Former Springfield Mike Hurst might well be one of the least-known, but best-loved, British producers of the past 30 years. With a resume that stretches from the first-ever Marc Bolan single, to the last great Belle and Sebastian album, via stints alongside everyone from Andrew Loog Oldham to the Nolans, Hurst's deft touch has molded and manipulated some of the greatest pop of all time, with this collection -- the first, hopefully, in a projected lengthy series -- diving into his archives with an eye for both the brightest and the weirdest things it can find.
Licensing difficulties, one assumes, deprive the disc of his most applauded work alongside the young Cat Stevens, the rising P.P. Arnold, and rock and rollers Showaddywaddy. But with a chronological remix that reaches from the mid-to late-'60s recordings with the Favourite Sons, Paul and Barry Ryan, and the Alan Bown Set, through to his early-'80s work with model-turned-singer Samantha Fox, Producers Archives, Vol. 1 nevertheless hauls out some shimmering jewels.
Two rare sides by Colin Blunstone, a glimpse into the early days of Deep Purple via Episode Six, and Ralph DeBlanc's prototype of the Hot Chocolate hit "So You Win Again" are all excellent, while the absence of Showaddywaddy is more than repaid by the appearance of a 1975 Shakin' Stevens session. There's a glittering weirdness to be found in a heavily disco-fied version of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me," performed by a duo of Eddy Grant and Aliki, but the most interesting inclusions might well be Hurst's collision with the then-still aspiring Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, via Australian folk-poppers New World -- one says collision because Hurst's liner notes confess that he hated the songs that the duo gave the trio, and only produced them because his manager insisted. But "Tom Tom Turnaround" and "Kara Kara" are vital components in the Chinn and Chapman story, and their appearance on CD, at last, can only be applauded.