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Savoy Brown 

Strange Dreams (Blind Pig)

Other than John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, no band in the British blues universe has matched the staying power of Savoy Brown. Formed in the mid-'60s by guitarist Kim Simmonds, the group enjoyed its peak of popularity in the early '70s, a bigger draw in the States than back home. Like Mayall's band, only the leader has remained in the continually shifting lineup. In Savoy Brown's glory days, Simmonds's guitar work shared the spotlight with lead vocalists; now he's the whole show, and the tasty, mostly low-key work on Strange Dreams makes for very decent after-hours listening.

While things never really bust loose, Strange Dreams simmers and smolders throughout. The disc finds its energetic peak on its fiery first track, "When It Rains," but the remainder of the set manages to maintain a steady groove somewhere below the flash point. The Robert Cray-esque feel of "Rains" sets the template for most of the tracks, and Simmonds provides solid playing throughout: fleet-fingered, but never deliberately flashy. His strongest statement here is on a straight, slow tune, the Robert Lockwood-like "Keep on Rollin'." And if Simmonds is not a memorable vocalist, he's at least inoffensive. Strange Dreams might not kick off the evening so well, but it's a great closer.

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