Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ten Years After, "Adventures of a Young Organ" (1967)


Fun facts about Ten Years After (things I did not know dept.): The band stretches all the way back to 1960, with guitar player Alvin Lee (who died earlier this year) and bass player Leo Lyons putting together an act called Ivan Jay & the Jaycats. The outfit then went through several name changes (and some personnel adjustments) before settling on Ten Years After in 1966, which was in honor of Elvis Presley's banner year. I knew them first and chiefly as practitioners of acid-rock because of their Woodstock performance of "I'm Going Home," with Alvin Lee's famously impossible speedy play. This is how most people knew them at the time, I'm pretty sure, and many of the albums (spotty, to me, all of them) played more or less explicitly to that. But the first, self-titled album is something else altogether, showcasing a band that is much closer to a jazz unit. "Adventures of a Young Organ" is as good an example as any, a brief song by Lee and organ player Chick Churchill with heavy intimations of Jimmy Smith and other Hammond-style players. Yes, they were already looking to their blues-rock future on that album too, with a cover of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" and a 10-minute workup on a song with another Willie Dixon songwriting credit, "Help Me." But it's this cleaned-up bluesy-jazzy bent that I liked best about it and it's still my favorite album by them—the only one I like without reservation. Others have played this type of music better (I already mentioned Jimmy Smith) but something about the way it flouted my expectations ultimately made me very fond of it, with this song as its basic model.


  1. I actually owned this album, and Undead, which I preferred ("Woodchopper's Ball" being the ultimate Alvin Lee showcase). Also saw them live in 1968. You're right that the first album was a different kind of showcase than where they ended up. I admit it didn't do a lot for me at the time.

  2. I've been straining through some technical difficulties recently, one result being that I've listened to Pandora more. And I have to admit I caught a number of great tracks from the other TYA albums going by. I bet 1968 was the year to see them!