When I'm President and Still On The Road To Freedom : Conversations With Ian Hunter and Alvin Lee


A Conversation With Ian Hunter

Mike Ragogna: So your new album is titled When I'm President. Candidate Ian Hunter, when you're president, what will you do, sir?

Ian Hunter: I would much prefer five hundred banks to five banks. I think I'll tighten up the monopoly commission.

MR: Now, your last couple of albums were a little more political than not, whereas this one covers a lot of bases. When you were writing the songs for this album, what were some of your inspirations?

IH: I don't know... I've read a lot on the Civil War, so I guess that was behind some of it--songs like "Saint" and "Ta Shunka Witco," the Crazy Horse saga. I've always been a fan of the underdog, and Crazy Horse was about the biggest underdog you could think of, plus he's so interesting because nobody ever managed to take a photograph of him. He believed that if you took a photograph of him, his shadow would disappear, and he was against that altogether. Very interesting character. I really got inside that one. I've been doing so much political stuff, so I thought I'd do a rock 'n' roll album. So really, it's just song-by-song.

MR: I have little objectivity, I have to confess, when it comes to you and your music since I'm such a fan. On the other hand, this could be my favorite album since Short Back And Sides or You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, which I think is a perfect album.

IH: Yeah, that was a good, fun album. ...Schizophrenic was short. It didn't take very long at all. This one took about four days. We had to go back and mix it and everything, but the actual recording of it was done in four days--much of the vocals are live. They sound much more excited and purposeful that way than if you run them into the ground.

MR: Did you do it in the old-school recording session style where you have the rhythm section together and then overdub?

IH: Oh, it was all done live.

MR: And maybe that's where the rock 'n' roll vibe on this album comes from?

IH: You try and do that. You try and get it up and you try and get the power and you try and get the passion and if you're in it longer than a couple of weeks, you're not going to get that. Fortunately, I have a band that can actually do their homework, go in there, and it sounds pretty good right from the off. So most of these songs on this record are first, second, or third takes at the most.

MR: And of course you're using your Rant Band.

IH: Yeah.

MR: Do you feel like this album is reconnecting in some way with your roots?

IH: I don't really know. I did this album in January and it's like I'm already onto the next. It's an album that just came together. It came together really well. We had a lot of fun with it because it was short and it was quick. I'm proud of it. I can't say much more than I say on the album about the album.

MR: Okay, let's talk about a couple of the songs, like "Comfortable (Flyin' Scottsman)." It sounds comfortable, yet not. I'm confused.

IH: [laughs] Just a little bit of fun, that's all. I had a couple of interviews with Scottish newspapers, and they were asking me if it's about this or it's about that. I've always liked a little bit of wry humor. I don't really like coming out and saying anything. I like hiding behind a little wryness. That's what "Comfortable..." is.

MR: One of the highlights for me was "Fatally Flawed."

IH: Yeah, I like that. That one's a song about trust.

MR: It's beautiful.

IH: Hop Farm, which is a big festival in England, is where we debuted "Fatally Flawed." It went down great.

MR: Ian, you seem to know American rock 'n' roll better than most Americans.

IH: Oh, I've always loved it growing up. I loved the American movies, I loved the American music. It saved my ass, really. I'm sitting there at fifteen or sixteen, I start hearing Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, people like that, and it was like, "Oh, okay, that's what I want to do." Before that, there was no reason to be here.

MR: And you did move on to do that. Mott the Hoople is no small feat.

IH: A lot of those British bands seem to be accepted by Europe. They're more Euro-types, and then some bands are more accepted by the Americans, more American-types. I think Mott got more accepted in America than a lot of bands.

MR: Let's go over your David Bowie connection, with him producing you, etc..

IH: Yeah, that was interesting, because we didn't really know how to produce ourselves. We'd been produced by a fellow called Guy Stevens. He did London Calling by The Clash, and Guy managed us and produced us. We ended up more or less floundering around, trying to produce ourselves. Guy would raise you to great heights and all the rest of it...it was very passionate, but it wouldn't sound that great. And then when David came along...I mean, David had worked with Tony Visconti and knew the studio and knew what he could do with it as did Mick Ronson. So the association with them was really good, because we learned how to use a studio. We learned how to make a record, which is kind of different from doing a gig, which is what we thought, when we'd gone in there prior to that.

MR: Yeah, and I imagine it was a little different doing a cover song, you recording his "All the Young Dudes."

IH: Yeah, well, you know, we'd had two or three singles out at that time and none of them had hit, so basically, we couldn't get on the radio. When he came along, he gave us "...Dudes" and it was a big opening. I think it got to one or two over there, so we were back on the radio. The crowds got bigger, everything got bigger, and then the band broke up.

MR: Funny how that works. Wasn't that period when Mick Ronson became a little bit more entrenched in the band?

IH: Mick was in Mott The Hoople for the last six weeks, the European tour, and then I left Mott and Mick left as well, and we went on to do my first solo album, and we did ...Schizophrenic. We did several albums together.

MR: Right. And as I said before, I think You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic is a perfect album. I remember WNEW-FM in New York used to play almost every single song from that album.

IH: Scott Muni, right?

MR: The whole gang. And "Cleveland Rocks," of course, became the theme song to The Drew Carey Show. Did you enjoy that?

IH: Well, the first I knew about it was when somebody sent me the video. The video that Drew Carey did for the intro and the video was amazing. I just thought, "Well, this is definitely happening," because the video was so good. Yeah, it was a big moneyspiller.

MR: On the next album, you featured even more FM-airplayed tracks such as "Gun Control" and "Central Park and West."

IH: Yeah. "Central Park and West" was David Letterman's favorite New York song. I met him on Letterman years ago.

MR: And there's "All of the Good Ones are Taken," the recordings and the video. That was another big moment for you.

IH: That was funny because it was the first year of MTV and somebody said, "You've got to go down and get on this MTV thing." And I'd never heard of MTV. So I get down there and it shook me up rigid, because the first act on was Rod Stewart, the second act on was Madonna. I just thought it was some little thing in a hotel lecture room, but there were limos and flashing lights and God knows what else. I was living in the country at the time; it tweaked me out. Then the director came in, because we were up for Video of the Year, and we were like, "We're gonna win, we're gonna win!" and all of a sudden, I'm third row from the front and Diana Ross is sitting right in front of me, Quincy Jones is sitting right in front of me, and the camera's on me and I'm thinking, "Oh, God, no!" I wasn't prepared for it. I wasn't prepared for any of it. But we didn't win, ZZ Top won.

MR: But regardless, "All of the Good Ones are Taken" was such a great song and recording--another great album, too. I kind of skipped over this, but I have to bring up Barry Manilow's cover of your song "Ships," another classic from your ...Schizophrenic album. How did that happen, and what was your reaction to it?

IH: Clive Davis, who ran a big label, heard it, and what Clive used to do was if he liked a song, he would play it to the artist. For instance, in the case of Manilow, Manilow's father had passed just before, so when Manilow came in to see him about business and stuff, he had that playing in the background. Manilow sort of picked up on it and that was the way Clive would do things. Manilow picked up on it and then wanted to record it. He wanted to change the bridges. He banged me up and said, "Look...can you change the bridges?" I couldn't change the bridges, so he put it out as it was. He modulated around it a little bit, went into different keys here and there, but the sum total of it was the same and it was a top-ten record for him.

MR: Yeah, and not only that, but I think it's one of his most subtle, honest records, which says a lot about the material he was working with. Plus his read probably reflected his father's passing.

IH: I think it was the last record he ever had a hit on.

MR: Yeah, I think it was his last huge record. You tap a lot of emotions with those lyrics and images. On Father's Day, sometimes you'll hear "Ships" playing, but you'll also hear the Mike and the Mechanics song "Living Years," like a traditional double play.

IH: "Ships" may have never made it onto a record. When we were doing ...Schizophrenic, all I had was the first verse, "We walked to the sea, just my father 'n' me and the dogs played around on the sand," and my manager at the time said, "You've got to finish that. That's got to go on the record." If he hadn't said that, I probably wouldn't have bothered, because we were kind of busy making the record anyway.

MR: Yeah, look at every track on that record. You could've called it quits after eight songs.

IH: The only problem with that record was that hits came off it, but not for me. We spent about six weeks after that record was done knowing that record was fine, but could we find the hit? We couldn't find the hit; we could not find the hit.

MR: My opinion is "Just Another Night" could have been a hit, but "When the Daylight Comes" was a missed opportunity. I think Chrysalis dropped the ball on that one.

IH: I don't know. I don't think it was strong enough.

MR: Maybe, but I think it had a great dance and rock groove to it.

IH: Yeah, it was alright. It's the difference, at the time, between selling 350 thousand albums and selling well over a million albums. You just need that one single to take it right over the top. We just didn't find it. We hung around trying to find it and, of course, when you're really looking for a single, you can never get one. A single's a fluke.

MR: The other interesting thing about the album is it featured some E Street Band mates.

IH: Well ...Schizophrenic was started in Westminster, London, and it wasn't going very well. It wasn't sounding right. Right in the middle of that, this guy Popovich, who was head of Cleveland International in England and was managing me at the time, Steve Popovich--brilliant man, sadly passed--he said, "Look, if it's not working there, come back here because the E Streeters will do it with you." I didn't know this, so I said, "Great, sounds good." So I came back to New York and went into The Power Station and we started work with the E Street Band, and Bob Clearmountain, who, at that time, was basically one-up on a tape op. He wasn't even an engineer. Bob now is probably one of the biggest and the best.

MR: An interesting tangent is that Popovich had the label with Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell. According to Todd Rundgren, that album was a send-up of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band initially.

IH: I didn't know that.

MR: Yeah, and there's Popovich's label hooking you up with The E Street Band. I think it's hysterical.

IH: Very strange. Pops is sorely missed. He was a big find, a genuine record man.

MR: I also wanted to throw out there, speaking of people who've passed, Mick Ronson. That had to hit you hard.

IH: That was just, you know, before and after. I mean, that's how my life has been.

MR: But in a way, it did motivate you into getting back to making records, right?

IH: Yeah, it did. Because Mick was never the hardest working guy on the planet, and neither was I, together, we could have probably done a lot more than we did. We were lazy. When he went, it was like a little wake-up call, like, "You've been given a bit of a gift here, respect it. Stop messing around with it." I think we'd been messing around for about eight or nine years. Our careers were more or less in the hole, and that was it. It was all over. It's a long way back, but his passing was a real wake-up call.

MR: However, you're also one of rock's most prolific writers. You have about twenty albums, don't you?

IH: Yeah. Something like that. I didn't really know that, but that's what the count is at the moment.

MR: Okay, let's grab another song.

IH: I kind of like the last song on the record, a track called "Life."

MR: "Life" it is.

IH: It seems that in the West in general, there's media hysteria. I don't mind a bit of hysteria when it really matters, when it's definitely serious. But there's hysteria over nothing all the time, and it just seems to be since we've got media twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they're inventing stuff to be scared of that we shouldn't be scared of. Some things should be laughed at, and not taken too seriously. That's what the last track is about.

MR: Ian, with a career like you've had, what advice do you have for new artists?

IH: Hell, I don't know. I really don't know what they're up against these days. It's moving so quickly, it's almost like you've got to be an IT genius to keep up with what you're supposed to do next. It's very difficult. I think hone your chops, really work on a live gig situation. A bit of showmanship doesn't hurt these days. You've got to be different than the next band. There are so many bands that want to make it, there's got to be something odd about you. I don't think records seem to be the way to go anymore. It just seems to be gigs. So you want gigs, and they're difficult to get. A lot of clubs make you pay or at least make you guarantee that a certain amount of people will show up.

MR: And, of course, clubs stick you in for like a half an hour with ten or so bands palying a night to load up the numbers.

IH: But to be honest with you it was always that way. We never had to pay to play in the beginning, but you played for nothing.

MR: I don't envy the kids in that nowadays, they have to divide their time between being creative and being their own management with social media.

IH: Yeah. And social media's continually changing. One minute it's this, next minute it's that. One of my sons is in IT and it's really hard to keep up with. Every three months, there's a whole situation change. It's going too fast, I think.

MR: There's nothing savored, and I think it's creating a lot more disposable music than we've ever had before.

IH: Well, now you're seeing what the labels had. Everybody hated the labels, but that's what they were doing; they were listening to thousands of things every week, most of it crap. It always has been about ninety-eight percent crap, two percent great.

MR: Right, they were a filter, with all the good and bad that implies.

IH: Yeah. Can you imagine doing that for thirty-four years? All the stuff you've got to listen to? I guess it's like reviewers on magazines. Imagine the amount of stuff they've got to go through?

MR: And it could be said also for interviews. (laughs)

IH: You must have enthusiasm to continually interview people. Some of them, you're not particularly interested in, it must be hard to keep going.

MR: It can be a challenge mainly from the sheer number of interviews. But for the most part, I love all my interviewees, and I'm always learning from the artists.

IH: I guess you have to love it.

MR: Yeah, I think you're right. Hey, with this album, you'll be touring, right? Will you be touring the whole country?

IH: At the moment it's just the East Coast. I'm doing Europe, I'm doing Scandinavia, I'm doing Italy, a lot of stuff in England and Scotland and then we come back and we're doing mainly East coast for now. You know Philly, Boston, Cleveland, places like that.

MR: You know, I've heard Cleveland rocks.

IH: Well, it used to. I don't know if it still does. I go there and it's always fine. I don't know what the radio situation is there. It used to be amazing. It used to be WMMS, people like that.

MR: I have to confess, I haven't really been keeping up on Cleveland other than taking a trip to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with a young artist I was working with two years ago. Anyway, sir, I have been keeping up on you, and I really appreciate the fact that you gave us some time. Ian, I've always loved your records. Please come back and we'll do it again.

IH: All right, fine. Thank you, Mike!

1. Comfortable (Flyin' Scottsman)
2. Fatally Flawed
3. When I'm President
4. What For
5. Black Tears
6. Saint
7. Just The Way You Look Tonight
8. Wild Bunch
9. Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)
10. I Don't Know What You Want
11. Life

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne


A Conversation With Alvin Lee

Mike Ragogna: Hello Mr. Alvin Lee, guitar god from Ten Years After and your own solo career. You've got a new album, Still On the Road to Freedom, the title being a play off of one of your classic albums. But first, how're you?

Alvin Lee: I'm fine. How are you?

MR: Dandy. And no, you're not part of Canned Heat. (laughs)

AL: No, but that's okay, they're a great band. We used to play with them in the early sixties in Golden Gate Park, and they came to England and they were good buddies of mine.

MR: Right. Remember any of those old shows?

AL: I can remember Golden Gate Park because it was a free concert. It was really cool in the height of the sixties and all that. I went back to The Bear's house one time and he had this great collection of '78 records and we spent the whole evening listening to the John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Big Bill Broonzy and the likes. I really got along well with those guys. I stayed in touch with Fito the drummer. He is one of the best shuffle drummers in the business.

MR: Alvin, who are some of your heroes, the people who inspired you?

AL: I was really lucky, my dad was an early inspiration. He was an avid music collector of ethnic music. He had things like an album called Murderous Home, which was prison work songs. He also brought Bill Broonzy back to the house one time after he played a gig in Nottingham. Big Bill was a big influence on me. Once when I was 12 years old, I sold my clarinet and bought a guitar the next day. Big Bill, Ralph Lewis, Lonnie Johnson, Ledbelly, Muddy Waters, Brownie McGhee, Freddy King...I liked all those guys. I also liked the jazz side of Johnny Christian, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, Django (Reinhardt). And, of course, rock 'n' roll. Scotty Moore is my big favorite. Chuck Berry. Also, a bit of country I used to listen to like Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. They were all influences. There are probably a lot of others, really. I've played a little classical, too. Segovia, as well. All around influences.

MR: When you're playing live or recording new projects, do you ever find yourself whipping out a classical guitar or doing more jazz?

AL: I do little vignettes of it between the numbers. I play a little bit of "Cry Me A River" and country ho-down thing, like a Merle Travis kind of thing. I just kind of throw those in for fun. I don't actually do any jazz songs as such in the sense that I keep nodding my head and playing intro bits like that. (laughs)

MR: Let's talk about the new album, Still on the Road to Freedom. In order to have context, is it best to talk a tiny bit about the original, On the Road to Freedom?

AL: It's not as much a sequel. It's a new album. The word "freedom" came out of the one song. I wrote that one song, "Still on the Road to Freedom," so that became the theme for the album, and then I thought it would be cool to have a cover that looks a bit like the original and let people know I'm still on the road to freedom. It's always been something I've been searching for--freedom. It's a very relative thing. It means different things to different people. Musical freedom has always been very strong for me, something to strive for, to be able to play the music you enjoy playing rather than playing music that other people want to hear, which I find rather shallow and unrewarding. So I make albums I like and I put them out and hope other people like them and that's a kind of freedom in itself.

MR: Given you're talking to me at KRUU, the Midwest's only solar-powered radio station--had to throw that in--I especially like "Listen to Your Radio Station." (laughs)

AL: Thought you might like that one. "It's the coolest music across the nation, all good stuff and all for free, it must be cool if they're playing me." It's something I have a feeling on. These days, lots of people have iPods and tend to be listening to their favorite music but it's the same music over and over again. I strongly encourage listening to the radio to hear something you haven't heard before. It's a very healthy thing to do. It's strange, unless you reload your iPods every couple of weeks, you're listening to and recycling the same music all of the time. I'm serious. Listen to your radio station. One thing that does annoy me with radio stations, I hear something and think, "Oh this is good, who is this?" And I wait for the end of the record, they give the station ID and the time. I know that, but they don't tell me who the artist is. I find that quite annoying.

MR: At our radio station, we do announce, plus you can see all of the titles online.

AL: God bless the digital age. Must be a cool radio station.

MR: Indeed, sir! Let's get the story on "Song of the Red Rock Mountain," like what inspired you to write it?

AL: I'm actually getting good feedback on that one. It's off the wall. It's not rock 'n' roll by any means; it has a Spanish flavor. Strangely enough, I was sitting in the studio waiting for my tech to come and I had to sort out some wiring or something, so I thought to test this new microphone. I stuck the microphone up, picked up my Martin guitar and, basically, it practically came out instantly. I got that little rhythm going and the very simple tune. "That was quite nice," I thought. Then I thought maybe I'd go back to it and try to do it properly. I went back to it about twenty times and it never got better than that first time. It's one of those magic moments.

MR: Where does your creativity come from?

AL: I don't know. That's the beauty of creativity. It comes from the ether. I like to think, sometimes, it's like I haven't written it, it's more like I just reached up and grabbed it from somewhere. That song, "Song of the Red Rock Mountain," is one of them. I recorded it and thought, "Where did that come from?"

MR: And there's "Back in '69."

AL: "Back in '69" was kind of a Bo Diddley rhythm I had that worked out with the band as a backing track. I wasn't happy with the words, they were too ordinary. It was like, "My baby been done left me and left me waiting at the station." So I looked through my book of poems and that actually was a poem I wrote just to fit the song perfectly, back in '69.

MR: Now for those Ten Years After stories.

AL: It was great. The sixties were a great period. I love the early days of Ten Years After playing around the clubs in London. I remember we first came to America, it was about 1968. We visited Haight-Ashbury and everywhere. I was actually really into America. I loved James Dean and American cars and American music, so I was really thrilled to get there. Great memories up until, strangely enough... A lot of people say the Woodstock movie made Ten Years After. But actually, it was the beginning of the end for me because we stopped playing clubs like The Fillmore East and The Fillmore West, The Grande Ballroom and The Boston Tea Party, those really cool, kind of rock 'n' roll gigs with two or three-thousand people. After the movie came out--not after the concert but after the movie came out--suddenly, we were catapulted to Madison Square Garden, Sam Houston Coliseum and hockey arenas, the worst places to play in the world. They were just dreadful places to play. The fun came out of it for me there, and I realized I didn't want to be a rock star, I wanted to be a working musician. So that's one of the roads to freedom I took right there and then.

MR: Nicely said.

AL: At first, it was great. The band went for eight years, and it was a great band and I really enjoyed it. But there comes a time to move on and do other things.

MR: One other part of your history is that you were in The Jaybirds, of course. The Jaybirds were in that same circuit The Beatles were in.

AL: We played The Star Club in Hamburg. That was quite a trip. I just turned 17 years old and found myself in the land of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, prostitutes, and gangsters. It was a crash course in rock 'n' roll, I'll tell ya.

MR: Has much changed since then?

AL: In Hamburg? Well, a lot actually. They have different prostitutes and gangsters, but they're all still there.

MR: Let's get back to your solo career. You've had a few solo albums and some wonderful guests on those projects such as George Harrison. You guys were pals?

AL: Yes, George was a good friend. I was a very lucky guy. I knew him and I used to hang out with George quite a lot. We were very good after hours friends, you know. He would make serious music and I'd make serious music and when all those guys had gone home, we'd get together and just have fun playing nonsense and playing whatever we felt like. He had his studio all set up with all of this amazing gear and equipment. We'd go in and try to get it working and have a lot of fun. (laughs) George was a musician; he liked to play, just like anybody. So one time, I asked, "Any chance of a slide guitar on this song?" He said, "I'll be right over."

MR: Nice.

AL: Good man.

MR: One of your more beloved tracks is "The Bluest Blues," that a popular reviewer called, "The most perfect blues song ever recorded."

AL: That's very nice. I kind of think B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone" is a little ahead of that, but I appreciate the gesture.

MR: There's your project Alvin Lee in Tennessee from back in 2004. How did it come about?

AL: Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana came out over to England. They were playing a launching of an album gig at Air Studios in London. They invited me to come down and have a jam, and I wasn't going to miss that one because Scotty is the boy for me. I got up there, I did a rock 'n' roll medley, "Blue Suede Shoes," "Rip it Up" and "Hound Dog." It was just great. What particularly thilled me was D.J. Fontana playing behind me. I turned around and I said, "Let's start with 'Rip It Up,'" and they all sat there. And I said, "C'mon, ch-ch-ch-ch-ch..." D.J. said, "Oh, yeah!" and he started playing that intro. That's because D.J. started it! It was great just hearing that music, those drum fills and those rhythms that I cut my teeth on all those years ago, and there I was playing with these guys. Afterwards, I said, "Any chance to get you guys in a studio to make an album together?" They said, "Yeah, love to." So I shot off and started writing songs for that project.

MR: I think I have a sense of what the word "freedom" means to you. It's the freedom to express yourself creatively, isn't it.

AL: That's right. Yes, that pretty much pours it in the bucket.

MR: Alvin, what information or advice might you have for new artists?

AL: New artists? Actually, these days, my advice is to throw away your PlayStation and pick up an instrument. I'm a bit of a PlayStation junkie myself, but had I had a PlayStation or a computer as a teenager, I probably would have never played guitar. If you put the time into playing an instrument that you put into playing on your PlayStation, you could be playing in a band within a year, and that, it seems to me, is a much better way to go.

MR: That's wonderful advice. The same might be applied to spending time on Facebook?

AL: Yes, absolutely. And surfing the old net and all that. There are many things like that these days. I was lucky when I was younger. There were only records, that was it. Records and films were the only thing. Records were so big. You'd buy a record, you'd go home, you'd treasure it and play it again and again. It's kind of a bit sad these days that it's almost like a disposable thing. My advice is lock up your PlayStation and pick up your guitar.

MR: People seem to be moving from thing to thing so quickly, maybe searching for that instant gratification.

AL: Yeah, it's getting faster and faster, isn't it?

MR: Yeah, no savoring. Some last words on your new album. It basically was recorded with Pete Pritchard and Richard Newman.

AL: Yes, and I have Tim Hinkley on keyboards. He's been with me for many years. He was on the original On Road to Freedom album and with me on my second In Flight album. He is one of my favorite keyboard players. He's in Nashville now. He came over from Nashville to play on the album, which was pretty cool.

MR: The way you recorded Still on the Road to Freedom, was it you all playing together with just a little overdubbing later?

AL: Some of it was that. Some of it was just me and Richard on the drums. On some of the songs, I find it great just to play with the drummer because then you can change the chords as you go. You can stick in a chorus when you feel one is due and stuff like that. So I did quite a lot, just about half, with just the drums and me, and had Pete put the bass in afterwards. But some of the more rock-y ones, they were pretty much live.

MR: You'll be touring, right?

AL: Yep. Hopefully. I'll play anywhere that will have me. I won't be doing any 10-week tours these days. I love to play, but I'm just not into that mad kind of traveling anymore. I've done a few million miles already.

MR: Alvin, you are a guitar hero to many, many people. Are you aware of that?

AL: Well, kind of. I don't necessarily believe it. I've got my heroes and other people have their heroes. I consider myself a pretty cool guitarist but not really anything especially brilliant. But that's not for me to say. If other people like it, that's great, and I thank them very much.

MR: Beautifully said. Alvin, thank you so much for the time, this was special.

AL: Thank you very much, Mike, I enjoyed it. Keep on pumping those watts.

1. Still On The Road To Freedom
2. Listen To Your Radio Station
3. Midnight Creeper
4. Save My Stuff
5. I'm A Lucky Man
6. Walk On, Walk Tall
7. Blues Got Me So Bad
8. Song Of The Red Rock Mountain
9. Nice & Easy
10. Back in '69
11. Down Line Rock
12. Rock You
13. Love Like A Man 2

Transcribed by Brian O'Neal


Here's the scoop...

OKMusic.fm, a music social network that started in Japan, wildly popular with millions of music lovers and artists in its native country, will select 10 musicians to be profiled when the new English-language site officially launches later this fall. All you need to do is create a profile on the site and tell OKMusic your story. The site is looking for interesting, human stories about what it's like to be an indie musician.

Still in beta, OKMusic fuses music discovery with social networking. Indie musicians can upload their music and communicate with fans. Artists can create a profile along with their photo, upload and promote their songs and list their appearances. Music lovers can discover fresh, new artists, voice their opinions on songs at OKMusic's Comment Fountain and leave messages for the artists on their profile page.