A's & B's 1964-1967

Spencer Davis Group

BGO Label, 2023


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


The Spencer Davis Group was an influential rhythm & blues-based rock band that was part of the 1960s British Invasion. Always more popular in their native country than the United States, Spencer Davis (guitar), a young Stevie Winwood (keyboards and vocals), Muff Winwood (bass), and Peter York (drums) are best remembered in America for their successful singles “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin.”

A’s & B’s is a compilation of their English singles released on the Fontana Label including their two number ones, “I’ll Come Running” and “Somebody Help Me.” When all their singles are gathered together in one place, it makes for an excellent compendium of gritty 1960s British rock, similar to The Animals and The Yardbirds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The singles that brought the group success in the United States were different than the ones in England. Their U.S. singles focused on a fuller rock and roll sound rather than simple rhythm and blues. “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” have a sound that belies only four instruments; Winwood’s keyboards and Davis’s guitar work combine to make the songs leap out of the speakers. Popular English songs such as “I’ll Come Running,” “Somebody Help Me,” “Let Me Down Easy,” and “It Hurts Me So” were stripped down to basics and fused R&B music with Winwood’s rock /pop vocals.

Among the nearly 40 tracks found here are a number of rarely heard and remembered B sides from singles, the best of which have an improvisational feel. “Stevie’s Blues,” “Blues In F,” and “Neighbor Neighbor” are vehicles for Winwood to experiment, which he would take with him into the future.

The Spencer Davis Group was a typical 1960s group, which meant a number of cover songs made an appearance on the flip side of their single releases. “Mean Woman Blues,” “Georgia On My Mind,” and “When A Man Loves A Woman” remain interesting takes of these oft-recorded songs.

The group would remain together off and on for nearly half a century, with a lot or personnel changes. Their classic period ended when Winwood left the band in the late Sixties to form Traffic.

A’s & B’s 1964-1967 is in many ways a time capsule of the era. Some of the tracks remain vital pieces of rock and roll history, while others amount to average remnants of the time period. But, when the Spencer Davis Group was good, they were very good.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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