The tour bus. The stage door. Soundcheck. Showtime. This is life on the road: a late-night world of roving spotlights, humming valve amps and cheering strangers that is Kim Simmonds' first love and natural habitat. When Savoy Brown pull into town in the modern era, their pockets bursting with killer songs, there's the same magic in the air as when they burst thrillingly to the front of the British blues pack during the Sixties boom. "It's still as exciting today as it was when the band started," agrees the band's iconic founder, leader and guitar master. "Sometimes, I feel like I'm back in 1967 when I'm doing shows
and that's a good feeling." Released in April 2013 on Ruf Records, 'Songs From The Road' is a two-disc CD/DVD set that captures that feeling. It's also the release you've been waiting for. Back in 2011, Simmonds found himself on top of the world, as critics and fans alike poured praise on Savoy Brown's latest release, 'Voodoo Moon'. With stinging material like 'Meet The Blues Head On' and 'She's Got The Heat', this was the kind of studio album you were desperate to hear live, and label boss Thomas Ruf agreed, enlisting Savoy Brown as the latest in Ruf's famous 'Songs From The Road' series that has showcased artists from Jeff Healey to Luther Allison. And so, on May 5, 2012, a fleet of cameras and soundmen - along with a vocal crowd of lucky über-fans - descended on the Musiktheater Piano in Dortmund, Germany, for a one-night stand they'd never forget. It's fair to say, the band nailed it. Like all the great live albums - from 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!' to 'Kick Out The Jams' - 'Songs From The Road' is a snapshot that puts you on the front row when you hit play in your front room. From the moment that Simmonds and his world-class lineup tear into the brassy groove of '24/7', with the molten guitar riffs rolling off those famous fingers, the Dortmund crowd are up, dancing and lost in the music. Fourteen songs later, a stinging finale of 'Louisiana Blues' leaves them howling for more. This is one of blues-rock's great stage bands, caught at the top of their game. Of course, the impact of 'Songs From The Road' is partly down to the performance and dynamics, with the jackhammer drums of Garnet Grimm, the rocksteady bass of Pat DeSalvo and Joe Whiting's soaring sax and vocals all dovetailing with Simmonds, who soothes and scolds his instrument with eyes closed tight, connected to the very heart of each song. "It's a great-sounding band," agrees the guitarist, "so it starts there." But 'Songs From The Road' is about more than great execution. It's about a setlist that leaps seamlessly around Simmonds' stellar six-decade songbook, mixing up old favourites like 1971's Street Corner Talking with modern classics like Voodoo Moon's Natural Man, and only interrupts the all-original material for a closing romp through Willie Dixon's Wang Dang Doodle and Little Red Rooster, and Muddy Waters' aforementioned Louisiana Blues. As Simmonds points out, to play the same ten songs every night would be boring. "I like to change, keep things different, keep things exciting," he says. "One thing I try to do is keep that change and excitement going, for myself and the audience." The material showcased on Songs From The Road also reminds us just how deep and enduring Savoy Brown's contribution to blues-rock has been. As he reveals in the exclusive DVD bonus interview, the teenage Simmonds didn't anticipate any of this: the record deals, the adoration, the awards. Born in Newbridge, Wales, he started off as a fan, poring over his older brother's record collection, which took in everything from rock 'n' roll to gospel and doo-wop. "But when I came to 13 years old," the guitarist explains, "I started to realise I particularly liked the blues. That's when I started to understand my own tastes. So I started playing guitar at 13, and by the time I was 16, I was a pretty good guitar player. I put that down to having all those records, and my brother feeding me the music. It was like I already knew what to do." Relocating to London to forge his career, Simmonds became a mover-and-shaker on perhaps the most exciting scene in history, establishing Savoy Brown in the first wave of British blues-boomers, signing to Decca, opening for Cream's first London show and being name dropped in the same breath as contemporaries like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix (with whom he jammed). Even then, the guitarist was emerging as the band's driving force. "I had a vision," he says. "And the exciting thing now is, that vision is still alive." Soon enough, Savoy Brown had achieved what most British bands never did - success in America - and became a major Stateside draw thanks to their high-energy material and tireless work ethic. "There's way too much said about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," Simmonds told Classic Rock in 2008. "It's such a cliché. We were all extremely hard-working guys. When we came over to America, we were like a little army. You tell us to get up at eight in the morning, everybody's up. You tell us to be onstage at nine, we're onstage at nine. I look at that time as being filled with incredible talent."