Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Voodoo Moon reviewed by David Stine

Voodoo Moon
Savoy Brown
Savoy Brown Music
Ruf Records (www.rufrecords.de)
9 tracks/45:30

If I tell you there is nothing really new on this disc will you be disappointed or cheer?  Savoy Brown has been cranking out boogie blues for 40+ years and perhaps we've all come to expect solid boogie blues sans surprises. If that is the expectation, then Savoy Brown has delivered again. Voodoo Moon rocks from beginning to end while dancing near blues and leaning more toward rock. Yes, Savoy Brown is really Kim Simmonds with a rotating cast of players, but who really cares? This configuration is Simmonds (guitar and vocals), Joe Whiting (sax and most vocals), Pat DeSalvo (bass), and Garnet Grimm (drums). A close listen reveals snippets of keyboard work from Andy Rudy, as well.

Voodoo Moon starts with a tune titled "Shockwave," and no surprise, is rock-flavored, romp with overdriven guitar and walking bass.  I can't imagine a first-time listener, but this song captures what latter day SB is all about: heavy guitar boogie with hints of blues, and male bravado. "Natural Man" unravels blues cliches to reveal a "natural man" free from the "magic" sometimes perpetrated by blues men. Is this a signal that Savoy Brown doesn't see itself as a "blues" act? I believe so. Side note- the song was written by Simmonds. "Too Much Money" addresses a common complaint: is there such a thing as too much money? "She's Got The Heat" is a slide-guitar driven rocker that breaks no new ground, but again, isn't this part of SB's longevity, a consistent product? "Look At The Sun" delivers a rather confused message about either love conquering all or look toward God, or, well, some sort of enigmatic hippie credo that perhaps was meant as album filler. For me, this is the weakest cut in execution and lyric-wise.  "24/7" redeems the previous cut with its ferocious instrumental boogie. The dance quality keeps this one from my filler list. And to the ear of the Savoy Brown fan, it would be an accurate guess if you heard this being played in the record store. (Are there record stores anymore??) "Round And Round," sung by Simmonds, reveals an aging voice and song that harkens back to the Savoy Brown of the 70s with its under-the-top delivery and somewhat weary sentiment. The title cut melds Brit blues with bayou mystery.  Again, not the most earth-shattering lyrics, but still better than some of the forced rhymes and cliched lyrics I've encountered in the blooze genre (sic, modern day blues-like music). The CD ends with "Meet The Blues Head On," a strong, guitar-heavy, riff-driven blues rocker, with lyrics of little consequence that will have people rocking to the anthem like refrain.

In the liner notes, Simmonds claims this is his, uh, THEIR, strongest album since the 70s. That may be true, I sort of lost them somewhere in the 80s. Voodoo Moon, has its moments of rocking pleasure. If you are a SB fan, than this CD will make you happy. If you are a fan of Johnny Winter, George Thoroughgood, and the like, there's a lot here to like as well. As I stated, Savoy Brown's longevity is due, in part, to delivering a certain amount of preconceived expectations album after album. To this end, Voodoo Moon delivers.

Reviewed by David Stine

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