Thanks to a flatmate who had this album in his collection, Raw Sienna
was my introduction to Savoy Brown, and it was also what prompted me to check out more of the band's discography.
It's a tricky album to rate though, as its merit is very distinctly confined to about half the material, the rest being markedly inferior, and that was reflected by whenever it was played in our flat, as only Side Two ever received any regular turntable time.
The album opens very promisingly, with the 4½ star "A Hard Way To Go", a track that kicks off with a sultry blues riff played on bass, that then evolves into a mid-tempo jazz-lite/blues number.
That warm and fluid bass sound features on all the album's best tracks, and it - along with the Chris Youlden's distinctive vocals - could've become Savoy Brown's very own 'signature' sound, something that's essential for any band to acquire if they're to have any chance of longterm success. It was however a sound the band unfortunately forfeited very quickly, as Youlden departed subsequent to this album's release, causing the remaining line-up to revert to the more generic nondescript sound of their earlier albums, as evidenced on Looking In
, released just six months after Raw Sienna
The other main factor here - one that prompts online reviewers to rate Raw Sienna
as Savoy Brown's best album - is that it was Youlden who penned all the album's superior material, whereas bandleader Kim Simmonds was responsible for most of the lesser stuff. For beyond Youlden's bluesie 4½ star opener, it's Simmonds' material that takes up much of Side One, consisting of 8 minutes or so of very brassy jamming, where Savoy Brown come across as a noisy UK equivalent to US jazz/rockers Blood Sweat & Tears, such that Simmonds' two rather tuneless contributions completely demolish the bluesie feel established by the opener, making Side One a bit of a write-off as a result.
by Reviewer: bluemoon