Thursday, June 07, 2018

Savoy Brown - The Best Of

As part of the 60's British blues boom, Kim Simmonds' Savoy Brown was a strong contender, but, due to innumerable personnel changes, they never really hit big like many of their contemporaries. They did spawn the superstar sub-group, Foghat, as Lonesome Dave Perett (guitar/vocals), Roger Earl (drums) and Tony Stevens (bass) all interned in Savoy before recruiting Rod Price and movin' on to fame'n'fortune. But, Kim continued the band throughout all of the continual transitions and experienced varying degrees of success but never quit. There's not more than a couple of songs here that have the same line-up, but somehow there is still a reasonably cohesive sound - a tribute to Simmonds, I suppose.

The group certainly taps into the late 60's British Blues sound - rock'n'roll rhythms, loud guitars, hot leads, and material based on the Mississippi Delta and 1950's Chicago. "Train to Nowhere" chugs along at a subdued speed and volume for several minutes and gives a good burst right as it ends. I'm always pretty stunned that "Louisiana Blues" is a live take, as the sound and performance is perfect. This is heavy blues at its finest - a pounding variation on "Rollin' and Tumblin'" with exceptional dynamics and Kim wailin' on lead guitar while singer Chris Youlden sounds remarkably like Lonesome Dave (a good thing!). "I'm Tired" swings'n'stomps with a bit more of a soul/r'n'b feel, "A Hard Way to Go" (another Youlden tune) is a riffer that again has soul influences, maybe even some touches of Santana in their bluesiest form, and Youlden brings in a soulful ballad in "Stay While the Night is Young" in which Kim adds some jazzy guitar licks.

"Poor Girl" sounds like a 70's blues rocker, not unlike Foghat, which makes sense as bassist Stevens wrote it and Lonesome Dave co-wrote and sang the blues-ballad "Money Can't Save Your Soul", again hinting at things to come. It's a new line up after those tunes and Street Corner Talking's "Tell Me" is damn catchy with cool slide guitar alternating with the second guitar (Paul Raymond now), they strip "Can't Get Next to You" down to a hip, slow, swayin' blues, and give a cool blues riffer in "Street Corner Talking" before the proceedings come to a close with Hellbound Train's 9 minute, organ-fueled title track.

Powerful blues-rock, but maybe just not original enough or rockin' enough to reach the heights of some of their contemporaries. I dig it, though.