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Savoy Brown Jack the Toad (LP)

Savoy Brown Jack the Toad (LP)

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Genre: blues-rock
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title:  Jack the Toad
Company: Parrott
Catalog: PAS 71059
Year: 1973
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Country/State: UK
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Available: 2
Catalog ID: 14331
Price: $10.00

Perhaps this is blasphemy, but I'd suggest that if you're buying a mid-1970s era Savoy Brown album, you pretty much know what to expect. That means if you bought an album like 1973's "Jack the Toad" you were expecting to hear a fairly conventional set of English blues-rock. But guess what ? I bet a bunch of folks were surprised by this one. On the personnel front the album featured s new lead singer - Jackie Lynton replacing Dave Walker (who had signed on for a brief romp with Fleetwood Mac). While lots of folks weren't particular impressed by Lynton, I have to admit I rather liked his Joe Cocker-styled delivery. Lynton also picked up a sizable chunk of the writing duties - he was credited with penning, or co-writing five of the nine tracks. That gave this set a slightly different feel from the last couple of outings. Sure, there was still plenty of blues-rock including ''Hold Your Fire' and 'Just 'Cos You Got the Blues Don't mean You Gotta Sing', but Lynton added a lighter and more diversified feel to tracks like 'Coming Down Your Way' and 'Some People''. Not sure I'd call it Savoy Brown's party album, but it came pretty close. I'm guessing Lynton won't mind the publicity, so I lifted this description of how he hooked up with Savoy Brown from his website (see the link below):  

"Their [Savoy Brown's] manager - he remembered me from the old days - saw me singing with my band [The Jackie Lynton Band] at the Greyhound, in Fulham. They’d just lost their lead singer and he wanted me. I’d come straight off a building site, had just put a really good little band together, and didn’t really want to know. But he kept phoning, offering me the gig. I put the phone down on him at first. I’d never even heard of Savoy effin’ Brown…I just thought it was rubbish, a million times over. Then he started talking about an American tour…I was working on a building site for forty quid a week, and he went and offered me three grand for two months work. Then I had to tell my band…it broke their hearts, ‘cause we were a really tight little outfit….hadn’t been together long, just a couple of months. But you can’t turn that kinda dough down…”

The album also featured a new drummer. Well, part of the album featured a new drummer. In the middle of the recording sessions Dave Bidwell fell victim to a nasty drug problem. Former Blodwyn Pig drummer Rom Berg was brought in to complete the sessions. - Yeah, it was a blues-rocker, but the Lynton-penned 'Coming Down Your Way' had a bouncy melody that served to showcase the best aspects of Lynton's voice (great track to hear the Joe Cocker comparison), while giving Simmonds an opportunity to showcase his sterling slide guitar. Parrot tapped the track as an American single, though Three Dog Night achieved more recognition with their cover of the song.. rating: *** stars
- He doesn't display it very often (which is unfortunate), but I've always liked Simmonds voice. On ''Ride On Babe' his performance reminded me a bit of Paul Rodgers. He's seldom sounded as good'. Not only did you get to hear one of the band's more straight-forward rockers, but Simmonds also displayed his talent on harmonica. rating: **** stars
- A dark and slightly ominous blues number, the first couple of times I heard 'Hold Your Fire' I thought it was a disappointment. The track just never seemed to shift into gear and Lynton sounded uncomfortable. Over time my impressions have changed and while it isn't one of the album standouts, it isn't half bad. rating: *** stars
- 'If I Want To' saw Lynton pushing the band into a pseudo-funky mode ... seriously, this one had a great Andy Pyle bass line and Lynton's strangled vocal sounded like a cross between Roger Chapman and Kevin Coyne. rating: *** stars 
- American rockabilly artist Jody Reynolds enjoyed a 1958 top-5 hit with the "death' track 'Endless Sleep'. In the UK Marty Wilde enjoyed the hit with his cover of the track. Here the band gave the song a nifty rock arrangement with Lynton turning in a classic rock scream !!!. And you didn't think Savoy Brown could do straight forward rock and roll ... rating: *** stars
- Maybe because it was so atypical and goofy, every time I head 'Casting My Spell' I smile. Great, bouncy number with a cool Simmonds riff kicking the track along. rating: *** stars
- The first disappointment, 'Just 'Cos You Got the Blues Don't mean You Gotta Sing' was a bland slice of blues-rock. While Simmonds turned in a nice enough solo, it wasn't enough to salvage the rest of the song's plodding nature. rating: ** stars
- Another Lynton number, 'Some People' caught the band playing around with a relative commercial rock sound. Not sure longstanding blues-rock fans will like it, but I certainly enjoyed the change of pace. rating: *** stars
- I have absolutely no idea what it was about, but the title track 'Jack the Toad' was probably the album's standout performance. Again, the funky rhythm track and weird cowboy theme were unlike anything Simmonds and company had ever recorded before (or since). rating: **** stars

A mentioned, the album was tapped for an American single:

- 1973's 'Coming Down Your Way' b/w 'I Cant Find You' (Parrot catalog number 45-40075 )

Surprisingly varied and quite unlike their blues, or boogie catalogs.
The band subsequently undertook an American touring opening for Z.Z. Top and an English tour opening up for Status Quo. (Always loved the cool David Anstey cover art.)
"Jack the Toad" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Coming Down Your Way (Jackie Lynton) - 4:31
2.) Ride On Babe (Kim Simmonds) - 4:21
3.) Hold Your Fire (Paul Raymond) - 4:16
4.) If I Want To (Jackie Lynton) - 3:56
5.) Endless Sleep (Jody Reynolds - Dolores Nance) - 5:30

(side 2)
1.) Casting My Spell (Edwin Johnson) - 4:09
2.) Just 'Cos You Got the Blues Don't mean You Gotta Sing (Jackie Lynton) - 5:49
3.) Some People (Jackie Lynton - Kim Simmonds - Paul Raymond - Andy Pyle - Ron Berg) - 6:03
4.) Jack the Toad (Jackie Lynton) - 6:40

As mentioned, Lynton has a nice website at:
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