Thursday, August 6, 2020

Savoy Brown: “Aint’ Done Yet” (2020) CD Review

Savoy Brown is a band that has been dishing out some great blues rock for several decades. When they started out in the mid-1960s, as the Savoy Brown Blues Band, they were based in London, and for quite a long time now they’ve made upstate New York their home. The band has also gone through many lineup changes over the years, though always with Kim Simmonds leading the way on vocals and guitar. For more than a decade now the band’s other members have been Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums. The band’s new album, Ain’t Done Yet, features all original material, written by Kim Simmonds.

The album opens with “All Gone Wrong.” How’s that for a title that speaks perfectly for our times? Seriously. Everything went wrong in 2016, and now the country is in the hands of a racist tyrant and his sycophantic bottom feeders, while their mercenaries are abducting citizens at gunpoint without warrants or even identification. Meanwhile, there is a pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and the environment is being destroyed. All has definitely gone wrong. But this music will help us get through, the thumping beat of this heavy blues rock number feeling just exactly right. “The future is gone/Time’s moved on/It’s all gone wrong/It’s all gone wrong.” The song might be about one individual, and the way his life hasn’t gone quite the way he’d hoped, but it works so well for every aspect of our lives right now. “Most of the time I don’t answer the phone/There’s nothing here to make me smile/It’s been this way for too long a while.” And at the end, that guitar speaks just as eloquently as these lyrics. This is a great opening track. It is followed by “Devil’s Highway,” and right from the start it has the sound of being out on some dangerous, desolate road. You can almost taste the dirt blowing across the asphalt. There is a cool vocal approach to this one, a voice that is coming back to us from some point far down that highway, a voice with experience. “There’s no one here/That’s going to play nice/It’s a mean, dark alley/They’ve got loaded dice/If you want to take it easy/You’d better stay away/I’ve been running so fast/On the devil’s highway.” This track features more excellent guitar work, and it becomes a nice jam before the end.

“River On The Rise” has a more pleasant, cheerful groove, one that makes me smile. Of course, the lyrics are still about troubles, this one about rising waters threatening a flood. “Bad signs ahead/Tell me, what can I do?/There’s a leak in my roof/Rain falling in/I’ve got to find a preacher/Let my praying begin.” Kim Simmonds plays slide guitar on this track. “Better take the high ground,” he sings at one point. Ah, but is there any high ground left? It feels like we’re all submerged in fetid waters. “Tell me what can I do?/What can I do?” Looking around, and seeing so many people are gone, you can’t help but feel that maybe you’ll be next, that you’re living on borrowed time, and that’s what “Borrowed Time” is about. And it’s stated so plainly, so honestly, over a great groove. “I never thought to myself, I’d be around so long/When I looked, so many people gone.” And what do we do with what time we have? Toward the end he sings, “Just want to love you, baby/To ease my mind.” No better way to spend one’s time, I think, no matter how much or how little one might have.

“Ain’t Done Yet,” the album’s title track, has some positive vibes, with Kim Simmonds singing “I don’t want no regret/I ain’t done yet.” This track features a good, solid rhythm to keep us going, to help us move forward. We ain’t done yet, right? And the backing vocals echo the title line, offering more support, for we can use all the help we can get. This music is making me feel that we can still turn things around, that democracy ain’t done yet, that the world ain’t done yet. “The road can be a hard place/Many come and go/It’s so hard to leave/When it’s all you know/I ain’t done yet.” That’s followed by “Feel Like A Gypsy,” a track that makes me think of Santana at times. The lyrics of this one are delivered in a kind of mellow, low-key fashion. The guitar is the voice that really rises on this track. Then “Jaguar Car” comes along, ready to rock, ready to boogie, ready to burn up the road, that harmonica sounding so good. Kim Simmonds is on harmonica on this one. “Let me take you, baby, out on the road/‘Cause you don’t have to carry that heavy load.” No matter what car you might own, this is a good song to have with you on the road.

“Rocking In Louisiana” opens with a classic acoustic blues sound, then kicks in to become a fun number, one to get you swaying, get you dancing. It’s been years since I’ve visited Louisiana, but I still have good feelings about New Orleans. “I’m going to have some fun rocking in Louisiana.” Indeed. I love this song. It just feels so good, you know? There is something loose and raw about it, which works so well. That’s followed by “Soho Girl.” This one has a heavy vibe, making me wonder how tough this girl is even before hearing certain lines about her sleeping with a gun. And, hey, “She likes Muddy Waters/She cooks a mean Mexican meal.” Well, all right! The album concludes with its only instrumental number, “Crying Guitar,” its title giving you a pretty good idea of its tone and style.

CD Track List
  1. All Gone Wrong
  2. Devil’s Highway
  3. River On The Rise
  4. Borrowed Time
  5. Ain’t Done Yet
  6. Feel Like A Gypsy
  7. Jaguar Car
  8. Rocking In Louisiana
  9. Soho Girl
  10. Crying Guitar
Ain’t Done Yet is scheduled to be released on August 28, 2020.

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