If prog rock is no longer something to be sniffed, sneered and scowled at, can the same be said for the concept of the supergroup? Not really if Made In Basing Street, the debut album by Producers, is anything to go by. The band, consisting of 10cc‘s Lol Crème, super-producers Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson along with drummer Ash Soan, have an impeccable pedigree, primarily on the other side of the recording studio.
But the music on offer here is a far cry from the production heights of The Art Of Noise, or even Buggles. The title Made In Basing Street sounds like a cheesy sitcom; the music would be best suited to filling the advertisement gaps in between the dross.
There’s something offensively ‘state-of-the-art’ about the 10 tracks on offer here. Every song is lovingly, lushly produced, layered with synths, rich guitar solos and/or honey coated vocals. Opener Freeway is apparently about the “unashamed love of driving on a 12 lane freeway” and zooms by in a blur of monotony with a slipstream of insipidness. In fact, the album is rooted in the slick production techniques of vintage ’80s sophisti-pop, but even the likes of Johnny Hates Jazz offered more genuine emotion and pop hooks than anything the Producers cook up here. Every Single Night In Jamaica could be a Richard Marx cast off; meanwhile, the gentle strumming of Stay Elaine makes James Blunt seem like Mark Eitzel in comparison.
It’s odd to think that this band is comprised of virtuouso musicians and technicians as there are very little redeeming features to the entire opus. Hang on, scrub that; there are none. Man On The Moon, neither an R.E.M. or Sugar cover version, is pretty much the same song as Stay Elaine, albeit with keyboards in place of acoustic guitars. Some gentle keyboard whooshes glide by, just to ensure the lunar realm is truly reached. And the treacly guitar solos that infuse almost every song with a true sense of authenticity are staggering in their sheeer moribundity.
The band pick up the tempo on Garden Of Flowers, which might not have been as bad if the vocals didn’t kick in around the one minute mark, crooning of “Lear jets and cars…in a garden of flowers that’s where you are”. Watching You Out There sounds the most Yes or Buggles-esque but chugs along with all the grace and elegance of an industrial accident. The album closes with You And I, which is as inspiring as the name suggests.
With Made In Basing Street, Producers have crafted an immaculately note-perfect album devoid of soul, style or craft. There is nothing salvageable from this collection of glossy pop rock workouts. Avoid at all costs.