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Ace (CDCHD1288)

Bip Bop Bip, Walking With Barrence, Mama Get The Hammer, Fat Mama, Cotton Pickin, Go Ahead And Burn, Savage Sax, Georgia Slop, Walk Out, Miss Shake It, Whiskey Wagon, King Kong, Ship Sailed At Six plus these previously unissued songs All American Surfer, Whistle Bait, Rockin' At The Coconut Top, Doin' All Right, Savage Express, Pain In My Heart, Savage Sax, Playgirl, Big Mamou, No Kissin' At The Hop.

Quick history: The band was the brain child of guitarist Peter Greenberg, a Boston kid with a huge collection of rock'n'roll 45s and the intention of re-creating that music for himself. To this end, he enlisted the cream of Boston's bar band scene together with a black singer, who was working in the local record shop, and rehearsed them relentlessly for the best part of a year. They practised on the blues of Frankie Lee Sims, Little Richard, Smiley Lewis and all the greats while honing up their own song writing skills.

Finally, in 1984, satisfied and exhausted, they named themselves Barrence Whitfield and The Savages, recorded their first album (this one) and hit the road, barnstorming America and impressing music people world wide. In the UK, Andy Kershaw endlessly plugged the album on his BBC radio show making it an underground hit in Europe.

Basically, it's a blast from the very first note with the band pounding out oldies from Big Al Downing (Georgia Slop), Don Covay (Bip Bop Bip), Frankie Lee Sims (Walking With Barrence) and the Bobby Peterson Quintet (Mama Get The Hammer, There's A Fly On The Baby's Head). Then there's their own bruising material that includes two storming R&B instrumentals, Cotton Pickin' and Savage Sax, the thundering Walk Out and the blustering Ship Sailed At Six which features a sax solo that sizzles along with Greenberg's slashing guitar.

I'd forgotten just how good a guitarist Greenberg was on this CD. His aggressive, attacking runs are distorted, dirty, raggedy and raw and his solos are energetically erratic - they have to be to compete with Steve LaGrega's gut wrenching tenor sax and Howard Ferguson's frenzied percussion. In fact, the whole band gets a grip of each song and batters it into submission at 100 miles per hour, barely pausing for breath.

There are no heart-aching ballads or true-love songs here, just high-octane R&B that rocks even harder than it did on those old 45's. Barrence Whitfield And The Savages took all out rocking to a new level and this glorious CD proves it!

Ask for CDCHD1288.

Only £10.95 plus p&p here at Red Lick!


Review Date: January 2011

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