What I’ve Been Listening to: Savoy Brown/Street Corner Talking

What do you do when you’re in the mood for some great blues rock? You get some! And so I did with Street Corner Talking by Britain’s Savoy Brown released in September 1971. As it oftentimes goes with these types of posts, I got the idea to listen to their seventh studio album after my streaming music provider had served up Tell Mama, the record’s dynamite opener.

Savoy Brown – btw, what a cool name! – have been around for a bit. ‘How long’, you might wonder. How about more than 55 years! Not surprisingly, their line-up has changed many times over the decades, though the founder is still around and going strongly. Before getting to the album, a bit of history is in order. The following background is taken from the band’s bio on their website.

Savoy Brown was formed in 1965 by guitarist Kim Simmonds in London, England. Simmonds has been the group’s guiding hand from the first singles released in 1966 through the band’s newest effort, their forty-first album “Ain’t Done Yet” [released in August 2020. At the time, I featured one of the album’s tunes in a Best of What’s New installment]

Energetic blues has been the calling card of the band from the beginning. Blues Rock became the catch-all phrase in the late 1960s to describe the band’s music along with that of contemporaries including Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and Jimi Hendrix

...Through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980’s songs such as “I’m Tired”, “Train to Nowhere”, “Tell Mama” and “Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone” became Hot 100 entries. Two of the band’s albums in the 1970s, “Looking In” and “Hellbound Train”, appeared on the Billboard Top Forty charts…Along the way, Savoy Brown has toured continuously, making it one of the longest running blues rock bands in existence. Through the years, the band has headlined concerts at many prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, the Fillmore West, and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall...

…Former [Savoy Brown] members, having cut their teeth under Simmonds’ leadership, have gone on to complete their careers with other bands. Among others, these include singer Dave Walker with Fleetwood Mac and Black Sabbath, Bill Bruford with King Crimson, Andy Pyle with the Kinks and Paul Raymond with UFO… Three other band alumni – Lonesome Dave Peverett, Roger Earl, and Tony Stevens, went on to become the founding members of the multi-platinum act Foghat. Sounds a bit like John Mayall to me!

Kim Simmonds (guitar, vocals), who has lived in the U.S. since 1980, remains the only original member of Savoy Brown’s current line-up. The other core members include Pat DeSalvo (bass, backing vocals) and Garnet Grimm (drums). Both have been with the band since 2009. With that, let’s get to some music!

I’d like to kick it off with the song that inspired the post. Tell Mama, the first track on the album, was co-written by Simmonds and Paul Raymond, the band’s keyboarder at the time. Just a great catchy rocker with some cool slide guitar action.

Taking on The Temptations perhaps is a near-impossible task, but I have to say I really dig where Savoy Brown took I Can’t Get Next to You. Co-written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, this psychedelic soul gem was first released by The Temptations as a single in July 1969. It also appeared on their 11th studio album Puzzle People that came out in September of the same year. Check out how nicely Savoy Brown’s version of the tune is shuffling along. I also dig the keyboard work.

Time Does Tell is another great track. It was written by Simmonds. Andy Sylvester’s bass work gives this tune a great groove. I also like Simmonds’ guitar solo that starts at about 2:42 minutes. Damn, this is really cool – don’t take it from me, give it a listen!

Here’s the title track, another song Simmonds wrote. I can hear some Cream in that guitar riff. And that’s never a bad thing!

I’d like to wrap things up with another nice cover: Willie Dixon’s Wang Dang Doodle. Dixon wrote that tune in 1960, and it was first released by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961. Haven’t we all felt like hanging out with automatic slim, razor totin’ jim, butcher knife totin’ annie and fast talkin’ fanny to pitch a wang dang doodle all night long? 🙂

This is the first album by Savoy Brown I’ve explored in greater depth, and I really dig it – can you tell? 🙂 This certainly wants me to listen to more from this band. Any tips are welcome!

Sources: Wikipedia; Savoy Brown website; YouTube

20 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Listening to: Savoy Brown/Street Corner Talking”

  1. I like them…I first found them a few years ago and I’ve been meaning to cover some of their songs. I like their blues music.

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  2. Simmonds and his (now) three-piece band toured pretty regularly in the good old days. I saw them five years ago almost to the day in a small club outside of Boston. I was pretty new to blogging and so the only two people talking about it were me and – CB. I posted this tune. It’s of my very favorites of theirs. It’s called “She’s Got a Ring in His Nose and a Ring on Her Hand.” Politically incorrect I suppose but still a great tune.

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      1. My guess is you will have that opportunity when bands are playing again. Simmonds is a peer of Beck, Clapton, et. al and likely knows them all. However, Savoy Brown’s fortunes took a downturn and Kim never quite caught the brass ring. Clapton, Page, Beck don’t have to tour financially and if they do they will easily sell out larger venues. Simmonds does not have the name recognition or the luxury. So, he pretty much has to tour and can only attract people a couple hundred people. I saw Ricki Lee Jones at the same club and she was clearly unhappy that her fortunes had led her to a place where she had to play some (in her mind I suppose) shithole in Nowheresville, Mass. So it goes

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      2. He’s probably also way more affordable than Mr. Slowhand. I should have seen Clapton 20 years ago or so. I’m just not willing to dole out hundreds of bucks – and let’s be honest here: It’s safe to assume he’s past his prime!

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      3. I saw EC a couple of times back when it was affordable. Once behind his blues album. Killer. I would think that Clapton past his prime is still better than most. I think he’s had some heath issues that make him reduce his playing. He also said he’s sick of traveling, especially with heightened security. The last time he came here if I recall he played only New York and LA and then split. Aging rockers! But I saw an interview with his daughter Ruth and she said he’s doing well during the coronavirus. Good to know because when he goes that will trigger about a year of mourning from me.

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      4. You’re right, Clapton is probably still better than most other guitarists. I guess my comment in part reflected frustration I didn’t get to see him.

        I also recall reading about health issues. Given his past drug and alcohol addiction, it’s probably a miracle he made it through. Not many heroin addicts survive.

        If Clapton ever returns to Madison Square Garden and prices aren’t completely over the top, I’d go see him – even if it’s far away from the stage.

        I’ve done the same thing twice for The Who (settling for a cheaper seat), and they still were great shows.

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      5. I still haven’t gotten over the fact I never saw Led Zeppelin. They toured America like, 8 times and I just never got around to it. I don’t know why. Incomprehensible.

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