Sunday, 26 June 2016

"Eight Gigs A Week: The Steve Winwood Years" by THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP (1996 Island/Chronicles 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Gimme Some Lovin'…"

Twelve seven-inch singles, a cackle of four-track EPs and three albums worth of quality Sixties music is not a bad haul in any man’s books. But when it’s by THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP fronted by the voice of STEVE WINWOOD – then that compilation starts to smack of a must-own. Let’s run down those details… 

UK released March 1996 – "Eight Gigs A Week: The Steve Winwood Years" by THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP on Island/Chronicles CRNCD5 / 524 180-2 (Barcode 731452418029) gives you 51 tracks across 2 CDs (71:48 and 79:05 minutes). It breaks down into 49 studio songs (all in Mono) supplemented by two Previously Unreleased live versions of “Kansas City” and “Oh! Pretty Woman”(Tracks 9 and 20 on Disc 1).

As pages 2 and 3 of the booklet only list song titles without any Discography – here’s how to line up every SPENCER DAVIS GROUP vinyl release between August 1964 and June 1967 using this compilation to do it - [11/1] = Track 11 on Disc 1, [1/2] = Track 1 on Disc 2 etc

UK 7” SINGLES and EP’s:
1. Dimples [1/1] b/w Sittin' And Thinkin' [11/1] – August 1964 UK debut 7” single on Fontana TF 471

2. I Can’t Stand It [2/1] b/w Midnight Train [6/1] – October 1964 2nd UK 7” on Fontana TF 499

3. Every Little Bit Hurts [10/1] b/w It Hurts Me So [19/1] – January 1965 3rd UK 7” on Fontana TF 530

4. Strong Love [17/1] b/w This Hammer [22/1] – May 1965 4th UK 7” on Fontana TF 571

5. You Put The Hurt On Me EP – June 1965 UK 1st 7” 4-Track Extended Play on Fontana TE 17444
A1. She Put The Hurt On Me [13/1] - A2. I’m Getting Better [15/1]
B1. I’ll Drown In My Own Tears [14/1] - B2. Goodbye Stevie [16/1]

6. Every Little Bit Hurts EP – August 1965 UK 2nd 7” 4-Track Extended Play on Fontana TE 17450
A1. Every Little Bit Hurts [10/1] – A2. It Hurts Me So [19/1]
B1. I Can’t Stand It [2/1] – B2. Midnight Train [6/1]

7. Keep On Running [24/1] b/w High Time Baby [6/2] – November 1965 5th UK 7” on Fontana TF 632

8. Somebody Help Me [1/2] b/w Stevie’s Blues [17/2] – March 1966 6th UK 7” on Fontana TF 679

9. Sittin' And Thinkin' EP – June 1966 UK 3rd 7” 4-Track Extended Play on Fontana TE 17463
A1. Sittin' And Thinkin' [11/1] – A2. Jump Back [3/1]
B1. Dimples [1/1] – B2. Searchin’ [5/1]

10.When I Come Home [5/2] b/w Trampoline [10/2] – August 1966 7th UK 7” on Fontana TF 739

11. Gimme Some Lovin' [23/2] b/w Blues In F [26/2] – October 1966 8th UK 7” on Fontana TF 762

12. I'm A Man [25/2] b/w I Can’t Get Enough Of It [20/2] – January 1967 9th UK 7” on Fontana TF 785

“Their First LP” – released July 1965 in Mono on Fontana TL 5242
Side 1:
1. My Babe [8/1]
2. Dimples [1/1]
3. Searchin' [5/1]
4. Every Little Bit Hurts [10/1]
5. I’m Blue (Gong Gong Song) [12/1]
6. Sittin' And Thinkin' [11/1]
Side 2:
1. I Can’t Stand It [2/1]
2. Here Right Now [4/1]
3. Jump Back [3/1]
4. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine [7/1]
5. Midnight Train [6/1]
6. It Hurst Me So [19/1]

“The Second Album” – released January 1966 in Mono on Fontana TL 5295
Side 1:
1. Look Away [21/1]
2. Keep On Running [24/1]
3. This Hammer [22/1]
4. Georgia On My Mind [18/1]
5. Please Do Something [23/1]
6. Let Me Down Easy [25/1]
Side 2:
1. Strong Love [17/1]
2. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Waters [8/2]
3. Since I Met You Baby [11/2]
4. You Must Believe Me [9/2]
5. Hey Darling [7/2]
7. Watch Your Step [2/2]

“Autumn '66” – released September 1966 in Mono on Fontana TL 5359
Side 1:
1. Together Till The End Of Time [22/2]
2. Take This Hurt Off Me [18/2]
3. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out [3/2]
4. Midnight Special [4/2]
5. When A Man Loves A Woman [14/2]
6. When I Come Home [5/2]
Side 2:
1. Mean Woman Blues [12/2]
2. Dust My Blues [13/2]
3. On The Green Light [16/2]
4. Neighbour, Neighbour [15/2]
5. High Time Baby [6/2]
6. Somebody Help Me [1/2]

The 2CDs come in card slipcase which houses a slide-in 24-page oversized booklet - chockers with album covers, rare foreign language picture sleeves for both singles and LPs, trade adverts for Fontana releases and even a Pop Picture Library magazine cover for the princely fee of one schilling. JOHN REED - then at the Record Collector Magazine forming their famous Price Guides – has handled the liner notes. John is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate writers on the Sixties (and the Mod scene in particular) and his liner notes feature great reminiscences from Muff Winwood (Stevie’s brother) who went on to be the main Promotions/A&R Agent in Chris Blackwell’s Island Records. There are discussions on the making of the huge hits – Spencer Davis’ huge R&B collection influencing the direction of the band and of course the amazing vocal chops of a seventeen year-old called Steve Winwood from near Birmingham England and not Birmingham Alabama.

There are no mastering credits anywhere - but the Audio is wonderful - punchy MONO mixes rattling your speakers like they used to shake your transistor radio...

While all the huge hits like “Gimme Some Lovin’”, “I’m A Man”, “Keep On Runnin’” and “Somebody Help Me” (the last two went to Number 1) are all here - for me the knock-out stuff are those throwaway B-sides – many of which were simply done in the studio as instrumentals. “Stevie’s Blues” is the B-side of “Somebody Help Me” and sees Winwood launch into some truly stunning Blues guitar – it’s heavy like Cream or The Bluesbreakers. “Trampoline” is a cool-jaunty instrumental on the back of the well-underrated “When I Come Home” while the band goes on Ramsey Lewis on “Blues In F” – the flip of “Lovin’”.

Their affection for American Soul, Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Reggae determined so many of their cover version choices, ”I’m Blue (Gong Gong Song)” (Ike Turner), “Since I Met You Baby” (Ivory Joe Hunter), “Every Little Hurts” (Brenda Holloway), “Georgia On My Mind” and I'll Drown In My Own Tears" (Ray Charles), “Dimples” (John Lee Hooker), “Searchin’” (The Coasters) and three by Jackie Edwards on Islands Records (“Keep On Running”, “When I Come Home” and “Back Into Life Again”). What’s also obvious is the massive improvement in the band as they transitioned from the first to the 2nd LP. “The Second Album” has a clever mixture of originals and less obvious cover versions like “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water” (Charlie Rich), “You Must Believe Me” (The Impressions) and a mellow stab at Betty Lavett’s “Let Me Down Easy” with Stevie already sounding decades ahead of his actual age.

As many filmgoers will know every time someone in a British Rom-Com is running to a church – the filmmakers will invariably use “Keep On Running”. Cliché or not – it’s still a classy single. But the big daddy of them all has to be the astonishing Motowneseque power of “Gimme Some Lovin’” which to this day sends tingles up the spine. Like Roy Orbison’s “Oh! Pretty Woman” (the live version here has screaming girls wanting to do un-pretty things to the boys on stage) – “Gimme Some Lovin’” somehow encapsulates the Sixties to a tee – exciting, fun and sexy down to it’s Mary Quant lipstick and bottleneck winklepicker shoes.

So there you have it - tons of cool stuff, cracking remasters and nice presentation. 

The Chris Welch liner notes on the back of “The Second Album" sleeve state in its last lines - “...SDG fans will be completely satisfied with this package…”

On the money my musical son…

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