This is probably Savoy Brown’s best and most successful album. It was recorded on a personnel precipice as within weeks of its release three quarters of the band deserted the ship, leaving leader Kim Simmonds on his own and looking for new band mates to form Savoy Brown version 5 (he’s probably up to version number 999 by now). The others, leaving because of alleged inequities in the division of income, went on to form boogie legends Foghat with the addition of mercurial slide guitarist Rod Price. Whilst recording some ten albums for Bearsville records they became the leaders of the British boogie and stadium rock wave.
“Looking In” was the predecessor for all this. Topped and tailed by two short Kim Simmonds guitar pieces, the album contains seven tracks of solid gold blues and boogie.
Just before going into the studio the erratic vocalist Chris Youlden had decided to leave the band in search of solo fame, taking his trademark eye piece, topper, and cane with him and leaving the others high and dry, with studio time booked and no yodeler.
But cometh the hour cometh the man and up to the microphone stepped second guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett – and a sterling job of handling the vocals he did too, whilst also adding valuable guitar work to the longer numbers, particularly final workout “Leavin’ Again”, when the twin guitars battle it out like an electric dueling banjos for a glorious eight and a half minutes. Lonesome Dave also co-wrote this with Tone Stevens.
First song proper on the album, “Poor Girl”, was another written by Tone Stevens. It’s a real belting blues number which is still in the Savoy Brown stage repertoire today, although Stevens left the band more than four and a half decades ago.
But star of the show with Savoy Brown (always was and always will be) is Kim Simmonds (funny name that for a boy), whose guitar playing throughout this album is nothing short of awe inspiring. Simmonds could easily match the likes of his peers such as Clapton, Beck, and Page, but was more often than not the unsung guitar hero, probably because unlike all the others he stayed true to his initial roots of the blues. He has been playing the same style since 1966 and there doesn’t seem much likelihood of him changing now. Not for him the commercial appeal of pop or heavy metal, although I’m sure even now he could turn a coin or two by squashing his feelings and prostituting his guitar work.
Simmonds’ finest moment on “Looking In” comes on “Take It Easy”, a slow burning song Kim wrote with Dave Peverett that, from very small beginnings, builds to a shattering guitar climax.
This album collects the essence of the live beast that is Savoy Brown on stage and that was where they were at their best. So, if two and two make four, then this is Savoy Brown at their finest.
Mott the Dog Rating: 5 Stars.
Kim Simmonds – guitar & piano
Lonesome Dave – vocals & guitar
Roger Earl – drums
Tone Stevens – bass
Money Can’t Save Your Soul
Take It Easy
Sitting An’ Thinking