Savoy Brown The Blues Keep Me Holding On

Purveyors of boogie-style blues have rarely commanded much respect and Savoy Brown stalwart Kim Simmonds is the veritable poster boy for “dues owed.” In some circles, Simmonds is revered for his guitar virtuosity in the same breath as Clapton, Green and Page, having coasted in on the craze for British blues-rock that exploded in the late ’60s. Some 20-odd albums into a career that's still smoking than 30 years later, Simmonds, through his various Savoy Brown configurations, has helped elevate this particular British-based, rocking blues style above and beyond its simple beginnings. And like the best of blues players, Simmonds' personal playing style has mellowed and aged like a fine single malt. The Blues Keep Me Holding On recalls Savoy Brown's heyday while it explores a smoother, gentler side of Simmonds' fluid blues capability. Renowned for its revolving door membership, Savoy Brown continues to evolve, and this release is no exception. Guest musicians on this release include Foghat drummer Roger Earl (an original Savoy Brown member, pre-Foghat), bassist Leo Lyons (of Ten Years After fame), Roomful of Blues' Duke Robillard and Freddie King alumnus Dave Maxwell on piano. Never a strong singer, Simmonds wisely relies on bassist Nathaniel Peterson to round out the album's vocals, adding a soulful element to the mix (sounding not unlike Robin Trower's James Dewar at times). Like classic Savoy Brown, the tunes are simple, yet effective. From typical Savoy-sounding originals like "Going Down To Mobile," to great covers like Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" and "That's All I Want Baby" (the album's most solid track). Yet the slower numbers seem the best measure of the band's maturity and Simmonds' prowess, as demonstrated on "Bad Shape" or by his bottleneck work-out on "Ain't No Need To Worry." There are few surprises here and nary a disappointment. In a business scarred by comebacks and recycled originals, it's indeed admirable that Simmonds has stuck to his guns for all these years, continuing his gruelling touring schedule for the sake of the fans and displaying an consummate dedication to making the music he so loves to play. And so it sounds. (Mystic)