SW logo The Smiling Phases Compendium:
Spencer Davis Group

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The Smiling Phases Compendiums are a synthesis of information posted in the Smiling Phases mailing list. It's a summary of what SP contributors found interesting, what they asked and others answered, and what has come together through combined efforts. Some material is a re-iteration of the original SP postings, but many are newly written and some include additional tidbits for completeness or clarification. Topics covered elsewhere on the Smiling Phases and official Steve Winwood sites are generally omitted here, as are reviews, commentary, and favorite / least favorite songs. This synthesis is intended only to aid researchers, and authorship is attributable only to the original contributors of the referenced and linked SP postings for each topic.

The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.

Information is grouped into linked topics within each page. Source postings are referenced by SP volume and posting. For example, SP 58-04 refers to post 4 in SP volume 58.

Eight Gigs A Week (1996) CD compilation
Song variations
"I'm A Man"
Future Traffic members on Spencer Davis Group songs
Album release notes
CD photos
Bob Dylan comment
Keith Richards comment
Post-Winwood Spencer Davis albums and tours
Muff Winwood

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Eight Gigs A Week (1996) CD compilation

The Spencer Davis Group compilation Eight Gigs A Week: The Steve Winwood Years (1996) was released on March 14, 1996, in the UK only. The two-CD set was issued on the Island label under catalog number CRNCD 5 / 524 180-2. The set features the group's output from 1965 to 1967, when Steve was a member, including almost all of the official releases and previously unreleased live versions of "Kansas City" and "Oh! Pretty Woman". Since most previous CD releases of the group's music were merely reissues of LP compilations, much of the material appears here for the first time on CD. The liner notes are extensive and provide an excellent overview of the period releases and some related projects, with copious photos of album covers, but without the full detail of a discography. The sound quality is excellent although the entire collection is in mono. Three tracks are missing from the collection: "Det War In Schoneberg" (German single, 1966), "Gimme Some Lovin'" (US version), and "Somebody Help Me" (organ lead version).
See the original postings: SP 23-06,
SP 28-12,
SP 32-09.

Song variations

Several Spencer Davis Group tracks were released in two versions. Differences between the versions relate to separate releases for the UK and US markets, which mostly continue up through the currently available CD compilations. Those compilations are Island's Eight Gigs A Week (1996) in the UK and EMI's The Best Of The Spencer Davis Group (1987) in the US. Known tracks with more than one version are "Gimme Some Lovin'", "Somebody Help Me", "Searchin'", "Stevie's Blues", and "Every Little Bit Hurts". The practice of releasing songs in different forms for different markets seems to have been common in the 1960s. Four of these five tracks have the common trait of a bigger sound for the US market, presumably reflecting record company perceptions about American taste.

"Gimme Some Lovin'": The most commonly known variations are the UK and US versions of this song. Producer Jimmy Miller reworked the track for a bigger, more engaging sound for the US market. Oddly, the original UK version is as notable for its haunting starkness as the US version is for its frenetic energy. Most compilations have included the US version, but Eight Gigs A Week (1996) has the UK version, marking its first appearance on CD.

"Somebody Help Me": One version has backing and solo guitar, while the other uses organ instead. Interestingly, the original United Artists single in the US was the organ version, while the US and UK studio albums both included the guitar version. Most compilations have used the tighter guitar version. The organ version is currently available on the EMI collection in the US.

"Searchin'" and "Stevie's Blues": Backing organ was added for the US versions of these songs. Winwood basically noodles around on these organ tracks, but it's very effective and adds musically to the song. The distinction between the UK and US markets has been maintained for these two songs from the original studio albums and later compilations all the way through to the currently available CD compilations. The UK Island collection has both songs without the organ, and the US EMI disc has them with organ.

"Every Little Bit Hurts": This song exists both with and without backing strings. Like the other variations, this one more or less follows the line of separate UK and US releases. The version without strings was originally released on Their First LP, and is currently available on Eight Gigs A Week. The version with strings, added for the US market, was originally released on I'm A Man, and is currently available on the EMI collection and on Steve's box set The Finer Things.

See the original postings:
SP 28-12,
SP 45-03,
SP 150-02.

"I'm A Man"

"I'm A Man" was originally meant for a documentary film called Swinging London. The group decided to release it as a single instead, or maybe in addition to it being included in the documentary. One documentary about the British Invasion features a section on London, showing clips of Twiggy, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, in which the background music is "I'm A Man". VH-1 has shown this documentary, and the video for "I'm A Man" is clips from this documentary.
See the original postings: SP 68-10.

In Windows 95's Microsoft Plus program, the screen saver program for psychedelic 1960s ends the screen with a note from "I'm A Man". The note is the guitar chord in the introduction of the song. The chord is an E-minor-7th, probably played on only the top 3 strings. Steve hit it hard enough to cause distortion in the lower, heavier string, which makes it sound even brighter.
See the original postings: SP 07-06.

Future Traffic members on Spencer Davis Group songs

The future members of Traffic played on the US version of "Gimme Some Lovin'".
See the original postings: SP 39-07.

Chris Wood's sax on "I'm A Man" is clearly audible, especially after the lines "....love you so".
See the original postings: SP 47-05.

Album release notes

UK and US: A survey of a collection and discographical information showed that no Spencer Davis Group (with Winwood) album, studio or compilation, has been released in both the US and UK. Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (1968) was released in both countries, but it's a "various artists" soundtrack on which Steve played with Traffic and one song with Spencer Davis Group ("Waltz For Caroline").
See the original postings: SP 45-03.

Mono versus stereo: The same survey showed that no Spencer Davis Group material has been released in true stereo. Even the original studio albums show no difference between the mono and stereo versions. Many compilations have been prominently labeled as stereo, and while the pressing may actually have been stereo, the source was still mono. Some used (added?) reverb or something in the left and right channels for the illusion of stereo. One German compilation from 1975 was "electronically re-processed" for stereo, although the cover doesn't admit it. The only related track in true stereo appears to be Spencer Davis Rhythm & Blues Quartet's "Mean Old Frisco" on the various artists LP History of British Blues (1973). The track was recorded in 1963 or 1964, and may have been remixed from mono specifically for that LP.
See the original postings: SP 45-03.

CD photos

The cover photo of the compilation CD The Best Of The Spencer Davis Group (EMI America CDP-546598, 1987) is a group shot that doesn't include Steve or Muff Winwood. Four members are in the photo, including Pete York on the left and Spencer Davis third from left. The second person from left is probably Eddie Hardin, Steve's replacement. The person on the right is probably Phil Sawyer, Muff's replacement, or Ray Fenwick, who replaced Phil Sawyer. The back photo is a shot of the correct lineup outside Albert Hall in London, UK.
See the original postings: SP 03-01,
SP 04-10,
SP 04-13,
SP 04-15.

Bob Dylan comment

In the documentary film Eat the Document (1966), a view of Bob Dylan and the pre-Band on tour in the UK and Europe, there's a scene at a concert site somewhere on the tour where the camera catches Dylan meeting Spencer Davis. The meeting appears to be after a performance by Spencer Davis Group, and Dylan is clearly enthused over the band's young lead singer, complimenting Davis and asking "How'd he learn to sing like that?!". Davis doesn't really know how to answer, simply offering "Well, since the day we found him... ummm, well...he's a great fan of Ray Charles....". Winwood doesn't appear in the film.
See the original postings: SP 12-01.

Keith Richards comment

In response to a question asking why the Rolling Stones still existed, about 1973, Keith Richards said that Steve should never have left the Spencer Davis Group because that was his best period. Steve was friendly with the Rolling Stones, more so than with the Beatles, and Spencer Davis Group opened for the Stones a lot before headlining the tours themselves.
See the original postings: SP 24-04.

Post-Winwood Spencer Davis albums and tours

Spencer Davis continues to tour on a regular basis, and records occasionally. The lineup for a 1995 tour date in Germany was Spencer Davis (git, voc), Pete York (dr,voc), Albie Donnelly (sax,voc), Norman Dee (key), Miller Anderson, Keef Hartley (git,voc), and Garry Twigg (b). In 1996, he was working with the Classic Rock Stars, a touring group which consisted of former members of Rare Earth, Iron Butterfly, and Sugar Loaf. He also played on Spirit's CD California Blues (1996).
See the original postings: SP 30-09,
SP 44-04.

Material from the group's Eddie Hardin era was released on CD in 1996. Eddie replaced Steve in 1967.
See the original postings: SP 30-09.

Muff Winwood

Muff left the Spencer Davis Group at the same time as his younger brother Steve. He went on to a highly successful career in production, producing several major acts, then into A&R. His production credits include the Sparks album Kimono My House (1974). He worked for CBS Records in London in that capacity for some time, eventually becoming head of A&R, and was responsible for signing Terence Trent D'Arby. Muff is now (6/96) Managing Director of Sony Music (UK). He is very well respected in the industry, and provided Steve with considerable assistance when he changed labels from Island to Virgin.
See the original postings: SP 30-09,
SP 32-01,
SP 33-03,
SP 45-06.


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Revised through Smiling Phases volume 150.
The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.

Page created March 22, 1999.
Last updated December 13, 1999.
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