After the success of Alvin Lee's double live In Flight album in 1974, which saw the guitar legend break free from Ten Years After to explore different musical opportunities with a larger scale band, he decided to take this new group out on a full scale tour. Shows across Europe and the US were scheduled, and the January 18, 1975 concert at New York's Academy of Music (shortly after renamed the Palladium) was recorded and is now being released in this fine 2CD set from Rainman Music.
The band for the tour included Ian Wallace (drums), Mel Collins (sax and flute), both Ex-King Crimson, two former members of Stone The Crows, Ronnie Leahy (keyboards) and Steve Thomson (bass), as well as Brother James (percussion), and backing vocalists Donnie Perkins and Juanita Franklin. The 13 tracks included here include a mix of rock, blues, funk, and jazz, the band percolating and Lee contributing some fine guitar playing. Collins' soaring sax perfectly battles Lee's bluesy guitar licks on the vibrant opener "Got to Keep Moving", while the band brings out the heavy funk vibes for "Let's Get Back" and "Somebody's Callin' Me", Leahy's keyboards vamping up a storm and the leader dropping in some sizzling lead guitars and potent vocals. It's Alvin and his acoustic guitar for stellar renditions of "All Life's Trials", "Baby Please Don't Go", and "Time and Space", with the rest of the band joining for spirited take on the latter. Rousing jazz & blues can be heard on "There's a Feeling", complete with a scorching Collins sax solo, and the slow blues of "Every Blues You've Ever Heard" is highlighted by a hot Lee guitar solo and lush backing vocals.
Over on CD2, things kick off with the 17-minute "Percy's Roots", a blazing funk vamp with snappy guitar riffs, wild synth passages, squonking sax, a drum & percussion solo, and a full on jazz-fusion finale. Pulsating blues rock grooves permeate "Money Honey", which leads into the bluesy pop of "Going Through the Door", highlighted by a strong Lee vocal. The hard rocking "I'm Writing You a Letter" follows, the grooves thick and Lee's guitar barnstorming alongside Collins' sax and Leahy's Hammond organ. Closing out the show is the near 16-minute "Ride My Train", another tasty funk/blues/rock excursion with some tasty guitar licks, tight grooves, and soulful lead & backing vocals. Leahy drops in a great electric piano solo followed by a proggy synth exploration, which is followed by a blistering guitar solo from the leader that takes the listener out to the fiery conclusion.
Different than the non-stop blues rock assault of Ten Years After, Alvin Lee's maiden solo jaunt featured plenty of variety and a wealth of top notch musicians. Live at the Academy of Music, New York 1975 is a great live album that should hopefully find its way into your Christmas stocking this holiday season.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
- Got To Keep Moving
- Let's Get Back
- Somebody Callin' Me
- All Life's Trials
- Baby Please Don't Go
- Time and Space
- There's a Feeling
- Every Blues You've Ever Heard
- Percy's Roots
- Money Honey
- Going Through the Door
- I'm Writing You a Letter
- Ride My Train