Like so many metal albums of my youth, it started with the album cover. I would see Looking In, the sixth album from England blues rock band Savoy Brown constantly on my trips to the local record shops, and would marvel at that delicious comic book artwork. But each and every time I’d turn way, convinced it was just another run of the mill 70s rock and roll record that could be ignored. But as I started digging more into some of the obscure gems of the 70s I decided to stop ignoring that cover and give it a shot.
Man, I love being wrong.
I did some listening to the band’s albums around the same time period, but the thing I learned about Savoy Brown is they almost never had the same line-up from album to album. In fact, after Looking In everyone except lead guitarist Kim Simmonds left and wound up forming Foghat. But don’t compare Foghat’s debut to Lookin In; they are completely different beasts. After the brief instrumental opening that is “Gypsy” the band moves into the heavy blues rocker “Poor Girl” that is positively lit up with killer solos. The vamp is slow and doom, but Simmonds’s solos and the cadence of vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett give it a unique signature.
That kind of doom blues feel permeates Looking In. “Money Can’t Save Your Soul” Peverett’s voice is outstanding, and once again Simmonds leads the way with great guitar licks. Power chords are pretty scarce here; this is drenched in the blues, as songs like “Sunday Night” make abundantly clear. This is also where the percussion really takes the stage. Roger Earl’s drumming has a wide soundstage and his use of toms to complement the usual 12-bar blues beat stand out throughout the album. The title track gets a little funky, but not enough to stray away from the overall dark tone of the album which is as good an overall assessment of Looking In as any, I guess.
By the time of the eight and half minute closer of “Leavin’ Again” (Followed by instrumental outro “Romanoff”) it’s easy to come to the conclusion that – finely executed as it is – Looking In mirrors a lot of what was going on (there are shades of early Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds and Bluesbreakers all over), but I can’t help but really be drawn to how damn good the album sounds. This is Kim Simmonds’s album all over – he also produced it – and maybe that’s why the band up and left to create Foghat a year later. It’s shame we never got more of this style out of the band, but since it’s new to me I’m happy to keep playing it over and over again, finding new little joys in every lick.