SAVOY BROWN – Blues All Around

Quarto Valley 2023

Getting to the point has never been easy: a farewell missive from a long-running champions of a tuneful wailing.

Blues All Around

The ultimate beauty of classic blues bands – with “classic” an attribute of the collective and the genre alike – is that nobody expects such ensembles to boost their veteran status by delivering anything principally new, while everyone wants them to serve up more of the same without losing familiar panache and perennial ability to pack a surprise from time to time. All the above is more than true with regard to “Blues All Around” – more because SAVOY BROWN mastermind Kim Simmonds, who had led the group to glory since 1965, passed away two month prior to this platter’s issue, yet poignancy shouldn’t overshadow its undeniable allure and stylistic variety applied to a loose concept. After all, Kim wouldn’t like to lead his listener towards depressive state, and though Simmonds knew his days might be numbered and laid down his parts first, before bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm added theirs, the legendary guitarist stated this record wouldn’t be the trio’s last.

This mood is reflected in the band’s messing with the audience’s mind via bookending the album by a single track that’s split in two sections, the brief, if boisterously mesmeric, intro “Falling Through” turning into the expansive, yet equally raw, limited to Kim’s deadpan voice and vigorous electric strum “Falling Through The Cracks” for an optimism-peddling finale, and having the organ-boiling “Black Heart” ram the upbeat message home through Simmonds’ roar and his six-string tone. But whereas the rough-hewn, harmonica-smeared “Going Down South” draws its unhurried riff from the Delta, the percussive, slider-oiled “California Days Gone By” opts for a sunshine-lit, somewhat polished sound to roll down memory lane, as opposed to Chicago-evoking “Gypsy Healer” which is given several punchy solos, or the platter’s triumphant title track which wears a tired smile on its uplifting lines.

And then there are the catchy “Hurting Spell” and the delicate “Can’t Go Back To My Hometown” – two full-blooded, perfect examples of British blues this ensemble helped pioneer – alongside “My Baby” that projects romantic swagger into the future which the group can’t grasp anymore. Without a doubt, further releases from them will follow – only “Blues All Around” is bound to remain the veterans’ genuine goodbye, and bettering such an exit is impossible.


April 19, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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