Sound: Tens Years After is not a very well known band, and a lot of people have never even heard of them. They were part of the second British blues invasion between 1966-1975. On "Ssssh" they maintain the same lineup from the debut with Alvin Lee (guitar and vocals), Leo Lyons (bass), Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill on organ. The album reached #20 on Billboard for 1969 but achieved even higher success in the band's country at #4 in the UK. There is just so much hard rock blues provided on here it is almost as good as "Super Session" by Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills the year before. This album would anticipate their ultimate masterpiece "Cricklewood Green" and it's the band during their golden age. // 10
Lyrics: Lee remains to be the band leader and only composer of all the songs here except for a heavy cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little School Girl" and Lightnin' Hopkins' "I Woke Up This Morning" in incredible blues rock format. "Bad Scene" starts out with what sounds like a chicken clucking at a really high pitch, shortly after, Lee and Churchill start on the drums and keyboards. When Alvin Lee begins to sing as he plays a fuzzy guitar riff. Then, after he's done singing the song switches to a slower tempo, with Lee hitting some high pitched notes. The fast riff starts up again for Lee to sing. There's a little bridge after the second verse where Churchill plays a way different part that sounds kind of like a piano in an old saloon. Lee provides another one of his signature solos. There are numerous amounts of different riffs in this song making it really something great on its own. "Two Time Mama" is yet another blues song, it's quite short and it is done with folk overtones with great slide parts that make the sound even stronger there and it also provides another undoubtedly blues ladened solo; it's another favorite of mine off the track and has a great blues lyric theme about cheating women and blues from relationship problems like a Hound Dog Taylor type of song (even though I love Alvin Lee Hound Dog Taylor remains to be one of the most important electric blues legends and I respect him as much as I respect Lee).
"Stoned Woman" definitely gives you the whole stoner and '60s thematic drug usage subject but definitely in some really slick, well laid down music. Lyons starts the song out with his catchy progression with Lee starting the main riff and he sings with such rage and passion while constantly lead soloing. "Good Morning Little School Girl" slowly would build momentum from starting off soft until great intense solo starts up, an briskly picks up with bass playing the riff in the background, and Ric Lee tapping on the symbol. The whole band starts in on the soloing after about two minutes of guitar solo. The main riff starts up again, but very softly, and gets steadily louder, until it drops back to the softer intro after the climax all the while the band contributes solid fills. After the drum solo the song ends abruptly, this is probably the best song on the album because of the rock crazed jamming. "If You Should Love Me" surprisingly sounds quite modern and familiar to something I've heard not from the '60s, it has a very close chord structure to The Bee Gees' song "To Love Somebody" but it's arranged in such a way that it sounds completely different and has more rock and roll flirtations with all members providing solos. // 9
Overall Impression: They had a very underrated front man, Alvin Lee, who is a top-notch guitarist. Ten Years After in fact had played at Woodstock, and are in the movie playing their jam of "I'm Coming Home," that's extremely good. These guys are a very superb live band, and they're probably at their bast when they're on stage performing. This is a very talented, and very underrated band, so I hope you give them a listen, and I hope you like what you hear. Unfortunately the great Alvin Lee had just passed away a very unfortunate death in the 6th of March, 2013.
Overall this record is superb, and is a must have. I think it' probably one of the best albums in their discography along with their highly overlooked eponymous debut which has a great jazz and blues rock fusion. Their other really good album is their s/t, which I'll probably review it pretty soon. If you like bluesy rock, and like a wholesome amount guitar then this is the album for you. These guys are probably one of the most underrated bands, so if you ever want to start listening to a new band then try these guys out, chances are you'll love it. // 10