18
May 05

SPENCER DAVIS GROUP – “Keep On Running”

Popular20 comments • 1,851 views

#208, 22nd January 1966

About the only thing in this compact, well-tailored song that I don’t like are the occasional whoops and cries in the background. Everything else is precisely right: what’s so impressive about this record is how finely balanced its elements are. (Yet another working definition of ‘good pop’, that.) The pace is galloping but not so fast that the vocals can’t stretch out a little, their hint of languor reminding us who’s in control in this chase. Steve Winwood shows what a meaty singer he is without overplaying the fact beyond the needs of the song. There are handclaps that soften the shock of the fuzz guitar, which slices neatly into the track and leaves before we’ve had enough of it.

8

Comments

  1. 1
    Alan Connor on 18 May 2005 #

    Resurrection Watch: Soundtrack use includes Mr. Holland’s Opus and the opening of the Great Train Robbery hagiography Buster and there are ads for Walkers Crisps and evil old Shreddies. Can’t suggest a lot of cover versions: certainly Grant Smith & The Power, and possibly maybe Tom Jones and/or Tight Fit?

    One other thing, what’s the deal with the reggae here? Chris Blackwell put it together, right?, and Jackie Edwards wrote it — but was it originally a Jamaican song that’s gone R&B or was Edwards dancing in the dark?

  2. 2
    Anonymous on 19 May 2005 #

    Grant Smith & The Power ! Alan, you must be in Canada….Ihadn’r heard that name in ages…along with Mandala, Rogues , Jon & Lee and the Checkmates, Tom & Ian and the Soul Set.

    Ressurrection , indeed,

    Brian

  3. 3
    Anonymous on 20 May 2005 #

    One simply great record–loved it from the first time I heard it. After two years of “British Invasion” recordings imported to these shores, this was, among them, an exciting dose of something new–not pop, not exactly rock, not psychedelia, something like R&B, but decidedly British and sounding like nothing American.

    The SDG was surely one of the great if underrated Brit acts of the 1960s, sadly shortlived and ultimately overshadowed by Winwood’s work with Traffic. Still, their debut retains all its freshness and energy after all these years.

    And if the lyric’s theme of mad pursuit doesn’t come across in the delivery, there’s the self-assurance that, when the pursuer sounds this good, the pursuee will slow down.

    Doctor Mod

  4. 4
    Alan Connor on 20 May 2005 #

    Brian, though I’ve had reveries of, say, Toronto on occasion, that was a half-memory confirmed by Goog… (shh: you know — the search engine that’s about to take over our lives).

  5. 5
    Marcello on 20 May 2005 #

    The intro was in later years ripped off by the Times for “I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape.”

  6. 6
    Anonymous on 20 May 2005 #

    I love this , too. ANd I also love th whoops and shouts in the back ground ala Frat Rock. It sounds like a good time in the studio.

    Alan – sorry I just thought that such a niche reference to Grant Smith ( he’s still around , y’know ) was a dead give away to the blue eyed soul thing that happened in Toronto in the sixties.

    Of all of that the most famous was Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks ,played at Le Cog D’or ( near where the Hard Rock Cafe on Yonge Street is now ) but who later, after a stint with Dylan at Big Pink, became The Band.

    We were all quite amazed at the transformation, to be honest.

    Brian

  7. 7
    SteveIson on 23 Jul 2008 #

    The bassline is one of THE most memorable ever too..

  8. 8
    larry.kooper on 15 Dec 2010 #

    What lets it escape disposability is the crack in Winwood’s voice.

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 3 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Spencer Davis Group twice performed Keep On Running on Top Of The Pops;

    16 December 1965. Also in the studio that week were; PJ Proby, The Barron Knights, The Kinks and The Shadows. Alan Freeman was the host.

    30 December 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Hermans Hermits, Peter Sellers, The Hollies and The Walker Brothers. Pete Murray was the host.

    Neither edition survives.

  10. 10
    hectorthebat on 20 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 150 Singles of All Time (1987) 118
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  11. 11
    Mark M on 1 Sep 2014 #

    Don Letts played this on his radio show the other night and I had a proper listen to it for the first time in years – it’s one of those tracks that is so familiar it’s easy to miss what an exciting piece of music it is… Great drums, great bursts of noisy guitar.

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 4 Sep 2014 #

    Given Tom’s dislike of background “whoops and cries” on records, I’m curious to know what you make of faux party records: Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up, the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann or – most extreme of all – the Tremeloes’ Here Comes My Baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQXbtlbQX70. Especially that cackle of bonhomie around 0.58.

  13. 13
    will on 4 Sep 2014 #

    Certainly The Tremeloes made a habit of them – Suddenly You Love Me is another example.

  14. 14
    punctum on 4 Sep 2014 #

    Not to say anything about a future major bunny spoiler (except: hey, hey, hey).

  15. 15
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Sep 2014 #

    # 12 – Lineman, I sure hope that Tom does not have a swipe at any of those record (“Even The Bad Times Are Good” is another one from the Trems). But the Swede would get particularly scratchy if “Got To Give It Up” gets a slagging, a simply magnificent, stand-out effort from Marvin. The only flaw in it is when you play the whole track and you clearly hear some bloke saying “Is that what it is?” twice. Lobster Thermidor, I would imagine.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 7 Sep 2014 #

    @Wichita: And, of course, there’s Dylan’s rather wearisome ‘Rainy Day Women’.

  17. 17
    lonepilgrim on 31 Aug 2015 #

    there’s a dub like emphasis on bass and drums in this that may link to Chris Blackwell’s Jamaican connections as well as the group’s own awareness of Bluebeat/Ska/Rocksteady and that allows the guitars, vocals and percussion to skitter across the beat in a way that suggests Post-Punk before it was invented. Perhaps appropriate that John Lydon and PiL have been recording at Steve Winwood’s studio lately.

  18. 18

    just today discovered that the SDG did the magpie themetune :)

  19. 19
    wichitalineman on 31 Aug 2015 #

    Did not know that! The Murgatroyd Band!

  20. 20
    Mark G on 31 Aug 2015 #

    Oh man, if that wasn’t Stevie Winwood singing “One for sorrow” etc, well it’s his voice doppelgangr.

    I do remember a mini-documentary about the recording session being on the show, back in the day.

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