Alvin Lee / Alvin Lee Band


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Listen to the very first cut on Freefall and you'll understand the basic problem with the Alvin Lee Band: the track is a nice piece of mid-tempo rock, rather catchy, but is Alvin Lee in there anywhere? Repeated listenings reveal that he might be singing background vocals, and that guitar lead sounds like a slick studio player who listened to a few Ten Years After records one afternoon. From the sound of the whole track, the rest of the band had been listening to Foreigner. Not everything on this album is as anonymous as the first track, and some of it sounds pretty good. This band probably should have been called the Lee/Gould band, as former Rare Bird vocalist Steve Gould has at least as much to do with the sound of the band on those first few tracks. About four cuts into Freefall, Lee seems to wake up, and he turns in some really tasty guitar and a nice, energetic vocal on "Stealin'." There are even a few whoops and shrieks thrown in, and that's OK, because the song deserves it. So does "Ridin' Truckin'" and "Sooner Or Later," which has a nice horn flourish and a tasty little organ line by guest Al Kooper. The latter track is, in fact, one of the more successful mergers of Lee's straight-ahead style with a complex arrangement, and shows the potential of the band. The closer, "Dustbin City," might even be worthy of some air guitar for those who are so inclined. Still, there's a problem here. Fans of Lee will be unhappy that he is tamed on so many of these cuts, and fans of mid-tempo AOR ballads will find too many rockers here for their tastes. The album isn't bad, but it isn't unified or satisfying.

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