Monday 31 October 2022

Poem: 'In The Garden With Peter Green And His Sea-Lion'



(Peter Green was the original guitarist and 
guiding intelligence behind Fleetwood Mac, 
currently rehabilitating mind & music)



“it’s my sea-lion” says Peter Green, 
“my pet sea-lion coming through” 
& he hiccups again 

here in the garden, 
apocalyptic omens ripple 
in crowding shadows, 
here at the still centre of rage, 
all is flat, calm, & 
scoured to bone 

it’s only the dark places 
that suggest endless nights 
boiling with madness 
Blues and acid 


“sometimes your life 
changes direction” says Peter 
“like a fish” 

& you cross the line, 
a line of fire drawn sweet 
and oversweet, but here, now 
beyond this savage quiet sky, 
on the rim of sanity, I hear 
the sound of galaxies colliding 
in those strange nights of 
paradox and betrayal 

but here in the garden 
the lilac ripples, gently 
creating and destroying 
monstrous shadows 

“sometimes they throw me a fish” 
says Peter Green, “a red herring 
...what is a red herring 
...a dead herring... “ 
& he hiccups again 


Published in: 
‘TEARS IN THE FENCE no.22: Spring 1999’ 
(UK – March 1999) 
‘BOGG no.71’ (USA/ UK – June 2002) 
Featured online at: 
Collected into: 
Alien Buddha Press (USA – March 2018)

Sunday 30 October 2022

Previously Unpublished Interview: Mick Fleetwood



The album is called ‘Say You Will’ (2003), the first new material 
 from a re-union of the classic ‘Rumours’-era Fleetwood Mac line-up. 
Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham – but 
no Christine ‘Perfect’ McVie. In this previously unpublished interview 
Mick Fleetwood tells Andrew Darlington the full story. It starts with the 
Shadows. Playing along to records of drummer Tony Meehan.  It leads to 
one of the biggest-selling Rock album of all time – ‘Rumours’ (1977), 
 with more than a little ‘glitzy Rock ‘n’ Roll stories of blood and guts, 
 booze and drugs’ along the way. There are a million stories 
in Fleetwood Mac. This is just one of them...

Did you ever want to go back? Back to those moments that changed your life forever. And have the opportunity of asking that question – ‘how did I get here, from there’? Mick Fleetwood did. 

On my TV screen he’s standing on Platform Four of Gloucester Station, long coat drifting as he paces its length, long scarf pulled in against the wind, his once-long shaggy hair now scratched back into a ponytail. And a now-neater, more disciplined beard. On a platform full of ghosts. In his eyes there’s ‘a boy with a dream and eyes full of fun, to conquer the world with two sticks and a drum.’ Then it was a ‘wet and dreary’ 1963, his parents last goodbye, ‘the umbilical broken’ as the train pulls away, and he sets off for a new life in London... 

‘Yes. Putting that film* together was great to do,’ he admits to me now. ‘We spent the better part of two years doing it. And it was very therapeutic once we started. Because it’s setting down stuff you don’t normally get a chance to do, in terms of reflecting ‘how did I get to what I’m doing?’ It’s an attempt to capture an over-view of my journey from childhood, through my dreams and aspirations of becoming a musician, with all the ups and downs, the faults, the good things and the bad... so, going back and doing it was actually therapeutic in many ways.’ 

But it’s also an opportunity to take stock and ask, what would that young Mick Fleetwood think of the international megastar he was to become? ‘I think, generally, he’d be pretty pleased.’ A moment’s careful consideration. ‘Yes. He started out with such a desire, just to be around music and to be IN music. And all the trappings, pitfalls, distractions, and the ups and downs that came with it, they didn’t destroy any part of that original dream. My first love is my music, and to be around music. Luckily, I was able to do that, and I’m still doing that. So I think he’d be happy. I have no real ultimate complaints.’ 

And now there’s new product to promote. A new album with a revitalised tour-schedule to promote it. The current album – ‘Say You Will’ (2003, Reprise 48467-2) has been enthusiastically received with global air-play, and although it’s unlikely to set the Pop charts ablaze it’s significant in that those instantly familiar harmonies recall Fleetwood Mac’s commercial Golden Age. Forget the line-up changes and solo ventures that filled the intervening years. This is the real deal – Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham – but alas, no Christine ‘Perfect’ McVie. 

‘Yes. It’s an album we worked on for over a year’ he resumes. ‘And we’re all really excited about it. It’s everything that we like about playing our music, and we’ve done it together. Lindsey produced the album, and engineered a lot of it too, so it’s been very much a home ‘in-house’ no-outside-interference album. It’s all about what we want to do, and what we feel creatively is exciting. And we are really excited about making new music together.’ But no Christine McVie? ‘No. Correct. She’s living in England. And she’s retired from showbiz, in this context. Y’know – we miss her, but she didn’t want to tour, and she didn’t want to be part of the whole thing. We talked to her a lot. She’s actually been writing some music and doing some recording which is exciting for her. But I don’t think she’ll ever get out on the road and really do anything. Because she doesn’t want to travel anymore. She’s had it with touring. So sadly, we parted company. We go on, and she’s doing what she needs to do, and hopefully enjoying her life. That’s part and parcel of her choice. And we’re comfortable with it. We know that she’s happy. And there’s nothing much one can do about it.’


When you think Mick Fleetwood – if you think of him at all, you might think of the unfeasibly tall guy beside the diminutive Samantha Fox at the Brits, or perhaps the incredibly lanky guy with the ludicrously dangling balls positioned between his splayed legs, beside the petite Stevie Nicks on the iconic cover of ‘Rumours’ – the biggest selling album of all time, until ‘Thriller’ came along. But right now he’s looking at his life with strange amazement. Saying that to stay ‘in the trenches’ for as long as he has – as part of an on-going ‘showbizzy and glitzy Rock ‘n’ Roll story of blood and guts, booze and drugs’, is to be ‘incredibly blessed.’ His voice is smoothly accentless. He spent his first twenty years in England. Then America. But there’s no trace of either. Not even mid-Atlantic. And he’s well-used to this interview situation. He does the false-modesty thing to perfection. It comes easy. He’s practised in the art of technique so there’s few awkward silences, and no unplanned gaffes. Just the correct spice of excess and Rock ‘n’ Roll weirdness as required. Stories full of sex, glamour, drugs, ambition – and all of them true. 

He was born the 24 June 1942, to an RAF service family. So just how does a gangly guy from Redruth, Cornwall come to be an integral part of the US West Coast’s most defining Soft-Rock Mega-Band? The DVD/film follows Mick through his nomadic childhood – following his father’s postings to Egypt and Norway, to a spell at King’s School Sherbourne, ‘the first of two boarding schools, a gorgeous place,’ from which he persistently ran away. Through to his move to London at the age of sixteen – ‘a spunky thing to do’, and into his early career in the Blues Clubs of the Mod R&B underground, and thence into superstardom with Fleetwood Mac playing to gross-out audiences across the world, while travelling in a self-contained ‘bubble’ of narcotic and life-style excess. 

But first, both the DVD – and his autobiographical book ‘Two Sticks And A Drum’, emphasise the point that he’s a self-taught drummer. ‘Absolutely. I was self-taught. I just taught myself in my attic, playing along to records (on the radiogram). I can’t always remember the names of the drummers I used to listen to, because I’m not great at remembering names. But they must have been the people who played with Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers. While the first drummer I really listened to a hell of a lot, and learned from was the English drummer who used to play with the Shadows – Tony Meehan. He would basically be the first guy that I listened to, the stuff he did. And the Shadows were such a great band. Later on, I found that I enjoyed listening to a drummer called Sonny Freeman who played with B.B. King. ‘Blues Shuffles’ is something that I’m seemingly fairly good at. And I get that from him. That’s his influence.’ 

Mick talks readily about practising and perfecting hand-and-foot co-ordination, accurate time-keeping, and the naive rudiments of a personal style by playing along to “Apache”, Buddy Holly, and the Everly’s, but in fact he has a far more direct biological link with that first great Rock ‘n’ Roll era. Because one of the later Fleetwood Mac line-ups featured Billy Burnette – son of legendary Rocker Johnny Burnette. So did he get any good ‘early-Rock ‘n’ Roll Johnny Burnette’ tour stories from him? ‘Oh masses’ he gushes. ‘First of all, those guys were all maniacs. They make us modern-day Rock ‘n’ Rollers look like pussy’s...’, then he goes on to relate how ‘those were literally the days when you’d strap your double-bass to the roof of your car, and you’d go off on tour.’ Of course – Johnny Burnette’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio ‘were an enormous influence on Elvis.’ But ‘they were all prescribed those pills by the Doctors – Elvis of course, but the Everly Brothers and Johnny Burnette too. Benzedrine. And sadly they were – legally, made into junkies through their increasing dependence on them...’ 

But meanwhile, Shadows-influenced guitarists may have been ten-a-penny in 1963, but good sticksmen were a more rare breed, vexingly few-and-far-between. So the mere ownership of a kit proved sufficient to attract overtures for your services. So much so that on his arrival in London, with a copy of ‘Playboy’ under his arm and his precious drums stashed in the Guards’ Van – to stay with older sister Sally in bohemian Notting Hill Gate, he was almost immediately recruited by Peter ‘B’ Bardens, a keyboardist in an Italian-style mohair suit, for the upwardly-mobile Cheynes. Their most visible moment would come with their cover of Bill Wyman’s song “Stop Running Around” c/w “Down And Out” (1965, Columbia DB7464), but in the meantime they play the sleazy West End Mandrake Club, frequented by prostitutes and GI’s, despite being underage. 

And Fab it is to be young and alive, with London rapidly tripping and Swinging into its ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ phase as centre of the style-world. Sister Sally was making silk ties for David Hockney. Mick was meeting – and wooing fashion-model Jenny Boyd-Levitt – sister to Patti Boyd who just happens to be married to Beatle George. So it’s like ‘I was around all that, and yet I hadn’t made it myself, but I was able to see what it was like to make it.’ After the demise of The Cheynes Mick sticks with Bardens for its successor group, the Peter B’s, long enough to record one further single (“If You Wanna Be Happy” c/w “Jodrell Blues”, March 1966, Columbia DB7862, with a young Peter Green guesting on guitar). 

So he was moving in the right circles, albeit stuck at 45rpm. Until – following ‘a very brief year’s tenure’ playing alongside John McVie and Peter Green with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – ‘the beginning of a relationship that later on would become Fleetwood Mac,’ those elusive chart hits were just around the corner. For John McVie would become the other essential ingredient in the Fleetwood Mac equation. Its’ only other constant point. ‘Me and John have always been there, the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ through all of that history’ enthuses Mick. ‘And he’s every bit as great a bass-player as he always was. In fact, he’s a better bass player now – and a dear dear friend. We’ve been playing together for so long we’ve developed this amazing unspoken thing, we don’t have to speak about it. You don’t have to think about it. It just exists. It’s pretty cool.’ 

But the rock-steady tom’s on “Albatross” come from Mick Fleetwood, as does the sharp drum-snaps of “Go Your Own Way”. 


Perhaps all that childhood nomadism was a preparation for the Rock ‘n’ Roll touring lifestyle? ‘Perhaps. I always had a superb ability to daydream, to such a degree that I was really... not around.’ 

The heavily TV-advertised compilation ‘The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac’ went Top Three in the immediate run-up to Christmas 2002, and it tells the most complete story so far. Starting with hits from the Peter Green era, most obviously the shimmering “Albatross”, moving through the big American break-through with “Rhiannon” from ‘Fleetwood Mac’ (1975) into “Dreams” and “Don’t Stop” from ‘Rumours’ (1977) – into the controversial aftermath with the ‘Tusk’ (1979) double-set, plus tracks from their massive re-emergence in 1987 with the ‘Tango In The Night’ (1987) tracks “Seven Wonders” and “Big Love”. 

But right from the start – from the spine-tingling authenticity of their Blues soloing at their live debut on 13 August 1967 at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival, Fleetwood Mac where a surprisingly strange band. They consisted of nominal leader Peter Green (guitar), John McVie (drums), Jeremy Spencer (guitar), and Mick on drums. Later recruiting Danny Kirwan on additional guitar. Spencer was ‘totally outrageous.’ But Peter Green’s instabilities – brought to breaking point by bad encounters with LSD, were even more extreme. His song “Man of the World” is ‘like saying ‘please help me’ recalls Mick, and his leaving the band was ‘the most threatening thing that I can relate to in the ranks of Fleetwood Mac.’ 

Inevitably, with the onslaught of the 1970’s, a ‘very disorganised survival period’ followed – with Spencer also abruptly disappearing (to join the religious cult ‘The Children of God’), Christine – by then married to John, joining on keyboards in time for the ‘Kiln House’ (1970) album, and then the addition of ex-jazzer Bob Welch which helped carve them out a niche on the US touring circuit. Almost by default, but with a ruthlessly single-visioned focus on ensuring the group’s survival, Mick became even more of a motivating force. Until the break-up of his marriage to Jenny, alienated by his total dedication to keeping Mac touring, resulted in a more full-time shift to America, with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham coming into the band just as Bob Welch is phasing out. 

Now – in the wake of Abba and Queen-derived stage-success, there are rumours that Matthew Vaughan – husband of Claudia Schiffer (and financier of ‘Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’) is producing a stage-musical of ‘Rumours’. And it’s an album rich in potential source-material, notorious for coming out of a period of personal stress and group disruptions, recorded ‘through various forms of emotional hell’ according to Mick. A Soap-Opera drama involving relationship make-ups and break-ups, with those ups-and-downs, those chaotic periods he talks about, presumably fuelling its edgy creativity? So were the downer-periods an essential part of the process that made the highs possible? ‘I think they have been known to do that. There’s no doubt that that sick equation can exist, from my own memories of – ‘oh my god, I’ve been up for five days’ – yeah! I don’t feel horribly comfortable applauding the fact. But it would be less than honest if I said that we – or I, didn’t, er... have moments of what I think were fairly CREATIVE moments, that came out of some lunatic situation that I was in.’ 

But then there’s also the element of happy accident. For example “The Chain” ‘basically came out of a jam. That song was ‘put together’ as distinct from someone literally sitting down and writing ‘a song’. It was very much collectively a band composition. The riff is John McVie’s contribution – a major contribution. Because that bassline is still being played on British TV in the car-racing series to this day. The Grand Prix thing. But it was really – something that just came out of us playing in the studio. Originally we had no words to it. And it really only became a song when Stevie wrote some. She walked in one day and said ‘I’ve written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day.’ 

So it was ‘put together’. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. And then once it was arranged and we knew what we were doing, we went in and recorded it. But it ultimately becomes a ‘band’ thing anyway, because we all have so much of our own individual style, our own stamp that makes the sound of Fleetwood Mac. So it’s not like you feel disconnected from the fact that maybe you haven’t written one of the songs. Because what you do, and what you feel when we’re all making music together, is what Fleetwood Mac ends up being, and that’s the stuff you hear on the albums. Whether one likes it or not, this is – after all, a combined effort from different people playing music together.’

Listen to ‘Rumours’ now, and it hardly sounds like one of the Top Five biggest-selling albums of all time. On vinyl or CD. Thirty-million-plus copies so far, and counting. You know the tracks. They’re all familiar, of course. It couldn’t really be any other way. They’ve been wall-to-wall on daytime radio ever since their first release, playlisted relentlessly between phone-ins, traffic reports and polite banter. Pleasant folky non-intrusive guitar riffs, cleanly urgent harmonies, usually from Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie. But none of the characteristics we assume with Rock greatness. No bombastic ambition. No searing angsty solos. That’s not what it’s about. This is where AOR begins. This is music for grown-ups. For expensive sound-systems and settled double-income young partners. It was ‘Rumours’ which first defined this lucrative market, this demographic. And it sounds so effortless. It demands only to be listened to. But that’s Mick’s drumming on the original of Stevie Nicks’ “Dreams” (‘I keep my visions to myself’), and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Second-Hand News”, his ‘Ticket To Ride’-snap-drums on Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way”, “The Chain” and Christine McVie’s plaintive “Songbird”, or “You Make Loving Fun”. You know these songs. You grew up listening to them, consciously or not... 

Stupid questions sometimes have to be asked. Impossible, sure, but did Mick have any premonitions when it was first released (in August 1975) of just how big ‘Rumours’ would be? ‘No. I thought it would do well. ‘Cos we’d just had ‘Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac’ which was the first album that sold – like, about four-million copies in the United States alone. So – unless we really fucked it up, we knew we had a shot of at least doing fairly well with the next album. But no, we had no clue that that album was going to blow up, and – it’s like Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, it still keeps going. To this day it’s still one of those classic albums. So no – we could have no concept of what was about to happen to us...’ 

And now it continues. ‘Yes, we are currently being VERY active, ‘cos we’ll be touring with ‘Say You Will’ throughout this year and it’s going to be very busy. But this is what we know how to do. It’s like – people are still amazed at the Rolling Stones. Every six years or so THEY go out and tour. And every time they do it they say ‘this will be the last time we’re going to do it’ – and who knows, maybe it is the last time? But with us, we’re just really looking forward to doing it.’


Did you ever want to go back? Back to those moments that changed your life forever. Mick Fleetwood did. The film closes with him today, sitting on the beach, staring into the Hawaiian sunset. 

‘Now – it’s just a different time, a different space,’ he tells me. ‘We all take care of ourselves, and we wanna be healthy and well when we’re seventy-five years old. And there’s only one way of doing that. You have to take notice of your body and respect it, and do the right thing. And certainly – in my opinion, the music we’re playing now proves that the creative juices are still present and still very much intact.’ It wasn’t always so. There are life-changing moments. One occurred as he stood on Platform Four of Gloucester Station, on a ‘wet and dreary’ 1963, as the train pulls away, and he sets off for a new life in London... and another happened in 1989, in Maui with his third wife, Lynn. 

‘My life was increasingly controlled – as years went on, by my use of cocaine, and I was a heavy drinker.’ Sometimes stress and creative chaos can be a stimulant. ‘But it happens the other way too. ‘Cos sometimes people can lose confidence and say ‘well, if I’m not drunk I don’t think that I can play’ – or ‘I don’t think that I can have a good time on stage etc etc etc’. It’s a bit of everything.’ Until finally, ‘in a wretched condition from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, a wretched life-style, and not a happy one, it was no longer a laugh, it was no longer funny, it was sad.’ He turns his life around.... 

‘If that young Mick Fleetwood knew what the ‘Mick-Fleetwood-now’ had gone through, I think he’d say ‘you’re pretty lucky to have survived. And I’m glad you’ve survived!’ But my first love is my music, and to be around music. Luckily, I was able to do that, and I’m still doing that. So more than anything else it would be – ‘I’m really happy that you took my dream of being a musician, and you stayed true to that original dream. You didn’t waver.’ I never have – and I don’t think I ever will.’ 

On my TV screen Mick Fleetwood is sitting on a beach full of ghosts. And in his eyes there’s ‘a boy with a dream and eyes full of fun, ready to conquer the world with two sticks and a drum’. And he’s asking that question – ‘how did I get here, from there’?

*His personal and at times extremely candid DVD/video profile ‘THE MICK FLEETWOOD STORY’ (Direct Video Distribution. DVDUK-001D) forms a definitive portrait of his extraordinary life lived at the heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s greatest years.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Cult Album: Fleetwood Mac 'Tango In The Night'


Album Review of: 
(Warner Bros Records R2-554813 /018227946388) 

As if scoring the biggest-selling white Rock LP of all time isn’t enough, to follow it with a fifteen-million-selling sequel is pure ostentation. By bolting the sweet LA songwriterly harmonies of the Stevie Nicks-Lindsey Buckingham duo onto the rusting rhythm section of three tired Blues-boom veterans, the Mac went unexpectedly floaty soft-rock stellar. They follow ‘Rumours’ (1977) with the more eccentric ‘Tusk’ (1979), get back on safe AOR form with ‘Mirage’ (1982), but go mega all over again when they get Tango’d (1987), their final ‘classic’ line-up outing. The various formats of this 3CD+DVD box-set are an embarrassment of radio-friendly riches. Of course you know the hits – “Little Lies”, “Everywhere” and the copulatory ooh-ahs of “Big Love”, it’s impossible not to. For those who really need more there’s the full remastered original album, plus the inevitable demos (including “Tango In The Night”), early versions (“Seven Wonders”), alternate mixes (“Isn’t It Midnight”), extended takes (“You And I”), dub twelve-inch remixes (Jellybean Benitez’s “Little Lies”), and instrumental demos (“Mystified”), as well as gathering previously non-album B-sides – Christine McVie’s “Ricky” and “Down Endless Street”, plus the “Book Of Miracles” instrumental and “Juliet” run-through of what would subsequently be Stevie Nicks solo album track. Classic Rock seldom came more classic, and chances are, it never will be again. 

Side One: 
(1) ‘Big Love’ (Lindsey Buckingham, 3:37) 
(2) ‘Seven Wonders’ (Stevie Nicks-Sandy Stewart, 3:38) 
(3) ‘Everywhere’ (Christine McVie, 3:48) 
(4) ‘Caroline’ (Buckingham, 3:50) 
(5) ‘Tango In The Night’ (Buckingham, 3:56) 
(6) ‘Mystified’ (Christine McVie-Buckingham, 3:08) 
Side Two: 
(1) ‘Little Lies’ (Christine McVie-Eddy Quintela, 3:40) 
(2) ‘Family Man’ (Buckinghan-Richard Dashut, 4:08) 
(3) ‘Welcome To The Room… Sara’ (Nicks, 3:37) 
(4) ‘Isn’t It Midnight’ (Christine McVie-Quintela-Buckingham, 4:06) 
(5) ‘When I See You Again’ (Nicks, 3:49) 
(6) ‘You And I, Part Two’ (Buckingham-Christine McVie, 2:40) 

Published in: 
‘RNR: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.63’ 
(UK – May 2017)

Cult Album: Fleetwood Mac 'Then Play On'



Album Review of: 
(Reprise/ Rhino Records Deluxe Edition 8122796443) 

A stunning, complex, astonishing, conflicted, beautifully baffling, exquisitely problematic album, unlike anything they’d previously released, and nothing like anything that ever came after, anywhere in the vinyl cosmos. ‘Then Play On’ was the Mac’s third studio album. The John Mayall kudos had them rated as the most authentic Blues outfit around, but by 1969 their restless creativity was taking them way beyond such genre restrictions. Think of their no.1 single “Oh Well” – both sides of which are here. It’s soft-loud dynamic is something of a touchstone, although the fourteen original (and four bonus CD) tracks range much further. The 54-minute playing time allows jamming-space, but Peter Green’s spiritually charged improvisations are always immaculately interplayed and never self-indulgent. A vital element of the album’s incandescence is its unstable fragility. On the tipping-point of cataclysmic implosion, with Green’s traumatic state of disintegrating mental health scarily apparent on ‘The Green Manalishi’, Jeremy Spencer equally messed-up, soon to flee to a Christian commune, and with troubled Danny Kirwan’s first album contributions to the Mac canon, this line-up wouldn’t survive a moment longer. Leaving all these doors of potential wide open. This is one of the most breathtakingly mystifying albums of the decade. 

Published in: 
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 Issue.42’ 
(UK – November 2013) 

(1) ‘Coming Your Way’ (Kirwan, 3:45) 
(2) ‘Closing My Eyes’ (Green, 4:51) 
(3) ‘Fighting For Madge’ (Fleetwood, 2:42) 
(4) ‘When You Say’ (Kirwan, 4:31) 
(5) ‘Show-Biz Blues’ (Green, 3:51) 
(6) ‘Underway’ (Green, 3:04) 
(7) ‘One Sunny Day’ (Kirwan, 3:13) 
(8) ‘Although The Sun Is Shining’ (Kirwan, 2:25) 
(9) ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ (Green, 3:30) 
(10) ‘Without You’ (Kirwan, 4:35) 
(11) ‘Searching For Madge’ (McVie, 6:56) 
(12) ‘My Dream’ (Kirwan, 3:31) 
(13) ‘Like Crying’ (Kirwan, 2:25) 
(14) ‘Before The Beginning’ (Green, 3:30) 
Bonus tracks: 
(15) ‘Oh Well, Part One’ Bonus mono track (Green, 3:32) 
(16) ‘Oh Well, Part Two’ Bonus mono track (Green, 5:39) 
(17) ‘The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)’ (Green, 4:37) 
(18) ‘World In Harmony’ (Kirwan-Green, 3:26)

Friday 28 October 2022

Interview: Peter Green



29 October 1946-25 July 2020

Peter Green, British Blues Legend and Acid-Damaged 
founder of Fleetwood Mac returns from the Dead Zone 
with a tribute album to Robert Johnson, the genius, womaniser, 
gambler and Blues Pioneer who sold his soul to the Devil 
and was then poisoned at twenty-six by a jealous husband. 
From strange... to stranger... 
A previously unpublished interview.

“Got those Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack 
John Mayall, can’t fail Blues...” 
 Adrian Henri/ The Liverpool Scene (1969)

There’s a Bill Hicks routine which goes ‘if you don’t believe that drugs have done some good things for us, go home tonight, take all your albums, all your CD’s, all your tapes – and BURN them, because the musicians who made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years...? they were all real fucking high on drugs, man.’ He’s right. Of course. And that list of musicians who made all that life-enhancing music has got to include Syd Barrett... right? Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix... right? Kurt Cobain and Peter Green too. 

In Peter Green’s garden there’s a dim coffin-smelling gloom, sweet and oversweet with twice-blooming apple-blossom, and there’s lilac beyond the outer wall by the savage quiet sky, the sun impacting, distilled and hyperdistilled. Peter Green is sat across the rustic table from me. His is no designer slouch, just the unkempt growth of a genuine couldn’t give a shit. Look at the early photos. The Mayall shots. The first Fleetwood Mac line-ups. A nation bracing itself for decimalisation. The days before Alcopops. This is a man who began with the Blues. Now he’s returned to it again. Blues is the colour. 

And he’s returned to touring too, with possible Irish dates? ‘I’ve done lots of tours’ he says dismissively. ‘About six. Yeah. They were good. Ireland? We’ve played in Ireland. And yeah, we’re going back again. I fink we are. I enjoy playing most everywhere. And Ireland is a good place. It’s OK. It’s got a... what’s the word? a good bill – you know? They’ve got their things, you know? when you go there, it’s different. With different sort-of experiences and that.’ 

‘He enjoys most of the gigs he does’ adds live-in friend Michelle helpfully. 

‘I don’t’ he snorts. ‘Germany and (with heavy emphasis) TWO other places. But Switzerland, yeah. It was lovely in Switzerland. But everywhere we go to do our show, you have to appreciate it for what it is. When we go to Austria there’s not much night life there, not much going on in the way of shops and things. But it’s just nice. An old feeling, y’know. There’s an OLD feeling to it. And Naples. Naples was good. It was great there. Beautiful weather. The weather was... like being in Africa. It was so beautiful that it just cleared the head of all futuristic sort-of... er, futuristic er... I don’t know what to call it, all futuristic weather, with acclimatisation to where we were it just cleared the head completely. I felt marvellous. It was like Africa, so African.’ 

The album? Oh yeah – we’re here to talk about the remarkable ‘The Robert Johnson Songbook’, recorded by Peter with his current ‘Splinter Group’, a sixteen-track tribute to the Spookily near-mythic ‘King of the Delta Blues’, featuring heavy inputs from Nigel Watson (Michelle’s brother) and guest vocals by Paul ‘Superlungs’ Rodgers on “Sweet Home Chicago”. That’s Paul Rodgers as in Free, Bad Company, and that annoying Chewing Gum TV-ad about the two kids on the bus. No mean Blues-Wailer in his own right. But it’s never less than Peter Green’s album. Neil Spencer (in The Observer) comments that ‘sadly, the emotional demands of Johnson’s often harrowing songs prove beyond Green’s ravaged voice, while the guitar licks he would once have rattled off are now merely adequately played.’ Mr Spencer, I suggest, misses the point. 

This album is the work of a musician who started out with the Blues, with the fanatical purist’s devotion to reproducing its every detail in pristine academic perfection. The sparse “Stop Breaking Down” here most closely resembles the raw force of those old John Mayall days, with brief but precise solos. But now Peter Green has gone beyond that. He’s lived it. His voice is more scuffed and cracked than it was then. He knows the music inside out. It still benefits from those countless hours spent poring over albums, meticulously replicating their sounds. But now the ache comes direct from authentic lived experience. “Love in Vain” for example. The song about waiting at the station, suitcase in my hand. It was last sighted on the Rolling Stones’ ‘Let It Bleed’ (1969) album. They do it stark, electric, and extreme. Peter opts for less histrionic drama. But his is a weary, truer, more convincingly Gospel-edged reading. Closer, probably, to Johnson’s original intention. Like the easy-rolling harmonica-edged “When You Got A Good Friend”, or the mood of abstract desolation caught by Roger Cotton’s slow Blues piano as it perfectly matches Peter’s cracked vocals on “Phonograph Blues” 

‘But I might never be allowed past the Blues Pearly Gates’ he admits, ‘‘cos it seems that there’s a magic somewhere on those old records. A lot of people say there’s trickery under the recording, or in the production. That they’re completed through certain processes. They sound sort-of, really unique. Sounds that you can’t copy. You can’t do it. Elvis Presley’s records used to sound a bit like that, didn’t they? “Blue Suede Shoes”. A special sound. “Hound Dog” as well – all that (he handclaps “Hound Dog” in perfect sync), all that sort-of clapping, it all sounds like it’s as NATURALLY HAPPENING as it is when you pull the toilet chain. It all sounds SO NATURAL. Like a fried egg or something. It just sounds so natural. But you don’t know how long they worked on it. There might be 122 takes on it or something.’


‘He likes Robert Johnson’ coaxes Michelle. 

‘I like Robert Johnson’ he confirms. ‘Me and Nigel are great fans of Robert Johnson.’ The Splinter Group comprises Peter and Nigel, plus former-Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and keyboardist Spike Edney, ex-Bob Geldof. There was also Cozy Powell on drums, until his untimely death in a 104mph auto-wreck earlier this year (‘a super bloke, no doubt about it, and he’d got a beautiful place to go, if we wanted to go somewhere. A lovely cottage’ says Peter now). His drum-chair has since been taken by Larry Tolfree. 

Meanwhile, a Todd Terry remix shoves the highly videogenic Corrs into the Top Ten with their Mac-relic “Dreams”. And the ‘Rumours’-vintage platinum albums/ platinum noses MOR Mac reform for ‘The Dance’ (1977) and its attendant commercial feeding-frenzy. But Fleetwood Mac would never have existed without Peter Green. Mick Fleetwood acknowledged as much. There’s a new compilation of studio out-takes and oddities to prove it, ‘The Vaudeville Years Of Fleetwood Mac 1968-1970’ (Receiver Records Ltd RDPCD 14Z) consisting of long unedited seventeen-minute Blues jams complete with pauses and false starts, but between the sound of nails scratching the bottom of barrels there are also alternate takes of “Green Manalishi”, “Man Of The World”, “Oh Well” and forgotten gems like “Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight” (originally credited to Earl Vince & The Vincents), essential ingredients from the most vital of the ‘Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, John Mayall can’t fail Blues’ days (Chicken Shack – for those too young to remember, was Christine McVie’s highly rated pre-Mac band). All recorded with Peter, prior to his fateful meeting with New York Acid Guru Stan Owsley III, the Willy Wonka of LSD, and hello to the drugs hell that left his brain as limp as a salad in a sauna. ‘We went to the States, y’know. And we... erm... crossed paths with the Grateful Dead. I remember sitting on stage with them taking this acid and then trying to sing...!’ Bill Hicks fails to mention that. And Fleetwood Mac? ‘It was a load of clowns of some kind’ he muses now. ‘I don’t know what to make of all those guys. They’re very secretive. They turn up in all kinds of places, in all kinds of situations. But – um, I dunno. That’s a long while ago. It’s a sharky business as well. Not just the managers, you’ve got to watch out for everything (he pronounces it ‘everyfing’). Anything can fool you...’ 

Now he’s an ageing Boy Scout relearning how to tie all those tricky Blues knots. Despite the acid shrapnel in his head. ‘I couldn’t... sort-of... get back. What I learned on those LSD trips was so special to me, meant so much to me that I was told I could have this all the time. Your mind is in a state. You can’t locate yourself. You just see a mist and you don’t feel clear. I’m not really clear now, but at least I can see little things.’ At one point he suddenly asks me ‘John Bonham’s dead, isn’t he? Who plays drums for Led Zeppelin now?’ Bonham died in September 1980. There’s been no Led Zep at least since Live Aid in July 1985. But who knows where the time goes? ‘Jimmy Page’ he adds, ‘he became a great personality, didn’t he?’ 

And the legendary long nails? They’re still long... ish, but chopped off square, as though hacked off with scissors just prior to my arriving. He’s unfazed. More at ease and content with his life than he’s been for years. Decades even. ‘I’ve been doing millions of interviews’ he grins. ‘Saying anything and everything that comes my way. Saying all kinds of queer things.’ 

“I’d rather jack than Fleetwood Mac ...” 
(single by Stock-Aitken-Waterman’s REYNOLD’S GIRLS 
which hit no.8 1st April 1989)


(Artisan Records SARCD 002)
FLEETWOOD MAC 1968-1970’ 
(Receiver 2CD Digipack Receiver Records Ltd RDPCD 14-Z, 
including 56-page Booklet, issued 21 September 1998)

Peter Green: Man Of The World (DVD)



DVD Review of: 
A Dougie Dudgeon and Henry Hadaway film 
Scanbox Entertainment (2018, Wienerworld) 


Where is Peter Green now? 

‘It was an incredibly short run’ says Mick Fleetwood, ‘and yet we’re still talking about it, nearly forty years or so later.’ And he’s correct. Peter Green was with Fleetwood Mac two years and eight months. In the vast cosmic scheme of things, that’s not long. Yet that’s where the kernel of the legend exists. This valuable documentary, directed by Steven Graham for the BBC, thoroughly details that arc of years, across a generous 150-minutes. It takes a bemused Peter Greenbaum wandering back to where it began, all the way to ‘my very first memories’ of Flat 18, Antenor House, off Old Bethnal Green Road E2 6QS, ‘coming across this road here, and then up there.’ Shuffling along the pavement, beside black railings and neatly-spaced saplings, indicating up at the white first-floor balcony of his childhood flat. He’s a survivor, who’s been to hell and back. Yet, ‘It’s nice to revisit yourself’ he adds brightly. 

Brothers Mike and Len Green take up the story of Peter’s first guitar. Born 29 October 1946, he honed his skills through skiffle and the Blues, his debut single came as a twenty-year-old part of Peter B’s Looners, a four-piece led by Peter Bardens. An organ-led shuffle-instrumental version of Jimmy Soul’s risqué calypso, “If You Wanna Be Happy” c/w “Jodrell Blues” (1966, Columbia DB7862), it makes an inauspicious start for Peter Green, despite the stinging guitar solo on the B-side. Yet, produced by impresario Rik Gunnell, Mick Fleetwood also happens to be there on drums, billed according to his previous group as ‘ex-Bo Street Runners’. 

Then Peter was playing with the Bluesbreakers at ‘The Flamingo’. John Mayall explains how ‘Peter in his prime in the sixties was just without equal, he was a force to be reckoned with.’ Replacing Eric Clapton in the line-up was a poison chalice, which he accepted decisively by not replicating what ‘Slowhand’ had done – avoiding playing the hard fast virtuoso style, but taking his Les Paul down other routes. For the ‘A Hard Road’ (Decca, February 1967) album – with drummer Aynsley Dunbar and John McVie on bass, Peter sings lead on “You Don’t Love Me” and his own “The Same Way”, but it’s the haunting instrumental “The Supernatural” that stands out, playing what journalist Keith Altham defines as ‘ethnic Blues’, a spirit that underpins it all. Many years later, after the maelstrom that swept him away, Peter would play “The Supernatural” again, with the Splinter Group. And it still sounds magical. 

‘There’s no word for it’ Peter struggles to explain to me, ‘I copy them (the Blues Masters) as best as I can. I’m Jewish. So I’ve got a little trapdoor there. The old Hebrew Testament thing, right back to Moses. It could be worse, couldn’t it?’ 

Soon Mick Fleetwood replaced the ‘too technical’ Dunbar, and the core of Fleetwood Mac was in place, initially freelancing without Mayall on dates with bluesman Eddie Boyd. Jeremy Spencer gets recruited into Peter Green’s new venture from the Midlands-based Levi Set, following just the exchange of names ‘Elmore James, BB King’. Encouraged by Mike Vernon, their debut album together – issued in February 1968, is a ‘plug-in and play’ exercise according to Mick Fleetwood, cut at the New Bond Street CBS studios with Vernon producing. Apparently the name Fleetwood Mac was Peter’s deliberate legacy to his friends, in anticipation of further adventures – although he could never have imagined how those further adventures were to play out, and he was outraged when Blue Horizon choose to promote the record as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’. It was preceded by debut single – Jeremy Spencer’s “I Believe My Time Ain’t Long” c/w Peter’s “Rambling Pony” (November 1967, Blue Horizon 3051), followed by the startling classic “Black Magic Woman” (c/w “The Sun Is Shining”, March 1968, Blue Horizon 57-3138). With the song’s background story narrated here by celibate girlfriend Sandra Elsen. It climbs to no.37 in the UK chart, but soon gets taken up as a key recording by Santana. 

Blue Horizon had a community feel to it, and as part of the label house band both Peter and Mick sit in on sessions for Duster Bennett’s first LP ‘Smiling Like I’m Happy’ (1968), and Peter helps out on the Brunning Sunflower Blues Band’s ‘Trackside Blues’ (1969). Studio jams and back-up sessions from this phase continue to be released under various guises for a number of years, from ‘Blues Jam At Chess’ (1969) with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, to ‘The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967-1969’ (1999) 6CD box-set with previously-unreleased outtakes, studio talk and alternate takes. 

Always a self-deprecating man of fragile sensitivities – the lines ‘I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin’ reflects Peter’s own sense of bewilderment and lack of self-worth, he was already caught up in destructive contradictions. Always prone to reflective moments, even in the studio recording of the straight-Blues ‘Mr Wonderful’ (August 1968), amid the band’s bawdy excesses. “Rattlesnake Shake” on ‘Then Play On’ (September 1969) is Peter’s ribald commentary on Mick Fleetwood’s masturbation habit. Yet he’s deeply troubled by white-liberal guilt over the band’s accumulating wealth, when contrasted with TV images of the Biafran famine. Seeing real human beings starve to death on-screen, with the same sense of moral outrage that would later power Bob Geldof to kick-start Band Aid. Resolving not only to channel his royalties into charity, but to persuade other members of Fleetwood Mac to do the same. Suggestions not always sympathetically received. 

Those anti-materialist tendencies were exacerbated by meeting Jerry Garcia during the band’s first American trip, as well as the Grateful Dead’s chemist LSD-guru Stanley Owsley. Initially suspicious, Jeremy Spencer was the first to sample the new lysergic-acid wonder-drug, then Peter drank laced kool-aid. The textbook version is that he was unaware the drink was spiked. The way he tells it now, with an amused twinkle, he was more than a willing accomplice to the pretence. ‘I didn’t talk to god’ relates Mick Fleetwood, ‘just felt a bit strange’. They play ‘The Warehouse’ in New Orleans with the Dead, all stoned. ‘I did feel a bit… effervescent’ recalls Peter, about LSD. The tour climaxes into acid-horror in the Frisco Gorham Hotel after jamming with the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore. Mick hallucinating every band member as skeletons as they sit around the floor holding hands, phoning Owsley to talk them down, in vain. It was ‘horrible’ concludes Mick.

The continuing John Mayall kudos had Fleetwood Mac rated as the most authentic Blues outfit around, with ‘Mr Wonderful’ rarely straying from the Elmore James blueprint despite a ‘dirtier, gutsier’ horn-section and Christine Perfect (soon to be McVie) on piano, but by 1969 their restless creativity was taking them way beyond such genre restrictions. Blues was the spine, and would continue to be, underpinning diverse new bands and evolutions across the seventies. But it was already becoming porous, flexible, open to positive mutations in the light of new lifestyles. The single “Need Your Love So Bad” (c/w “No Place To Go”, Blue Horizon 57-3157), a cover of Little Willie John’s 1956 original, antagonises purists with sweeping strings offsetting Peter’s raw pleading vocal lines. Yet it climbs to no.31 on the chart, and is successfully reissued a number of times, collected onto the compilation ‘The Pious Bird Of Good Omen’ (August 1969), alongside both sides of the earlier singles, plus two tracks from Eddie Boyd’s ‘7936 South Rhodes’ (Blue Horizon, 1968) album on which the Mac play back-up. A re-jigged version of this album becomes ‘English Rose’ for the US Epic label, with a fright-wig cover-art photo of Mick Fleetwood in drag. He’d already appeared naked but for battered hat and strategically-positioned shrubbery on the ‘Mr Wonderful’ gatefold cover! 

Danny Kirwan was brought in (from Boilerhouse) as third guitar in time for what Peter calls the ‘Santo and Johnny’ sound of the next single, “Albatross”. Peter plays his Stratocaster lap-style, plucking the title from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”, months before Procol Harum use the epic poem as the base for their “A Salty Dog”. Although the label was initially dubious, an appearance on the ‘Simon Dee’ TV-show shoves it into the charts, and all the way up to no.1. There were two charts in general use. In ‘Record Mirror’ it was no.1 for the single week 29 January 1969 – but would return on re-issue to no.2 in 1975! In ‘New Musical Express’ it nudges Marmalade’s Beatles-cover “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” from top slot and stays there three weeks until 8 February, when it’s dislodged by Move’s “Blackberry Way”. 

Then the achingly-heartfelt “Man Of The World” single was ‘the first cry for help that we heard from Peter Green’ opines Altham, direct-to-camera. ‘Almost like a suicide note’ agrees a pensive Jeremy Spencer. The voice, ‘I’m not saying that I’m a good man, oh, but I would be if I could,’ is painfully autobiographical. Issued through a one-off deal with Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate records, it peaks at no.2 – just below the Beatles “Get Back” (24 May 1969). Although it’s stop-start loud-soft structure makes it impossible to dance to, I recall playing it in a sense of awed wonder to other students at the Hull College Of Technology, frustrated that they can’t see how starkly revelatory it is, the chillingly confessional line ‘I just wish that I had never been born’ is still spine-tingling. 

The single also spells goodbye to nurturing producer Mike Vernon. Leading to the Mac’s third studio album, ‘Then Play On’, arriving through a lucrative up-deal with Reprise. A stunning, complex, astonishing, conflicted, beautifully baffling, exquisitely problematic album, unlike anything they’d previously released, and nothing like anything that ever came after, anywhere in the vinyl cosmos. The soft-loud dynamic of their no.1 single “Oh Well” – both sides of which are included, is something of a touchstone, although the fourteen original (and four bonus CD) tracks range much further. The 54-minute playing time allows jamming-space, but Peter’s spiritually charged improvisations are always immaculately interplayed and never self-indulgent. A vital element of the album’s incandescence is its unstable fragility. It was Peter’s ‘last calling card’ according to Fleetwood. With his traumatic state of disintegrating mental health even more scarily explicit on “The Green Manalishi”, which not only reveals ‘the Brian Wilson side of Peter Green’ in its overdub builds, but shows him on the tipping-point of cataclysmic implosion. Jeremy Spencer was equally messed-up and soon to flee, alongside troubled Danny Kirwan’s first album contributions to the Mac canon, this line-up wouldn’t survive a moment longer. Leaving all these doors of potential wide open. This is one of the most breathtakingly mystifying albums of the decade. 

Meanwhile, “Oh Well” completes a trilogy of Top Three singles, with Peter playing a Michigan guitar. It reaches no.1 for the single week of 15 November 1969, if only in the ‘New Musical Express’ chart – replacing the Archies cartoon-comical Bubble-Pop “Sugar Sugar”. Now, Peter dismisses the vocal lead-in verses, in preference to the more reflective instrumental passages following the mid-point storm (reminiscent of Love’s “Seven And Seven Is”). 

By now there were strange scenes during a German tour involving a Munich cult, ‘weirding out big time’ according to Jeremy Spencer. Precipitating the crash into Peter’s dark years. ‘That was the fork in the road’ according to John McVie. ‘I had an ultimate respect for Peter’ adds Fleetwood wistfully, ‘and we had so much fun.’ Without Peter ‘we were all… lost’ admits Mick. Although soon after, Jeremy quit too – ‘I heard the voice of the lord say ‘go’’ and he went. In the sad burned-out come-down from the hippie loss of innocence there were any number of phony opportunistic cults on hand to offer spiritual solace, and Jeremy was seduced away by the Children Of God religious sect. Loyally, Peter returns to play the rest of the US dates, climaxing in an amazing version of “Black Magic Woman” at the Fillmore East in New York, which Clifford Adams recalls with a sense of wonder. 

Now Peter was ‘exorcising the demons within him’ (according to Fleetwood) on an intense instrumental solo album called ‘The End Of The Game’ (Reprise, December 1970). Leading only to further mental collapses. ‘A lot of strange experiences inside my head’ he comments, straining to make sense of it all. Retreating into a kind of Syd Barrett ‘Twilight Zone’ of legendary limbo. As, after a confused directionless period, the rest of Fleetwood Mac hook up with Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham to go mega-global, Peter was sedated in psycho-house mental institutions, undergoing electro-convulsive therapy in a living nightmare, with myths and rumours multiplying. He was working as a hospital porter, or a gravedigger. He threatened his accountant with an air-rifle. He spent time in prison. ‘I was quite happy in prison’ he comments, totally without guile. 

Interviewing Peter Green, sitting at a table in his back garden, was both the strangest and most touching experiences of my journalistic career. Afterwards, he shows me his guitar collection, lifting them down from the wall and passing them across to me, asking ‘Do you play?’ And I have to admit, no. Which is the closest I’ve ever got to jamming with a guitar hero. 

By turn poignant, candid, always informative, with mesmerising electrifyingly evocative black-and-white clips, this DVD constitutes the definitive story. Noel Gallagher adds respectful comment, across the arc of those forty years. 

‘I can outplay Sooty’ says Peter now with typically self-deprecating humour, ‘but that’s it, don’t put Sweep on that xylophone whatever you do.’ He was brought back into playing and recording through the recuperative process of the Splinter Group, with a supportive Nigel Watson – and initially drummer Cozy Powell. His ‘Me And The Devil Blues’ (Snapper 1998, 2001) remains a classic interpretation of the Robert Johnson catalogue, and one of eleven albums taking him from the late nineties into the new millennium. Although some unspecified altercation led to Peter leaving in 2004, he re-emerged in 2009 touring as Peter Green And Friends – around the time this DVD was compiled. ‘Whatever I’m expecting, it never arrives,’ he muses. Then, more brightly ‘It’s nice to revisit yourself.’ 

So, where is Peter Green now?

Bringins Multimedia Ltd 2007 
Bonus DVD features: 
‘Peter Takes Us Through His Guitar Collection’ 
‘Clifford Adams Reads Out Peter Green’s Letter From Hawaii’ 
‘Jeremy Spencer, Mick Fleetwood as John McVie Reminisce About The Old Days’ 
‘Rick Veto Tells How He Saw Fleetwood Mac For The First Time’ 

Published in: 
‘R’N’R: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 Issue.67’ 
(UK – January 2018) 
Expanded version featured online at: 
‘IT: INTERNATIONAL TIMES’ (14 March 2018) 

Peter Green: The Splintered Years



(2014, Eagle Records EDG1015262) 

‘Time Traders’ is from 2001, ‘Reaching the Cold 100’ from a few years later – in 2003, now repackaged together into a neat slipcase 2CD edition. They are made up of thirteen tracks each, consisting of songs written by Splinter Group member Nigel Watson (rhythm guitar), Roger Cotton (keyboards), and Pete Stroud (bass). Drummer Larry Tolfree is content to hold down the steady backbeat. Peter Green – credited by his birth-name Peter Greenbaum, gets just one writer credit, for the instrumental “Underway”, and that a retread of a track from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Then Play On’ album, albeit with a guesting Snowy White helping out. “Uganda Woman” another track with Peter’s strong input, had previously been a 1972 B-side. This nevertheless marks the albums out from Peter’s more regular fare of Blues standards, and particularly the Robert Johnson catalogue. ‘Reaching The Cold 100’, the Group’s eighth and final album together, includes “Legal Fee Blues” perhaps hinting at symptoms of the group’s litigious demise. Whatever its internal politics, the Splinter Group proved vital as a support vehicle enabling Peter to resume live working and recording. We should be grateful for that, and it leaves some fine material here to enjoy. 

Published in: 
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.44’ 
(UK – March 2014) 


(2008, Snapper SBLUECD 501X) 

Robert Johnson exists in the twilight zone where truth spirals into haunted myth, hard facts are uncertain and legends shadow in the details. As such it’s entirely appropriate that Peter Green, a musician with more than his own share of tales to tell, used the Johnson songbook as part of his route-map back into Blues prominence. This 3CD set invites direct comparison between the full existing Robert Johnson catalogue, with the Splinter Group’s versions of exactly the same twenty-nine songs. It does considerable merit to both. There was Blues before Robert Johnson, but after him it could never be the same again. He invested it with a literacy and stripped-down poetry that remain spine-chillingly effective even across the decades since. “Ramblin’ On My Mind”, “Hell Hound On My Trail”, “Cross Road Blues” and “Me And The Devil Blues” stand as the cornerstones of the entire Sixties British Blues revival, covered and reinterpreted by everyone from Cream and Dylan, to Led Zep and the Stones, but seldom has the harrowing soul of the songs been as well captured as it is by Peter Green, less by meticulous replication, as through bone-weary empathy. 

Published in: 
‘ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.12’ 
(UK – November 2008)


(2012, Madfish SMACD987) 

Even if his adventures, and misadventures of the late-Sixties had never happened, Peter Green would still have written himself into Brit-Blues credibility with his series of eight Splinter Group albums and tours from 1997 through to 2003. As the curator of the Robert Johnson legacy he brings more than mere note-by-note replication to those seminal originals, he reinterprets them through his own bone-weary experience and battered soul, into contemporary demon-haunted relevance, singing and playing harp on “Steady Rollin’ Man”. This two-disc selection also includes two revisions of Peter’s tortured Fleetwood Mac originals – an abrasive rasp-voiced “The Green Manalishi” done live at his ‘Ronnie Scotts’ Soho Session, and an effectively understated instrumental “Man Of The World” that burnishes its sensitive beauty, plus the smoky Santana-esque samba “The Supernatural” from his John Mayall period. Plus Freddie King’s “The Stumble” with its long Peter Green association. New composition “Hiding In Shadows” even evokes the memory of “Albatross”. Guesting contributers include Paul Rodgers on “Sweet Home Chicago”, and Dr John, plus Otis Rush and the late Hubert Sumlin. There’s some gospel-flavouring from the Street Angels, and Peter’s “Underway” features some classy Snowy White guitar interplay. But Peter Green remains the solid centre of this fine album.  

(2012, Eagle Records ER202622) 

Begun as part of Peter’s rehabilitation following his long post-Fleetwood Mac lost years, the Splinter Group is now very much a respected integral part of the Blues scene. Although recorded in 2001, this album was only previously available at gigs or through the ‘Splinter Group’ website. So this is its first proper release, and it’s worth the wait. The eleven tracks don’t stray too far from standard Blues repertoire – “Little Red Rooster”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and a spooky “Honey Bee”, but done with such easy authority they emerge renewed as part of a living tradition. Peter started out with the Blues, it’s embedded in his DNA, with the sympathetic supporting structure provided by Nigel Watson (bass), drummer Larry Tolfree, Roger Cotton adding keyboards and the second guitar of Pete Stroud. There’s no striving for histrionics. It flows natural. Peter’s lived-in rasp says all that needs saying about living the Blues life. With minimal rehearsal, done ‘live’ and pretty-much spontaneous in the studio, drawing from their touring set, this is an object lesson in Blues, the genre that ever-evolves, and yet, essentially don’t change… 

Published in: 
‘R2 (ROCK ‘N’ REEL) Vol.2 No.35’ 
(UK – September 2012) 

(2015, Metro Select METRSL118) 

The music industry has not always treated Peter Green kindly. His natural unworldly quality has left him vulnerable to abuse and misuse from numerous unscrupulous agencies throughout his explosive rise, long decline and painful climb back into visibility. But his ability has never been in doubt. This 2CD 34-track anthology is no exception. Blues is Peter’s lodestone, the single constant that defines each life and career-phase. And although the track provenance is not always obvious, without scrupulous reference to Joel McIver’s liner-notes, it runs from early Brit-Blues “Long Grey Mare” lifted from Fleetwood Mac’s 1968 debut LP, woozy live versions of “Black Magic Woman” and no.1 single “Oh Well”, before sampling “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight” – his harmonica-driven contribution to the 1969 Brunning Sunflower Blues Band album ‘Trackside Blues’, plus session-outtake “Uranus”. The second phase is inaugurated by tracks from the 1979 ‘In The Skies’ set, with Snowy White and Peter Bardens on hand, through his neglected solo albums up to ‘A Case For The Blues’ (1985) with Vincent Crane and Ray Dorset. Stopping short of his relaunch with Splinter Group this set revisits familiar material, mixing it with lesser-known and rare tracks. Throughout, Peter’s ability has never been in doubt, no matter what company he’s found himself in. 

Published in: 
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 no.54’ 
(UK – November 2015)