Ten Years After - A Sting in the Tale (Deluxe Edition)
by Kevin Wierzbicki
It has been eight years since the passing of Alvin Lee, the singer and guitarist that fronted British blues rock band Ten Years After during their heyday. Lee had not played with TYA for a decade prior to his death, and the band, prone to break-ups and reunions, has changed lineups multiple times. For this album the band features original members Ric Lee on drums and Chick Churchill on keyboards along with singer and guitarist Marcus Bonfanti and bass man Colin Hodgkinson, and the foursome collaborated on the writing of all but one of the songs on this deluxe edition (a bonus live rendition of the band's big 1971 hit, "I'd Love to Change the World.") And they've done well adding to the band's legacy, with '70s-ish rockers like "Land of the Vandals" and "Iron Horse" where Bonfanti portrays a man who likens his lovemaking prowess to a locomotive, and the slow simmer of "Up in Smoke," a farewell to a love relationship destroyed by the man's dissipation. Lots of blues rock songs feature an ominous groove and TYA utilize the trope perfectly on "Retired Hurt" where Bonfanti's nervous guitar work and edgy vocals combine with lurking organ riffs from Churchill to portend the arrival of an unsavory situation. Bonfanti gets some time on harmonica on the fast shuffle "Two Lost Souls" while some guitar notes in "Diamond Girl" seem to nod to "I'd Love to Change the World." Speaking of the band's very famous oldie, this deluxe edition of A Sting in the Tale
appends four bonus cuts, three of which are live versions of album cuts while the fourth is a satisfying live take on the classic rock mainstay.