Peter Green - Ten post-Mac tracks
A newly updated fourth edition of Peter Green's biography, written by Martin Celmins, will be published by Omnibus Press on September 29th. In anticipation of the publication, we asked Martin to select some essential, post-Fleetwood Mac songs by Peter Green. A Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the post.
In his foreword for Peter Green Founder of Fleetwood Mac, Andy Fairweather Low nails it when he writes: “In the late 1960s, Peter’s phenomenal songwriting was taking the blues by the scruff of the neck and showing us all what could be done and where we should go. We should all still be listening but I’m not so sure.”
‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Albatross’, ‘Man Of The World’, ‘Oh Well’, ‘The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown)’ … all are now timeless classics. So too, album tracks like ‘Love That Burns’ and ‘Before The Beginning’. Visionary modern blues.
Then after leaving Mac in May 1970, he directed his vision far left-field to acid-rock instrumental jamming with his first solo album The End Of The Game. This received a mixed reaction at the time but is now regarded by some as a free-form masterpiece. The 2022 revised and updated edition devotes a chapter to the making of that album with much new information from the sessions’ keyboardist/organist, Nick Buck.
Then in the years between his first comeback in 1979 with the In The Skies album, up until when he stopped performing in 2010, his gigging bands – White Sky, Kolors, Peter Green Splinter Group and Peter Green and Friends - covered a wide range of styles, plus he made guest appearances on other artists’ albums. The book includes new interviews with band members from his 1981-85 White Sky/Kolors era who tell a rather different story to that told in the 1st edition.
This selection of ten post-Mac tracks showcase an artist who thrived on change throughout his career, a guitarist who liked searching for new sounds, an interpretative singer gifted with unique timing, and a soulful blues harp player.
The most radically free-form track on The End Of The Game album. On live extended versions of ‘The Green Manalishi’ with Fleetwood Mac, his Fender VI 6-string bass wah-wah pedal playing is innovative and spooky at times. On Descending Scale his wah-pedal sonics go to the next level – towards the end, he makes his ’59 Gibson Les Paul sound like a wounded animal crying out in pain.
From 1979’s In The Skies album which also features Snowy White and Peter Bardens, the words for Seven Stars are from the New Testament’s Book of Revelation adapted in parts by Peter’s then wife, Jane Samuels. He was especially pleased with the end-of-verse turnaround riff. Classic mystical, spiritual Peter Green.
A Fool No More
Also from 1979’s In The Skies, this slow blues written by Peter was first recorded in November 1967 by the original Fleetwood Mac. Some ten years later this version comes from a musician who had paid the cost out there – illness, hospitalisation and lost love. And so when he picked up the guitar again in 1977 his blues and singing were as deep if not deeper than ever.
Title track of the1980 Little Dreamer album, the guitar playing echoes the serene mood of Albatross, Underway (fromThen Play On) and Timeless Time (from The End Of The Game). Written after his return from Los Angeles, it is also his swansong as a songwriter.
Give Me Back My Freedom
From the 1981 Whatcha gonna do? album, which features songs written by his brother Michael Green, as does Little Dreamer. Here he might well be writing about Peter’s mid-1970s saddest times spent in hospitals and a prison ward for a while.
He much admired Jamaican reggae ‘toasting’ pioneer U-Roy (aka The Originator, and Daddy U-Roy ). In 1981, just before the start of the White Sky/Kolors era he was thinking about joining a reggae band. Here, he delivers some unusual, intricate and percussive solos that really fit the reggae beat.
Last Train To San Antone
Also from Whatcha gonna do?, good bluesy lyrics and melody by Michael Green and neat strings arrangement by Peter Vernon-Kell and Roy Shipston. His voice and timing are strong and the guitar solo in the outro slowly builds and then ends with some unmistakably Greeny phrases.
Just Another Guy
From the 1982 White Sky album and playing in a laid-back, jazzy style through a Marshall amp hooked up to a Leslie speaker, creating a new sound.
Who’s That Knocking
Taken from the 1985 album Katmandu - A Case For The Blues
with Ray Dorset, Vincent Crane, Len Surtees, Jeff Whittaker and Greg Terry-Short who joined Kolors on drums. In the 1990s he wanted this included in Splinter Group’s live set. Here he takes a different sounding vocal approach.
From the Peter Green Splinter Group live first album – Peter’s take on Sonny Boy Williamson’s harmonica blues hit, recorded in 1963 and co-written by Williamson, Willie Dixon and Ralph Bass.
Big Change Is Gonna Come
Taken from Peter Green Splinter Group’s 1999 debut studio album Destiny Road and written by Hammond organist/keyboardist/guitarist, Roger Cotton. This made it onto the BBC Radio 2 playlist.
You can listen to a playlist of these tracks. 'Who's That Knocking' and 'Help Me' are not currently available to stream on Spotify.
I liked discovering this list (and learning of the book) of Peter Green’s work after Fleetwood Mac. I really like this particular song from White Sky, too: White Sky (Love That Evil Woman).