Most Savoy Brown aficionadoes are aware that Kim and Co released their first album in England only in 1967, that it was called Shake Down, and that most Americans have heard very little of this album, probably only the two cuts featured on the compilation Savoy Brown Chronicles. The true SB fan might have to search far and wide to find a copy, as with Jack the Toad, the later, pub-rocking Savoy Brown album now considered a classic.
Well, friends, start searching again, because I have recently unearthed a copy of this excellent album, and believe me, it's worth searching for!! Kim assembled a multiracial band in 1965/66 and by 1967 had recorded Shake Down. It's a traditional blues album that is very reminiscent of Getting to the Point, SB's second album (first in America) that is much better known than this one.
Shake Down consists mostly of blues covers, save one excellent instrumental, "Doormouse Rides the Rails", featuring the band's first-rate second guitarist, Martin Stone. His interplay with SB guru Kim Simmonds on such tracks as "It's All My Fault," "Shake 'Em on Down," and especially on the traditional blues opus "Black Night" are among the high points of the album.
Singer Bryce Portius (one of the first blacks to front a British blues band) has a somewhat limited vocal style, but it works very well for this material. His highlights include the Howlin' Wolf classic "I Ain't Superstitious," and the Willie Dixon-penned tune, "Little Girl". Kim is already showing maturity beyond his teenage years in terms of track selection and musical direction; as a guitarist, he shows his chops very nicely on "Shake 'Em On Down," already clearly grasping the less-is-more concept that makes for great blues.
His playing in these early years is still somewhat limited, otherwise we'd be looking at a timeless classic. Special thanks to Denis in St. Petersburg, Russia, for helping me to obtain this underappreciated gem. Now that Kim handles his own record distribution (through his new label, Panache Records), perhaps he would consider rereleasing Jack the Toad, Lion's Share, and of course this album in the United States to satisfy his legion of fans. Until then, please pursue this album diligently; it's a blues gem that will have you shaking it on down with the best of them!!!
Limited edition Japanese only reissue of the 1967 album has been fully remastered with the origianal tracks and comes in a miniature LP sleeve. Decca. 2005.
Released September 1967
Recorded Mid 1967 at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, North West London
• Brice Portius – vocals
• Kim Simmonds – lead and rhythm guitar
• Martin Stone – lead and rhythm guitar
• Ray Chappell – bass
• Leo Mannings – drums, percussion
• Bob Hall – piano (on "I Ain't Superstitious", "Little Girl", "Shake 'Em On Down")
01. "I Ain't Superstitious" (Willie Dixon) – 3:25
02. "Let Me Love You Baby" (Dixon) – 3:00
03. "Black Night" (Jessie Mae Robinson) – 4:47
04. "High Rise" (Beverly Bridge, Sonny Thompson, Freddie King) – 2:44
05. "Rock Me Baby" (B.B. King, Joe Josea) – 2:56
06. "I Smell Trouble" (Deadric Malone) – 4:28
07. "Oh! Pretty Woman" (Albert King) – 2:28
08. "Little Girl" (Dixon) – 1:38
09. "The Doormouse Rides the Rails" (Martin Stone) – 3:32
10. "It's My Own Fault" (John Lee Hooker) – 4:55
11. "Shake 'Em On Down" (Traditional, arranged by Bob Hall & Savoy Brown) – 6:00