Savoy Brown have been around for over five decades. That’s a lot of time to make music, and I think their 40-album discography proves that they used that time pretty well. With a musical CV featuring 40 freakin’ albums, you are likely to meet with problems, the biggest of which as told by history is avoiding things like St. Anger, Born Again or the X Factor. With time comes scope for – and a bigger chance of – losing your sound, losing your identity and losing your focus.
It’s refreshing then, for a band like Savoy Brown, playing raw blues for so long, to still be producing quality records like “City Night”.
From the second you play the opening track, “Walking on Hot Stones”, you hear the gritty, almost Bonamassa-esque sound that characterises the album. A classic blues sound played with a heavier, rock tonality, and a more intense guitar, different to the likes of other seminal Savoy Brown works like “Hellbound Train” which have generally a softer, cleaner, more sombre sound to them. Change, but good change.
That isn’t to say there is no variety here; quite the opposite, actually. Tracks like “Selfish World” bring a steadiness to the album, slow it down a notch and deliver a more sober blues sound, still maintaining that raw, gritty album characterising sound. The guitar playing is of amazing quality, again something that has refused to wane over the years, thanks in no small part to the endurance and persistence of the only permanent member and now frontman Kim Simmonds.
The trend keeps going with the lyrics. We are treated to plenty of what I would describe as “classical blues lyrics”, talking about the strife of life, women and getting by. Talking about everything from personal failure to greed, life on the road and dreaming big, there is plenty of depth to the album, and it’s a brilliant contrast with the cleaner, more ‘polished’ “Witchy Feelin’”, the predecessor to City Night. It doesn’t sound tired, it doesn’t sound forced and it doesn’t sound rushed.
Sure, there are some moments where you think to yourself “I might have heard this before”, but when you have been producing blues music for over 50 years and you’re still creating albums of high calibre, it is to be forgiven, and for the most part City Night is a hellish strong blues-rock offering.
Which is why this album is so good. It shouldn’t sound this good; it shouldn’t sound this relevant. Hasn’t blues seen its glory days? Clearly not, and with veterans like Savoy Brown still producing powerful additions to their library like this, blues ain’t goin’ nowhere soon!