Spencer Davis Group – Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (2016)

RPM Records have accomplished a fantastic feat by compiling all of the Spencer Davis Group’s existing post-Steve Winwood recordings for the very first time in a gorgeous three-disc clamshell box set. It’s similar to what Esoteric Records did with the Moody Blues’ Magnificent Moodies box set.

Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969 includes both sides of their fab singles: “Time Seller” b/w “Don’t Want You No More” from 1967, “Mr. Second Class” b/w “Sanity Inspector” from 1968 and “After Tea” b/w “Moonshine” from 1968. The latter two are included in mono, while we also get a stereo mix of “After Tea” (with guests Dave Mason and Chris Wood of Traffic), “Short Change” b/w “Picture of Heaven” from 1968, and the German version of “Aquarius” b/w “Let The Sunshine In” from 1968. Another singles rarity included here is the UK TV show theme song for “Magpie” and “Twice a Week,” originally released by the Murgatroyd Band back in 1971 but actually recorded by the early ’68 Mk. III line-up.

All of the Spencer Davis Group’s tunes from 1967’s Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush are featured, plus respective alternate versions, the original albums With Their New Face On from 1968 and Funky from 1969, and one live 1968 track called “Dust My Blues.” There are also six 1968 outtakes, and the surviving BBC Radio sessions from 1967-68 – including 10 more BBC tracks not previously released by RPM. Complete BBC sessions information is included in the booklet.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Spencer Davis stops by to discuss his now-legendary collaborations with the young Steve Winwood, saying he saw big things “from the get-go.”]

As you’d expect, there are lots of gems to be discovered inside this lovely collection, including the essential 1967 single take on “Time Seller” featuring Phil Sawyer, a superb version of “Mr. Second Class” recorded for BBC Radio on June 24, 1968, the definitive 1967 recording of “Looking Back” (which is better than John Mayall’s version, and should’ve been a big hit), “Short Change” from 1968, and the obscure psychedelic outtake “I’m Lost” from 1968 – another should’ve-been hit. Elsewhere, look for “Every Little Thing” from 1967, the cool album track “Picture of Her” from 1967 and Davis’ best-ever lead vocal on “Taking Out Time,” also from 1967.

Of particular interest to Spencer Davis Group fans are the wonderful talents of guitarist/lead singer Phil Sawyer and the late organist/lead vocalist Eddie Hardin – both of whom had the unenviable task of replacing the departed Muff and Steve Winwood back in early 1967. They, along with the returning Spencer Davis and Pete York, make a really valid case for a brand new reassessment of the excellent Spencer Davis Group’s Mk. II line-up. It’s too bad that this particular grouping was so short-lived and lasted only until December of ’67.

The Mk. III/IV line-ups with guitarist/lead singer Ray Fenwick are well represented on Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969, too. Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson, Elton John’s future original rhythm section, joined in 1968/69 just in time to record and tour behind the Funky album in 1969.

Everything on Taking Out Time sounds wonderful, with the newly upgraded remastering. The three discs are housed in attractive individual cardboard mini-LP sleeves replicating their album covers. The very informative booklet contains a full, entertaining history of the Mk. II-IV line-ups, complimented with many rare band photos that I’d never seen before. Equally important are the newly conducted interviews with Spencer Davis Group members including Pete York, Phil Sawyer, Ray Fenwick and, of course, Spencer Davis himself. I highly recommend this essential box set to any SDG fan or lover of the ’60s music in general.

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Steve Elliott