Musicologists and collectors will know that the SPENCER DAVIS GROUP were one of the most accomplished bands of the UK 60s beat era. In the mainstream , though, they’re known as the band that gave the world Stevie Winwood. Indeed young Stevie  (he teamed up with Spencer Davis when he was just 14!) was  the band’s big draw. He was something of a prodigy – a master keyboard player but, more importantly, the possessor of a world-weary, mature and soulful voice that belied his youth! Steve and his brother, bassist  Muff joined  drummer Pete York and guitarist Spencer Davis in 1963 to form a “group” that was eventually named after the blues-obsessed Davis because, we’re told, he was the one who was best at handling media attention.

Always a  big club draw, their recording career underwent a stuttering start, but they went on to enjoy huge success with songs that have now become pop staples – things like ‘Keep On Running’, Somebody Help Me’ and ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’. Those hits and a whole lot more have just been released by BGO Records in a thorough, 2 CD, 37 collection‘THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP… A’s and B’s 1964-1967’.

The collection is stuffed with quality beat music and , from our point of view, plenty of convincing soul and blues covers – like versions of Brenda Holloway’s ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ and her ‘Together Till The End Of Time’, John  Lee Hooker’s ‘Dimples’, Jimmy Hughes’ Neighbour, Neighbour’, The Soul Sisters’ ‘I Can’t Stand  It’ and Percy Sledge’s ‘When A Man Love A Woman’. Band orignals like ‘It Hurts Me So’ have a wonderful soulful quality too and listening, it’s hard to believe that the singer (Winwood ) was still under 20!

The confines of a beat group soon proved too restrictive for Stevie Winwood and in 1967 he left to form a more progressive band, Traffic before embarking on a stellar solo career. Eddie Hardin replaced him in the Davis line-up and that band continued to record but with much less success. Like all the 60s beat merchants, their sound had changed by then anyway  – becoming more whimsical, psychedelic even (blame the Beatles!) and this new BGO collection dutifully includes all the singles released till 1967 from this new line-up but  they lack one magical quality – the soulful vocals of one, Stevie Winwood.

‘THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP… A’s and B’s 1964-1967’ is out now via BGO Records and it comes  complete with a through, educative and entertaining essay from SJF’s Charles Waring!