Bass guitar as a frontline instrument? On the Commercial Blues Mike Hatton finds a way of making the bass sound as natural as could be, with an almost guitar-like quality. On Fri November 12th, the day the album was released, The Evening Mail, Birmingham, UK's local newspaper described The Commercial Blues as 'a landmark in the region's music'. Playing a stylish mix of self-penned blues with some jazzy references, The Commercial Blues is a rare bird that moves away somewhat from traditional expectations of blues music that is so often guitar or keyboards-led. The music features Mike using his 5-string bass as a frontline instrument, playing many of the solos himself, and also adopting what he describes as a 'rhythm bass' style, playing chordally. Indeed, all of the songs on the album have been conceived in that way, and the final track 'What's Got Into You' is an example of the bare bones of all of the songs, featuring just bass guitar and a vocal. The other nine feature an outstanding band playing a range of styles from hot, funky rhythms through early R&B to slow melodic ballad. It uses some of Birmingham's finest jazz and blues musicians and is a great addition to the canon of Britain's second city that has so fondly and influentially embraced the traditions of blues and jazz music. It also adopts a strong political message in the lyrics - the title being ironic, and reaches out to concerns about commercialism and the planet, the environment and the political system that millions share around the world. Politicians Shuffle, with it's cynical take on our elected members and it's Joe Walsh style slide guitar, will certainly reach a lot of people who may share such cynicism. The Commercial Blues is an astute album that seems well timed given the current political climate across the world. And, just to add to it's appeal, it makes you want to dance! As Mike says on the sleeve notes 'This is early twenty first century blues, the Commercial Blues that is, and I've got them.'