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Savoy Brown (from the album Blues All Round
Savoy Brown (from the album Blues All Round available on Quarto Valley Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
In what can best be described as an unexpected epitaph capping a career that spanned more than 55 years, the final album by Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown finds the legendary Blues band still at the peak of their prowess. One of the early architects of the British Blues boom of the mid ‘60s, the band maintained its clarity and consistency over the course of its career, thanks to the unrelenting dedication and determination of Simmonds, its founder, helmsman and constant frontman, never wavering in its musical mission while refusing to shift its stance despite numerous personnel changes and evolving tastes and trends.
That, of course, didn’t always work in their favor. While many of their contemporaries — Cream, the Yardbirds and Fleetwood Mac in particular — managed to adapt their sounds to keep pace with oftentimes fickle musical fashions, Simmonds and company always managed to stay the course, refusing to budge in their devotion to the Blues, commercial success be damned.
In that regard, Blues All Round stays true to its premise, thanks to a dozen songs that may be short on variation but still strong in terms of verve and vitality. Sandwiched by the basic boogie of two related tracks, “Falling Through” and “Falling Through the Cracks”, each of the offerings purvey the drive and determination borne by shuffled rhythms and a galvanizing delivery. The trio — Kim Simmonds on guitar, vocals, organ, and harmonica, Garnet Grimm on drums and percussion, and Pat Desalvo on bass — may be a compact ensemble, but they still manage to put across a sound that’s both steady and assured. Songs such as “My Baby”, “Hurting Spell”, “Gypsy Healer”, and the title track could easily have found a fit on any of the nearly 50 albums Simmonds and his various bands have released since the 1960s. Those that recall such early Savoy Brown classics as Getting to the Point, Blue Matter, A Step Further, Raw Sienna, Looking In, Street Corner Talking, and Hellhound Train ought to easily anticipate what to expect here.
Indeed, the band’s calling and consistency never wavered. Neither does the energy or enthusiasm. It fueled the group’s spontaneity, resulting in a sound more muscular and less constricted all at the same time. Ironically, Simmons was in the final stages of his bout with cancerwhen the album was recorded, a battle he lost in mid- December shortly after his 75th birthday. Coming on the heels of the well-received and appropriately dubbed Ain’t Done Yet (2020) shows Simmonds still in fighting form. Despite his declining health, his vocals and fretwork are as incisive as ever.
While no single album can effectively sum up the whole of Kim Simmonds’ accomplishments, Blues All Round does reflect an artist still probing his possibilities. If anything, it’s a tribute to his tenacity, making for a spirited send-off and a fervent farewell. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Savoy Brown from AMAZON
For more information head on over to the Savoy Brown website
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