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Leo Lyons and Hundred Seventy Split — Movin’ On


Remember Ten Years After?

 

Yes, that Ten Years After: The British blues-rock unit that, under Alvin Lee’s lead, stormed the Woodstock stage in 1969, electrified a sea of 600,000plus at the Isle of Wight Festival the following year, and then flooded American airwaves with “I’d Love to Change the World” shortly thereafter.

 

Well, in case you haven’t met before, the quake heard—and felt—coming off the performances in those days emanates from Leo Lyons’ full-body spasms on bass. It is his signature. No, the mustached marauder has never been one to remain statuesque or faint.

 

And, at a hale 80 years old, the veteran rocker is still quaking bandstands and subwoofers with his handiwork. Except Lyons’ preoccupation for the past 20some years has been Hundred Seventy Split, a textbook power trio triangulated by drummer Damon Sawyer and vocalist/guitarist Joe Gooch, who filled the centerstage void in Ten Years After for a decade upon Alvin’s departure in 2003.

 

Barging into your ears is their seventh album, Movin’ On. Its ten original tracks—stretched between the pile-driving trudge of the leadoff “Walking in the Devil’s Shoes” and the throttling rat-race finale in “Time to Kill”—define the band’s here-there-and-everywhere flexibility.

 

“Heart of a Hurricane,” paired with the likewise melodically flowing “The Road Back Home,” leaves you humming well after the raging chords have faded out. Same can be said for the doomful “Black River,” except extra time and space gets freed up for its chords to rage as well as rattle the walls all the longer. Hundred Seventy Split keeps right on shifting effortlessly. “It’s So Easy to Slide” is nimble and noticeably breezy under Lyons and Sawyer’s bonded swing, for which Gooch has saved his jazziest—yet amped-up—fills and licks. Not to be out-swung, “Meet Me at the Bottom” buoys its troubles with an easy, rustic hop decorated by streams of acoustic fingerpicking.

 

“Mad Bad and Dangerous,” on the other hand, plows. And plows both hard and at quite a clip. After all, it was intended as a kindred spirit to “I’m Coming Home,” the frantic freakout that no Ten Years After show would dare be without. And as long as comparisons are flying, “Beneath That Muddy Water” shares with “I’d Love to Change the World” an effective pairing of unplugged guitar lines that get devoured by increasingly irate electric outbursts.

 

But then Hundred Seventy Split wipes the slate clean with “Sounded Like a Train,” a whiplash headbanger pierced by Lyons’ raw and raunchy basslines sinking into the ground.

 

Label: Flatiron Recordings

Release Date: 10/6/23

Artist Website: http://www.leolyons.org/

 

Reviewed by Dennis Rozanski




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