I quit my job
Ain’t got no money
Seems I have to leave this town
Tell Mama and all the folks back home
Sometimes a man just feels he’s got to make it alone
Tell Mama why I’m leavin’ so soon
Because this life I live has got me sick through and through
Those of you of a certain age might be saying to yourself, “Wasn’t Savoy Brown a late ’60’s blues-rock band? Didn’t they break up years ago acrimoniously? Is he talking about some ancient concert?” Well, yes, yes (sort of) and no. In point of fact, Savoy Brown were one of the very first blues-rock bands of the ’60’s, forming in 1965 and having a measure of success through the early ’70’s and at least one big FM hit.
When I was thinking about bands to feature for this blog, they came to mind and I thought, “Whatever happened to them?” fully expecting to read that they had broken up years ago. Well, the original band has certainly gone its way. (In fact, several of the members split off to form the even more popular Foghat).
But the founder and lead guitarist of the band, Welshman Kim Simmonds, is – at 68 years old – still out there doing it. And instead of a six-piece band, he’s now got just a bassist and drummer.
And just as I was researching the band, I stumbled on the fact that they were going to be playing a live gig less than an hour from my house! So armed with that knowledge, I rang up a friend who used to be a drummer in a long-ago band of mine. He and I headed out there to check them out.
And I’m here to tell you that they sounded fantastic. A word about Simmonds: while he has nowhere near the fame or notoriety of Beck, Clapton, Page, he is very much their peer and you’ll typically see his name in any book of that era as one of the founders of British blues. He just did not have the breaks or the material or whatever to garner that level of fame.
But as a guitar player, I can tell you his taste, tone and style are all superb. He can not only maintain a solo that keeps your interest but also shift from mellow blues to jazz to heavy metal crunch convincingly all in one song.
Here’s a song, “Tell Mama,” that is still a classic rock staple and is on Jim’s (that’s me) short list of “songs for lazy SOB’s” the other two being “Too Much Time On My Hands,” by Styx and “Lazy” by Deep Purple. I reveled in these whenever I was in one of my “between-jobs-down-to-stems-and-seeds again” periods:
Here’s a nice, tasty blues. from 1969. the (probably) politically incorrect “She’s Got a Ring in His Nose and a Ring On Her Hand.” The singer is Chris Youlden, one of the best blues singers of that period.
Lastly, since this is a concert review, here’s a clip from the club where I saw them. It’s a couple years old and is about 13 minutes long. But hey, if you’re going to celebrate British blues a few of them have to be long. It’s also fun to hear Kim talk. He’s a very down-to-earth self-effacing guy. I like his life philosophy. He came through a lot of stuff in the ’60’s but he doesn’t look back, he looks forward. He says it keeps him young. So there’s that.
He’s also got some new stuff so check it out. I’m glad that some of the older British bluesmen are still out there doing it.