The original Savoy Brown (except for second guitarist Martin Stone, who replaced a harmonica player named John O'Leary) was both a blood-curdling affair...and a significant one, for being just about the only racially integrated blues group of its time. Like the original Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Savoy Brown - or, the Savoy Brown Blues Band, as they were first known - featured two black members; unlike the Butterfield gang, though, Savoy Brown got even more radical, making Brice Portius one of if not the only black singers to front a band with three whites (Stone, lead guitarist Kim Simmonds, and bassist Ray Chappell) and two blacks (himself and drummer Leo Manning).
What made the original Savoy Brown lineup so blood curdling was their sound: meaty, heavy, and midrangy in the guitars; the original quintet (pianist Bob Hall was an on- and off-again member, appearing here on two tracks, notably the exuberant rumble, "Shake 'Em On Down") could have been called heavy metal years before the genre sprang from its bluesy origins to a full-smash attack. On their first album, they kept to the blues standards which formed the bulk of their club repertoire and played them with both reverence and deep feeling, Portius proving a better than credible blues exponent in his quavering voice and Simmonds an elemental but oddly melodious lead guitarist. Their interpretations of such as Albert King's "Oh! Pretty Woman," John Lee Hooker's "It's My Own Fault," Buddy Guy's "Let Me Love You, Baby," and Howlin' Wolf's "I Ain't Superstitious" were direct and bracing; their lone original, Martin Stone's "The Dormouse Rides The Rails," was a particularly thrusting number, with Stone and Simmonds trading spry lead guitar lines.
In retrospect it's easy to understand why Simmonds broke up the lineup in favour of the one for which Savoy Brown is best remembered (the lineup of Chris Youlden, Lonesome Dave Peverett, Rivers Jobe/Tony Stevens, and Roger Earle) - this band was just too much like a blues tribute group, taking few chances with the material in terms of arrangements and full-out improvisation. But there's no questioning the passion and the gripping sound here. That alone makes this 1967 set one of the best of the British blues revival's albums, and its return to print (it was never available in the U.S. in its own time) is long, long overdue. Ola my friends