Posts Tagged ‘Mylon LeFevre’

Saturday Single No. 453

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., a day that’s become the occasion for picnics, barbecues and fireworks, all taking place, maybe, without much thought about the day’s historical import. I imagine, though, there are still towns and cities where there might be a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia 239 years ago today.

That document made the case for political freedom and, at least implicitly, the personal freedoms that followed. (It was, of course, all much more complex than that simple sentence seems to imply, but I’m not going to get into a political science lecture here. Just nod your head and follow along.)

And as I dug through the digital files this morning for a tune for Independence Day, I came across “On The Road To Freedom” by Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre. It was personal freedom and personal realization – things difficult to attain without political freedom at the base – that Lee was writing about and thinking about when the song became the title tune for their very good 1973 album:

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met a rich man on the road
He told me where to go
To get my hands upon some gold
But I still answered no
’Cause freedom waits for me ahead
Your gold will slow me down
I smiled as I walked on my way
And left him with a frown

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met an old man on the road
His eyes were clear and wise
Can you direct me on my way
To where the answer lies
I’m looking for the road to freedom
So I can be free
He said keep thinking as you walk
And one day you will see

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to truth
Yonder can you see them
Wasting precious youth

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I thought as I walked down the road
Of what the man had said
It seems to me that what he meant
Is freedom’s in your head
The road I walk along is time
It’s measured out in hours
And now I need not rush along
I stop to see the flowers
Stop to smell the flowers

And that link between political freedom and personal freedom and realization is what makes “On The Road To Freedom” a good choice for an Independence Day Saturday Single.

(Personnel on the track: Alvin Lee on vocals, bass, guitar and background vocals; Mylon Lefevre on background vocals and percussion; Steve Winwood on piano; Jim Capaldi on drums; Rebop on congas.)

‘So Sad . . .’

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I’m a regular at the St. Cloud Public Library, dropping in frequently to scan the new fiction and non-fiction alike and frequently to pick up CDs and the occasional DVD after I’ve reserved them. (The library in downtown St. Cloud is technically the main branch of the Great River Regional Library, a six-county system, but that gets awkward, so most folks around here just call it the St. Cloud Public Library.)

And I was there yesterday afternoon, picking up a few things: A songbook of music by Cris Williamson (having decided it was long past time for me to learn how to play “Like An Island Rising,” which was Saturday Single No. 1 almost eight years ago) and several CDs by folk artist Eliza Gilkyson. I also grabbed a series of five mystery/suspense novels by Sam Eastland set in the Soviet Union during Stalinist times, and as I sorted my stuff atop the cabinets that hold CDs, I happened to glance at a CD that looked vaguely familiar. So I took a look.

It was Still On The Road To Freedom, a 2012 release by the late Alvin Lee, who passed on in 2013, and its title and cover reference On The Road To Freedom, Lee’s 1973 release with Mylon LeFevre.

combined

That 1973 release has been a favorite of mine since I came across it in 1999 during my Minneapolis-based days of vinyl madness, and I was surprised to learn that, except for a couple of passing references, I’ve never written about it in this space.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lee, of course, was the lead guitarist for Ten Years After, a successful British blues band that came to wide attention via its performance at Woodstock in 1969 and the inclusion of the band’s performance of “I’m Going Home” in the film Woodstock a year later. When Lee left Ten Years After and teamed up with gospel performer LeFevre for the 1973 release, it seemed like a statement of some type and possibly a career-changer. Given its title, the 2012 release I found in the library yesterday was obviously a statement. That conclusion was borne out by Lee’s liner notes:

In 1972 after Woodstock had catapulted Ten Years After into the Rock Arenas, I decided to take the road to freedom rather than the road to fame and fortune. It was the only decision for me as in my desperation to get away from the responsibility and the commerciality of the music industrialists, I was in danger of joining the dead before 30 club . . .

I was searching for and needing freedom.

It was freedom from long tour schedules playing every night in huge arenas where the sound echoed like a freight shed and the security was armed police with cotton wool in their ears.

Freedom from the managers, agents and lawyers who saw me as a money making commodity. “We only want what’s best for you, my boy.” Yeah sure.

Freedom from being responsible for satisfying other people’s greed.

But most of all – freedom to make music of my own choice without worrying about what other people thought or expected.

I don’t know yet how the music on Still On The Road To Freedom stacks up. I’ve listened to a bit of it, and what I’ve heard, I like. I’m going to take some time to dig into it and hope that it’s a set of tunes I’d like keep at hand. Titling the CD as he did, Lee was clearly drawing a connection between the 2012 set and the 1973 set, and that raises my expectations. I’ll likely report back on what I hear; if I don’t, readers can likely assume that I was underwhelmed by the 2012 album.

In the meantime, here’s a gem from Lee’s 1973 sessions with LeFevre, the single version of “So Sad (No Love Of His Own),” a George Harrison tune. LeFevre handles the lead vocal and harmonies; Lee provides guitar and background vocals; Ron Wood plays twelve-string guitar; Mick Fleetwood handles drums; and a fellow credited for contractual reasons as Hari Georgeson takes care of guitar, slide guitar, bass and harmony vocals.

The single did not chart, which I think is a shame.