Barrence Whitfield & The Savages are a soul, rock and R&B band, playing in the 1980’s and 90’s. Famous for his energetic performances, Whitfield has been described as a “soul screamer”. Now, they’ve released a new album, titled ‘Under the Savage Sky’ with Bloodshot Records – and it’s an explosive mix of soul, blues, rockabilly and, depending on where you stand on the subject, punk. Whitfield was quoted as saying the album is “giving the kids a musical karate chop to the head”, and it’s hard to argue with him.
As a whole, the album is very blues and soul based, with influences seeming to range from mid-1960’s garage rock to 90’s punk – and a healthy dose of in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll. The band covers classic blues track like ‘The Claw’ and ‘Full Grown Man’, giving each version their own powerful edge, bringing a new grit to loved songs. However, the album opens with an original, titled ‘Willow’, raw to the bone with Whitfield showing the soulful range of his vocals.
‘Rock n Roll’ has, as you might guess, a 1960’s rock n’ roll rhythm, with fast-paced drums and lyrics like “Rock ‘n’ roll woman, get her rocks all the time/She stays out all night/Drinking whiskey, beer or wine”. On the other hand, ‘Adjunct Street’ is a slow R&B tune, with a sombre tone, singing about an illicit love, of course. Acclaimed original ‘Bad News Perfume’ has a rumbling, rolling drum start, diving into electric rock ‘n’ roll and sax, fit with a high pitched “Ow!”
Despite sounding like the lead track on an obscure yet brilliant stoner rock album, ‘Incarceration Casserole’ shows off the garage-rock roots of Whitfield. ‘Full Moon in the Daylight Sky’, on the other hand, has a thick bass opening, joined by crashing cymbals and sax. “I fall down on the street/With a full moon in the daylight sky” sings Whitfield, as this final track shows the poetic powers of Barrence Whitfield & the Savages.
A fantastic addition to the shelves of any R&B, soul and rock lovers is ‘Under the Savage Sky’, bringing an infectious high to all their tracks, while tipping their hats to the old greats.