plenty of  drugs available and excessive nudity at both events. Doctors who showed up expecting to treat a bunch of overdoses all weekend, instead wound up mostly patching up people’s cut bare feet.

 Many performers who appeared at Woodstock, barely had a chance to un-pack their road cases. Appropriately, the Texas Pop Festival, traded in the folksy strains of Richie Havens, Joan Baez and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – for a heavier blues element, with the likes of:

B. B. King, Freddie King, James Cotton, Sam and Dave, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and Tony Joe White. Texas Pop also marked Santana’s Lone Star State debut, and it also fell right at the end of the first USA tour by a new band of brash young British blues-rockers called Led Zeppelin. According to Richard Hayner (wavy-gravy himself), “the Led Zeppelin boys brought the house down.”   

Another thing that both festivals had exactly in common was that, they were both financial disasters in the first degree. Texas Pop reported a loss of $100,000 – way less than the financial bath that the men of Woodstock took !

 According To The Press:

“Young people assembling  to hear music is one thing, but young people assembling in unspeakable costumes, walking around half clothed, bare footed, defying propriety, scorning morality and swimming in the nearby lake naked – is another issue. Who and where are their parents? Where do these young people get the money to loaf around the country, in their smelly regalia? (There’s a dvd of this event, called: Got No Shoes / Got No Blues).

 Unfortunately, the Texas Pop Festival occurred in the wake and shadow of Woodstock, and the memory of Texas, is fading away accordingly fast. There was nothing memorable for the people who weren’t there. In my opinion, it would be better to remember both rock events together in the same breath. Texas Pop was given the overflow of Woodstock and that’s not a bad thing at all. Both festivals had eye-opening and thought provoking effects on everyone who attended. Just like at Woodstock, the masses who were there, spread the word to family, friends and neighbours. The American youth spread it like wild fire, the USA became the “Woodstock Nation”. This then spread the love, peace and music message, around the world. Via TV and Radio Stations, that by the time it hit all four corners of the world----the Woodstock Movie was released and that solidified the entire event in history and engraved it in our minds.    

The one thing that gave the Texas Pop Festival bragging rights, was that they had Led Zeppelin!!!

 

  

 

 
 

Cash Box – September 6, 1969

Spirit – Ten Years After – John Mayall - Concert August 1969 At The Rose Palace in Los Angeles, California

The general idea of audiences demanding new and original material each time they see their favourite groups perform is quickly fading into pop oblivion. At least this was the case last weekend at The Rose Palace as capacity crowds were enthralled by the musical tightness of Spirit, Ten Years After and John Mayall all who played sets largely composed of their past “Hits” but performed with the utmost of enthusiasm and taste.

Ten Years After

  Alvin Lee still dominates the sound of Ten Years After, his staccato burst of guitar imitating the heavy beat of  Al  Kooper’s  “I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes” and Lee’s own version of “Help Me”. Ten Years After would seem to be one of the strongest instrumental groups going, particularly evidenced by an impressive counterpoint duel Alvin Lee had with bassist Leo Lyons, as the organ faded out and drumming was confined to mere punctuation  midway through the upbeat, “I’m Going Home”. Like Spirit, Alvin Lee employs a lot of his earlier material in his sets, but the overall effect, judging by the crowds reaction, as they stormed the stage in mass, upon hearing the first familiar chords of Spoonful, was just as powerful. Through a mix up in booking, Polydor’s John Mayall showed up without the rest of his new group and ended up being backed by Ten Years After minus Alvin Lee. The set was actually a musical regression for Mayall, as he stuck exclusively to the genre of 12 bar blues and performed cuts largely from his early albums. The audience didn’t seem to mind however, as bobbing heads and tapping feet were permanent fixtures throughout his performance.  

From Cashbox Magazine 

 

Cash Box September 27, 1969

Ten Years After – The Flock – Mother Earth  – Concert Fillmore East New York

 Fillmore East, New York City – Minutes after Ten Years After had begun their first number at the Fillmore last weekend, it was apparent that lead guitarist and vocalist Alvin Lee will be getting more of the spotlight from now on, And while he has the voice and instrument mastery to be a genuine standout, it’s a shame to see artists of the calibre of drummer Ric Lee, bass guitarist Leo Lyons and organist Chick Churchill all relegated to the darker regions of the Fillmore stage. For Ten Years After really is one of the most together groups to make it’s mark on the rock scene in many years, and together they were at the Fillmore delighting and exhausting the capacity house with a splendid driving set of more than an hour and a half.

 As always, they wasted no time getting started, to the accompaniment of sequels and girlish cries of “Alvin” they launched right into “Good Morning Little School Girl” an opus which has already become an under-ground classic, since it has been banned from virtually every radio station in the country. Alvin gave it the full treatment, pretty much wrecking the audience in the process. From there, they moved into a very tight rendition of “Help Me,” with Alvin once again displaying his fine rich blues styling which is as precise as it is captivating. Only one of the other musicians was to be given a shot at a solo, and that was drummer Ric Lee. He responded by delivering a ten minute plus performance which combined dexterity with a genuinely subtle approach. Ric is one of the best around and its refreshing to see a drummer who doesn’t have to depend on flashiness at the expense of musical continuity. Fans of Ten Years After must have been disappointed, as I myself was, by the fact that Chick Churchill got no chance to really cut loose on the organ. Also missing were the frenzied guitar duels between Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons, which high-lighted many a

Ten Years After concert in the past. Their standard encore number, “I’m Going Home” was a driving triumph, which had the audience clapping and dancing in the aisles. Alvin segued nimbly from one old rock favourite, “Blue Suede Shoes” – “Whole Lotta Shackin´ Going On” to another, and the group exited to a standing ovation and repeated cries for still another encore.

 

 

 


New Musical Express September 27, 1969

Ssssh – A somewhat tongue in cheek romp through boogie, blues and country – pop served up with lashings of lightning guitar, groans, grunts and weird noises.

By Chris Cole 

 

 

New Musical Express September 27, 1969



 

 

    

 
 

SSSSH – 1969 – Updated By Dave

The Latest and Greatest Album by Ten Years After. It’s very “Advanced” the article says, and that’s a definite understatement, if ever there was one. It still holds up perfectly in my book, and may only sound slightly dated when compared to the music of the present day. So what if it lost a little surface shine and lustre, in the grooves it’s rock hard and always hits its mark.

A little buffing does wonders to this treasure. On the records inner sleeve Alvin is quoted as saying the following: We have tried to lay down the groups basic music, while creating an atmosphere, “which involves more than what is heard”.  Now, to me Ten Years After is one of the most advanced groups in all of England, ranking right up there with the likes of: “The Nice” – “Jethro Tull” – “The Moody Blues” and the late great and lamented super-group “Cream”. 

TYA – Side One:

Bad Scene – it isn’t a Bad Scene at all, in fact it’s just the opposite. It’s a perfect opener and a very good rocker at that. Alvin’s lead guitar gets most of the listeners attention for sure, but Leo Lyons bass workout cannot be missed either. Leo is superb and frantic from beginning to end of this song. At a fast pace the original reviewer claims.

Two Time Mama – Is a drastic slower pace than the rip-snorting-sweaty opener Bad Scene.

But not at all disappointing or as uncomfortable as one might think. It’s a countrified bluesy number that just plugs along pleasantly and peacefully without losing the listeners attention at all. It’s not boring or experimental, it’s the blues of course, with a mans warning to his woman, and this style suits Ten Years After to a tee. It gives you just enough time to catch your breath before the next track gets you cranked up again. 

Stoned Woman – It sounds as though the band had a great time recording this one. As there’s all kinds of almost inaudible sounds, noises, grunts, groans and background yells creeping in all over the place. It’s an infectious mixture that sucks you right in for the fun of it. Chick Churchill’s organ really gets a chance to come into the forefront for a change, on a couple of occasions. The general feel is one of instrumental demonstration – stretching out as a group jam and rolling right into the next song without a break this time.

Good Morning Little School Girl – It was written by the one and only  Williamson and is the only song on the entire album that was not penned by Alvin Lee himself. It’s introduced right after Stoned Woman by a child’s wire toy that walks down stairs by itself (a slinky) that was stretched between two microphones and then being flicked by Alvin with a drumstick or his finger created  echoes and a slashing sound. This song is one of the bands best stage numbers.

As popular then as it still is today 2011. It’s long and basic, offering lots of room for improvisation between all the members. The best part, is that it sounds just as good on your stereo as it does being played live on stage. Back when it was first released, this song was banned from radio play in the States, because of it’s lyrical content – “I Want To Ball You” the FCC found to be offensive. Ball was a new phrase at the time, meaning I want to have sex with you.

Ten Years After Involved: 

If You Should Love Me – Opens up side two as the pace / tempo slows down to a temporary crawl – very temporary. This song is a blues-ballad-number…tasty playing…just a straightforward song that I personally find attractively beautiful. You’ll find Ric Lee doing an excellent job backing up Alvin’s vocals and guitar on a piece of music that gets steadily more intense and involved, with maracas entering the mixture.

 I Don’t Know That You Don’t Know My Name – It reminds me of the Beatles song called, “You Know My Name Look Up The Number” – This song is a slight departure in style for Ten Years After, after being in three four time, but it seems to come off alright in the end. There’s some good piano playing from Chick Churchill with a non-ending melody that’s kept quite effectively simple. The drumming from Ric Lee has some very nice phrasing generally speaking.

 The Stomp – Is a John Lee Hooker sounding piece. Going from the previous track into this number, the band uses an oscillator that has a diminishing frequencies down from the previous song is used to good effect. It joins the end of one song with the beginning of the next together. The title is more or less self explanatory, the song itself is not very hot says the original author, to which I strongly disagree. The Stomp is in the Ten Years After style and many of us wish it was even longer, it’s a wonderful little jam number.  

 

The Final Track Is:

I Woke Up This Morning – Which has also been going down very well on “Live Performances”. Alvin gets into his stride right away. He works over a very heavy blues-riff.

I think the band has really achieved what they started out to do here. I regard this album higher than their last effort “Stonedhenge” but it did reach number nine in the New Musical Express Album Chart. I tip this album to reaching into the top five album chart this time around

 

 

 

 
September 1969 - Fillmore East - Photo by Joseph Sia
Other acts on the bill were: The Flock, Mother Earth and Fats Domino

 

 

 
 

New Musical Express - October 11, 1969

The tour opens in December 9 at New Castle City Hall. Further stops are Birmingham Town Hall (December 10), Guildhall, Southampton (11), Town Hall Nottingham (12), Colston Hall Bristol (13), Royal Albert Hall (15, Usher Hall, Edinburgh (17) and Free Trade Hall, Manchester (19).

 Engagements before the tour – Ten Years After resume work tonight (Friday 10), at Birmingham University after a short holiday – include Regent Street Polytechnic tomorrow (11), T.V. filming in Paris (15) and Manchester University (18).  

On October 20, 1969  Ten Years After flies to Germany to film “Beat Club” in Bremen and then play concerts in Brussels (23), Paris (24), Rotterdam (25) and Amsterdam (26).

The group begins a tour of German concert halls in Munich on November (10), and from the 28 of that month until December 6, will be touring Scandinavia. After their British Tour, and a concert in Czechoslovakia on December 22, Ten Years After returns to America in January.

 Blodwyn Pig – whose first LP “Ahead Rings Out”, is currently in the New Musical Express

Albums Chart – flew to America on Tuesday to begin a seven week tour. Its album was released in the States on Friday – on the A & M label.

 

 

 

 
 

Disc and Music Echo – October 18, 1969

 

 

Alvin Lee is an enigma in show business, of which he is playing a reluctant but progressively

(if you’ll pardon the word play) more important part. Leader, composer and speaker of Ten Years After, hailed by countless American critics as the greatest blues band ever, Alvin has an almost masochistic desire to limit his, and the group’s financial future! “The management want us to make a single, something we’ve never done before,” he says, “And I’ve got very strong doubts about the whole thing. “I’ve been trying to sit down and write a single for the last few weeks, but every time I do, I get very depressed, and get the feeling we shall be selling out”. “I know that Jethro Tull have become very popular and are now attracting a much younger crowd – and that’s all very well if you want to reach people through mass media. “But I want to reach audiences I like, and who genuinely like us. “Once you’ve had a hit single, it becomes trendy to be seen with your LP’s. We would find ourselves becoming an “in” group being liked for all the wrong reasons, and gradually we would stop being musicians and become entertainers instead. “I’m not knocking entertainers at all – it’s just that I’ve no desire to become one. “There are also great problems in writing a single. It’s got to be very short, and you’ve got to come to the main point within the first minute. It has to be reasonably repetitive and for me, this means changing my whole style of writing”.

Not that Ten Years After need a hit single. Their four LP’s have all sold well, and the newest, and most certainly the best “Ssssh” has just entered the LP chart. “I like the fact that that we’ve never put out a single – although I know we could do a lot more with a hit single.

“But the idea of appearing on “Top Of The Pops” or other TV shows here fills me with horror. Quite apart from that, there is literally nowhere to play in Britain. “We used to play regularly at the London Marquee, which is still my favourite gig in the world, but that’s impractical now. The last time we did play there, it was so packed, Leo and I passed out and had to be rushed to hospital. The doctors simply said, I had no oxygen in my blood!

“They’re trying to get something going now with new Sunday concerts at the Lyceum, but there’s nowhere big where you can play and feel good-vibrations, a good atmosphere.

“Once you get outside London, it’s all down to Town Halls and terrible placed like that, and I become so aware of the strange atmosphere, that I don’t play my best”. 

Alvin is very sensitive to playing before the “right” people. He can’t describe who the right people are, he can just sense it – “I always play with eyes shut anyway, so I never see the audience” – and he feels a hit single, and its results would bring the wrong people to the halls.

And, even if it means a less rewarding future for Ten Years After, “selling out” is not something they intend to do.

Article By David Hughes

 

 

 

 
 

Rolling Stone Magazine – October 18, 1969 – Sssh Review:

Deram Des 18029

Ten Years After is a band which has managed to parlay being in the right place at the right time, into a career. By possessing the trappings of the sound which such groups as John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Cream pioneered, Ten Years After has become a practitioner of rock “Mood” music, the kind to be played loudly and not listened to. In it’s pursuit of a parochial approach  to blues rock, and in its formal austerity, any real substance or personality has been avoided. The music, in a peculiar way, is as passionless as Lawrence Welk, more strenuous, of course, but equally tepid. Ten Years After is more or less built around Alvin Lee, the guitarist, singer and writer. His singing is at best functional. But it is the reputation of Alvin Lee as guitarist nonpareil which has to be confronted. So far as I can tell, his only distinguishing feature is playing to excess. Lee plays like everyone’s kid brother, only five times faster; there’s very little qualitative difference. One of B.B. King’s bent notes means more than all of Lee’s acrobatics. There is little overall developments; nowhere are dynamics, rubato, or any of the other conventions which make music an emotional event employed. Nowhere do I feel the presence of the Lord or even anything particularly human. It is the music of a machine, and this applies to the rest of the band as well, which has over-come it’s master.

Sssh, opens with “Bad Scene” a song with a jack-hammer beat which alternates with some lazy, Mose Allison styling; it then proceeds to, “Two Time Mama” which sounds exactly like Canned Heat, with bottle-neck guitar and a self-effacing Al Wilson vocal. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” that old Sonny Boy Williamson chestnut, consists of an endlessly repeated grinding riff, and one of Alvin Lee’s promiscuous leads. In the second stanza Lee starts shouting, “I Want To Ball You”. I have never heard an authentic blues singer actually come out and say it. The sentiment is always there, but the delight of it is in the subtlety, the evasion, the embellishment of the facts. I want to put oil in your crankcase, or maybe, I want to help you with your homework, really much more of what it’s all about. When Lee plays the guitar, he displays that same kind of grossness.

On the second side, “If You Should Love Me” is an orgy of repetition a-la the last half of “Hey Jude” and “The Stomp” is strictly a Canned Heat boogie with a school-boy attempt at the depravity of a Junior Wells or a John Lee Hooker. The last cut, “I Woke Up This Morning” gets something cooking, only to dissipate into a flurry of notes.

Sssh, in spite of Alvin Lee’s liner notes, cannot be considered a step forward.

Stonedhenge was a somewhat better, looser album, but the same difficulties were present.

It consisted of some cool jazz, slightly warmed over, some scat-singing, and a nice easy-going blues, until those mischievous fingers ran away with it. The last cut, an unconscious bit of self-analysis, was called “Speed-Kills”. No question. But still there was the same concern with being a respectable, if pedestrian, blues/rock/jazz band, rather than discovering what was inside their own heads. Hopefully, something like the definitive version of the, “Flight of the Bumble Bee” won’t be served up on the next album. After four LP’s we know that the band doesn’t have arthritis. Now is the time for Ten Years After to apply their hearts and minds to that much flaunted technique.

By Ben Gerson

 

Our Comment: If Bullshit Were Music, Then Ben Gerson Would Be A Brass Band!

 

 

 

23 October 1969 - Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons at "Theatre", Brussels, Belgium

 

 
 

The Amouges Actual Festival Belgium October 24, through the 29, 1969

The main incentive was to invite jazz and rock musicians who were getting little or no attention in the United States to come to Europe and play, many of whom were already there and working after the Pan-African – Festival in Algiers in July of 1969.     

Mont de L En élus Amoungies was The First Paris Music Festival, organised by BYG Actual, a French Record Label and Supported by the Ricard Foundation

60 Hours of Music for 60 Francs, with the Masters of Ceremony being Frank Zappa and Pierre Lattes. The five day, twenty four hour, open air festival was to be held at the Parc de Saint Cloud on Paris, but the French authorities banned the festival at the eleventh hour / just a few days before it was due  to start. “There were this group of people from Paris who put the shit on this festival, mainly because they were scared to death of having such large numbers in that city. The organisers then moved the entire festival to a cow and turnip pasture, where the temperature was approximately twenty or thirty degrees out there. Amougirs, Belgium, this was now a three hour drive east of Paris, but 20,000 people attended the event over the five day period, despite the seasonal cold, damp and foggy weather.

It was really miserable, a few tents and the people began to show up out of nowhere. There was a tent that was held up by steel guiders and it held 15,000 freezing cold people, it was the most miserable circumstances that you could imagine. The kids who came there had their sleeping bags with them, and they were sleeping through…they were just in this laying on the ground, sleeping while the music went on around the clock, with all these different groups…and it was also being filmed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people in charge turned on the PA (public-address – system) and to their surprise it worked. Next they turned on the lights and surprise once again, they also functioned properly. Then the groups actually began to play and by God, they had a Pop festival in the works, and then they looked at it and realized that they had to keep it going for five complete days.

According to Frank Zappa, “The Mothers of Invention" had broken up, and I had time on my hands, these people contacted me and offered me $10,000 dollars to emcee at the festival, with all expenses paid. Except there was one major problem, they failed to inform me that the audience spoke only French, and I only spoke English, what kind of help could I be. So then they asked me if I would play guitar with some of the bands on the concert bill, but to make matters worse, I didn’t have my own guitar with me, so I ended up playing other peoples guitars. On top of this, the amplifiers that were around for everyone to us, kept blowing up or messing up all the time.

Credit has to be given to Jean Karakos who did one hell of an excellent job getting it all together on such short notice. Despite the massive setback, the festival also drew a considerable amount of publicity than it might otherwise have had. It was a considerable success for Karakos, enabling him to finance his BYG record label. But overall a financial disaster, later on the record label went underground.

 

Why the festival didn’t take place in Paris, in further detail:

This was due to the fact that this festival was happening one year after the violent student riots that took place in May of 1968. The Actual Festival was scheduled to be held in central Paris and the last thing the French authorities wanted was a Woodstock type festival where tens of thousands of youth would be congregating in the heart of the city. The authorities, were of the Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, vetoed the original concert site.

Although it was widely attended when moved between the Belgium / France border, a lot of musicians felt that they had been ripped off. But on the positive side, quite a lot of good music was made there, and there were some very interesting jams. It also provided opportunities for many of the new jazz musicians to play in front of a large and enthusiastic audiences.

 

The Missing Film Footage:

According to Delbrouck’s book, (Chronique Discographique)  - Jérome Laperrousaz filmed all concerts at Amougies except – Ten Years After. Ten Years After duet of guitars with Alvin Lee, and East of Eden’s Philippe Thieyre. Said Frank Zappa in France 2003.

In a conversation with the film maker, he was more than a little reluctant to discuss the situation, choosing instead to side-step the entire issue. So, the where a bouts of the original sound / film remains unknown to this day. At best, it’s gathering dust somewhere, at worst, it’s lost forever.        

      

 

 


 
  

German TV Radio Bremen - "Beat Club" 1969

1969 was a transitional year for the Beat Club, which saw the program rapidly shifting its focus from pop music to rock music, and reintroducing live performances. The first half of the year’s episodes were largely made up of middle of the road pop acts, miming / lip syncing to their latest hit record. Although there is some rare surviving film footage of Spooky Tooth and Caravan from this time period. Also, the only existing footage of Marsh Hunt’s brilliant rendition of  Dr. John’s “Walk On Guilded  Splinters” and Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger doing “Indian Rope Man” and two very quirky numbers from Melanie. After the live policy came into effect, the band “YES” belted out a memorably fantastic version of “No Opportunity Necessary” and Ten Years After did a great run through of “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” that was accompanied by some impressive hippie dancing from an unknown girl in the audience. Co-Host Dave Lee Travis left the series after show 46 and was briefly replaced by Dave Dee. The show that featured Ten Years After was broadcast on Saturday October 25, 1969 from 4:15 to 5:16 pm. Also on the same show were, “Blodwyn Pig” doing “Modern Alchemist.” The band called “Tea and Symphony” doing “Boredom” and “The Nice” doing their “Hang On To A Dream.”

 

 

 

Ten Years After “Bad Scene”  on USA TV “Music Scene” show in colour October 27, 1969

On YouTube

 


         

Thanks to Herbert Hauke for  permission to use the following great photos on our website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                 A photo may say a thousand words, but  for me, the eyes say it all in this photo.

 

Copyright Herbert Hauke/Rainer Schwanke GbR

 

 


München, Circus Krone

 


Köln, Kongreßhalle

 



Photo by Thom Lukas

There's nothing like a good black and white photo, in order to bring out the real essence of the subject.

 

 
CIRCUS MAGAZINE

From November 1969 (Just three months after the Historic Woodstock Festival)

Price Fifty Cents 

Ten Years After:  Reelin´ And Rockin

 

 

The group is now making a cross-country tour on the heels of their fourth and most successful album, Ssssh. 

 



     

 

This is another rare photo, four happy musicians, that are friends as well.ell.

 

 
Melody Maker, November 15, 1969

ALVIN LEE’S BURNING AMBITION 



British Progressive artists are travelling to America regularly these days. Some lay down a solid foundation for future tours, some establish themselves as album artists—but only a few so far have achieved major success “on the road” at the biggest American venues. Ten Years After and Led Zeppelin are two of the really giant acts in this calibre.

Ten Years After are in the high income bracket as far as U.S. tours go, having established themselves via a number of successful tours. Leader Alvin Lee points out: “There’s a general acceptance for all British artists in the States. The Americans regard any British groups as “interesting” and having some merit. But the emphasis is on the heavy stuff. It’s the heavy rock groups from Britain who produce the most reaction from American audiences.

“Why do they regard the British acts as better than the local product? I think it’s a lot to do with association. The Americans can’t really make a superstar of an American because they all know each other and they see that the other American acts are pretty much the same as they are, they realise them as having similar hang-up’s. But with an English band they see them in a different light. They seem to think that England is ultra-groovy and that everyone’s cool in England—and unless a band disproves this, this is in fact what the people think before they even see the group. “ All, in fact, it gives to an English band in America is the advantage that when they first go over people will give them a chance and listen—and they’ll criticise from that. If they think the cat’s not good they’ll say so. “I realize that we’re more successful than a lot of other British bands who visit the States. Whether we’re better is just a matter of opinion, but as I said earlier, it’s the heavy bands who tend to be the big stuff over there. “Zeppelin are great stars over there. Zeppelin have got it together. They are doing the same circuits as we are and they’ve got the advantage of having exceedingly good record sales. It’s difficult to think of other British acts and how they rate with the American public without offending anybody. I don’t want to offend anybody. But as far as success with on-the-road bands I can only think of Zeppelin and us.

Alvin has been very busy writing material for the group’s albums for quite some time now and I wondered what his approach to writing a number was.
“It’s very un-together, really” he said “I do it in scridges and scratches and kind of try to do it in a way to tap what’s there rather than force myself to create anything. I have been known to sit down and say “right I’ll write a number tonight” and usually I get very depressed doing it that way. You know, if an idea’s there, good enough, it will force its way out make me sit down and record it and get it into shape on my own account. “I usually do the demo myself in my flat, which is a home made studio. It’s of a good quality but limited—I’ve got two Revox tape machines. They’re professional-domestic and if you wire round and use mixers and added facilities they can be used professionally then. It would be easier using an Ampex 8 track, for instance—then I could do the same with a lot less trouble, whereas it takes me a whole evening to set up to record a backing track, an Ampex would be easier. “I tune the guitar down and play bass and I’ve got a few magic inventions which get other sounds. Then, when I get together in the studios with the group and play it to them, not only does it give them a basic, it also gives them a feel and an atmosphere. It’s better than just playing the number on a guitar in the studio. I want them to go along with the atmosphere, so everyone can contribute to the atmosphere rather than just contribute chord-wise and just play. You know they can sense the atmosphere and contribute to that rather than to the basic song, “cause the atmosphere is a lot of what we’re about on recording.”
“Ssssh,” which went high in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic was Alvin’s first try at producing an album. Did he find the task difficult?

Service
“No, It was much easier than having anyone else involved, cause we cut out the middle men. You see, the producer’s job for a pop band is an established service. He takes the band and presents their music to the audience in a way he knows the audience will accept. “But for bands like ourselves who know what we want to create, the big problem is getting it on tape—so all we really need is a good engineer . So I can say to an engineer I want a guitar sound that kind of goes like this and like that—and how about coming in here, and the engineer knows where to put his fingers to get as near to it as possible. Of course, you’ve got to have the right engineer. But engineers lean towards being producers. Any engineer would like to be a producer really, he likes to produce the band’s music in his way. But with a band like ourselves, we want to produce it our way. An engineer should just physically look after the controls. “With “Ssssh” we used two engineers. Andy Johns who unfortunately fell ill and was too fatigued on some of the sessions anyway and Roy Baker who we also used on “Stonedhenge”. Roy I think is really very good. Up to now he’s been hampered by not having a studio of his own desire. He’s now going to go to Trident. But Trident’s a new thing to us and if we were to go with Roy to Trident we’d have to completely get to terms with the studio which is like starting from square one again.

“What I’m striving for at the moment is my own studio. Well, it won’t be in my present flat, I’m getting a bigger place out of town. What I want to do, this is my burning personal ambition, is to have my own studio. In many ways it will be unconventional as studios tend to be a general compromise.
For instance, although a 16 track isn’t often needed a commercial studio will have one for those that occasionally need it and therefore anyone using the studio will have to pay the money of such equipment, which is immense.
“When somebody with a studio will, instead of making their own mixers, just go to Sound Techniques and order a $20,000 bank—it’s putting things completely out of all proportion for bands who have to compete in the recording field. A lot of bands can’t afford to pay a great deal of money over a period of time to make a record. Their finances are limited—yet any band making a record is in direct competition with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones who can afford to pay $100.00 an hour for a studio. “Even in our position we couldn’t spend a whole month in a studio, for instance, on an album. You’ve got to remember that you’re not only paying out the tape charges and, let’s say an average fair studio will cost about $25.00 an hour—but so much else as well. We usually spend 12 hours a day in a studio—if we had it for a month that would mean that we wouldn’t get any bread from working gigs. Then, apart from losing your income from gigs you’re paying road managers, insurances, expenses and millions of other things. Apart from the fact that you’re not bringing in any bread you’re paying for the studio and $8.00 for reel and tape, and you get through some tapes as well! “So what I want to do costs me money, but It won’t be a commercial studio. I mean, no matter how successful it would be in producing good sounds, I wouldn’t use it commercially, I wouldn’t hire it to a record company. It would be strictly on a hobby, kind of personal level. I mean, I wouldn’t go out of my depth taking too much stuff on.

Marquee

“The idea is it would give a lot of opportunity to bands who need a break. There are a lot of bands I know who are exceptionally good and in the old days of the Marquee where you would a name there, appear on a Windsor jazz festival and sign a recording contract, things wouldn’t be so bad for them. But these channels are somewhat closed down. There are bands that are struggling on the breadline.
What I want to do is to have them in the studio for two or three weeks and get to know them personally and find out what they want to create. I’d like to get involved with them production wise and generally get together.”

  
New Musical Express November 15, 1969

 
 

Ten Years After - Original Concert Program - From  1969

Chrysalis Presents

Ten Years After – Stone The Crows – Bloodwyn Pig

   



Photo by Thom Lukas

 

 

 

   

   

Ten Years After

 If an “Underground Group” is a group which achieves success without the paraphernalia of publicity, stunts and gimmickry, then Ten Years After are truly and “Underground Band”. They have earned their position in one way only, by their devotion to their music. Without mass exposure on television and Radio-One, they have become chart topping album sellers and one of the most important groups in England today.

Their fame grew from the appreciation of people like yourselves in the audience tonight, who saw the band’s “Live Shows” and bought their albums. It’s gratifying to know that the British music scene has undergone a worthwhile transformation through the success of such groups as “Ten Years After”. The honestly of their approach has led to their having tracks, such as

“Stoned Woman” and “Good Morning Little School Girl” being banned by the timorous Radio stations. Thus today, with artists who are appreciated for their musical validity and originality, Ten Years After hold a unique position on both sides of the Atlantic. After this concert tour, the band plan to spend six weeks rehearsing, writing and recording for a new album, for release in March, which they believe is going to be their “Heaviest” one yet.

Alvin Lee’s brilliant guitar work has always been appreciated and has earned him one of the highest reputations in the world, moreover, his creative ability continues to expand at an incredible rate. He now writes much of the groups material, as on their album “Ssssh”.

Leo Lyons (bass), Chick Churchill (organ) and Ric Lee (drums), are also musicians with an individual talent and loyal following. They each contribute as a unit whose heavy exciting sounds we shall hear this evening. Their enormous following in America is well known, they achieved a major success when they were at the legendary “Newport Jazz Festival” this summer, where they justified that invitation by the excitement they created, for the thousands upon thousands of music fans who travelled there just to see them perform.

Ten Years After – Live on stage, work hard to create that atmosphere of excitement.

That they continue to develop musically, is an indication of the reservoir of talent within them that that is still being tapped.

   

   

 

STONE THE CROWS:

At each of the Chrysalis concert tours this year, we have presented a good but relatively little known act in Britain as the bill opener. These have included Blodwyn Pig, Clouds and Terry Reid, each of whom has enjoyed increasing success following the tours. On our current tour we present “Stone The Crows” – featuring Maggie Bell (Vocals), Les Harvey (Guitar),

Jim Dewar (Bass), Colin Allen (Drums), and John McGuiness (Organ).

Although the group only got together in London at the end of October, they are no newcomers to the music business. The line-up includes ex-members of “Cartoone” and drummer Colin was formerly with John Mayall. Lead vocalist Maggie was a former member of the “Frankie and Johnny Duo”. With the exception of Colin, the band are all from Scotland. Already they have toured the preliminary rounds of “Blues” clubs and have recently completed their very first album, in a matter of only a few days. The band is finding it very easy writing material for their act and a prime example of their togetherness is the recently recorded song,

“We Saw America” which extends for at least an entertaining twenty minutes.

Captain Beefheart recently saw the band perform at the Speakeasy and afterwards over a round of drinks he told Maggie that she “knocked the shit out of Janis Joplin”. Whatever conclusion Beefheart has come to concerning Maggie’s talent, is his own opinion, you will have the opportunity of forming your own opinions this evening. This tour should consolidate the band’s promising future and they are already set for a two month tour of the States early next year.

 

    BLODWYN PIG:

It’s been a very hectic year for Blodwyn Pig, who formed in January of this year (1969). Within a week of formation, they were on the road and playing six or seven nights a week.

Their album, “Ahead Rings Out” was recorded only a month after they teamed up together and hit the charts in both Britain and America. Since that time, they have knitted together to such an extent, that their second album promises to be quite a musical adventure. With no time for even a few days of rest, Blodwyn Pig were appearing extensively on the Continent, toured on a Nationwide Concert Tour with Led Zeppelin, appeared at several major festivals, including The Bath Festival, The Plumpton Festival and The Isle of Wight Festival, and then flew to America where they enjoyed immediate success. The band has still not had a break yet, as this tour began almost as soon as they returned from America, but they do enjoy the frantic pace of living that they’re engaged in.

Although their success was immediate, it was deservedly so, for they have seen some pretty lean times prior to 1969. Mick Abrahams has been playing guitar professionally for almost six years and although the fruits of his labours have paid off, five of those years were spent in near poverty. The fact that he continued to play the type of music he considered worthwhile during the days of teeny-bopper domination, is a credit to his perseverance and belief in the intelligence of the British music enthusiast. Mick was pleased to gather such a talented team around him, musicians with the same approach and similar musical ideas to himself.

Multi-instrumentalist Jack Lancaster is rated as one of the most versatile of all British musicians, and Andy Pile (bass) and Ron Berg (drums) help to make Blodwyn Pig the force they are today. On the formation of the band, Mick Abrahams comments: “Andy Pile used to be Victor Brox’s bass player, but before that he was in a group with Clive Bunker and myself, a three piece called “McGregor’s Engine”. At the time we always said we’d stick together, but things happened to split us up. Jack Lancaster I knew from when I used to live on Manchester.

We used to blow at some of the jazz clubs up there. Ron Berg has proved himself a mate in the short amount of time that I’ve known him. Yes, the geysers I’m working with now are all my mates, as well as good musicians. We like looning around a bit, but music is the most important thing”.

 


 
 

NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, November, 15, 1969

 

Friday December 12, 1969 - Albert Hall in Nottingham - a very  special  concert  for  the band and  their  loyal  local  fans.

  

 


Record  Mirror  November 19, 1969

 
 

Ten Years After 1969

Their albums have been skyrocketing in sales, and they (until now) have never had a single; their one night-stand concert fee has been moving in an upward spiral and they now verge on the threshold of super-stardom. A number of major pop stars and groups have explicitly told their agents, never to book them on the same bill where they would have to follow Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. The soaring British blues-rock combo leaves the audience so limp, they have nothing left to express for any other act on the bill. Ten Years After have been playing to Standing Room Only and Packed Houses so often lately, that everyone just assumes they have always been around, and on top. Not quite so. They have been around for awhile, this is true, but it’s only recently that the world has been giving the group the kind of reception that’s usually reserved for only the giant pop stars.

 

 


Ten Years After covered a lot of ground in 1969. Including  the Fillmore East to Helsinki, Finland at the Kulttuuritalo
(Culture House) on  December 3, 1969

 
 

December 4, 1969 – It Magazine

 

Ten Years After have just returned from another highly successful tour of America. The groups fourth album is high in the British L.P. charts, and things look rosy for Alvin Lee and Company. What does Alvin really think of the Stateside scene, and the group’s image in Britain? Alvin and Leo were interviewed in the group’s house off the Edgeware Rd. by Dave Williams, after a long trudge from the Chrysalis office, on the day of the last tube strike. (Background info for groupies and others).

Ric Lee and Chick Churchill were out attending to the modes of transport, a Bentley and a Morris Minor respectively. The interview has been ruthlessly edited, due to the fact that it lasted about two and a half hours, and was interrupted by phone calls, parcels arriving and a very welcome tea-break.

Dave: How did Ten Years After begin?

Alvin: We originally came from Nottingham and moved up to London about four years ago.

Ten Years After started about three years ago.

(enter Leo in Wild West attire)

Myself and this cowboy walking in, we’ve been in different bands for about ten years. Ric joined us, and we began doing backing and session work. Then we got Chick Churchill, so we decided to give up that trip and play something else. We started Ten Years After and that surprisingly enough, is when we started to make some money. All the time before, we were thinking “How could we make some money”. We’ve had four albums out now, but never really had a single. Well there was one but………

Dave: “Hear Me Calling”?

Alvin: Yes, but they more or less released that without our knowing.

Dave: You’ve just returned from the States again, Alvin, What do you think of the place? Can you stand it for months on end?

Alvin: It’s an interesting place. He’s all for it (points to Leo Lyons). I couldn’t stand it for long. After a while I want to get back home.

 

 Dave: Because of the travelling, or the people?

Alvin: Well, I don’t like the people too much. They’re a bit paranoiac, don’t you think?

Leo: I don’t really take the people into account too much when I say I like the country. There are people you like and people you don’t like in every country.

Alvin: But then as far as that goes, I suppose you could say Russia is groovy if you don’t take the people into account!

Leo: I’m sure there’s some nice people in Russia. There’s got to be.

Alvin: But in the States, there’s such an antagonistic thing between short and long hair.

Leo: Yeah, but you’ve got to take into account that England is like a quarter of the size, of one State of America.

Dave: You think that America has trouble spots in a few places then?

Leo: What I’m saying is that it’s so much bigger, that there are places which are good and places which are bad. You can’t really take it as a whole.

Alvin: I think it is a hole!

Dave: Did you see Easy Rider?

Leo: Yes, I enjoyed the film as an extreme.  

Dave: You don’t think the film was very reprehensive then?

Leo: Oh yes; it was reprehensive as an extreme. You’ve got extremes in every country. It put forward a general feeling of a percentage of people in America. There are a lot of people who think certain things are disgusting, but they wouldn’t throw bricks at you or blow your head off with a shotgun for it. They amplified it to put a point over, in other words.

Alvin: The underground is exceedingly so there. Like, it’s very split from everything else.

Dave: Yes, but youth is more united there. You don’t have so many divisions like hippies, skinheads and angles.

Alvin: I don’t think skinheads really exist though. A lot of them are mock skinheads, just following a fashion.

Leo: The thing is they read what they’re suppose to be and copy it. It’s rather sick that people stick labels on things: like a hippie, a skinhead, a straight.

Alvin: To most people we’re probably hippies. Yet I don’t think I’ve never met anyone who says “I’m a hippie”. No-one ever admits it, people are just called it.

Leo: People have got to stick labels on things, and they’ve got to generalise.

Alvin: What I don’t like, I saw it creeping in from the States and I see it creeping in here, is the kind of cutting off of the underground from the rest of society. It’s not going to be cool in the long run, because you can’t just say “Fuck the establishment we’re going to have our own trip”.

Dave: Do you mean people like squatters?

Alvin: Yeah, I could quite understand how anybody could say that wasn’t cool. It’s going to cost somebody an awful lot of money to repair that building after all.

Dave: 144 Piccadilly?  

Alvin: Yes, they have these communes in the States. People go out into the desert and build huts and things. That’s all very well, but after awhile somebody’s going to wish they had hot water and a tap. It’s just the idealism to that extent isn’t going to make it.

Dave: There’s a world of difference between, say the people in 144 and the people who go to see a concert at the Lyceum. They might look and dress the same but the difference is in the attitudes.

Alvin: Oh, 144 was an extremist thing. It’s the first time anything’s happened to that degree, but it shows a leaning towards it happening that way, and I don’t think it would be cool if it caught on in a big way.

Leo: The difficult thing is that everybody is forced to take sides. Look at it this way – I’m on one side now, but if I go out tomorrow and get a haircut and wear a suit I’ll be on the other side. It’s like the underground press in a way, split from the rest.

Dave: What do you think of the underground pop press in general? You don’t seem to get an awful lot of good reviews lately.

Alvin: I’ve got past that stage where I worry about bad reviews. The only thing you’ve got to worry about is when people start throwing bricks at you on stage, but whatever people write doesn’t worry us too much. (Alvin reads out nasty reviews of Ten Years After’s last album from recent IT embarrassing interviewer Dave and friend Hillary).

Dave: (Covering Up) I think you got a worse one in Time Out actually.

Alvin: Oh, we get some real stinkers. One of the reasons is we’ve never been a group to make it big on the social scene. We go to press receptions and its not that we don’t like individual editors as such, but we get a bit pissed off with the general hyper-market games. We go home and everybody takes offence. We don’t really mean any harm – it’s just a reflex action.

Dave: You’ve had some bad interviews then?

Alvin: Well, I spent an evening with three reporters from IT once, then found out that they didn’t really work for IT at all. One guy came round to interview us, and about sixteen people came round and scored off him. He’d given them all our address. Perhaps wrongly, but I associate that with IT for a long time. Then there was the time we did an interview with Rolling Stone. A guy came in like, very heavy and matter of fact. We just weren’t quite ready for it.

Leo: Their attitude is, “Well, we both know where you’re at, and nobody else does, so lets shoot straight. Like, we’ve got you completely figured, so kiss my ass and maybe I’ll say something nice about you. Plus the fact that they like to be heavy. This guy was trying really hard, and we were sending him up a bit. Ever since, Rolling Stone has been really down on us in the States.

Alvin: I think people who are intellectual enough to know what, they want, make up their own minds anyway.

(pause)

Alvin: That seems to have ruined the whole idea of doing an interview. (break for tea).

Dave: Which groups turn you on?

Alvin: Oh, a very mixed bag really. From Classical to…I don’t know what…as far as rock bands go, I like Steve Miller.

Dave: Did any of the bands impress you at the recent Belgian pop festival you played?

Alvin: There were about four avant-garde  jazz bands, Aynsley Dunbar and ourselves the night we were on. By the time we played it, was about half past two in the morning and the whole audience had been completely battered by these avant- garde jazz bands, that went on before us. I’ve never heard anything like that in my whole life. The drummer was hitting everything in sight, with no timing and the sax player, had the microphone right down his sax, It made a terrible row. All horrible harsh sounds.

Dave: Was the concert open air?

Leo: No. In a tent. Amazing really, it was about half the size of a football field.

Alvin: We jammed with Zappa in Brussels while we were there.

Dave: What did you make of him as a person?

Alvin: He is in fact pretty straight. Like more of a business head type. He’s completely the opposite of what he looks like. Never taken any dope in his life. I’m always a bit wary of people who have never tried it. It tends to me to look as if they are saying “I’m on to something, and I don’t think you are, because you’re stupid”.  Perhaps it’s just me….But for someone in Frank Zappa’s position, as one of the underground heads, and he’s not even had a joint, well that’s a really strange scene.

Leo: He’s obviously kept it together and got his own scene.

Dave: Do you find much problem in Europe with the language barrier?

Alvin: The last gig we did in Amsterdam  was incredible. When you play another country for the first time, it’s difficult to tell what’s happening because everybody’s got their own characteristics. We did the first number and they all started slow-hand-clapping, and we thought they were telling us to piss off, or something. It was only later that we found out that it was their way of saying something was groovy. As for the language barrier, most of them on the continent speak a little English. All the English sounds get in the charts. The English are very lazy with languages on the whole.

Dave: What is the most interesting gig you have played?

Alvin: Oh, Woodstock definitely. A quarter of a million people – you can’t imagine what it was like. If I spent two hours explaining, you still wouldn’t have the full picture. It was like an underground world, everything was there but completely cut off – you know – tents, water, supplies – just everything. We had to fly in by helicopter.

Dave: How did you go down:

Alvin: It was nearly a disaster. We went on, started a number, and we were miles out of tune. It was “Schoolgirl” we were going to play, and there was heavy riffling between bass and guitar and the organ and everything was tuned differently. So we had a quick tune-up, started again, and it was even worse. We stopped, fiddled around, restarted and it was worse again. So I said something really funny like, “We’re going to try this number once more, because its nice if we can play it in tune, and I wish I was dead!” It was really a bad start, but it all came together well in the end.

Dave: There was some trouble with “Schoolgirl” in the States wasn’t there?

Alvin: Not Really. One station in New York banned us. They started bleeping over the part where it said “I want to ball you” so we decided that it was better for them not to play it at all. I mean it doesn’t sound right does it, “I want to bleep you”? When we went over there we learnt the word ball as opposed to all the others, like screw. Everybody says it there – ball-ball-ball, all the time. I thought it was just accepted like you might say, “getting it together” over there. I thought it was a cool word to say, and they didn’t dig it, that’s all. Must be the language barrier again.  (laughing).

Dave: I hear you’re recording a single for future release. Did you write it?

Alvin: I’m getting it together now. There are some policy problems on it. We don’t really know as a group whether we want a big money-earning hit.

Dave: I think a well played single can be a good thing. It spreads the word a little.

Alvin: Yes, it helps make the underground less underground. At first.

I said “We’re not going to sell out”, but that’s like saying that we only play to underground people and that’s not true either. I don’t agree with that. We’re not going to record a commercial single, but the difficulty is getting something that represents the group sound on a short enough track, because the whole point of having a single is that it has to be reasonably short – otherwise nobody will play it.

Leo: You see, if there were FM stations over here, like there are in the States, then people would have the opportunity of getting to know what’s happening without going to such an extreme as checking up on a group personally. If they could hear things on the radio, then there wouldn’t be an awful need for a single.

Alvin: A single gives people an added opportunity of finding out about a group. We could record something, like some of the managerial demons suggested, that would make you run into the bathroom and shut your ears. But that’s just thinking of the bread really. It’s just a small minded way of looking at it. A short term trip. We could make a noise in the studio, create a commercial single; but it would have nothing to do with Ten Years After, except that we did the session, and we would probably get a reasonable hit out of it. It’s fairly easy to get a hit if you play something  merry that jogs along, we wouldn’t play it live though, and it wouldn’t relate to us. It could mean we’d have to go on Top of the Pops and do the whole thing, and that would kill us. I just don’t see the point of it all.

Dave: I think Jethro Tull have done reasonably well as far as singles are concerned, don’t you?

Alvin: They’re not one of my favourite bands. I’ve never really been sure about Jethro Tull because I know the manager. I don’t know if Jethro Tull does in fact exist.

Dave: You think they are a bit artificial?

Alvin: Certainly the bass player and the guitarist, they’re not saying anything, they’re believing. I’m not saying it’s bad, after all they’re providing entertainment, but I wouldn’t do that.. I was a bit annoyed because they came to the States, with a kind of “British Underground Group” thing, you know like a hype on the States. They didn’t catch on there, and then came back to England with a, “Here they come after their fantastic tour of the States” trip.

Dave: And when that happens you usually find it cost more to go and see a group right?

Alvin: Right. I don’t like to brag, but we were lucks in the States and did pretty well, and it gets a bit of a drag when you read that all the bands that go over there come back and “everybody’s done a bomb – fantastic tour of the States” Then if we say the same thing, people say, “Oh Yeah, everybody’s doing that aren’t they”.

Dave: Finally. How do you see the group progressing in the next year?

Alvin: Ah, the big question! To a certain degree it will be a natural progression. Personally, I’d like to get some hi-fi together or rock, rather than Mantovani. I might even like to open a hi-fi shop. I don’t want to work out, musically, what we are going to be doing that far ahead.

 

Article by, Dave Williams

November 5, 1969             

 

 

Ten Years After on Danish TV – December 6, 1969 – play: I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes – I May Be Wrong But I Won’t Be Wrong Always – Scat Thing and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

 

 


Record  Mirror  December  20,  1969

 


 

 
 

Ten Years After – Three Years Later

Disc and Music Echo – December 20, 1969

Ten Years After, who don’t like being pigeon-holed, but for all that are one of Britain’s finest progressive blues groups, were unusually scared last week at the beginning of their short sell-out concert tour with Blodwyn Pig and Stone The Crows, which ends tomorrow (Friday) night at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. Scared because they have spent so little time this year in their native land, that they were unsure whether or not they would still  be accepted.

“But the audiences have been really fantastic,” says bass guitarist Leo Lyons. “We were afraid people here had gone off us for being away on the Continent and in America for so long. “I think it’s great to work all over the place, but on the other hand I’d like to work more in Britain, and hope that next year we will be able to”.

Now, Ten Years After are back on the British road again, and what does Leo think of Alvin’s remarks a few months back, that Britain has no really good concert halls? “I don’t fully agree. I still love the Marquee and Klooks Kleek and places where we started and got our first great audiences. And the Albert Hall does have something special attached to it which affects you quite differently from any other place in the country. “Right now we want to do more than anything else, is get down to writing and rehearsing some new stage numbers. What we’re playing on this tour, we’ve been playing for nearly three years, and while we still like the numbers, we do get the feeling that audiences have seen and heard it all before. “We’re very much affected by audience reaction, and we like to create an atmosphere of sympathy with our audience whenever possible, and the more responsive the audience is, the better we play”.

On stage in fact, Ten Years After are very set in their ways. They jam freely during each number, but the numbers themselves are fairly rigidly  fixed. “We shouldn’t complain, but we’ve just not had the time to sit down and write new material, and it’s got to be good new material. While we’re about it, (at it) we’re going to try and get much of it down for the new LP. “We’ve never really been satisfied with our LP’s so far. The last, “Ssssh” was the best, but it suffered from having been recorded too quickly. It only took two and a half weeks.

After a week off for Christmas, we’ve got six weeks to really get something together”.

On February 13, 1969 Ten Years After leave for yet another tour of America, but do they feel they will be around after the “British Blues Boom” is over? “I think, as with every boom, those who were in at the beginning will survive, and I think that includes us. There are an awful lot of groups only just leaping on the American bandwagon and somehow I don’t think many of these will benefit or last very long. It never pays to copy !”

Ssssh…It’s Ten Years After, now midway through their sell-out British Tour

Left to Right:  Chick Churchill – Leo Lyons – Alvin Lee – Ric Lee 

 



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