Released: March 1972
Chart Peak: #34
Weeks Charted: 21
Savoy Brown was once a resolutely typical British blues band. They could boogy an audience into submission in no time at all, and then keep them inert for what seemed like an eternity -- Savoy Brown was merciless. And in those days people seemed to love every interminable minute of it.
The new Savoy Brown is no longer tied to those endless, emotionless 12-bar boxes. Leader-guitarist Kim Simmonds, having surrounded himself with an entirely new crew of Savoys, now leads a rock'n'roll band. Anything would've been an improvement.
This new one needn't be so destroyed. It contains nothing as good as "Tell Mama," but nothing as crummy as the rest of that album. Instead, the group has come up with a half dozen abundantly pleasant rock tunes. These owe more to Creedence than to Muddy or John Lee. There are a couple blues-infected songs, "Lost and Lonely Child" and "It'll Make You Happy," among the half-dozen, but they're not at all committed to the form for its own sake. There's even a gospel-style tune, "Troubled by These Days and Times," complete with feverish piano and shouting crescendo; it's hardly original, but it still comes off pretty well.
The best tunes are the three that are more strictly rock'n'roll, "Doin' Fine," "I'll Make Everything Alright" and "If I Could See an End," all economical, short, meticulously put together, and all showing a distinct spark of originality, a quality rarely in evidence in the Savoy Brown catalogue. On these tracks, Dave Walker's light, casual vocals and the band's trotting instrumental gait to form crisp, easy rock'n'roll that's not particularly strong in initial impact, but builds a cumulative appeal. These tunes sound less like Creedence, really, than like the English Creedences, Christie and Choshise. Remember "San Bernadino"? These songs are like that, particularly "Doin' Fine," a bouncy, happy, perfectly titled little song.
Forget "Hellbound Train" and the album is a modest success by a pleasant-sounding band. "Pleasant" may not be such an impressive description, but it's a lot better than "deadly."
- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 4-27-72.
Savoy Brown have carefully built up a hard-core following of loyal devotees who staunchly defend them as being the best of the British blues bands. Their latest album is dominated by an air of intensity and dark, insinuating rhythms. Excellent offerings include "Lost & Lonely Child," "Troubled By These Days and Times" and "Hellbound Train."
- Billboard, 1972.
Hellbound Train further stretches Kim Simmonds' blues bonds as he heads for a flashier rock and boogie sound. * * *
- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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