Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Lost Gem Of The Week: Chris Youlden's Nowhere Road
For years Savoy Brown meant nothing to me other than being "that band whose albums covers were always plastered on the inner sleeves of my Stones records." And much like the Grateful Dead, my first exposure to the music of Savoy Brown was not exactly the ideal starting point. After years of being force fed "Truckin'" or some relentless live version of "Dark Star" by even more relentless Deadheads, I just didn't want to bother. I hated the Dead on purpose. With Savoy Brown, I came in with a version of "I Can't Get Next To You" sung by Dave Walker, not the original singer. I didn't need another blues boogie band, not when there was T-Rex and Mott The Hoople. And I didn't need that version of one of my favorite Temptations songs. I realized in time, I was indeed a fan of the Dead and of Savoy Brown. Think of never having seen "The Godfather" and beginning with "III."
Savoy Brown were not just another blues band and that is because original vocalist Chris Youlden was not just another singer. Sounding like a cross between Georgie Fame and Boz Scaggs, Youlden's phrasing turned what might have been a series of basic British blues records into some of the best blues records of the 60's and early 70's. I'd also like to give Kim Simmonds some credit. His guitar playing on those early records was, like Youlden's vocals, unique and fiery.
I found a copy of Chris Youlden's solo debut "Nowhere Road" this weekend and it's been spinning regularly since. Thanks to the internet, you can listen to it all. Much like Savoy Brown, the songs are more clever than you'd expect to find in this particular genre. There is so much to keep you on your toes, it's hard to just dismiss it all as basic. It's blues with soul and at times, it swings baby. It is not basic, just as classic Savoy Brown records like "Getting To the Point," "Blue Matter" and "Raw Sienna" were not.