Going to see the Spencer Davis Group these days is a bit like drinking nonalcoholic beer. The name's the same, but the oomph is all gone — that oomph, of course, was Steve Winwood. Davis is a talented musician in his own right, but it was Winwood's bluesy, gritty vocals and incendiary organ riffing that made the group one of the best R&B exports of the British Invasion. These days Davis and company are best (un)known for their contribution to the Ameriprise retirement planning empire.
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Closely following the release of the group's U.S. breakthrough, "Gimme Some Lovin'," Winwood left to form Traffic, and the Spencer Davis Group disbanded. Davis spent the ensuing years alternating between solo and group recording and performance, taking brief sojourns into the worlds of A&R and production in the Seventies and Eighties. The mid-Eighties saw the Spencer Davis Group on the road again, though its namesake served as the only original member. Since then, Davis and company have traveled the world, rehashing their "classic" repertoire for aging nostalgic fans. Unfortunately without Winwood, the whole thing comes off a bit like a crackhead trying in vain to recapture that first high. And the world only needs one British R&B crackhead. Hey, I wonder if Amy Winehouse can play the organ.