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Voodoo Moon

Savoy Brown

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Album Review

Considering his 45 and counting years doggedly playing blues and blues-rock with a mind-numbing assortment of backing musicians in Savoy Brown, it's unfortunate and unfair that U.K. guitarist Kim Simmonds isn't given more respect in the music world. That is partially due to bad choices and an array of ordinary, sometimes subpar albums that have cropped up on a variety of small or difficult-to-find imprints throughout the decades. Simmonds has trudged on, beaten but undeterred in the understanding that he will likely never regain the theater-headlining status his group achieved in its late-'60s/early-'70s prime. Voodoo Moon continues the band's tradition of respectable boogie-blues material played with relative restraint and featuring Simmonds' always impressive leads. It also extends another trend that has more often derailed the group after "Train to Nowhere": saxist/vocalist Joe Whiting, although far from terrible, just doesn't have a powerful personality or the distinctive qualities as a lead singer to raise these songs to the next level. This was an act that introduced the intense, gravel-voiced Chris Youlden, the sepia-toned Dave Walker, and the incisive Lonesome Dave Peverett to the world, and Whiting simply isn't in that league. Simmonds himself, who sings on just two tunes, is a more impressive vocal presence with his dry spoken-sung Mark Knopfler inflections. Musically, this fresh batch of backup musicians is capable enough but, as usual, Simmonds' quicksilver solos take center stage. His playing hasn't changed markedly from the band's salad days, a positive aspect of the Savoy Brown sound that imbues these songs with a low-key fire well worth hearing for blues-rock fans just jumping on board. Simmering swamp tunes such as the nearly seven-minute title track build from a bubbling base to explode with Simmonds' sparkling leads, and even by-the-numbers boogie such as "Meet the Blues Head On" and the simplistic Stones riffing of "She's Got the Heat" are both elevated from their clichéd lyrics with terrific six-string work, the latter on slide, a Simmonds specialty from the "Tell Mama" days. While nothing here equals that prime period in Savoy Brown's extensive discography, Voodoo Moon is a perfectly acceptable, occasionally exceptional example of a veteran talent playing out his run with class, style, and the driving desire of the most legendary blues veterans.

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Biography

Formed: 1966 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Part of the late-'60s blues-rock movement, Britain's Savoy Brown never achieved as much success in their homeland as they did in America, where they promoted their albums with nonstop touring. The band was formed and led by guitarist Kim Simmonds, whose dominating personality has led to myriad personnel changes; the original lineup included singer Bryce Portius, keyboardist Bob Hall, guitarist Martin Stone, bassist Ray Chappell, and drummer Leo Manning. This lineup appeared on the band's 1967 debut,...
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Voodoo Moon, Savoy Brown
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