Album of the Day: ALVIN LEE’s RX5

Alvin Lee’s 1981 album RX5 was the follow up to 1980’s Free Fall (which was released as The Alvin Lee Band), with the same players. I wasn’t (still not) familiar with all of Alvin Lee’s work, so not sure what I expected when I picked this up more recently. First thing I noticed was the Derek Riggs’ cover art! Not much like his more famous Iron Maiden works, but definitely interesting, kinda looks like a Star Wars character with a guitar, and well the album title is odd. RX5 is less of a blues-rock record, and more of a mainstream rock album, with memorable tunes and great performances. Nothing overly heavy, but most of this rocks. Lee shares songwriting and vocals with Steve Gould (ex Rare Bird, Runner) , Gould also plays guitar, as well there’s Mickey Feat on bass (ex Streetwalkers, Van Morrison, Runner), Tom Compton on drums (Ten Years Later), and keyboards by Chris Stainton (Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Boxer).

Steve Gould comes up with more of the material here, notably favorites like “Lady Luck” and album closer “High Times”. Lee’s “Can’t Stop” is an excellent track here, love the drums and Lee’s guitar soloing as it plays out, reminds me mid ’70s Fleetwood Mac in some ways. There’s also a fine cover of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” and another outside track – “Wrong Side Of The Law”, which is a cool upbeat guitar rocker, ala Foreigner. I’ve read some mixed reviews of this album, but I gotta say there’s not a bum track here, so I’ll be revisiting for some time to come. *CD reissue contains the blues/fusion instrumental “Shuffle It”.

The last album was long on riffs, but short on songs. This time around Alvin has the package he needs–great graphics, and two especially airworthy trax. Listen to “Can’t Stop”, and my favorite, “Lady Luck”. – FMQB

ALVIN LEE -RX5, Atlantic SD19306. No producer credited. Less than 10 years after Ten Years After, Alvin Lee is still proving he knows how to rock and roll. Guitar -playing, on which Lee receives an assist from Steve Gould, is outstanding. The energy level remains high from first cut to last. A strong effort. Best cuts: All. – Billboard


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