Personnel: Barrence Whitfield (vocals); Peter Greenberg (guitar); Tom Quartulli (saxophone); Hitomi Taguchi (trumpet); Ricky Nye (piano, Hammond b-3 organ); Andy Jody (drums).
Liner Note Author: John Swenson.
Recording information: Ultra Suede Studio, Cincinnati (01/2015).
Since the mid-'80s, Barrence Whitfield has dedicated his life to reminding people that rock & roll and rhythm & blues are not separate but equal institutions, but healthy branches of the same tree; on-stage or in the studio, Whitfield howls vintage R&B tunes with the fury of a hot-wired rock band, and belts out vintage-style rock with a healthy portion of swagger and soul. In Whitfield's world, it's all loud and furious, and makes you want to dance, and really, who doesn't want some of that in their life? After a detour through other projects, Whitfield resurrected the Savages in 2011, and 2015's Under the Savage Sky, the group's third album since returning to duty, stands proudly alongside mid-'80s landmarks like Dig Yourself and Ow! Ow! Ow! as a master class in souped-up and full-bodied roadhouse rocking. Whitfield turned 60 not long after this album came out, but you'd never guess by listening to it; he can still shout with the best of them, and if he isn't always subtle, he's not here for introspection but to get the dancefloor shaking, and that's what he does anytime he steps to the mike. And the band -- guitarist Peter Greenberg (also one of the group's primary songwriters), bassist Phil Lenker, drummer Andy Jody, and saxman Tom Quartulli -- roars just as loud and proud as the frontman, conjuring the glorious sound of a crowded bar in full celebratory mania on a Saturday night. The production captures the raucous sound of the Savages' live show with good and greasy accuracy, and when Barrence sings "It's no sin to lose control," he's neatly summed up what's great about this band -- and this album. Those who still believe that rock & roll can and should make you move ought to put Under the Savage Sky on their playlists pronto; it's the raw real thing. ~ Mark Deming
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