on June 22, 2000
When Ten Years After released Cricklewood Green, most British albums and nearly all American albums suffered from thin production values that made the albums sound as if they were playing back from far away or through a five cent speaker. But not this one! Ten Years After finally found a room (Olympic Studios) and a producer (Glyn Johns, as I recall) who together worked to make the fattest, punchiest and most intense album ever to issue from Alvin Lee & Company. Alvin is at his best here -- even better than the more commercially successful 'Space In Time' that came a few years later. But this one's the band at their peak. Chick Churchill's organ work is the perfect bed to hold together the rythym section section of Leo Lyons (bass) and Ric Lee (drums and no relation to Alvin). This album is the way that Ten Years After sounded live. Some of the songs from their subsequent album 'Ssshh!' sounded as they did live -- as did a few from 'A Space in Time' and 'Rock n Roll Music to the World.' But for pure TYA fans who loved the way they came out on stage and tore down the house, this is the one to get! Not only is it the best reflection of a great band at its performance peak, they were also at their best in their choice of material also. These are songs that are just as vicious and brutal today as they were when they first ripped the radiowaves back in early 1970. 'Sugar the Road' and 'Working on the Road' are still some of the quintessential TYA tracks -- as are the more mystic '50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain' and 'As the Sun Still Burns Away.' Even the mellower 'Circles' is a beautiful counterpoint to the rest of the album -- as is the swinging blues of 'Me and My Baby.' This album is a testament to the power of the Marshall Amplifer! Given enough of these things stacked floor to ceiling, and a great studio like Olympic; add a great engineer and producer; make sure you have a great band in front of those Marshalls and include their best material -- and what you end up with is 'Cricklewood Green.' A true rock masterpiece and a legendary album that blistered the airwaves and concert halls from a great band that cranked alongside groups like Led Zeppelin, Spirit, Deep Purple and Jeff Beck Group. But ah! When Ten Years After took the stage, they played like they were out to strip the paint from the walls -- and it's here, recorded just the way it happened on 'Cricklewood Green.'
on November 25, 2000
You have to give Alvin and the boys credit for this much - they didn't exactly succumb to post-Woodstock stasis without one piece of fight in them. And what a piece of fight it was...clean playing, smart (on their terms; we're not exactly talking the Band here) writing, and sympathetic production equaled the band's no-questions-asked best studio album. What their previous set, "Ssssh," merely promised, "Cricklewood" delivered in spades, including both the most spryly swinging blues Alvin Lee ever composed ("Me And My Baby") to his loveliest ballad ("Circles"). The two extended numbers both work without strain, but my nickel goes to "Love Like A Man," for both its bluesy theme riff and the surprising restraint in the jam section, Lee aiming more for expression than impression and keyboardsman Chick Churchill feeding him with precise flair. The overall effect is that of a band trying to stop their frenetic world so they could get off and regroup.
It wasn't destined to last, since the next album, "Watt," was a sad enough union of running out of ideas and recycling past inspirations (and no few past hot licks, either) as if they'd been playing them all their lives - and couldn't admit they'd about had it with them. If you must have one Ten Years After studio album (for a live album the choice is "Undead"), "Cricklewood Green" is the one to have; it's evidence that there certainly could be a little more to this band than their reputation allows.
on February 13, 2006
'Cricklewood Green' is, for the most part, a bombastic rockfest. In fact, the three tune, fifteen minute opening salvo stack up nicely against any other trio of songs from any rock and roll disc. But any album aspiring to greatness must demonstrate diversity, and 'Cricklewood Green' does that as well, although I could have lived with the rockfest through a double-album of this electrifying material! In my mind of minds I imagine Alvin Lee felt the same, and included songs such as 'Year 3000 Blues', the lone country-rock number in the set, and 'Me and My Baby' a Steve Miller sound-alike track and the lone jazz-rock number, simply to show everyone that Ten Years After was much more than a one-genre pony. As if that wasn't enough, one other genre is also explored with the acoustic folk-rock number titled 'Circles', which adds more than just diversity. The sweet chorus, "Doesn't/does it matter what I do..." mixes with the bittersweet sentiments and smooth-as-a-smoothie melody to produce what we in the music review business call 'a beaute'.
The remainder of the disc builds on the solid rock foundation established by the band in four previous albums. The two longest tracks on the disc are epics in composition and performance. Both '50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain' and 'Love Like a Man' time out at 7:37. I would believe that was an uncanny coincidence were it not for the curious fade out-fade in-fade out conclusion to '50,000 Miles...'. I submit that Alvin and Co. had more than artistic concerns in adding this audio addendum, although I have no answer to the question, "why did they do it?". Heck, why does Radio Shack ask for your address when you buy batteries, and why did The Beatles hoax Paul's death?
'Sugar the Road' opens the disc, and it is the prototypical opening number for an album or a concert, featuring great basic and lead guitar riffs, fun lyrics, cowbells, etc. 'Working On the Road', another gritty rocker, follows, with the sweet chorus, "I've got a feeling for home...". '50,000 Miles...' opens with a restrained acoustic intro which builds in nicely structured gradients into an anthemic rocker, very reminicent of Tom Petty's best work, and ending with a fine, distorted, fuzzy guitar lead. 'Love Like a Man' returns to the melodic guitar hooks and fleshy fretwork from maestro Alvin, in addition to a great sounding bass bridge. The original vinyl finished with the lumbering rocker 'As the Sun Still Burns Away', which builds steam like a locomotive, and winds up in a fog of psychedelic sound effects.
It is well worth the extra expense to obtain the 2002 UK remaster being reviewed here, primarily for the two unreleased tracks from the 'Cricklewood' sessions. 'Warm Sun', with its simplistic and catchy guitar hook, and 'To No One', a bombastic blues-rock track featuring a sweet organ-guitar bridge, are both good fits with the balance of 'Cricklewood Green'. Although lyrics are not included, the liner notes are adequately supplied with background on the band, the recording sessions, and the individual tracks. Beyond impressive, this set of Green tracks will grow on you. Like most truly classic albums, its sound is timeless. This is essential listening, folks, no two ways about it.
on April 10, 2009
Before I get to this review, in which I'll focus on the sonics of the remastered Cricklewood Green, here's a plea to Amazon: please keep reviews for remastered versions of CDs limited to the remaster! Anyone interested in buying a remaster already knows the merits of the musical content, or they wouldn't want to buy a remastered version. So we don't need reviews of old versions of the CD telling us how good the music is. The most important question to be answered in any review of a remaster is how it compares to the original version. Buyers want to know if the sonics really make it worth the money to buy it again, and yet so few reviews of remasters ever answer the question.
Now, as for my review of the Cricklewood Green remaster: If you're a fan of this disc (and you should be) then just stop reading and click the Buy button now. I have owned Cricklewood Green (and the earlier Ssssh) on the original vinyl, the first CDs, the MoFi Gold CD containing both albums, and now this remaster, which sonically blows all previous versions away.
My vinyl grooves are practically worn flat, so I can't speak to its sonic quality any longer. The first CDs of these albums were atrocious--the combo of '60s-era rock engineering and the harshness of the digital mastering rendered them almost unlistenable. The MoFi Gold CD, which I compared to this remaster directly, is certainly much better than the early CDs, but finishes second by a wide margin to this new version.
Overall, the instruments and vocals on this remaster have more weight and presence and are more clearly defined in the soundfield. I don't mean this in that etched, artificial sort of way that you hear on some remasters--no, I've bought my share of those, and this ain't one of 'em, thankfully! What you get here is sound that sounds totally natural, while still sounding better than you've ever heard it before. Once you've heard this version, the MoFi, by comparison, sounds flatter and far less dynamic, with vocals and instruments lacking that three dimensional sound.
The limiting factor at this point is the original quality of the engineering on the master tapes, which is very good but not great. So, four stars.
on October 2, 2007
Cricklewood Green was one of the first LPs I purchased, and this transfer makes me remember why. Of the eight tracks from the LP, five are excellent. That is a high percentage.
TYA was riding high in 1970 when this LP was released. Shortly after Woodstock, where Alvin's too long performance of "I'm Going Home" made folks doubt his veracity, and after 3 solid but unspectacular releases, TYA found a huge success. Cricklewood Green was, according to the liner notes, on the Top 10 for months. Nearly everything worked on this. Alvin's tendency to overlong solos was reined in, his writing was crisper and tidier than before, keyboards were used brilliantly, the drumming was solid, and the vocals worked perfectly. This was British blues that rocked, or British rock that bled blue. Either way, this LP launched them to a height they never again were to reach. A Space In Time had their biggest radio song, but was far weaker, and I never heard any of their later stuff, nor did I seem to have reason to.
Nope, as far as I know, Cricklewood Green stands at the top of their not unlofty pile of work. Whittle it down to the best, and you have a scorching, well-written and well played set list that stands against anything of its time. And the remastering is excellent. I listened to this on excellent stereo equipment way back when, and this was so clean and clear. I was impressed.
Forget the "bonus tracks" one is negligible, and one is dreadful; no bonus there, I'm afraid. While I hate to see 40 minutes of material on 80 minute discs, nothing was gained by adding these, and something was lost. As The Sun Still Burns Away was a sensational closer, a fiery and inflamed guitar with burning singing and scorching keyboards; now two more tepid songs follow to diminish the mood.
on June 4, 2009
While I've owned the 2001 Chrysalis version of Cricklewood Green for several years, and consider it to be a rock classic, I've always longed for something that sounded better sonically. That version is very muddy and muffled.
Well, I just received the 2002 EMI Europe version, and it is everything I hoped for - and more than I expected. It sounds VERY good - dramatically better than the Chrysalis issue. It also has a nice booklet where Chrysalis gives you a folded paper with the outer album art on it. Buy it new from a Marketplace seller, and you'll pay the same price as you would if you bought the lesser Chrysalis from Amazon. That's a good deal!
on July 7, 2002
I can't tell you how many times we sat around listening to this classic.Remastered with a nice booklet and 2 extra tracks from the original LP sessions.This version sounds great.I'm elated!
on February 21, 1999
Hendrix,Santana,Page,Clapton,Allman,Zappa is where Alvin Lee was when this record was released.One of the defining moments of Guitar Rock.
on September 11, 2014
Many a debate has been waged over this album & the album "WATT" by Ten Years After, as to which one is better!! Music is subject to each individuals taste & I love this album but I lean towards "WATT" as being the better! Much more important than this is that Ten Years After was often overlooked & I envy those who are about to discover them for the first time! There Woodstock performance drew short term attention to them & the success of their song "I'd Love to Change the World" gave many the impression they were just another hippie type band! This could not be farther from the truth they were a Powerhouse Blues band that delved into many different genre's to add extra flavor to their songs! I would have no problem putting Alvin Lee T.Y.A.'s guitarist on the same ground as Page, Hendrix , Clapton, Les Paul or any other guitar genius people love to talk about! As I would put the band Ten Years After right up there with some of the music industries giants like Led Zeppelin!!! Now I am not saying they were better than Zeppelin but there music is right up there with the greats! Wheather they were overshadowed by there contemporary's or they didn't have as good promoters I just don't know! But I do know great music when I hear it & T.Y.A. offers a lot of hours of great music on their many album's. I just hope that the fans that are familiar with this under the radar band will draw some new fans attention with there reviews! T.Y.A. is just to good to be missed & after all these years there music is still as exciting & potent as ever! My 18 & 21 year old children can testify to that as they hear me playing T.Y.A. & ask WOW!! who is that Dad those guy's are really shredding & rocking up a storm!!!! If your a fan from the old days you know I am right, this band deserves way more credit than they ever got & new fans are in for a treat with a back log of awesome music to experience!!!
on September 22, 2014
Ten Years After's first great album. Awesome songs and a great overall consistency. Just the right amount of psychedelisized rock and roll blues. Love Like a Man, Sugar the Road, Me and my Baby are just a few of my favorite songs. It sounds clichéd but they just don't make em like this anymore.