New Ten Years After Album Review – From Alvin “Fiery
"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”.
The release of Ten Years After's fourth
album - August 1969
Lee takes over as the producer on this album and it is
destined to become one of the top
LP's of that period
"We moved over to an independent recording studio,
called "Morgan Studios" and that was
eight track. So the "Ssssh" album was the very first to
be done that way, and for us was a turning point".
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
Reviews by Fans
A band That
Stayed Close To Its Roots
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.
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.
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
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.
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
My favourite song on the album was, “The Stomp”.
Ten Years After Ssssh
After made two great albums. Ssssh is one of them
and has just been re-released.
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
THE TEXAS INTERNATIONAL
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
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
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
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
Cash Box – September 6,
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.
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
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,
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
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
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.
– 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.
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
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
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
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).
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
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
(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
Stonedhenge was a
somewhat better, looser album, but the same difficulties
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!
October 1969 - Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons at "Theatre",
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
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
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
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
The Missing Film
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
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
Ten Years After “Bad Scene” on USA TV “Music Scene” show
in colour October 27, 1969
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
München, Circus Krone
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.
From November 1969 (Just three months after the Historic
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
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?
“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
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.
“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 -
Years After – Stone The Crows – Bloodwyn Pig
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
Ten Years After covered a lot of ground
in 1969. Including the Fillmore East to Helsinki, Finland at
(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?
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
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………
“Hear Me Calling”?
Alvin: Yes, but they
more or less released that without our knowing.
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
Because of the travelling, or the people?
Alvin: Well, I
don’t like the people too much. They’re a bit paranoiac, don’t
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
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
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
Alvin: I think it is a
Dave: Did you see Easy
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
Alvin: That seems to
have ruined the whole idea of doing an interview. (break for
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
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?
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
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
Dave: How did you go
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
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,
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”
Dave: And when that
happens you usually find it cost more to go and see a group
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
Article by, Dave
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
Ten Years After – Three Years
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
“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
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
Ten Years After, now midway through their sell-out British Tour
Left to Right: Chick Churchill – Leo Lyons – Alvin Lee –