Savoy Brown was part of the British blues invasion of the early and mid-'60s, but like a lot of American-derived music produced overseas during that era, "The Blues Keep Holding On" is more about imitation than inspiration.
Founding member and guitarist Kim Simmonds knows the music, all right. He's got all the requisite licks down pat, and boasts a mean distorted tone on electric guitar. He also slides his way through a nice steel guitar arrangement of "Ain't No Need to Worry," one of six tunes on the album that he had a hand in writing.
As a singer, though, he leaves a lot to be desired -- emotion, for starters -- which explains why most of the vocals are delivered by bassist Nathaniel Peterson. Unfortunately, Peterson is merely a capable blues vocalist, not a commanding one, so even the best tracks here seem far removed from the Chicago and Deep South blues that inspired them. Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" is a prime example of the album's shortcomings: Though it features some of Simmonds's finest guitar work, the performance falls flat once Peterson fails to measure up to some of the blues greats who've performed this tune in the past.
The album includes nice cameos by several guests, including guitarist Duke Robillard, pianist Dave Maxwell, harmonica veteran Paul Oscher and drummer Roger Earl. Yet despite their efforts, "The Blues Keep Holding On" only whets an appetite for the real stuff, it doesn't satisfy it.
Appearing Friday at Ram's Head Tavern. To hear a free Sound Bite from Savoy Brown, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)