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Music Releases (more headlines) 05-17-2004

Alvin Lee Is Joined By Scotty Moore On New Album 'Alvin Lee In Tennessee'

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Email: karen@bluestormmusic.com
Website: http://www.bluestormmusic.com
ALVIN LEE is returning to his musical roots on his new CD, ALVIN LEE IN TENNESSEE, out May 18 on Rainman Records. On his 25th album, the legendary singer and guitarist--of Ten Years After fame--is joined by his own musical heroes, former Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer DJ Fontana, to cook up an authentic blend of rockabilly and blues. LEE will mark the albumís release with a six-week co-headlining tour of the U.K.with Edgar Winter that launches April 17 in Oxford, England and wraps May 27 at Londonís famed Royal Albert Hall. A U.S. tour is expected this summer.

Ever since he picked up his first electric guitar (a Guyatone) as a kid back in Nottingham, England, LEE heard the call coming from Nashville, in the form of Scotty Moore's gritty, soulful playing on "Heartbreak Hotel" and other Elvis hits.

As he assured a local newspaper back in 1967, on the eve of his own worldwide acclaim for his instrumental wizardry with Ten Years After, Moore was his favorite player. Those rockabilly licks burned into Lee's brain and helped spark the fire in his playing--a fire that would engulf the world with his history-making solo through "I'm Going Home" at Woodstock '69. By the time the two guitarists crossed paths and briefly played together in London back in '99, Lee knew that he had no choice but to get into the studio and tear it up with his hero.

Flash forward a few years and Leeís getting off the plane in Nashville with his "Big Red" Gibson 335 guitar in hand, ready to record a new album with Moore. To make the sessions a truly special event, the recording took place in a space Moore built into his own basement. Not only that: the band that would gather there was probably the finest that could be assembled for a few days of pure rock & roll: D.J. Fontana, the rhythm dynamo on all those Moore sessions with Elvis, would lay down his no-nonsense, nothing-but-the-groove backbeat on drums. Pete Pritchard, a co-founder of the respected Alligator label, would slap, hammer, and lock his acoustic bass line into the rhythm, just as he had done on records with Chuck Berry, Bill Haley & His Comets, and other masters of the craft. And the organ and piano would be manned by Willie Rainsford, who has been summoned to record or tour with Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Marty Robbins, Steve Earle, Dottie West and countless other artists who know great keyboard playing when they hear it.

The results jump from the surface of Alvin Lee In Tennessee. Lee may never have had a band as tight and soulful as these all-stars. There's not a wasted note in the pop of Fontana's snare or Pritchard's prowling bass. And there isn't a band alive that can play pure rock and old-school R&B like these guys either. You won't hear any fancy effects, unless you count that slapback on some of Lee's lead vocals. Every song in this set exists for one purpose only: to inspire the band to hit it with passion and joy. And every lick they play is aimed right at you, with the intention of getting you out of that chair and up on your feet.

Jump right in with the opening track, "Let's Boogie," on which Lee digs into the beat with a sound and feel that recalls Western swing as much as boogie-woogie. Follow it with "Rock & Roll Girls," where the guitar changes hats and evokes the tone and feel of classic Chuck Berry--with a hint of Little Richard tossed in on the piano. Vintage Chicago R&B sets the mood on "Take My Time" and "Let's Get It On"--check out Lee's chords and fills, which take us back to some Southside lounge circa the late forties. "Getting Nowhere Fast" offers an acoustic moment, though the restlessness in the interplay between the guitars that keeps us from kicking back too far. There's much more too, all leading to a remake of Lee's Woodstock tour de force, but this time "I'm Going Home" carries a double message: There in Scotty Moore's studio, he actually has gone home.

No doubt Alvin Lee has plenty yet to do in music. Ditto for Scotty, D.J., and the rest. But with In Tennessee he's reached at least one of his goals. No matter what happens now, he can pack this music into his memory and take it wherever he goes.




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