Formed in 1966, Savoy Brown was one of the foremost bands of the British blues movement of the sixties. Although they never had a bonafide hit record, their albums consistently charted in the middle to upper range of the Top 100, and they were well regarded as a kick-ass live act. From the beginning, Savoy Brown has undergone numerous personnel changes (including three of the founding members of Foghat) with the one constant being founder/guitarist Kim Simmonds, who continues to lead the band today.
Released in 1972, on the heels of “Street Corner Talkin'” (containing the classic, “Tell Mama,” probably the band’s best known song) and “Hellbound Train, “Lion’s Share” is by far my favorite Savoy Brown album. The line-up for this album was essentially the same as the two previous releases and included Dave Walker on vocals, Paul Raymonde on keyboards and rhythm guitar, Dave Bidwell on drums, the ubiquitous Andy Pyle on bass, and Simmonds on lead guitar and harmonica.
“Lion’s Share” is quite possibly the most exuberant and vibrant of all the Savoy Brown albums. This version of the band had an undeniable chemistry and a knack for creating great, rockin’ party music. The opening cut, “Shot in the Head,” is the highlight of the album; a straight-ahead rocker featuring some beautiful, stinging slide work by Simmonds. Although rarely mentioned in the lists of great rock guitarists, Simmonds is not only a first rate slide player, but has a fluid, melodic lead style that’s instantly recognizable. I have to think that he would get a lot more credit for his chops if Savoy Brown had produced a couple of big hits. The man can flat out play!
Other standout tracks include the driving, “Second Try,” the slow, bluesy “The Saddest Feeling,” “I Can’t Find You,” a rolling, rollicking tune driven by Paul Raymonde’s tasty barrelhouse piano, and a raucous cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Howlin’ for My Darlin’.”
Throughout the album, Dave Walker’s clear, powerful voice stands out, alternating between joyous boisterousness and heart-rending despair. No mellow crooning here, Walker wears his emotions on his sleeve and holds nothing back (for another fine example of his singing, check out his all-out rendition of “(I’m a) Road Runner” on Fleetwood Mac’s “Penguin” album).
Bottom line, if you like your rock bouncy and bluesy, “Lion’s Share” is a must for your collection. The usual reaction I get from friends hearing it for the first time is, “This is (expletive) great! Who are these guys?!” It might be more than thirty years old, but it will never go out of style. For more information on Savoy Brown, check out the band’s web site at http://www.savoybrown.com.