Roadhouse Album Review: Savoy Brown leaves a solid legacy with Kim Simmonds’ final session — “Blues All Around”

Savoy Brown — “Blues All Around” — Quarto Valley Records

Savoy Brown (originally the Savoy Brown Blues Band), one of the quintessential and most prolific of the British blues-rock bands, was formed in London by Kim Simmonds in 1965. That’s right. They’re older than many of us.

Simmonds was the founder, guitarist and primary songwriter of the band, and the only member who remained constant in its 57 years of existence. They came out of the British blues-rock tradition, but settled in New York state, and much of the band’s musical success came in the U.S.

This session, “Blues All Around,” the band’s 42nd album, was completed just before Simmonds died, in December of 2022. The Savoy Brown band for this album was the trio Simmonds formed in 2012 with bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm. 

The dozen songs here, all Simmonds originals, were recorded a little differently this time, due to his illness. In order to make the recording process easier than their usual live in-studio work, Simmonds created his tracks, which were then overlaid by DeSalvo and Grimm. No problem. It’s still excellent music.

It all begins with a short, seductive vocal blues intro — “Falling Through” — less than a minute long, but it sets just the right mood for the music that follows. “Black Heart” shuffles into view next, with guitar and organ riding behind Simmonds’ gruff vocals.

Highlights for me include “Going Down South,” which adds haunting slide that enhances the stark poetry of the locals. The title track, “Blues All Around,” leads with eloquent guitar work that speaks volumes in its spareness. Simmonds lets his guitar do much of the talking without overwhelming the listener. “Texas Love” rides along hard on the back of some tough distorted guitar fuzz. “Winning Hand” churns hard and deep with a passionate guitar solo. “Can’t Go Back to My Hometown” takes a more lyrical, melodic approach and the closer, “Falling Through the Cracks,” puts Simmonds’ heartfelt, half-spoken vocals out in front of his striking solo guitar.

This excellent album is a solid testament to Simmonds’ long journey and legacy in the world of the blues, which are indeed all around.

Tracklist & credits

Falling Through 0:43
Black Heart 3:19
Going Down South 4:27
Gypsy Healer 4:25
Blues All Around 4:10
Texas Love 3:24
Winning Hand 4:50
Hurting Spell 3:59
Can’t Go Back To My Hometown 4:34
California Days Gone By 3:53
My Baby 3:26
Falling Through the Cracks 5:10

Kim Simmonds: Guitar, Vocals, Organ and Harmonica
Garnet Grimm: Drums and Percussion
Pat DeSalvo: Bass

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