Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spencer Davis Group: Together Till the End of Time

As today is my birthday - all 23 hours of it - I am allowed to choose a Spencer Davis Group track as my Sunday music video.

This comes from the superlative concert the band recorded for Finnish TV in 1967, shortly before the Winwood brothers left. I find I have already chosen four other tracks from that concert on previous Sundays:
Here, as with Georgia On My Mind, you wonder how a skinny, middle-class teenager from Birmingham came to sing like this. It is almost more of a Ray Charles impersonation than a performance.

I have read an interview with Steve Winwood's older brother Muff where he says that Steve discovered Ray Charles just as his voice was breaking and somehow moulded it to sound like his hero.

The effect can be disconcerting. When Winwood performs Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out in the group's ill-advised film The Ghost Goes Gear, he is no doubt miming to his own performance. But it looks as though he is miming to someone else's performance.

Yet I think Winwood's performance here is brilliant, as is his organ playing - it is even better on Georgia On My Mind. And then listen to his guitar playing in the same concert on Dust My Blues.

But you can see why he tired of the Spencer Davis Group, because for the most part they were producing excellent copies of Black American records. He wanted to be more creative than that, so he left to form Traffic.

If you listen to Heaven is in Your Mind, the opening track on Traffic's first LP, it is fresh and new and very 1967. And Steve Winwood sounds decades, not years, younger than he does on Together Till the End of Time.

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