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‘City Night’ is Savoy Brown’s 40th album, apparently. Whoa! What’s that?! 40th? Jeez, that’s some recorded prolificacy right there. Although I’m hazarding a guess that total includes live albums etc, too. There can’t be too many artists and bands out there who can boast such a large number of works to their name, apart from the likes of age-defying stalwarts like 78 year old Sir Cliff Richard, who must’ve topped the 40th studio album mark by now (… a quick check reveals, yes, he’s on studio album number 46). Anyway, I digress. Back to Savoy Brown… a band who ring a vague bell, but I’m ashamed to say that I know absolutely nothing about them. In a way, I wanted to hate ‘City Night’. My hope was that it’s an utterly terrible album. Why? Because 39 albums is a lot of back-tracking to do, if this transpired to be any good! And good it transpired to be. Great, in fact.

Just who are Savoy Brown? Press blub informs the current lineup, stable for 10 years now, is the band’s most consistent in their history. This implies they’ve had several lineup changes in their whopping 54 year existence. And a little online digging reveals a rather extensive list of previous personnel… the number of drummers alone… man, Spinal Tap have nothing on this lot! So, vocalist/guitarist Kim Simmonds is the only surviving original member, with bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm (what a great name!), both who joined in 2009, completing the trio. And what a trio they are. Minimalist in constitution, but with a full, resonant, beefy, blues rock sound.

DeSalvo and Grimm provide the solid rhythmic backbone, which Simmonds fleshes out with his warm toned, authentic blues-swayed voice and organic, naturally flowing fretboard work. Both his rhythm playing and lead widdling, with one seguing seamlessly to and from the other throughout, is a sheer fucking joy to listen to. You want authentic blues rock? This is the band! Simmonds was there originally, back in the day, and he’s evidently still got a hunger for it, to perform this well.

The oversaturated retro blues rock scene has been rampant with young (and not so young) upstarts for years, mimicking, pastiching (and, in some cases, plagiarising) decades of artistry. Some might be able to achieve a degree of authentic sounding imitation through their music, but none come close to any of the original artists. If you’re even vaguely into retro blues rock, this is essential listening. Grab it now!
Quarto Valley Records
Review by Mark Holmes
7th June 2019
1) Walking On Hot Stones
2) Don't Hang Me Out To Dry
3) Payback Time
4) Red Light Mama
5) Conjure Rhythm
6) Neighborhood Blues
7) Selfish World
8) Wearing Thin; 9) City Night
10) Hang In Tough
11) Superstitious Woman
12) Ain't Gonna Worry
"If you’re even vaguely into retro blues rock, this is essential listening."