TEN YEARS AFTER-STONEDHENGE.

TEN YEARS AFTER-STONEDHENGE.

In October 1967, Ten Years After released their eponymous debut album. The album failed to make an impression on either side of the Atlantic. It was a disappointing start to Ten Years After’s recording career. Especially considering how well things had been going for Ten Years After. 

Ever since they had changed their name from Blues Yard to Ten Years After, their fortunes had changed. They had secured a residency at the Marquee, played a starring role at the Windsor Jazz Festival and then signed to Deram Records. It had been roller coaster ride. However, it was nothing compared to the next six years.

The story began in May 14th 1968, when Ten Years After played a small gig at the Klooks Kleek jazz club in London. Deram Records arranged for the concert to be recorded. This proved a masterstroke.

When Ten Years After took to the stage, they worked their way five genre-melting songs. Everything from blues and boogie to jump blues, rock and rock ’n’ roll were combined by Ten Years After. It was a truly barnstorming performance, and a perfect way to showcase Ten Years After’s considerable skills. Their performance would come to the attention of legendary American promoter Bill Graham, who began championing their music in America.

Three months later, Ten Years After released their live album Undead in August 1968, it proved a game-changer. It was heard by legendary promoted Bill Graham. He championed Ten Years After in America. As a result, Undead reached number 115 in the US Billboard 200. This was the start of a six year period when Ten Years After could do no wrong in the eyes of the American record buying public. 

From Stonedhenge, which was recently released by Decca Music Group, right through to Ten Years After’s eighth and final studio album, Positive Vibrations, which was released in April 1974, Ten Years After spent much of their time in America. That wasn’t surprising. Ten Years After were much more popular stateside. They were the latest rock band to make it big in America. However, it was a far cry from the group’s early days, back in 1960.

That’s when Ivan Jay and the Jaycats were formed. They consisted of musicians from the Nottingham and Manfield area. This included vocalist Ivan Jay, guitarist and vocalist Alvin Lee and bassist Leo Lyons. In 1962, Ivan Jay became The Jaycats and later, Ivan and The Jaymen. Just as the name changed, so did the lineup.

Ivan Jay was the lead vocalists until 1962. He was replaced by Ray Cooper, who also played rhythm guitar. Drummer Pete Evans  joined in 1962, but left in 1965, to be replaced by Dave Quickmire. Then in 1965, Ric Evans became The Jaybirds drummer. The following year, 1966, The Jaybirds were on the move, and changed their name.

Like so many bands, The Jaybirds headed to London, where they became The Ivy League. Later, in 1966, keyboardist Chick Churchill joined The Ivy League. They soon came to the attention of future Chrysalis founder, Chris Wright. He became The Ivy League’s manager, who changed their name to Blues Trip. However, the quartet made their debut as Blues Yard.

Chris Wright got the newly named Blues Yard the job of opening for Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. That was their one and only concert as Blues Yard. Not long after this, Blues Yard became Ten Years After. This was the start of the rise and rise of Ten Years After.

Through the Chrysalis Booking Agency, Ten Years After secured a residency at the Marquee. This was a prestigious residency. Suddenly, people were taking notice of Ten Years After. However, it was their appearance at the Windsor Jazz Festival in 1967 that resulted in Ten Years After signing to the Deram, a subsidiary of Decca.

Ten Years After.

Now signed to Deram, Ten Years After began work on their eponymous debut album. Deram didn’t bother getting Ten Years After to record a single. Even then, it was obvious that Ten Years After were more of an albums band. So Ten Years After were sent into the studio to record their debut album.

For their eponymous debut album, Ten Years After chose a mixture of cover versions and new songs. Cover versions included Paul Jones’ I Want to Know, Al Kooper’s I Can’t Keep from Crying, Sometime, Willie Dixon’s Spoonful and the blues standard help me. Alvin Lee penned Feel It for Me, Love Until I Die and Don’t Want You, Woman. He also cowrote Adventures of a Young Organ with Chick Churchill and Losing the Dog with Gus Dudgeon. These ten tracks became Ten Years After.

Recording of Ten Years After took place at Decca Studios, London during September 1967. The rhythm section featured drummer Ric Lee, bassist Leo Lyons and guitar and vocalist Alvin Lee. Augmenting the rhythm section was keyboardist Chick Churchill. Producing Ten Years After were two experienced and practised producers, Mike Vernon and Gus Dudgeon. Once Ten Years After was completed, it was released in October 1967.

When Ten Years After was released in October 1967, the album was well received by critics. Many described the album as purely blues rock. That wasn’t quite the case.

Granted blues rock was the most obvious influence on Ten Years After. Other influences included Americana, country, jazz, psychedelia and rock. These influences shine through on Ten Years After, which was released in the Autumn of 1967.

Ten Years After was released on October 27th 1967. The album failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic. While this was a disappointment for Ten Years After and everyone at Deram, critics forecast a bright future Ten Years After. And so it proved to be. However, that might not have proved to be the case if Ten Years After hadn’t recorded their live album Undead.

Undead.

Just seven months after the release of their eponymous debut album, Ten Years After were scheduled to play a small gig on May 14th 1968. The venue was the Klooks Kleek jazz club in London. Deram Records had arranged for the concert to be recorded, and released as a live album. This proved a masterstroke.

When Ten Years After took to the stage, they worked their way five genre-melting songs. Everything from blues and boogie to jump blues, rock and rock ’n’ roll were combined by Ten Years After. It was a truly barnstorming performance, and a perfect way to showcase Ten Years After’s considerable skills. Their performance would come to the attention of legendary American promoter Bill Graham, who began championing their music in America.

Three months later, Ten Years After released their live album Undead in August 1968, it proved a game-changer. It was heard by legendary promoted Bill Graham. He championed Ten Years After in America. As a result, Undead reached number 115 in the US Billboard 200. This was good news for Ten Years After, who had just completed their sophomore studio album Stonedhenge. With Bill Graham championing their music, they hoped that Stonedhenge would build on Undead.

Stonedhenge.

When work began on Stonedhenge, it was a familiar story. Alvin Lee was Ten Years After’s songwriter-in-chief, penning six songs, including  Going To Try, Woman Trouble, Skoobly-Oobly-Doobob, Hear Me Calling, A Sad Song, No Title. He also cowrote Speed Kills with Mike Vernon. Keyboardist Chick Churchill contributed I Can’t Live Without Lydia, while Leo Lyons wrote Faro. Drummer Ric Lee’s contribution was arranging Three Blind Mice. Along with the other nine tracks, it was recorded at Decca Studios, in West Hampstead, London.

Recording of Ten Years After took place at Decca Studios, London between the 3rd and 15th September 1967. The rhythm section featured drummer Ric Lee, bassist Leo Lyons and guitar and vocalist Alvin Lee. Augmenting the rhythm section was keyboardist Chick Churchill. Producing Ten Years After was Mike Vernon. Once Ten Years After was completed, it was released on 22nd February 1969. 

Before the release of Stonedhenge, critics had their say on Ten Years After’s second studio album. Their boogie rock sound was still present. So was the bluesy sound that featured on Ten Years After. However, producer Mike Vernon guided Ten Years After further down roads marked blues and jazz. He managed to do this, without Ten Years After forgetting their roots. There was something for everyone on Stonedhenge. Some critics compared Ten Years After to Canned Heat. This was ironic, as Ten Years After had just supported Canned Heat. They were enjoying the most successful period of their career. That was still to come for Ten Years After. It began with Stonedhenge.

When Stonedhenge was released on 22nd February 1969, it reached number sixty-one in the US Billboard 200 charts. This was a vast improvement on Undead, which reached number 115. The next chapter in the Ten Years After story had begun with Stonedhenge.

Going To Try opens Stonedhenge. Straight away, Ten Years are teasing the listener. From an understated introduction, a urgent arrangement unfolds. It’s a fusion of rock, blues and thanks to ethnic percussion, world music. There’s even a nod to prog rock, as continually, Ten Years After vary the tempo. From there, the musical mystery tour that’s Stonedhenge continues to tease and tantalise.

This starts with I Can’t Live Without Lydia, a short, jazz-tinged track. The jazz sound continues on Woman Trouble. It has a bluesy hue. Then on the jazzy Skoobly-Oobly-Doobob, Alvin Lee takes centre-stage. He scats and delivers a breathtaking guitar solo. Hear Me Calling which closed side one of Stonedhenge, features Ten Years After combining blues and boogie rock. They sound not unlike Canned Heat, the other purveyors of this sound.

Opening side tow of Stonedhenge was A Sad Song, which is a good description of this track. It has a slow, moody and somewhat haunting sound. It’s very much of its time, sounding as if it was recorded in the late sixties. Ten Years After combine elements of pop and rock with psychedelia and blues. Then Three Blind Mice, the children’s nursery rhyme, is transformed into a one minute drum lead instrumental. This is the weakest track on Stonedhenge. No Title, an eight minute jam more than makes up for Three Blind Mice. 

No Title is a slow burner where Ten Years After showcase a slow, broody and lysergic sound. Blues, rock and psychedelia are combined, before Ten Years After start to stretch their legs, and unleash one of their best performances on Stonedhenge. Faro sadly, is a tantalising taste of what might have been. It sounds as if it’s an idea for a song, rather than a completed song. With some time and effort, Faro could’ve been a track that rivalled No Title. Speed Kills completes the musical journey that’s Stonedhenge. As the train leaves the station, Ten Years After climb onboard and combine blues and country. The country influence comes courtesy of Alvin Lee’s mid-Atlantic vocal. Meanwhile, the rest of Ten Years After kick loose, and ensure that their sophomore album Stonedhenge ends on a high.

For the four members of Ten Years After, the last two years had been a roller coaster. Their 1967 eponymous debut album had failed commercially on both sides of the Atlantic. This was a huge disappointment. The members of Ten Years After had spent seven years getting this far. However, their luck was about to change.

When promoter Bill Graham heard Ten Years After’s first live album Undead, he began to champion their music. Across America, a generation of record buyers decided to investigate this new British band. This resulted in Undead reaching number 115 on the US Billboard 200 on its release in August 1968. By then, Ten Years After had finished recording Stonedhenge, which was recently released by Decca Music Group.

On its release in February 1969, Stonedhenge reached number sixty-one in the US Billboard 200 charts. This was the start of a year Ten Years After would never forget. They played at the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1969. Next stop for Ten Years After was the Seattle Pop Festival later in July. Then on 17 August 1969, Ten Years After took to the stage at Woodstock, and played I’m Going Home. Their appearance would feature on both the soundtrack and movie. Ten Years After were about to become a musical phenomena. 

That would be the case right through until 1974. when Ten Years After split-up.  For six years Ten Years After could do no wrong, and were one of the biggest bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Although Undead was Ten Years After’s breakthrough album, it was their second studio album that brought the band to the attention of the wider record buying public. The American record buying public embraced Ten Years After for the next five years.

Stonedhenge was the start of America’s love affair with Ten Years After. The album has just been rereleased as a double album. Disc one features the mono and stereo version of Stonedhenge. On disc two, there’s six tracks, including B-Sides, live tracks and even a track from an Alvin Lee solo album. They’re be a welcome addition for anyone who wants to discover or rediscover Stonedhenge, which was the latest stop on Ten Year After’s road to commercial success and critical acclaim.

TEN YEARS AFTER-STONEDHENGE.

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