The Class of 1971: Savoy Brown — ‘Street Corner Talking’
Savoy Brown Blues Band emerged from the U.K. blues scene in 1965, with their first album, Getting to the Point, landing in 1968 (a 1967 recording, Shake Down, was not released in the U.S. until 1990). From there, the group, shortened to Savoy Brown, produced four more superb blues outings (Blue Matter and A Step Further in 1969 and Raw Sienna and Looking In in 1970).
At which point major changes to the lineup occurred. Incredible vocalist Chris Youlden split after Raw Sienna, followed by ‘Lonesome’ Dave Peverett, Tony Stevens, and Roger Earl once Looking In was recorded; those three became the backbone of Foghat. That left only Kim Simmonds, guitarist extraordinaire and the man who founded the group.
Simmonds enlisted the help of most of the members of Chicken Shack. Savoy Brown 2.0 were: Dave Walker, vocals; Kim Simmonds, lead guitar; Paul Raymond, keyboards, guitar [track 1], vocals [track 2]; Andy Silvester, bass guitar; and Dave Bidwell, drums.
This version of the band maintained its love of blues AND rocked out — really hard. Street Corner Talking marked a new beginning for the band, elevating their profile. The album was recorded in 1971 and released in the U.S. in September as Parrot PAS 71047.
The album was produced by Neil Slaven and engineered by George Chkiantz, assisted by Rod Thear. Sam Feldman mastered side two of original issue, and David Anstey created the fanciful cover illustration.
Street Corner Talking
Few albums come screaming at you immediately the way this one does, opening with Simmonds’ blasting guitar on “Tell Mama” [Raymond, Simmonds] (5:15). This is a straight-up rocker, and the new lineup sounds superb, especially Bidwell on drums. Simmonds’ slide solo is legendary.
“Let It Rock” [Raymond, Simmonds] (3:07) matches the first tune for bouncy rock and roll, a fun track dialed directly into 1971. Raymond sings this one and pounds the ivories in perfect style.
Next the band tackles The Temptations’ classic “I Can’t Get Next To You” [Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield] (6:35), putting a deeper, darker spin on the tune, with a killer intro from Bidwell and the band. Walker’s vocals are spot on. Raymond switches effectively to organ here.
“Time Does Tell” [Simmonds] (5:29) mines that same deep, dark territory perfectly, and it’s clear Simmonds was a fine songwriter. Also clear that Walker was the right man for the job as singer.
“Street Corner Talking” [Simmonds] (4:00) is a mid-tempo blues rocker. Raymond’s Hammond B3 colors the tune as Simmonds drives a deep blues groove. His slow, searing guitar solo just smolders.
There is a return to Savoy Brown Blues Band for a long take on “All I Can Do” [Raymond, Simmonds] (10:54). Walker’s plaintive vocals match up perfectly with Raymond’s electric piano. Raymond gets a long excursion into the tune before Simmonds has his say. Bass and drums are on point for this tempo. Toward the end, they slow down and decrease volume for a tender moment before returning briefly to the head.
They close the album in style with a romp through the Willie Dixon-penned Howlin’ Wolf hit “Wang Dang Doodle” [Willie Dixon] (7:15), Raymond’s electric piano again out front. Walker’s recitation of Dixon’s cast of characters is delightful. Also, one of the longest fade-outs in history.
There is a hacked-down version of “Tell Mama” on this Spotify playlist showing how they butchered the original to try to get it to playable length for good ol’ AM radio.