From the outside looking in it came as something of a shock when The Producers split in 2002 after 12 hard-working years in which they’d clawed their way to within spitting distance of the top of the Brit-blues tree, opening for the likes of Dr John, Peter Green, Robert Cray and jamming with Ray Charles’ Raelettes and horn section at the Cognac Blues Festival.
But bands are invariably a law unto themselves and suffice to say The Producers had their reasons. Just as they did nine years later when founder members Harry Skinner (gtr/vx) and Dave Saunders (bs) announced a reunion, recruiting keys man Ray Drury and drummer Biff Smith before hitting the road to rebuild bridges with the fans.
London Blues is their first album since a 2000 live release and finds The Producers in stellar company with the likes of Andy Fairweather Low, Ben Waters, Paul Lamb and Paul Beavis. It doesn’t so much capture a new sound as assert The Producers’ renewed confidence in their own ability, rarely more so than on the reggae-tinged Little Miss Sunshine in which Harry’s delicate guitar fills echo The Wailers’ Al Anderson at his imperious mid-70s best, before a rich, analogue Beatles-esque bridge leads into the outro groove.
Just as impressive is Harry Skinner’s ripened vocals, easily picking off nods to Joe Cocker, David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, even Paul Weller, on the title track. I Get the blues inhabits more familiar territory, but Drive This Car adds a few pop rock chops, The Money Lender plays with boogie, Waters’ piano rolls playing around Drury’s fat organ stabs, and in Love Gone Bad The Producers gamely execute a bold run at a Stax-style 6:8 ballad… with strings!’
Nick Churchill Fatea Magazine