Lee, Alvin - 1986 Detroit Diesel

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Alvin Lee
ALBUM: Detroit Diesel
LABEL: 21 Records
SERIAL: 7 90517-1
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image image

LINEUP: Alvin Lee - lead vocals, guitars, harmonica, drum programming, drums, bass, producer * Steve Gould - backing vocals, synthesizer, rhythm guitar, co-lead vocals, guitars * Tim Hinkley - keyboards, backing vocals, hammond organ, piano * Leo Lyons, Boz Burrell - bass * Alan Young, Bryson Graham - drums * Mickey Feat - backing vocals, bass * David Hubbard - keyboards, synth bass, emulator * Vicky Brown - female backing vocals * George Harrison - slide guitar * Jon Lord - hammond organ * Joe Brown - fiddle

TRACK LISTING: 01 Detroit Diesel * 02 Shot In The Dark * 03 Too Late To Run For Cover * 04 Talk Don't Bother Me * 05 Ordinary Man * 06 Heart Of Stone * 07 She's So Cute * 08 Back In My Arms Again * 09 Don't Want To Fight * 10 Let's Go


Best known for his work with Ten Years After, Alvin Lee hadn't quite disappeared off the radar by the time the MTV era kicked in. Written about elsewhere on GDM, the TYA tenure had cooked its goose before the 80's arrived, but Lee had by then, formed the Alvin Lee Band, with former Runner and Rare Bird member Steve Gould, as well as Runner bassist Mickey Feat.

The ALB released two albums during the early 80's, and by 1986, Lee had signed with Dutch label 21 Records (subsidiary of Polygram), who also had Dutchies Golden Earring and Highway Chile on their roster, as well as Roger Glover, Irishman Paul Brady and Simon Townshend, brother of Pete. 'Detroit Diesel' was the result of Alvin's new Dutch association, and sounds pretty good for what it is. It's classified as blues rock, but it's much more than that.

The Songs

Alvin has written most of the songs in collaboration with Gould, with co-contributions from keyboardists Tim Hinkley and David Hubbard. The guest line-up is tremendous, with the late George Harrison and Jon Lord making appearances; along with former TYA band-mate and producer Leo Lyons, and Bad Company's Boz Burrell.

The title tracks leads off, and for a minute you'd be forgiven for thinking you were listening to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, a la 'Old Time Rock N Roll'. It's a fun romp, which fuses numerous styles and genres, but ideal for GDM for sure.

The synths pump away merrily on 'Shot In The Dark', and it's clear Alvin and his merry men have embraced 80's ideals, clearing out the halls of blues for the less stodgy and prevailing and popular AOR of the time. Sounds great to me.

Cheesy synths announce 'Too Late To Run For Cover', but the song then turns into a Status Quo romp with the familiar three/four chord blues standard for a best friend.

It's ballad time for 'Talk Don't Bother Me', which sounds like a Crawler standard, with hammond organ and groovy melodic blues passages throughout. Some nice soling here from Alvin, a dose of Mark Knopfler and David Gilmour inflection on display.

We're back to parping synths and guitar aggression for 'Ordinary Man', sounding more like a hard rock offering from many of the familiar suspects from the 80's. I kept thinking of this as being a cross between ZZ Top and Fierce Heart. Strange I know, but bear with me.

Into the back half of the album we go, with 'Heart Of Stone', being one of the album's more popular tunes, though it contains more Status Quo's boogie references than I'd prefer to hear.

'She's So Cute' is a kinda cool tune though the chorus is a bit lame. However, I do like the way this tracks prowls across my headphones, fusing Robert Palmer and ZZ Top in an interesting bundle.

'Back In My Arms Again' is probably my least preferred track here. Again more cheesy 'accordion' styled synths, and a vocal delivery straight off a country and western album. Err, no thanks.

Much better is the aggressive 'Don't Want To Fight', with swirling synth work and a Robert Palmer sounding backdrop, a la 'Addicted To Love' with a melodic rock and blues sheen preferred.

Ensuring we finish things off on an upward trend, 'Let's Go' keeps things within the melodic rock context, with blues nowhere in sight. Yay!

In Summary

Alvin would only last the one album with 21 Records, however he did release one final Ten Years After album in August of 1989, entitled 'About Time' (label Chrysalis). For what it's worth, 'Detroit Diesel' is a fun little record. For those of you into the late 70's and 80's era of Status Quo, a dash of Foghat a dose of ZZ Top and a sprinkling of synths, combined with a superstar lineup, you can't go wrong. Top her up please!

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