I always listen to an album a couple of times before I review, this one is no different and with every re-airing of Unfinished Business I find another quirky lick and hidden depths this is an album that delves deep into Mick’s musical lexicon of delights, with the music humming with influences including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Johnson, BB King and Mark Knopfler. The songwriting from Andy Littlewood, whether on his own or in partnership with Mick Simpson on the majority of tracks or M.J. McElligott are suited to Mick’s vocal range and his approach to Blues & Rock. Andy also produced and engineered the album which is really suited to Mick’s vocal ranges
Opening with Trouble Brewing is a driving mix of rhythm and blues guitar that certainly gets the juices running and this is an album that means business unfinished or otherwise. If you are unfamiliar with a British player who can deliver the chops and match them with some fine vocals this is a perfect introduction, though do not expect the rest of the album to be more of the same. I can assure you it is not Mick Simpson and the band have delivered and album full of tonal textures, variations in textures and at times almost a tribute to Gary Moore on some tracks, one thing is for certain he has the power and stature to deliver.
Half way through the album Shelter From the Storm is a cut down stylish acoustic number, with the co-writer M.J. McElligott playing the acoustic guitar and haunting keyboards from Andy Littlewood building the atmosphere, you can feel the coming storm.
We have the added bonus of the harp playing of Dave Hunt aka Harmonica Dave with his perfect pitch and timing on Left Me The Blues another Gary Moore driven track and then again on Travelling Man which is a throwback and homage to early blues, with a hint of country and wonderful slide-acoustic guitar you can even hear the clicks from a needle as when you played a vinyl or in the case 78 rpm shellac recording which builds the mood.
Drowning In My Tears, is not a cover but the resemblance with Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues is unmistakable, a true tribute to this bluesman who has been and still is so influential. The final track once again displays the scorching guitar skills that Mick shows throughout this album. This is a fitting final track to an album full of emotion, blues and superb musicianship, an album that will be a favourite within blues lover’s collections.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Trouble Brewing (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
2. Stepping Out (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
3. Unfinished Business (Andy Littlewood)
4. Playing The Loose Hand (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
5. The Light In Me ( M.J. McElligott and Andy Littlewood)
6. Shelter From the Storm (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
7. 50 Miles To Memphis (Andy Littlewood)
8. You Gotta Change (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
9. For The Love of You (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
10. Left Me Blues (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
11. Chicago Blues (Andy Littlewood)
12. Traveling Man (Andy Littlewood)
13. Lonely Avenue (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
14. Drowning In My Tears (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
Mick Simpson: vocals, guitars, mandolin, banjo
Andy Littlewood: keyboards, backing vocals, bass
Alan Young: drums, percussion
Dave Hunt: harmonica on tracks 10 & 12
Michael John McElligott: acoustic guitar on track 5
Gill Hunter: electric piano on track 5
Steve Gillies: bass on track 5