Tom Farnell - drums; Andy Rae - bass; Paul Raymond - vocals, keyboards, guitar; Kim Simmonds - lead guitar
Throughout their lengthy career, Savoy Brown has gone through numerous personnel changes, but through it all one thing has remained consistent - lead guitarist and founder Kim Simmonds. The band emerged out of the same mid-1960s English blues scene that gave rise to guitar legends like Beck, Green, Clapton and Page, but Simmonds and Savoy Brown never achieved the stardom of their contemporaries, maintaining an underground status and establishing their reputation with energized live performances that continue to the present day. Like a phoenix, Simmonds always rose from the ashes of critical bandmember departures and forged ahead, creating engaging blues oriented rock music with a long list of talented musicians. Following their initial success in the mid-1960s, as a traditional blues band featuring the dynamic Chris Youlden on vocals, Youlden departed and the band began heading in a more hard rock/boogie band direction, releasing several memorable albums.
By late 1970, Youlden departed for a solo career. Not long afterwards, Simmonds' bandmembers departed to form Foghat, allowing him to recruit members of the recently demised Chicken Shack to form an entirely new Savoy Brown. In 1971, just when much of their fan base had written them off, the band returned with a remarkably strong album, Street Corner Talking. This album caught nearly everyone by surprise and brought Savoy Brown their first international hit and much greater exposure than ever before. Tracks from this album like "Tell Mama," "Street Comer Talking," "All I Can Do Is Cry" and the band's take on the Motown classic, "I Can't Get Next To You," all received extensive FM radio exposure. The album went platinum and the band found themselves playing before wildly enthusiastic audiences in America and Europe. The following year they released two more highly acclaimed albums, Hellbound Train and Lion's Share, proving that despite personnel changes, they were still a force to be reckoned with. Personnel continued to change through the early 1970s, but Simmonds always managed to find musicians who complemented his musical direction, particularly in live performances, which was always the best way to experience Savoy Brown.
By 1975, the time of this "Live At The Record Plant" recording, the band featured the talents of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Paul Raymond. Simmonds and Raymond displayed a near telepathic empathy for each other's nuances and with the first rate rhythm section of Tom Farnell and Andy Rae, they deliver some of the most direct and memorable music of the group's career. Kicking it off with the band's biggest hit "Tell Mama," featuring sizzling slide guitar work from Simmonds, they immediately engage the small in-studio audience. The next two numbers, "Born Into Pain" and "Hero To Zero" were new songs at the time. Both feature exemplary keyboard work from Raymond and blazing guitar work from Simmonds. These two performances are so strong that these takes were featured on their next album, Wire Fire.
The title track of the 1972 album, Hellbound Train, continues the momentum with more outstanding guitar work from Simmonds, before they relax into "All I Can Do (Is Cry)," another highlight of the Street Corner Talking album. This has a nice relaxed free-floating groove to it and the sparser nature of the arrangement makes the biting tone of Simmonds' guitar shine over the captivating vamp of the band. This number also contains Raymond's most engaging vocal of the evening. This segues directly into one of the improvised boogies that the group was so well known for. This boogie also features a brief drum solo by Farnell and has Raymond engaging the in-studio audience to sing along on his "I Feel So Good" vocal improvisations.
They bring the set to a close with "You Don't Have To Go," a standout track from 1972's Lion's Share album. Beginning as a slow blues number but then jumping into a hot up-tempo shuffle, this sounds not unlike the best of Savoy Brown's 1960s era blues material, bringing the set full circle as an overview of the band's abilities. At this point in time, Simmonds was consciously emphasizing his lead guitar within the context of the band and this is a fine example of his diversity, style and technique. Newcomers, as well as longtime fans, will find this a fine example of live Savoy Brown.