Considering his 45 and counting years doggedly playing blues and blues-rock with a mind-numbing assortment of backing musicians in Savoy Brown, it's unfortunate and unfair that U.K. guitarist Kim Simmonds isn't given more respect in the music world. That is partially due to bad choices and an array of ordinary, sometimes subpar albums that have cropped up on a variety of small or difficult-to-find imprints throughout the decades. Simmonds has trudged on, beaten but undeterred in the understanding that he will likely never regain the theater-headlining status his group achieved in its late-'60s/early-'70s prime.
Except for founding leader/guitarist Kim Simmonds, this long-lived band's 2003 lineup bears no resemblance to the original British group formed in 1966. Still, Savoy Brown deserves credit simply for recording a respectable, even high-quality blues album over 35 years into its existence. Hot off a terrific solo acoustic release, 2001's Blues Like Midnight, a reinvigorated Simmonds signed with high-profile indie Blind Pig and churned out a classy set of smooth yet compelling electric blues. Not as soul-based as in the past, strains of funk ("(Hard Time) Believing in You"), R&B ("Can't Take It With You"), and rock ("When It Rains") help push the group beyond its lackluster and obscure efforts from the past decade. Savoy Brown was least successful when its muscular, amped-up boogie was forced and stilted; yet here the sound is warm and organic.
Savoy Brown's blues-rock sound takes on a much more defined feel on 1970's Looking In and is one of this band's best efforts. Kim Simmonds is utterly bewildering on guitar, while Lonesome Dave Peverett does a fine job taking over lead singing duties from Chris Youlden who left halfway through the year. But it's the captivating arrangements and alluring ease of the music that makes this a superb listen. The pleading strain transformed through Simmonds' guitar on "Money Can't Save Your Soul" is mud-thick with raw blues, and the comfort of "Sunday Night" is extremely smooth and laid back. "Take It Easy" sounds like it could have been a B.B. King tune as it's doused with relaxed guitar fingering. The entire album is saturated with a simple, British blues sound but the pace and the marbled strands of bubbly instrumental perkiness fill it with life. Even the Yardbirds-flavored "Leaving Again" is appealing with its naïve hooks, capped off with a heart-stopping guitar solo. This album along with Street Corner Talking best exemplify Savoy Brown's tranquilizing style.
This high-water mark by the band finds them softening their rougher edges and stretching out into jazz territory, yet still retaining a blues foundation. There's not a bad cut here, with enough variety (bottleneck slide, acoustic guitar, horns, and strings) to warrant frequent late-night listenings. "A Hard Way to Go," "Needle and Spoon," and "Stay While the Night Is Young" are especially strong, as are two instrumental numbers. Unfortunately, leader Kim Simmonds lost his greatest asset when vocalist Chris Youlden quit for an ill-fated solo career after this recording. Youlden had one of the most distinctive voices in British blues, and Savoy would never fully recover from his exit.
Shake Down is the debut studio album by the British blues rock band Savoy Brown. It was released in 1967 (on Decca SKL 4883) under the name of Savoy Brown Blues Band and is mainly an album of covers, featuring three songs penned by blues singer Willie Dixon. In addition to Dixon, the band covers John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. Savoy Brown (Originally, Savoy Brown Blues Band) are an English blues rock band formed by guitarist Kim Simmonds and harmonica player John O'Leary, in Battersea, south west London in 1965. Part of the late 1960s blues rock movement, Savoy Brown primarily achieved success in the United States, where they promoted their albums with non-stop touring. After leaving Savoy Brown, musicians became members of groups such as Yes, Fleetwood Mac, UFO and Foghat.
With Kim Simmonds and Chris Youlden combining their talents in Savoy Brown's strongest configuration, 1969's A Step Further kept the band in the blues-rock spotlight after the release of their successful Blue Matter album. While A Step Further may not be as strong as the band's former release, all five tracks do a good job at maintaining their spirited blues shuffle. Plenty of horn work snuggles up to Simmonds' guitar playing and Youlden's singing is especially hearty on "Made up My Mind" and "I'm Tired." The first four tracks are bona fide Brown movers, but they can't compete with the 20-plus minutes of "Savoy Brown Boogie," one of the group's best examples of their guitar playing prowess and a wonderful finale to the album.