After Alvin Lee’s death in March of 2013, Rainman Records released The Last Show, a fine recording of Lee’s final on stage performance in May of 2012. Due to the excellence of that recording, I looked forward to hearing the recent Rainman release, British Live Performance Series. It captures Ten Years After (TYA) recorded live in 1990 at “Studio 8” television in Nottingham, England – this is a reissue of an earlier version.
Does this release meet the standard set by The Last Show or the 1990 TYA release Recorded Live? Well, let’s take a look at the 11 tracks in order to answer that question.
“Let’s Shake It Up” – This song demonstrates that the band was, at least initially, in fine form that day.
“Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” – “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s blues standard from 1937 is transformed into a Cream-style workout. I prefer the original arrangement on the Ssssh album. This version comes off as tight, yet frantic.
“Slow Blues in C” – An OK track but nothing special. At least it feels shorter than its length of 5:39.
“Hobbit” – Most drum solos in rock should have been eliminated (IMHO), including this one (or at least shortened).
“Love Like A Man” – One of the best tracks from Cricklewood Green, it sounds positively husky here.
“Johnny B. Goode” – It’s not as good a choice as “Sweet Little Sixteen” – both Chuck Berry tunes – on Watt.
“Bad Blood” – Lee, Leo Lyons (bass), Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill (keyboard) in a fine groove. Just shy of six minutes, they probably should have kept it going for at least 12 to 15 minutes.
“Victim of Circumstance” – A song from the 1989 release About Time (the album TYA was promoting at the time). It’s not one of their best numbers.
“I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometime” – From the 1967 debut album Ten Years After. The song effectively segues from blues-rock into psychedelia, before speeding up to become just another TYA jam. It borrows a riff from The Doors’ “When the Music’s Over” and drags on until boredom sets in.
“I’m Going Home” – On a 10-point scale, this one’s about a 4. Twenty-one years after Woodstock, the thrill was gone. Here, TYA sounds like a cover band. Clearly, they became bored with the song, which should have been reserved for nights when the band was fully cooking.
“Sweet Little Sixteen” – The live version on Watt is better.
The sound quality on this recording is poor, especially considering that it was recorded in a major TV studio. As a friend said, “It’s a harsh mix with too much high end and snare” – the snare drum being annoyingly front and center, and Lyon’s generally exemplary bass work is mostly missing in action aurally. Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to hear a single note from the keyboard played by Churchill.
To quote my friend again, “Despite the harsh mix, this concert demonstrated how TYA was able to fill venues for years. When the lights were on, they were right at home giving it their all.” Yes, like The Kinks, TYA gave it 110% each and every night. It’s a shame about the sound on this release. The Last Show or Recorded Live are definitely better choices.