Savoy Brown – Looking In (1970)

SavoyBrown_LookinIn3.5 out of 5 Stars!

I rather enjoyed this particular line-up of Savoy Brown—one that unfortunately made only a single album—which was basically the future band Foghat with a different lead guitarist (longtime Savoy Brown leader/founder Kim Simmonds, of course). Indeed, several of the bluesy and riffing vocal tunes such as “Poor Girl,” “Take It Easy,” “Looking In,” the lengthy and jamming “Leavin’ Again,” and the laid-back, piano- and congas-enhanced “Money Can’t Save Your Soul” (my favorite on the album) could have easily popped up on Foghat’s debut in 1972 since the musical style between the groups is so often similar.

Anyway, shortly after recording this album, “Lonesome” Dave Peverett (Guitar/Vocals), Roger Earl (Drums), and Tony Stevens (Bass) left the band to create the hugely popular Foghat, and for the next release, Simmonds obviously had to hire a whole new group of musicians, this one featuring Dave Walker on lead vocals (which, in my opinion, ended up being the best, most consistent Savoy Brown line-up of all time).

But as far as Looking In, I like to fondly refer to this particular album as being recorded by “Kimhat,” which contained some of Simmonds’s most tasty fretwork, not only on the aforementioned tracks, but also on the instrumentals “Sitting an’ Thinking” and the funkier “Sunday Night.” It’s not the band’s masterpiece collection—which (to me) would come on the next album Street Corner Talking—but it’s certainly better than average regarding its enjoyability factor, not to mention how it hinted at things to come regarding Foghat. (Plus, it has cool cover art.)

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Savoy Brown – Rock ‘n’ Roll Warriors (1981)

SavoyBrown_RNRWarriors4 out of 5 Stars!

The U.K.’s legendary Blues-Rock band Savoy Brown entered the ’80s with a new vocalist by the name of Ralph Mormon (fresh from recording with The Joe Perry Project) and seemed to have gained some much-needed rejuvenation in the process, delivering one of its hardest-rocking collections of tracks (albeit, less Blues-Rock oriented than previous albums).

As always, band leader (and only original member) Kim Simmonds shines on lead guitar, and this line-up of musicians did a commendable job with the high-octane material. Tunes such as the rocking opener “Cold Hearted Woman” and the bouncing subsequent track “Georgie” immediately showed that Savoy Brown had shifted into slightly different territory, had actually progressed as a group, and it left me wanting more.

That came in the form of additional rockin’ and stompin’ tracks such as “Bad Girls (Make Me Feel Good),” “Dont Tell Me I Told You,” “Bad Breaks,” “Shot Down by Love,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” and “This Could Be The Night.” While many of these tunes, and even the mid-tempo songs “Got Love if You Want It” and “Lay Back in the Arms of Someone,” still often included that “older/classic” Savoy Brown style, the harder-edged delivery (very Aerosmith/Humble Pie in its sound and attitude) truly suited this particular quintet.

Therefore, it’s a shame this line-up recorded only one studio album, since Mormon’s gruff ‘n’ gritty vocals were a perfect fit for the band, and I would have loved to hear more material, despite Savoy Brown’s slight change in direction. Instead, the band fell apart shortly after this release and a live album, and it took many years before Kim returned with yet another revamped line-up of the group.

Meanwhile, Rock ‘n’ Roll Warriors remains a unique collection within the vast Savoy Brown catalogue.

(RIP Ralph Mormon, who never got the recognition he so richly deserved.)

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Savoy Brown – Street Corner Talking (1971)

SavoyBrown_StreetCorner4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Okay, I confess, I love the “Dave Walker era” of this legendary British band. The trilogy of ’70s albums with Walker as the lead vocalist saw Savoy Brown at arguably its creative best, and Street Corner Talking is, in my opinion, the finest of the three collections, although the other two (Hellbound Train and Lion’s Share, both released the following year) aren’t very far behind.

Even after all these decades, I still savor everything on offer here, the seven tracks being highly memorable and as diverse as all the characters depicted on the fun cover art.

For instance, the tune “Let It Rock” seems almost like a hat-tip toward Tens Years After, while “Time Does Tell” first struck me as a cross between the original Fleetwood Mac and other legendary Blues acts of the era. And for those truly into the Blues-Rock scene from the early ’70s, the musicianship on the eleven-minute “All I Can Do” alone should be motivation enough to grab a copy of this album.

As for the other tunes, from the Country-Rock/Blues-Rock feel of “Tell Mama” and the (almost) Deep Purple-inspired “Street Corner Talking,” to the excellent renditions of The Temptations’s number-one hit “I Can’t Get Next To You” and Willie Dixon’s classic “Wang Dang Doodle,” Savoy Brown sounds highly cohesive and more than a tad energized and excited, not only about the top-notch material, but perhaps even its future as a band, likely due to the group’s fresh lineup of musicians. (For those who may not be aware of Savoy Brown’s history, after the previous year’s Looking In album, band leader/founder Kim Simmonds suddenly found himself “bandless” when the other musicians abandoned ship to form Foghat. Tough times indeed. But, I guess it’s only rock and roll, right?)

Anyway, the sudden departure of the previous musicians truly proved a blessing in disguise for Savoy Brown since Simmonds managed to recruit a crack team of new playmates for Street Corner Talking, and to me, the group never sounded better in its lengthy history. Throughout each track, his guitar solos are both emotive and melodic, the rhythm team of bassist Andy Sylvester and drummer Dave Bidwell is wonderfully tight and versatile, while Paul Raymond’s contributions on organ, piano, and electric piano added a perfect addition to the album’s driving sound and atmosphere (similar in the way his hooking up with UFO in future years would add spice to that band’s sound). And all the while, vocalist Dave Walker is at his beautifully gruff and gritty best. I just wish this terrific quintet had continued on for many additional years, since these musicians truly gelled and produced some exceptional material in the process, becoming a classic lineup in every sense of the term.


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