Ruf Records [Release date 11.02.14]
Having spent the best part of 48 years on the road as the personification of the pivotal and enduring Anglo American blues-rock band Savoy Brown, guitarist Kim Simmonds goes back to basics on ‘Goin’ To The Delta’, an album full of solid Chicago influenced blues rock.
Savoy Brown return to the studio as a stripped down power trio, who launch themselves into a set of trademark blues, boogie and shuffles. There are few stylistic surprises, but they occasionally sparkle nonetheless, with some vibrant playing.
With the relatively recent releases of the polished ‘Voodoo Moon’ and the self explanatory ‘Songs From The Road’, there surely can’t have been a busier period in the band’s career. ‘Goin’ To The Delta’ is an album that takes stock of their signature sound and high standing on the contemporary blues scene, as they rip through some solid fare and Kim is pushed to the peak of his considerable powers by a fine rhythm section.
The album also nails some of his best vocals in recent times. And while there’s very little that is new here, the album is more a gently reminder of an enduring band that still cut’s the mustard. Listen for example to the rock solid blues of ‘Sad News’ or the pristine boogie and hammy lyrics of ‘Nuthin’ Like The Blues’, on which Kim employs a close to the mic vocal effectively.
He’s equally good at teasing out the light and shade of the boogie instrumental ‘Cobra’, on which he locks in perfectly with his road tested rhythm section of section of bass player Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm.
‘When You’ve Got A Good Thing’, finds Kim cleverly varying his tone and tempo on a lengthy intro and song which gains its momentum from the lilting rhythm, as he solo’s with alacrity and delivers a lyric that could happily apply to his band: ‘When you’ve got a good thing, sometimes its hard to see’. This would be true, except that he’s more aware than most of the market value of his brand, and to that end this album stokes the embers of a still glowing career.
Kim’s playing is never less than expressive and he has that ability transform and lift even the most mundane of songs and inject it with an extra sense of purpose. This is especially the case on the taut shuffle of ‘Backstreet Woman’, which has neither the lyrics, nor the vocal performance to make it special, but retains our interest in the tension created between the tight rhythm section and Kim’s sharp phrasing.
As he notes himself, his playing has improved since the old days, but just as importantly, this album suggests he’s kept his chops in good shape.
And as always, a slow blues is good barometer of a guitar player’s feel, touch and tone, and Kim leans into ‘Just A Dream’ with a warmer tone and a relaxed vocal on a crisp arrangement. He adds some grainy slide on ‘I Miss Your Love’ on which his extravagant playing colours an otherwise ponderous outing.
The band builds up a real head of steam on the bristling shuffle of ‘I’m Sleeping Rough’, which has a lovely live in the studio feel, and could arguably have been a better concluding track than ‘Going Back’. That said it’s another well paced outing on which the solo builds incrementally.
‘Goin’ To the Delta’ is a solid rock blues album with enough fiery playing to suggest Kim Simmons and his band still have plenty of petrol in the tank. ***½
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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