The Producers have long been a favourite band of the blues-loving fraternity of the UK and their albums have consistently been well-received. However, a gap of eleven years since their previous offering will render this new compilation even more precious than the rest.
The founding and ever-present duo of singer/guitarist Harry Skinner and bass guitarist Dave Saunders are now complemented by keyboard player Ray Drury and drummer Bill Smith. In addition, there are guest appearances on the album by Andy Fairweather Low, Paul Lamb and Ben Waters and a horn section comprising Jenny Russell on saxes, Ollie Corbin on trumpet and Richard Miners on trombone and flugelhorn. There is also a string trio of Joanna Stevens (violin), Josh Peiro (viola) and Rowan Baker (cello). All twelve tracks on the album were written by Harry Skinner.
“Coming Back To You” provides a lively opener with some lovely, lyrical guitar riffs from Harry Skinner, splendid organ playing from Ray Drury and the first of two cameos from harmonica maestro Paul Lamb. Guitarist Andy Fairweather Low adds some sparkle to the rippling shuffle, “The Wrong Way Home”, which also features some trademark ivory tinkling from Ben Waters. “Little Miss Sunshine” brings a taste of reggae to the party while the slow and reflective “Preservation Blues” delivers more excellent guitar work. “Drive This Car” favours a mazurka-like rhythm that sees all four members of the band in top gear. Harry Skinner then switches to piano on “I Get The Blues”, which is hypnotically driven by the excellent rhythm section.
“Some People Say” is a splendidly delivered slow blues and there are distinctive shades of Little Walter on “Tell Me Why”, with some terrific harmonica-based adornment from Paul Lamb. The excellent title track is again brilliantly underpinned by the rhythm section and Ray Drury before “The Money Lender” introduces a touch of New Orleans funk to the proceedings including a tasty second helping of Ben Waters. The album is concluded by the slow and plaintive “Love Gone Bad” and the wistful ballad “Bamako” with its subliminal African influence.
This is a marvellous, tastefully varied album that boasts an abundance of top class musicianship. But special mention must be made of Harry Skinner’s fabulous vocals, which continue to compare favourably with the very best on the British blues scene.
Lionel Ross review featured in Blues in the North West