(4 / 5)
I really liked the last album this lot put out, but this release is much stronger. The vocal, the songs, the performances, the overall vibe. There’s a lot more chemistry here methinks. Kim Simmonds and his boys deliver 11 strong cuts and aptly; just in time for Halloween, as this one deals with the devil, voodoo, hoodoo and all things spooky. The skeleton on the front cover gives a wee clue. (Is it lunchtime yet?)
Mr Simmonds’ vocals and guitar work is on an equal footing quality-wise, and the five decades he’s been at it have certainly not been wasted. It’s bluesy, rockin’, swampy and they nail a fine groove. But the laid back stuff gives nice light and shade across these 11 solid cuts penned by Kim.
Simmonds is joined by drummer Garnet Grimm (love that name, sounds like a veteran thespian treading the boards in crumbling old repertory theatres and staying in cheap “digs” night after night, long after his star has faded!) and bassist Pat DeSalvo (that name could be a character in The Sopranos!). The band makes a powerful noise for a trio and have clearly bedded in since they teamed up with Kim in 2009.
Simmonds is able to let the song take him to wherever it takes him, while his partners have his back at all times. His solos on guitar are creative and bring plenty of colour. He teases with some cool slide licks on “Standing In A Doorway”, and matches that quality with a measured and controlled vocal.
The penultimate cut, “Thunder, Lightning And Rain” lasts almost eight minutes, and could have benefited by a bit of a shave, but it is a strong piece and offers up an anthemic track, where it builds until bass and drums lock tight and equal the profile of the guitar and vocal. “Can’t Find Paradise,” another top pick. Kim Simmonds produced the record, working at a studio in New Jersey, USA.
The band has been around since 1965, and has had many line-ups and dropped circa 30 albums. Opening for Cream’s first London shows, and being spoken about in the same breath as Clapton and Hendrix (with whom Kim has jammed). Welshman Kim Simmonds has always been loyal to the brand, Savoy Brown, even after he left the UK to live in the USA in the late 70s. The band built up an enviable reputation in America and are probably responsible for igniting the blues boom of the late 60s and 70s, after they signed to Decca.
They became a big draw in the USA and grafted non-stop to maintain that profile, playing such iconic venues as Carnegie Hall and Fillmore East and West. Induction into the Hollywood Rock Hall Of Fame, and all the time Kim Simmonds being hailed as one of the best blue rock axe men out there.
His vision from day one; to be a British version of a Chicago blues band. That vision is still alive in him today, and although the album and the material here is a mixed bag of styles, it all sits on that core mission statement that stays true to Kim’s original vision when he started the band 52 years ago.
It doesn’t rely on the past and hark back to those days long gone. It is the work of a man still very much “at it” in creative terms and seemingly no intention of hanging up his guitar just yet, as he heads towards his 70th birthday in December. More a case of rockin’ fare than rocking chair! Long may that be the case.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’