Savoy Brown

2020

The defiantly titled ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ is remarkably Savoy Brown’s 41stalbum (quite a few of which seem to be available on Amazon if you don’t mind some inflated prices) and going by the energetic sounds on their latest disc they’ll be aiming for a bullseye total before it’s time for their leader to pack his plectrums away. The leader is of course original member and guiding light Kim Simmonds, whose guitar playing is on top form throughout and shows all the moves you might expect from someone who was around at the start of the British Blues explosion in the mid-sixties.

Unlike, another musician from the same era, the great Peter Green, whose recent death cast a definite shadow over this reviewer, who, apart from his magisterial guitar playing and world class song writing skills, had an authentic singing voice that resonated with depth and feeling, Kim Simmonds sort of busks his way through the numbers as far as the vocals go. You can’t be the master of all trades I suppose and he more than makes up for it with some tasty guitar playing that fans of Blues guitar will lap up. The album doesn’t try to break any new musical territory, as you might expect, but bristles nicely with the guitarist layering multiple tracks to present a rich sounding set of songs.

Recorded in New Jersey, the album is dedicated to studio owner and engineer Ben Elliott, who sadly passed away after working on the album. The stand out track for me is the closing slow and expressive instrumental ‘Crying Guitar’, which does what it says on the tin, featuring some lovely lyrical note selection using a warm fat tone that I associate with a Les Paul; some really nice controlled and clean bending on this. I’d take an entire album of this quality any day of the week.

This is in contrast to opening number ‘All Gone Wrong’ driven along by the steady beat of Garnet Grimm (yes, really) on drums and some rolling rhythm guitar as a backdrop to some strong soloing and fills up at the top end of the neck, played on a Flying V apparently. ‘River on the Rise’, a mainly acoustic number, features some nice slide playing that aimed to sound like George Harrison, and sort of gets halfway there. Nice though! ‘Borrowed Time’, a number about a mature person looking back on his life and feeling that the end is not that far away (don’t know where the inspiration for that came from…), has a suitably moody guitar accompaniment provided by the studio’s “Multivox FullRotor” effect unit (similar to the sound created by playing a guitar through a Leslie keyboard amplifier).

The title track ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ rattles along at a fair old clip and will no doubt involve the audience joining in on the chorus when this eventually gets to be heard live. ‘Feel Like A Gypsy’ is one of the better tracks on the collection, taking a break from the boogie and featuring a really nice picked rhythm guitar part and some fat toned Santana style soloing. Long standing Savoy Brown fans will no doubt fall in love with this pretty strong set of songs, while Blues fans in general will enjoy the classic guitar chops of the still vibrant front man. We are all on borrowed time but let’s hope that the loan period is extended for the veteran guitar player.

Simon Green

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