Alvin Lee: The Solo Albums

Alvin Lee: The Solo Albums
Authored By John Nicholson

Alvin was, of course, the star of Ten Years After. When the band fell apart, Alvin was well set for a successful solo career.
He had released In Flight in 1974, with part of Kokomo as backing vocalists. A double live, it was a collection, Live at the Rainbow, of rock 'n' roll songs which didn’t press TYA fans’ buttons. It still charted, making #65.
But it was a diversion and the band was still touring until finally calling it a day in 1975. His first solo album afterwards was Pump Iron and featured plenty of trademark guitar.
He followed this up 3 years later with Let It Rock and his best outing Rocket Fuel. He formed Ten Years Later, for this and the half live Ride On. He went in a more satisfying harder rock direction. However, they didn't sell well, stalling in the UK in the hundreds. I saw him around this time. He was still playing TYA songs. He couldn’t quite free himself from his old band, even though he was playing better and better.
Freefall, Detroit Diesel and RX5 followed. The workload was mostly live. These were lean times for 60s rockers but he pulled the old band together again in 1989 for an album. About Time was their first for 15 years. It charted in USA at # 120 but not in the UK. It was a decent record, better than many expected, but it didn’t strike much of a chord with a modern rock audience. So he worked solo again, releasing Zoom and his best for many years Nineteen Eighty Four which featured some lovely extended guitar on songs like The Bluesiest Blues, which also featured George Harrison.
It was to be his last until 2004 and 2007.  His final release was Still On The Road To Freedom in 2012 on which he also played drums and bass. Of the 11 solo studio albums, they all follow a similar template of blues, rock and roll and hard rock. The Ten Years Later albums will satisfy. Nineteen Eighty Four is also worth owning. While he never again hit the heights of commercialism that Ten Years After did, he had enough talent to keep producing records of a high standard, even if the sleeves were often not pretty.

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