March 7, 2013

"Alvin Lee, whose fire-fingered guitar playing drove the British blues-rock band Ten Years After to stardom in the 1960s and early ’70s..."

"... died on Wednesday in Spain. He was 68. He died 'after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure'..."



That's the Woodstock performance of "I'm Going Home. "

54 comments:

Robert Cook said...

No surgical procedures are "routine" and should always be considered potentially dangerous.

Bob R said...

Sad to see him go. I was never a huge fan. Great technical skill, but not as "musical" as some with worse technique.

Jimmy said...

He wanted to change the world, but he didn't know what to do.

He was a very talented musician. Now he's goin' home.

Shouting Thomas said...

My own reflections on the not particularly brilliant career of Alvin Lee.

bpm4532 said...

routine is relative...

phx said...

And I'd Love to Change the World. Boy does that song resonate.

tiger said...

Have 2-3 of his albums and saw 10 Years After once in Milwaukee - the newly revamped Fleetwood Mac (Buckingham/Nicks) was the warm-up band.

To me the interesting thing was the clip. I really REALLY liked that song on the Woodstock album but couldn't get passed 3 and half minutes of listening to it now.

I'm old and you need to get off my lawn.

creeley23 said...

I was never much of an Alvin Lee fan. His Woodstock performance struck me as joyless and interminable. However, he did make a sleeper album, On the Road to Freedom, which I've enjoyed over the years.

It's a collaboration with gospel singer, Mylon Lefevre, plus George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Mick Fleetwood and Ron Wood, and has a very different feel from Ten Years After. There's a fair amount of Lee's stinging guitar but otherwise it's much more mellow than what one expects from Lee. The stand-out track is Harrison's song, So Sad (No Love of His Own).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS_yvB7BN0s

Shouting Thomas said...

I apologize for speaking ill of the recently dead, but Lee's change the world song was some of the stalest, routine hippie tripe I've ever heard.

I turn the damned thing off the moment it comes on. Almost as execrable as Imagine.

CWJ said...

ST, I was a stale routine hippie at the time, so it fit me to a tee, and he and the band gave me some great memories which I am reliving right now even as I punch this out on my tablet.

I've moved on since then, so what? Memories are what they are.

TMink said...

I thought Going Home was some of his least interesting work, while I'd Love to Change the World was wonderful hippy tripe! "Tax the rich, feed the poor, till there ain't no, rich no more. Monopoly."

Trey

William said...

He doesn't really qualify as a landmark of his generation, but it's sad to note how many old people who are younger than me are dying. When the landmarks pass on, you feel a little more alone. I wonder if I will survive the Beatles. If the Rolling Stones outlive me, a just God does not exist.

Shouting Thomas said...

TMink,

Maybe we should give Lee some credit for having the foresight to use Obama's campaign slogans decades before The One came on the scene.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Good riddance. If only this would happen to all leftists tomorrow.

Shouting Thomas said...

By an astonishing coincidence, I just ran into Michael Lang as Panera in Kingston.

madAsHell said...

I was 14 years old, and way too impressed by his speed. I could never copy his work without slowing it down....and then I did it poorly.

I always thought the right producer, and conditions could have made him great.

Mattman26 said...

TMink, isn't it funny that it was "Tax the rich, feed the poor, til there are no rich no more," not "til there are no poor no more?"

Bob_R said...

I think to be know as the fastest X in the world is a bad thing unless X is actually a race.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One of my favorites by Alvin Lee Outside my window

Never much of a fan of marathon guitar solos...drum solo marathons either.

This one makes me laugh every time.

Crunchy Frog said...

TMink, isn't it funny that it was "Tax the rich, feed the poor, til there are no rich no more," not "til there are no poor no more?"

That would be impossible, especially as poverty is being defined upward continuously.

phx said...

I thought "I'd Love to Change the World" went AGAINST the "hippie" tripe.

"I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you".

Plus I didn't read the line "tax the rich feed the poor, til there are no rich no more" as a prescription - I read it as an anti-tax line.

I could be all wrong though.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well,...I'll try my post again.

This is one of my favorites by Alvin Lee

and This one makes me laugh every time.

I have never been a fan of marathon guitar solos or drum solos either.

Michael said...

"I'd Love to Change the World" never sounded very hippie to me --

"Everywhere there's freaks and heavies / Dykes and fairies / Tell me where there's sanity"

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Really? Deleting my posts about Alvin Lee? Really?

Well,...I'll try my post again.

This is one of my favorites by Alvin Lee

and This one makes me laugh every time.

I have never been a fan of marathon guitar solos or drum solos either.

Howard said...

phx: I'm with you. I read the song as a critique of the empty platitudes and random facts spewed by the stereotypical phony caring hippie who then admits it's all a giant ego trip of wanting to change the world, doing nothing and expecting others to do the work.... so that he can go on complaining about everything.

To me, it's too nuanced for most people to get it. Both the hippies and squares thought it was pro-hippie. It actually expresses the classic duality of the double-bind at the root of the "human condition".

phx said...

Howard: It never occurred to me that anyone read this as a liberal or hippy screed.

I don't see it as particularly anti-counterculture or pro-Silent Majority (remember the context) though - I think your first graph goes too far.

More like resignation or quiet despair. He really would love to change the world, he just doesn't see how it's gonna happen.

That's my read.

Hucbald said...

Saw them on the, "Ten Years Later" tour in '77 or '78. Front row! Needless to say, it was fantastic.

RIP Alvin.

Hucbald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMink said...

I always saw the line as anti-wealth redistribution, but mostly, I liked that it had a beat and you could dance to it. I rate it 92. The hippie tripe comment was just to have some fun, one man's tripe is another man's menudo. 8)

Seriously, I love that song, but much more for the guitar tone and the cool acoustic part, which I actually could play.

Trey

TMink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phx said...

Absolutely Trey.

helltoupee said...

I spent last weekend listening to Ten Years After and enjoying it completely. This will be a loss on my ledger.

I can't keep from crying, sometimes.

Ann Althouse said...

"Really? Deleting my posts about Alvin Lee? Really?"

There is a spam filter. As noted in the comments instructions: "There is a spam filter that catches some good comments, and we check that about once a day (or more often if you email us)."

Don't assume deliberate deletion (unless you're over the line.)

helltoupee said...

I spent last weekend listening to Ten Years After and enjoying it completely. This will be a loss on my ledger.

I can't keep from crying, sometimes.

The 73rd Virgin said...

I'd Love to Change the World is one of the few truly reactionary rock songs ever. It's one reason TYA didn't stay hip. The line is "everywhere there's freaks and hares (meaning hare krishnas), dykes and fairies, tell me where there's sanity."

Yeah, hippie tripe. Don't hurt yourselves.

Shape Shifter said...

Saw Ten Years After and Alvin Lee at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival. From what I remember, they were great.

creeley23 said...

It never occurred to me to hear "I'd Love to Change the World" as anything other than hippie cliches. I was a hippie at the time and even I felt embarrassed by the lyrics.

Nonetheless, Howard, phx et al. make an interesting case that the song is actually critiquing hippie cliches. It comes down to whether one believes Alvin Lee was capable of such nuance.

I don't think so. He seemed to be one of several rock guitar gods who could burn the house down with their playing but didn't have much going on upstairs.

Are there other nuanced Lee songs? That would be the test.

milesfromkansas said...

"Positive Vibrations" is on my playlist. Don't know his politics and surely don't care. "Love to Change the World" was one of the first guitar songs I learned. RIP A Lee.

William Wilson said...

I always heard "Change the World" as a critique of the conventional lefty worldview of the time. And I was very into TYA at the time, bought their albums right when they came out. "Cricklewood Green" was great. I think folks might be underestimating Alvin.

egoist said...

A Space in Time...one of my favorites a long time ago. Then ruined by that fat plow boy: Michael Moore.

DoctorOfLove said...

How on earth could anyone read Change the World as lefty?

I was always amused that he slid one by by using an absolutely stinging guitar solo.

And apparently slid it by in 2013, 40 years later.

Dykes and Fairies? Really?

Tax the rich, feed the poor, til there are no rich no more.

Notice, for those of you who missed it, not "til there are no poor no more".

Lefty? Wow, dudes, that was some really good pot.

DoctorOfLove said...

How on earth could anyone read Change the World as lefty?

I was always amused that he slid one by by using an absolutely stinging guitar solo.

And apparently slid it by in 2013, 40 years later.

Dykes and Fairies? Really?

Tax the rich, feed the poor, til there are no rich no more.

Notice, for those of you who missed it, not "til there are no poor no more".

Lefty? Wow, dudes, that was some really good pot.

Craig said...

There was a bar or nightclub in Manila called Ten Years After. It featured the tail end of a small airplane that had apparently crashed into the roof. Was that based on one of their album covers?

phx said...

Good riddance. If only this would happen to all leftists tomorrow.

Lee's change the world song was some of the stalest, routine hippie tripe I've ever heard.

Not really the smartest people in the dumb party.

AllenS said...

routine surgical procedure

What was the procedure? I hate stories that do this. Was he having his foreskin removed? Why can't they tell us what the routine surgical procedure was?

Mitchell the Bat said...

You can get away with a Bigsby if you're always playing smeary pentatonics.

Rick Jones said...

I too saw Change The World as a response against all those empty minds grasping at the latest hip hogwash. While they wished for the unattainable he mocked them. He noted that they sought the wrong end, (ending wealth instead of providing means for the poor to end their condition), and he let them hang themselves with their own words, so to speak. Unfortunately, then, and now, they don't get how foolish and misdirected they really are.

And, that is the monkey on their back, that is the junk that keeps them blue; maybe one day they will crack.

William Wilson said...

Nothing will put you out of tune faster than a Bigsby tremolo bar will. No one should ever use one, IMO.

William Wilson said...

Allen S; per classicrockmagazine.com "Lee passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, March 6. He had been admitted to hospital in Spain, where he lived, for a routine surgical procedure for atrial arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) but died from unforeseen complications. He was 68.

creeley23 said...

How on earth could anyone read Change the World as lefty?

Pretty easy. That's what the lyrics say and that was the stereotypical way hippies then thought. As far as I know, Alvin Lee never showed any signs he was a particularly independent or critical thinker.

If Lee was critiquing shallow hippie thinking, it went right over the heads of 99% of his audience. In my experience fans of TYA and general heavy guitar blues-rock, tended to be young, male, not very smart druggies.

So far none of those taking the nuanced position of Lee's song have offered any support beyond their own certainty.

Alvin Lee, rest in peace, was basically another drugged-out guitar god of that era, not a go-to guy for trenchant social commentary of his own subculture.

creeley23 said...

Dykes and Fairies? Really?

It was 1971. Homophobia was alive and well in the hippie world, as well as general society. The TYA fans I knew were quite disdainful of homosexuals. Do you really believe Lee was any different?

Tax the rich, feed the poor, til there are no rich no more.

Notice, for those of you who missed it, not "til there are no poor no more".


The hatred and blaming of the wealthy was a commonplace then as now. Note Obama's rhetoric for the past few years.

anniestasia said...

Wow. A lot of people are posting here who clearly don't know diddly about Alvin Lee or his music. If you're stuck on Going Home or on his only hit single (I'd Love to Change the World") you've missed 40 years of musical growth and talent.

Do me a favor - if you have nothing nice to say about an outstanding human being and musician, shut up - because in this time of grief for his family and friends and fans, you're just being hurtful and ignorant.

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Monty Ehrich said...

Well, I hope the Christians are right about "the Man upstairs."