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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Savoy Brown - Boogie Brothers (1974 uk, super blues rock with Stan Webb, Miller Anderson and Kim Simmonds)

Although the membership of Savoy Brown had always been a somewhat unstable institution - guitarist Kim Simmonds excepted - when the latter announced in 1973 that he was finaiy laying the group to rest there were many glum faces among blues enthusiasts around the world. Few believed that workaholic Kim would cease to function as a musician, but just before Christmas that term and when the Savoyians last album, LION'S SHARE (U.K.: Decca TXS 112. Re!.: 7th September 1973; U.S.: Parrot XPAS 71059), had barely departed the American Top 200, there were numerous shocked – and delighted - aficionados who heard that a new S.B. was about to be bom.

As expected. Simmonds was its leading light, but now the band would boast no less than three top-drawer axmen and frontlines with the recruitment of one-time Chicken Shack leader Stan Webb and Scot Miller Anderson. For most of their lifetime Savoy Brown had concentrated, very successfully, on the Stateside market, but as they built their act this time around Britain benefitted by receiving their early concert dates; indeed two of their five London gigs set box-office records with hundreds of fans having to be turned away as the “House Full” notices were erected. Kim was exuberant in his press conferences: "We re-formed to create a stronger image and more forceful music.

With this unit, I've already been told that I'm playing better than I've done for years. This is because members of the group are working for each other. The current band has possibilities that are boundless, a defined image. At last I believe Savoy Brown wilt achieve all the things I have always wanted it to." This latest incarnation was a quintet completed by bassist Jimmy Leverton and trap-rattier Eric Dillon, but how did it come about? Kim's brother/manager, Harry, approached the Glaswegian Anderson who, with Jimmy and Eric amongst others bitted as Hemlock, acted as a support act for one of Savoy Brown's recent cross-state crusades on the other side of the Atlantic.

Anderson's pedigree already included playing on such as Dave Cousins* TWO WEEKS LAST SUMMER (A&M. 1972). and being a long-time kingpin of Keef Hartley's entourage, as well as issuing a solo album on Deram, BRIGHT CITY (U.K.: SOL 3. 10th September 1971; U.S.: DES 18062, April 1972), while Hemlock had been similarly-blessed by the Decca U.KTLondon Records U.S.A. offshoot when their eponymous LP effort was unveiled in Britain only as SML 1102 on 12th October 1973. Harry Simmonds took over the reigns for their business affairs also but, as Miter was wont to point out, the seven-piece Hemlock while being an excellent band technically somehow lacked excitement.

Since the three compatriots wished to stay together and hopefully progress, Simmonds proposal of Savoy Brown incumbency was soon accepted. Difton and Leverton had been in harness as a rhythm section for a long time, the former beginning his drumming obsession at 13 and being expelled from school for pursuing stick work at the expense of all else. At 15 he was signed by Gerry Dorsey - later to find superstardom as Engelbert Humperdinck - as skin-beater in the singer's regular backing crew, and from there he and Leverton liaised after becoming members of ex- Jimi Hendrix four-stringer Noel Redding's prefect.

Fat Mattress, which took them to see Uncle Sam. As Mattress failed to emulate the Hendrix Experience's acclaim, so both quit to spend two years in session work prior to throwing in their lot with Anderson. Leverton's pedigree was not dissimilar to Dillon's, both having served an apprenticeship in the seething hotbed of talent that was the German bierkellers of the 1960's; performing with Redding in The Loving Kind and clinching a spelt in Engetoert's band, so that when Noel requested he join Fat Mattress Jimmy recommended Eric too.

Keeping it in the family, eh? Anyway, by this means having restored Savoy Brown to a four-piece, it seemed a great idea to go the whole hog and get Stan Webb in on the act, since Chicken Shack were also in a state of turbulence and indecision. Webb, who was always somehow bigger than the group he fronted, but which he declined to headline his name over during their lengthy existence, liked the idea of pooling resources with his 'rival' Stmmonds when courted, and thus Savoy Brown Mk. Heaven-Knows-What bounced into view. Stiff signed to Decca/London, they wasted no time in getting the contents of their proposed long-player down on tape, the prolific Anderson penning most of the numbers to be promoted along with one from Stan, a brace from Kim and a tilt at Bias McDaniel - alias Bo Diddley's - YOU DON'T LOVE ME.

Cut in London at Island Records' Basing Street establishment, the whole shebang was christened, aptly, BOOGIE BROTHERS, and rush-released in America as London XPS 638, thereby removing them from the subsidiary Parrot imprint which had played host to Savoy wares to date. A single was pulled in EVERYBODY LOVES A DRINKING MAN - coupled with RIDE ON BABE from JACK THE TOAD - as 45-206, which failed to breach the best-setters, but on April 20th 1974 B.B. entered the chart to initiate an 8-week stay whose high point would be No. 101.

An accompanying tour there was greeted with the usual euphoric reception as Webb later recalled in print: 'Yen, it went well - we took Madison Square Garden in New York by storm...' In the United Kingdom Decca responded by scheduling their identical BOOGIE BROTHERS for May 24th unveiling as SKL 5186, thereby relegating the combo once again to the label's standard full-price series from the luxury TXS line which they'd latterly occupied.

Missing this time also was the attendant expansive gatefold sleeve. Decca declined to pull a seven-inch extract from the parent, but were exasperated that even with this powerful personnel a notation on the published hot sates register eluded the Brown's yet again. Sadly, future company policy would ensure this could never be bettered, for BOOGIE was to be the last of their 'official' albums ever accorded U.K. issue by The Supreme Record Company'; from that point onwards they became a truly American - and elsewhere - phenomenon.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, bearing in mind that Simmonds, Webb and Anderson were ail forthright figures, this Savoy Brown remained together for almost a year before fragmenting. In 1975 Stan and Miller went off to form Broken Glass with keyboarder Tony Ashton; Jimmy ensconced himself on Henry McCuHough's album for George Harrison's Dark Horse set-up, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS, and Eric found himself playing with Dog Soldier - where Miller Anderson and Keef Hartley would at one time or another also put in an appearance.

And Kim? in '75 Mr. Simmonds re-united with ex-Savoyians Paul Raymond (Keyboards, Guitar. Vocate) and drummer/percussionist Dave Bidwell, bringing in also Andy Rae (Bass. Vocals) and, following Bidwll's tragic drug-related demise. Tommy Fame* as replacement, and headed back on down the road towards an LP billed as WIRE FIRE. That wheel was turning once more...
by John Tracy, London 1991

1. Highway Blues (Kim Simmonds) - 4:04
2. Me And The Preacher (Miller Anderson) - 3:34
3. My Love's Lying Down (Stan Webb) - 5:53
4. You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care) (E. McDaniel) - 4:56
5. Always The Same (Miller Anderson) - 2:00
6. Everybody Loves A Drinking Man (Miller Anderson) - 3:04
7. Rock 'N' Roll Star (Miller Anderson) - 7:08
8. Boogie Brothers (Miller Anderson) - 5:20
9. Threegy Blues (Kim Simmonds) - 2:12

Savoy Brown
*Jimmy Leverton - Bass, Vocals
*Miller Anderson - Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Kim Simmonds - Lead, Rhythm, Slide, Steel, Acoustic Guitar
*Stan Webb - Slide, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Eric Dillon - Drums

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