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Ten Years After - “A Sting In The Tale” (2017) review


Ten Years After - A Sting In The Tale (2017)

Several things come to light on A Sting In The Tale, with the first being that Alvin Lee has still not channeled a single note in from the great beyond, and fans finally understand that Ten Years After was not an Alvin Lee project. The band came into being during the Summer of Love (1967) and then took the world by storm at Woodstock, yet somehow, even while racking up staggering sales during the 70’s they managed to forever live under everyone’s radar, before breaking up in 1974.

This album is one of those releases which really doesn’t belong to the actual band Ten Years After in any manner, any more than that silliness Grace Slick did with a band called Starship had anything to do with The Jefferson Starship. With Ten Years After having gone through several revivals of sorts, the lack of Alvin Lee on guitar has always been the sticking point, so it should surprise no one that founding members Chick Churchill and Rick Lee have here attempted to revive the band following the death of their guitar genius Alvin Lee in 2013, and features new members Chris Hodgkinson on bass (of Peter Green, Spencer Davis, Backdoor and several other bands) and Marcus Bonfanti on vocals and guitar (of Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood’s band and playing with Ginger Baker). That being said, I would not wish to be in the shoes of either of these gentlemen.

So, with nearly an entirely new band in tow, what’s delivered here are a dozen numbers of solid modern day bluesy rock, with perhaps the memory of Ten Years After dancing somewhere in the background. The saving grace is that the album’s not designed around a missing guitar virtuoso, and while many will hear this lack of rock guitar soaring, their turn to more melodic mellow and acoustic based blues tracks give the album a defined sound all its own, making me wish that the group name Ten Years After had not been used, and we were presented with a new band, along with a new sound, that just happened to contain a pair of musical icons.

While not Alvin Lee playing by any means, there are tracks such as “Two Lost Souls,” “Up In Smoke” and “Diamond Girl” that do evoke a sense of those long lost memories, though the balance and delicacy of some of rock’s finest vocals that were woven throughout the original band’s material, as heard on songs like “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain,” “Two Time Mama” or “Turned Off T.V. Blues” will never be heard again.

The truth here is that this Ten Years After are attempting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a totally different Ten Years after, which pretty much makes this a commercial capital consideration at best, when what those founding members could have done, was to go back into the studio and shine new light on those old recordings, giving the world a boxed set of something actually worthy of remembering.

*** The Fun Facts: Oddly enough, I laughed to myself with the meaning of the expression “A sting in the tail,” pretty much summing up how I feel about this album: an unexpected, typically unpleasant or problematic end to something.

Seems Ten Years After decided to lift their album art straight from Deja Vu, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, right down to the texturing.

- Jenell Kesler
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