Released August 27th, 1991 Superseded Release


The Best of Ten Years After – Compilation 1991 – Chrysalis Records Ltd. 2000

The selections on this cd were previously released as “Essential Ten Years After”.

Now re-released with a new name, this collection supersedes the previous one.

That being said, it announces fifteen tracks, but there are only fourteen. The numbers go from ten to twelve and skip eleven in the back cover of the cd. Sweet Sixteen is not listed as a live track, which it is from the Isle of Wight concert Where is the quality control here? I was hoping it was a bonus track, thrown in as a special surprise, but no such luck. It’s not re-mastered – just re-released – boring decision folks. What crappy band photos on the cover, damn-it-all, who’s responsible here?  On a best of cd, one should never mix studio tracks with live ones – never should the two meet on the same cd or album. One would gather that “Sweet Little Sixteen” (Live) was added to the “Watt” album as Ten Years After’s contract was complete and threw the record company and the fans a bone to gnaw on for awhile until their return. This cd is for Beginners Only.

 The best part of this cd, aside from the great music contained inside, are the liner notes presented here: They weren’t cute. They weren’t trendy. And once they reached superstardom, they seemed dissatisfied with the spotlight. But England’s Ten Years After were one of rock’s most electrifying groups from the late 1960’s to the mid 1970’s.

At a time when blues-based-bands were a dime a dozen, guitarist Alvin Lee, keyboardist Chick Churchill, bassist Leo Lyons and drummer Ric Lee (no relation to Alvin) towered above the competition with a sizzling combination of tough, rootsy songs and driving ensemble work, highlighted by perhaps the hottest guitar licks in the universe. The ultimate axe god, Alvin Lee sprayed searing blue notes from his red Gibson like a crazed machine gunner, mowing down live audiences and adding an edge of danger in the studio.

The proof of this action-packed set of fourteen tracks, aptly titled “The Best Of Ten Years After”. It’s all here, their blistering signature tune, “I’m Going Home” – radio favourites like “I’d Love To Change The World” and “Love Like A Man,” which remind us Lee was a soulful singer, not just a devastating player, and plenty of classic foot-stomping rock `n´ roll.

From a scorching version of Little Richard’s “Going Back To Birmingham” to the supersonic boogie of “Choo-Choo-Mama” (roll over ZZ-Top), Alvin and the boys could rattle windows and shake walls with a feverish intensity rarely witnessed since rock’s first generation of stars (who were saluted by the bands very name, in fact – so the story continues – ten years after the birth of rock and roll – but not in fact how the band got their name. It came from Leo Lyons who while reading a Radio Times Magazine came upon the name – the rest of the guys liked it, and it stuck). Chris Wright was there. The co-founder of Chrysalis Records and executive producer of this compilation, he managed Ten Years After from the beginning and went on to produce some of their best records. Here’s how he remembers the glory days: “In mid 1967, having spent four years at Manchester University and the Manchester Business School, I was working with a booking agency called the Ian Hamilton Organisation in Manchester and operating a college booking agency throughout the Midlands and the North of England. In addition, I was running a weekly student blues night at Manchester club. “Since I was in the unique position of being able to offer opportunities to play in the north, I was inundated with phone calls from blues groups throughout the country. One was a band from Nottingham called the “Jaybirds”, who had been going since the early 1960’s having served the usual apprenticeship in such places as the Star Club in Hamburg. They were keeping the wolf from the door as the backing group for a pop trio called “The Ivy League,” but were totally bored. At every conceivable opportunity, they resorted to playing such weird and wonderful numbers as Woody Herman’s “Woodchopper’s Ball.” “The Jaybirds insisted that I book them for my blues club in order that I have the opportunity to see them. I did, paying a fee of 15 pounds or 25 pounds, out of which they had to pay all expenses, including the cost of travelling from London. “It was immediately obvious they were completely different from all other groups at the time.

They were a four piece with a great rhythm section, and most especially, Alvin Lee, who was clearly, “the fastest guitarist in the west,” even in those early days. “I immediately signed them to a management contract, but being based in Manchester was not the ideal place to develop the group’s career. We changed their name to Ten Years After and I started to operate from London, where they secured a residency at the Marquee Club. “After we made their eponymous first album in three days, we recorded their second, “Undead,” live at the London blues club “Klooks Kleek.” Over the years as studio techniques developed, we spent more time in the studio making records, but Ten Years After were essentially a live performing band, always striving to capture the intensity of their live show in the studio. “In early 1968, I received a letter from Bill Graham in San Francisco, inviting the band to appear at the Fillmore Auditorium. With barely a dollar in our pockets, we managed to get ourselves on a Pan American flight to California, where Ten Years After played back to back weekends. Then we headed to New York, to the recently opened Fillmore East. All the shows in San Francisco and New York were played to standing ovations, and American audiences quickly developed a love affair with the group.”

Leaving Deram Records after three records, Ten Years After signed with the newly formed Chrysalis, debuting on the label with Ssssh. As their American following continued to expand, Ten Years After refused to stick to a formula. Released in early 1970, “Cricklewood Green” pointed in a verity of directions, from the urgent psychedelic sounds of “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain” to the breezy swing of “Me and My Baby”,” recalling Lee’s early interest in jazz innovators like Charlie Christian and Django  Reinhardt.

Then the “Woodstock” move came out, instantly transforming Ten Years After from a rising band to runaway superstars. Like the 1969 concert itself, the film was loaded with memorable performances by such heavies as Santana, the Who and Jimi Hendrix. But Lee took a back seat to nobody with his kinetic rendition of  “I’m Going Home,” a staggering explosion of atomic blues power. Continuing to tour heavily, Ten Years After would eventually notch an astounding 28 U.S. tours, the band stayed hot with “Watt. However, Lee was growing restless in the role  of pop star. Accustomed to working to win audiences approval, he now found fans wildly applauding every note of a show from the start. “Sometimes I feel I can get away with playing just feedback,” he complained to Guitar Magazine in October 1971.

The band didn’t let its frustration spill over into the studio, however. They struck back with, “A Space In Time,” their most polished effort yet, then got back to roots on “Rock and Roll Music to the World,” where the title track offered this sound advice: “Give peace a chance, get up and dance!” Taking a rare break from the road in 1973, they released “Recorded Live,” a non-stop rave-up labelled “the official Ten Years After Bootleg” and the source of the definitive versions of “I’m Going Home” and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” you find here.

Following individual side projects, the band reconvened for “Positive Vibrations,” but Ten Years After had already changed the world. With no new challenges on the horizon, they went their separate ways. All four members prospered after the break-up, with Alvin Lee enjoying a solo career, Chick Churchill becoming a manager for Chrysalis Music, Leo Lyons producing seminal heavy metal band UFO and Ric Lee joining Chicken Shack. And in 1989 brought a triumphant reunion with the “About Time” LP. However, that’s a story for another day….concludes Chris Wright: “The years we spent touring America from 1968 through the mid 1970’s were the most exciting years of my life. I hope those of you who witnessed any of those shows enjoy listening to this collection. For those of you who may be listening to the group for the first time: It is indeed unfortunate that you weren’t around in those days to participate in the excitement.” The next best thing to being there. The Best Of Ten Years After testifies to the timeless appeal of stripped-down, high-octane rock `n´ roll. Feel free to boogie one time.

Jon Young





The “Essential” Ten Years After – Best of Collection

A single cd disc anthology of the Chrysalis recordings of Ten Years After.

Ten Years After made their reputations by playing such high profile festivals as Woodstock 1969 and The Isle of Wight 1970. The band was highlighted by the quick and inventive blues/jazz rock guitar riffs of guitarist Alvin Lee. The interplay between Alvin and organist Chick Churchill was both exciting and fun. Bassist Leo Lyons along with drummer Ric Lee were no slouches either. The music is a combination of rock, blues / boogie and jazz at its best. Ten Years After were one of the most exciting bands to come out of the second wave of the British Blues Boom.

By Carl Rosen



“Essential” From Ten Years After, is a real rarity, as it’s faultless in collecting together what is the essential recordings, that are really the best of the group. Ten Years After, were the classic case of a band, with limited talent, but they aimed all their time and effort at what they’d got, and worked their fingers to the bone. They must still hold the worlds record for the most tours across America from coast to coast, 28 of them it’s reported.

The main object of their talent was the “Fastest Guitarist in the West” Alvin Lee, who also handled all the vocals, song writing and stood center stage, while leaving the other three members of the band (Leo Lyons – Chick Churchill – Ric Lee) very much in subordinate roles. They weren’t cute, and they definitely weren’t trendy, as Alvin Lee used to come on stage wearing that well known Rock `n ´ Roll footwear, a pair of Dutch made white clogs.

Ten Years After were England’s most electrifying bands to come out of the 1960’s and into the early 1970’s and they towered over the opposition / competition with a sizzling combination of tough and ready songs, both of their own design, as well as expertly chosen cover and driving powerhouse ensemble work, that was highlighted by perhaps the hottest guitar licks in the universe. I’ve never heard anyone play faster than Alvin Lee, although on drums Ric Lee (no relation), sounds as if he’s thrashing away at dustbin lids and not high hats.

At the time, Alvin Lee was the ultimate axe hero. He sprayed searing blues notes from his Red Gibson ES-335 guitar, like a crazed machine gunner-mowing down live audiences in their masses, and adding that certain hint of danger that made their studio albums stand out from the crowd. Ten Years After always had the knack, of being in the right place at the right time. Their appearance in the Woodstock movie, which is the ultimate documentary to the Woodstock Festival, is possibly the best standout performance of the entire event. When you take into consideration that they were up against, Joe Cocker, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Santana, that alone is quite an achievement.

Alvin Lee was a soulful singer, not just a devastating Rock `n´ Roll Outlaw. Ten Years After provides their no holds barred – no nonsense – classic foot-stomping Rock `n´ Roll…

Super-Sonic Boogie. Alvin Lee, Chick Churchill, Leo Lyons and Ric Lee, could rattle windows, shake floors and walls with a feverish intensity rarely witnessed since rock’s first generation of stars. High-Octane-Rock and Roll by Ten Years After Is Essential Listening.

By Kay Wagner




From Album Reviews 1991

The British rock press never quite forgave Alvin Lee for his guitar pyrotechnics in the Woodstock movie, although any solo that inspired awe and even a little envy in Jimi Hendrix was good enough for me. Both with and without Ten Years After, Alvin has been cutting blues and rock albums for three decades, but his media profile in this country isn’t so much minimal as it is missing.

In Europe and South America, though, Alvin is respected as one of British rock’s finest ambassadors from the 1960’s and has top rating  alongside the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green as a guitar hero par excellence.

“Stonedhenge” was the bands third album from 1969, and was their first real commercial  breakthrough success, besides debuting, what was to become a Ten Years After standard  called “Hear Me Calling”, which was produced by Mike Vernon, and accentuated their blues roots, but left plenty of space for Alvin’s eye-blurring fretwork.

“Sssshhhhh”  - the album cover may have featured a photo by Graham Nash, but there’s no sign of three part harmonies or odes to large sea mammals. (The mistake here is that the Graham Nash mentioned here is not the same one who is in the band CSNY). Instead, Ten Years After kept up the steady diet of blues, slow blues with “I Woke Up This Morning” and faster blues with “The Stomp”…. But it’s “Bad Scene” that opens up the album with a metallic rush that suggested another horizon for the band to conquer in the decade to come.

Enter “A Space In Time”, which is lucky  number seven in the Ten Years After Catalogue. Released in 1971, the album certainly marked another new and unexpected change for the band…and not the way their listening audience might have expected.

With Del Newman adding a string arrangement to the song “Over The Hill” along with some off-beat experiments using a Moog Synthesiser, Ten Years After baffled many (if not all their fans)  around the world. What really saved them as usual, was their constant touring schedule, because this album became their biggest-ever selling album in America.

But, the touring eventually took its toll and showed on the bands next release entitled, “Rock and Music To The World” which was another rather erratic studio album – that is until 1989.

Thereafter, Alvin Lee set out on a long, rambling solo career, that has veered between some degree of success, followed by commercial indifference and then back again.

The three Viceroy albums, imported from the States by Pinnacle, date from the last decade. “Detroit Diesel” won more attention for its George Harrison guest appearance than anything else, though it did also reunite Alvin with fellow Ten Years After veteran  Leo Lyons once again, as Leo was also a guest bass player on the new album.

More tracks from the Harrison collaboration belatedly appeared on Alvin’s 1994 album “I Hear You Rockin´”, which ended with a faithful rendition of the “Beatles” “I Want You” (She’s So Heavy) but without George Harrison of course.

But “Live In Vienna” is still the best representation of where Alvin was heading and is today – although he’s still playing, “Hear Me Calling” – “Love Like A Man” – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” – and of course, “I’m Going Home”.  

Ten Years After gave a concert and a television show at the same time for a capacity Madison Square Garden crowd.

The capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden had no trouble following the action when live performances by Ten Years After, Buddy Miles and Brethren were shown on a large screen video tape projection machine. Even with tickets selling for as much as $6.50 the screaming throng didn’t feel cheated.







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