When it comes to guitar heroes, there are a select few that have genuinely made it to own such a heavy tag. The names Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Page are the obvious choice but there were a few more that in many opinions are up there with the previously mentioned…Peter Green is one of them.
Born into a Jewish family, Peter displayed a clear love of all things music from an early age and began playing guitar in his early teens. His breakthrough came as Eric Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1966 recording just one album, ‘A Hard Road’… this was the album that inspired a young Carlos Santana notably with the ethereal Supernatural Track.
Following his term with John Mayall, Green jumped ship with Mayall’s bassist, John McVie and formed a blues band of his own, Fleetwood Mac, named after drummer Mick Fleetwood and an extended version of McVie’s surname.
The group became quite a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, playing at Hugh Hefners parties, rubbing shoulders with the stars of the day and out-selling the Rolling Stones and The Beatles in the same week. All the fame and fortune and 60’s LSD that flooded Peter Green’s way became somewhat too much to deal with.
He began to crumble and large cracks began to appear in the foundations of Fleetwood Mac, Green abandoned the group and disappeared into a life of giving away his fortune, living in filth and becoming a severe recluse. He surfaced with sub-par releases in the mid-1970’s that hadn’t quite stood up to the mark of previous classics released under the Fleetwood Mac name and he slipped further into schizophrenia induced by large doses of acid.
In late 1996, Green formed a new band with drumming legend, Cozy Powell and Nigel Watson on rhythm guitar, the new band was a bid to re-capture the magic that Peter Green had created on the early Fleetwood Mac albums.
Here for review is a chronological Best of showcasing all of the idiosyncrasies of Green’s now legendary guitar playing. This, collection of 32 tracks, features the Splinter Group hammering away at some of the most recognised blues classics including ‘The Stumble’, ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ and ‘Last Fair Deal Gone Down’.
It would certainly send most readers to sleep if I were to run thorough each track as unfortunately each track has very little difference as far as sound goes, many of the tracks are Robert Johnson numbers which, if done well can be sheer excellence. In the case of the Splinter Group, they are unfortunately half-baked.
It breaks my heart to review a ‘Best Of’ of one of my heroes when I grew up listening to utter gold that the man could coax out of his 59’ Les Paul and Orange amp. When I listen back to the old Fleetwood Mac albums, I hear a man who had the world at his feet, all the women he could want, the guitar-talent that made BB King say he got the cold sweats after hearing and a voice that was as rich as it was soulful.
After listening to the entire Best Of, I regretfully say that what can be heard is the ghost of Peter Green, there are moments of sheer beauty in the man’s playing that still shine through, diamonds in the rough so to speak, his voice is now Marmite, it has an aged blues husk to it which displays signs of a hard road trodden by Green himself, quite authentic. The other side is that his voice is nothing on what it used to be and is too quiet and lacks power that was once present.
I guess on the positive side to all of this, Peter Green is still very capable of giving listeners the blues in more ways than one.
God bless Peter Green.
Label: Madfish Records
Scribed by: Sam Orr