"Somewhere Down The Line" shows why The Producers were recently elected winners of the Blues Band of the Year in the 1999 British Blues Connection Awards. There's a host of quality British Bands currently on the go, touring constantly, and writing their own material. The Producers are one of the hardest working, with singer/guitarist Harry Skinner, and bassist Dave Saunders, who also work together as a duo, clocking up over 300 gigs in the last year.
Don't expect an easy introduction. It's an album which demands that you sit up and take note right from the off. "Tear Down These Walls" is delivered with a stinging edge to the guitar, and rough, but soulful vocals. It's a song that the late, great Luther Allison would have approved of.
There's a variety in tempo and style across the album, but the whole never sounds disparate. It means that you have to listen to several tracks to get the full picture of what The Producers are about. So, although the second track ("Take What You Want") is another meaty slab of British R&B, the third ("Never Told You Lies") forces you to revise your original assessment. It's based around a bossa nova beat, and offers an insight into the easier listening side of the band, before switching back to straighter R&B on "Seven Hills."
The influence of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac starts to shine through on the title track. The song's structure blends together elements from "Oh Well," and "Green Manalishi." Musically, however, the style is much more Jimi Hendrix, in the Band of Gypsies era. This is especially evident in the vocals, and the short, punctuated guitar parts.
After the only cover (Bob Dylan's "New Pony"), there's the classic 12-bar beat of "Mule," replete with some searing slide guitar work that remains just the right side of manic. Then it's time to dim the lights, and break out the cigars and the whisky for the closing "Somewhere, Sometime." This one ties with "Lucky Charms" as my favorite track on the album. It also brings things to a close in fine style.
The current friendly rivalry between the best of the British Blues bands is driving standards ever higher. The Producers are right up there, and "Somewhere Down The Line" shows that they continue to go from strength to strength. People who like their Blues with a subtle Chicago influence, rather than a stereotypical one, will love this one.
The CD is available from The Producers' web site, which is also a mine of interesting and entertaining information about the band.
Web site: www.bluesuk.dircon.co.uk
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.