Ten Years After reissues

Undead, the 1968 live album from Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, has been reissued in the United States after a short time of being out of print. It was the British blues-rock band's second release, following their self-titled 1967 studio debut. It's a great musical snapshot of Lee and company in their early days, when they were still hungry and playing in small clubs. Undead captures them in exactly that type of venue, playing a skilled and enthusiastic combo of blues, rock, and jazz, before they began to fall into the psychedelia trap. It's good to see this worthwhile album get quickly rescued from the out-of-print oblivion that it was in danger of staying in.

Recently, the Fontana label has also reissued the band's first two studio albums on CD in the U.S.

Ten Years After was a stunning debut, and was out of print in the States for far too long. This 1967 album shows the quartet playing unusually subtle blues rock, avoiding the psychedelic indulgences of the day. Ten Years After is the work of four men who genuinely loved the music they were playing, and it is as deeply soulful as any rock and roll album ever to come down the pike.

Stonedhenge was originally released in 1969. It was their second studio album, and their third release overall. Don't be fooled by the title, because the band was still avoiding psychedelia at this point. In fact, Stonedhenge is even more subtle than the debut, perhaps too much so. It finds the quartet quietly tiptoeing through six Canned Heat-style blues numbers, playing as if they were performing chamber music in a tiny jazz club. The other four tracks are more interesting, as each member of the band gives himself a sub-two-minute showcase. Alvin Lee does his scat-singing thing on "Skoobly-Oobly-Doobob", Chick Churchill does a short piano solo titled "I Can't Live Without Lydia", Leo Lyons does a short bass solo called "Faro", and Ric Lee taps out "Three Blind Mice" (yes, "Three Blind Mice") on his drum kit. Listeners who are relatively new to TYA may find this low-key CD odd.

In case you haven't heard, Ten Years After reunited in 2002, but without Alvin Lee. The other three original members (Churchill, Lyons, and Ric Lee) are now fronted by a much younger singer/guitarist named Joe Gooch, who is a decent musician in his own right. They have recorded one studio album, titled Now, which was recently released in the States by the Fuel 2000 label. They have also released two live albums in Europe on a label called Fast Western. The first one, 2003's One Night Jammed, is already out of print, but the second one, a 2-CD set called Roadworks, is still obtainable in some countries. I hope to add a review of that album to my Ten Years After page soon.