Devil To Pay has a song for all the blues and for every blues fan

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Kim Simmonds Savoy Brown Devil To Pay Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Savoy Brown is one of the seminal English blues rock bands to come out of the sixties, and are still playing great blues after all these years. Their newest album, THE DEVIL TO PAY on Ruf Records, continues true to form.

Although the line up of the band has seen numerous musicians come and go throughout the years since they started in 1965, with some finding fame in other bands (most notably Foghat)  the band as it is today comprises Simmonds on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Pat DeSalvo on bass, and Garnet Grimm on drums. This kind of intimate lineup is perfect for this kind of music to my eyes, and especially to my ears when the guitar player is a master craftsman like Kim Simmonds.

I know, I know. Here he goes again, praising another guitar player not many under the age of 50 have heard of. But let me tell you this, in a time when names such as Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee, Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, et al were household names, Mr. Simmonds was right there with them in my book! Doubt me? I challenge anyone to listen to this CD or listen through his extensive catalog and come up with a different opinion. I double dog dare you!

So after 50 years of remaining true to themselves and their music, does Savoy Brown still have it?

Yes, they do! This CD, as the "scarce but to the point, as if talking to you from across a table" liner notes (coined by Mr. Simmonds) detail, the songs in this CD contain a variety of traditional blues, rock blues, swing and jazz blues…something for everyone. But it should be noted, this is not something everyone can pull off, but it is done very, very well here.

Acoustically, the sound is wonderful. Kim’s guitar is mic’d perfectly, and every note is rendered with crystalline precision. When he plays, the notes just flow from the fret board and you can see him there in front of you.

The bass and drums are perfectly balanced, but the soundstage is very limited. For the most part, they all seem to be in the same point between the speakers in front of me instead of being spread across the room. That's not disappointing, though, as this is a small ensemble and Simmonds' vocals and guitars are the main attraction, so to speak.

The songs travel the spectrum, as noted above, in a mix that doesn’t put two songs of the same style one right after the other, so I was able to stay focused throughout the CD instead of having my mind wander. It's just so enjoyable to listen to; after so many years in the business, he can still write a great blues song. The fluidity with which Kim plays the guitar is such that every note that follows the last seems to be the perfect note; it is easy to hear that he and his guitar are as one.

Personally, my favorites are "Whiskey Headed Baby," "Bad Weather Brewing," and "Snakin’," but I really liked all of the songs on this album. Kim has one of those great English blues voices, and every song is tuneful in its own style.

I am so glad I had an opportunity to review this disc. It warms my heart that someone who loves what they do will never stop doing it to fit in to something new, and it is so great to hear that Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown still have it; he sings and plays as if time has stood still.

I encourage everyone reading this to listen to this CD. It will expand your love of the blues and of blues guitar, and perhaps your collection. You deserve it, and so does Savoy Brown.

Songs:

  1. Ain’t Got Nobody

  2. Bad Weather Brewing

  3. Grew Up In The Blues

  4. When Loves Goes Wrong

  5. Oh Rosa

  6. The Devil To Pay

  7. Stop Throwing Your Love Around

  8. Snakin'

  9. Got An Awful Feeling

  10. I’ve Been Drinking

  11. Watch My Woman

  12. Whiskey Headed Baby

  13. Evil Eye

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0