Triple Played: Death of Alvin Lee saddens
It was with shock and complete sadness when I learned of the March 6 death of Alvin Lee, former lead guitarist of Ten Years After and accomplished solo artist since 1974.
Lee’s website, alvinlee.com, said he died “after unforeseen complications from a routine surgical procedure.”
Ten Years After was a British blues-rock group that mainly recorded between 1967 and 1974.
I was introduced to their music in junior high school in 1971 with the release of “A Space In Time,” which was the band’s best-selling album because of the classic single “I’d Love to Change the World.”
After I heard their famous career-changing Woodstock performance of “I’m Going Home,” I went out bought “Ssssh” with “Bad Scene” and “Stoned Woman” and “Cricklewood Green” with “Love Like A Man” and “Working on a Road” to add to my growing record collection.
Lee left Ten Years After in 1974 after recording the classic LP “On the Road to Freedom” with Christian music singer/songwriter Mylon LeFevre. The album, which is one of my lifelong favorites, also features George Harrison, Ron Wood, Steve Winwood, Mick Fleetwood and Jim Capaldi.
In 2012, Lee recorded the follow-up titled “Still on the Road to Freedom.” In the liner notes, Lee said the reason he broke up Ten Years After in 1974 is he did not think he could continue on that kind of lifestyle and live to be 30, and he had no regrets.
Lee was 68 when he died, still way too young in my book.
Thankfully, 69-year-old Boz Scaggs is still very much alive and every bit as good a singer if not better than he was in 1969, when he sang in the Steve Miller Band for its first two albums before embarking on a successful solo career.
“Memphis” is Scaggs’ 19th solo effort and, in my opinion, his best record since “Some Change” and “Come On Home” in the mid-1990s.
Featuring a mix of covers and originals, “Memphis” is Scaggs’ homage to the R&B and soul music of the early 1970s.
Recorded in Memphis studio that recorded Al Green and other R&B artists of the time and produced by Steve Jordan, you could close your eyes when you listen and see Green singing many of these songs. In fact, the second track, “So Good to Be Here,” was written by Green.
Scaggs also covers Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia,” Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s “Pearl of the Quarter,” Moon Martin’s “Cadillac Walk,” Willy Deville’s “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl,” and Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Cryin’” among others.
The Emotions classic “Love On A Two Way Street” also is covered with perfection, as are all of the 12 tracks.
Scaggs’ incredible voice and the extremely tight band are the stars as he can still hit the high notes with a voice that is as pure as a horn. Most guys his age cannot get near them.
A natural singer who doesn’t ever seem to put a strain on his vocal chords, Scaggs is one of my all-time favorite singers and he delivers what I can confidently say is going to be one of this year’s very best recordings.