17
Jun 05

SPENCER DAVIS GROUP – “Somebody Help Me”

Popular6 comments • 1,817 views

#212, 16th April 1966

In grand pop tradition, the Spencer Davis Group’s follow-up to “Keep On Running” simply throws a few switches on that song. The lean R’n’B backbeat remains, and Steve Winwood’s vocal is just as assured and commited. The main difference is in tone – “Keep On Running” was a chase song, its blood was up, its urgency infectious. Whereas in “Somebody Help Me” Winwood is vulnerable, a loser in love. The music responds to this – the pensive guitar lines fuzz and meander more, the beat seems nude and more tentative without its triumphant handclaps. The effect, unfortunately, is to make “Somebody Help Me” feel like a follow-up, like a band casting insecurely around for something else to do.

5

Comments

  1. 1
    Marcello on 18 Jun 2005 #

    Certainly the scenario of “casting insecurely around for something else to do” was appropriate as far as the Winwood brothers were concerned; compare the rather bloodless “Somebody Help Me” with the apocalyptic “I’m A Man,” a #9 hit ten months later, and a semi-posthumous one as Steve and Muff Winwood had by then both flown the coop – the increased vocal and percussive urgency, added to the distinctly more rooty performance and production (Jimmy Miller), indicates someone who’s already halfway out the door, en route to Mr Fantasy, John Barleycorn, etc. etc.

  2. 2
    Rosalind Mitchell on 25 Jul 2005 #

    I just wanted to say in passing that I share your sorrow at the reason for the suspension of FreakyTrigger.

    That’s all I have to say, really.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 30 May 2008 #

    Possibly the most forgettable number one of the whole decade. Apart from lacking everything that made Keep On Running such a standout and irresistible dancer, it also sounds like half the song’s missing: verse/chorus/middle eight/chorus to fade… wossat? This would’ve struggled to make the Top 30 if it wasn’t for the previous hit.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 3 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Spencer Davis Group twice performed ‘Somebody Help Me’ on Top Of The Pops;

    24 March 1966. Also in the studio that week were; Cilla Black, Roy Orbison and The Who. Pete Murray was the host.

    7 April 1966. Also in the studio that week were; Dusty Springfield, The Alan Price Set and The Bachelors. Alan Freeman was the host.

    Neither edition survives.

  5. 5
    Tommy Mack on 8 May 2012 #

    I was about to say how unfair you were being and rhapsodise about the fantastic wash of organ in the intro, then I realised I was thinking of the fantastic yoghurt-flogging Gimme Some Loving. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this before and yes, it sounds rather half-hearted compared to their other hits. 5 seems about right.

  6. 6
    lonepilgrim on 4 Sep 2015 #

    it’s hard to understand why this captured the public imagination apart from residual affection following their previous hit. The original Jackie Edwards version is far superior with a great horn section and a bit of a Dobie Gray vibe to it.

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