As some of you may know, I recently acquired a guitar that I have pined after for many a year – the Gibson ES-335. It does not fail to disappoint, with incredible tone, build and looks. Yikes.
What compelled me to yearn for such a thing of beauty? Was it the well-known Back To The Future scene? Chuck Berry duck walking around like a loon? BB King making his ES-335 purr with his trademark blues licks?
No! It was one man only – the now sadly deceased Alvin Lee.
Man had good tone.
At one point the fastest guitarist on the planet, Alvin Lee and his band Ten Years After played the blues at an electrifying speed and volume, equally at home with the softer and more soulful touch as they were with all out rock and roll.
In fact, the below song inspired me to learn to play the guitar, with the tone that Lee wrangles out of his ES-335 firmly imprinted upon my brain from a young age. Pilfered from my father’s record collection as a teenager, I’m Going Home (taken from the album Recorded Live) will tear through your ears and inject adrenaline straight into your backbone.
The whirlwind introduction gives way to Lee throwing out some great blues playing and singing with a gurgling bass. The real moment of magic though is at 4.03 until 4.50. A flurry of notes with fantastic spacing followed by some of the earliest shredding on record, it literally propelled me to pick up the stringed slab of wood. Bridge pickup, just enough bite and the perfect amount of overdrive sent me into a music induced coma of joy.
Picking up again at 6.04 with tuneful organ backing, it is topped off by phenomenal playing between 8.08 and 8.41. It is what the guitar was designed for. The entire Recorded Live album is well worth a listen, as it is a fantastic, energetic live album by any standard showcasing one of Britain’s greatest unsung guitar heroes.
Click here for the famous live video of the song recorded live when Ten Years After took to the stage at Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Now, back to the latest addition of ma famille……