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A Space In Time
Ten Years After

Columbia KC30801
Released: August 1971
Chart Peak: #17
Weeks Charted: 26
Certified Platinum: 11/21/86

Alvin LeeLike a hamster running on a treadmill, Ten Years After is expending energy without moving. A Space in Time, the group's first album for Columbia, re-hashes most of the material on the last four Ten Years After releases. There are a couple of Alvin Lee guitar specials, several low key attempts at relevant social commentary, and a lot of underdeveloped unsuccessful music. The record is an improvement over the disastrous Watt, but hardly a sufficient one.

Ten Years After - A Space In Time
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The original material and arrangments are terribly lame. Vocal melodies and guitar lines are virtually indistinguishable from one song to the next and few arrangements highlight anything besides Alvin Lee and his two, three or four guitar parts. Chick Churchill's potential as an additional soloist, for example, is stupidly wasted by having him play only rhythm accompaniment on piano and organ behind Lee's numerous leads. Although bassist Leo Lyons and drummer Ric Lee provide the band with a foundation that is both workable and firm, Ten Years After does not use this rhythmic support to the best possible advantage.

There are some worthwhile exceptions, however. "One of These Days" is a compelling opening track with good all-round instrumentation, even if it does drag on a bit. "Hard Monkeys" and "I'd Love to Change the World" contain intriguing guitar riffs, but nothing much else of any distinction. The best piece on this album is a Chuck Berry whitewash called "Let Me Rock 'n' Roll You." Ten Years After is quite adept at playing this quasi-Berry stuff, but I with they hadn't tacked on many banal sound effects to spruce the song up.

Alvin Lee's lyrics have always served as merely adequate vocal companions to his instrumental pyrotechnics, but the words on this album border on the senseless and inane. When Lee sings "Got no streetcar named desire/And I'll never light her fire" in "Hard Monkeys" you know that he doesn't know what he's talking about. And a poet he's not; just listen to his attempt at a tactful metaphor in the horrendous "Over the Hill": "Like a cripple and his crutch/I have learned a bit too much/Seems that doubt (?) should never touch again." This song, incidentally, features a grating string quartet arrangement behind Alvin's singing and easily rates as the group's worst studio track.

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Fans of Ten Years After will undoubtedly receive A Space in Time with wide open arms, but others may find the weak material and electronic leger de main too much to bear.

- John Koegel, Rolling Stone, 10/14/71.

Bonus Reviews!

Columbia has added to its prestige and profits by luring one of the best English rock & blues bands to its labels. Ten Years After has kept its part of the bargain with one of its most consistently excellent LP's. No throwaway cuts here, but superb instrumental and vocal performances, especially "Here They Come," "I'd Love To Change The World" and "One Of These Days," all written by lead Alvin Lee.

- Billboard, 1971.

In which the rock heavy comes of age with his toughest, fullest, and most coherent album. I like it in a way, but it does lack a certain winning abandon, and I'm not crazy about the heavy's economic theories -- fellow seems to believe that if you "tax the rich to feed the poor" you soon run out of the rich, with dire consequences. B-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

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