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Still on the Road to Freedom


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Performer Notes
  • It seems that the ex-Ten Years After frontman considers this 2012 release a career recap of sorts, at least judging from its title, which references Lee's first solo album circa 1973. Although Mylon LeFevre, who was co-billed on that disc, is inexplicably M.I.A. (it would have been nice for Lee to mention him in his self-penned liner notes), the organic nature of this one does capture the nearly 40-year-old album's rather loose, homespun structure that was such a departure from Ten Years After's "I'm Going Home" boogie. Still, this is bookended by some of Lee's most overtly TYA-sounding material, with the lead-off title track and especially "Midnight Creeper" capturing his first band's psychedelic blues as effectively as anything he's recorded since. He closes by dusting off his boogie chops in "Down Line Rock" and a radically rearranged (and far inferior) version of TYA's hit "Love Like a Man." But in between, Lee also indulges his love of Sun-styled rockabilly on "I'm a Lucky Man," acoustic country blues ("Walk on Walk Tall," "Blues Got Me So Bad"), Canned Heat-styled thumping electric blues ("Save My Stuff"), Memphis funk (the brief, seemingly unfinished "Rock It Baby"), Okie-J.J.Cale-inspired shuffle on the appropriately titled "Nice and Easy," and traditional folk (another instrumental, "Song of the Red Rock Mountain"). He also plays to his Bo Diddley impulses on the "my generation's getting old and boring" lyrics of "Back in '69." Lee's in terrific voice throughout, and anyone who hears this next to tracks from his band's '70s heyday would be hard pressed to notice that 40 years that have passed. Lee plays a variety of instruments, but unlike 2007's Saguitar, where his lackluster drumming was a musical deterrent, Richard Newman fills the drum chair on the majority of these tracks. It's a spirited session that still seems stitched together and often choppy, with some tunes rushed or just not fully cooked. Even though it doesn't flow particularly well, there is enough energy to recommend this to established Lee fans. They should be thrilled to hear the once-frantic, rocking guitarist still releasing quality material in a variety of rootsy styles when many of his peers have long since retired or are, like his old TYA comrades, recycling their four-decade-old schtick to a dwindling cult. ~ Hal Horowitz
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