Print E-mail, Peter Green, ? 2003

Peter Green
by Julian Piper

Back on the road and prolific in the studio, former Fleetwood Mac maestro Peter Green is enjoying his new lease of life.

Just in case you haven't noticed, Peter Green's changed quite a lot over the past few years. We all knew that returning to the stage was never likely to be easy for him, but thanks to sympathetic support from his old guitar playing mate Nigel Watson, any early diffidence has been replaced by a new found confidence and genuine enjoyment at being back out there. To back it up, there have also been so many new recordings over the course of the last few years, that it's sometimes difficult to believe Peter was ever away. Now, following hard on the heels of his album of Robert Johnson songs, he's come up with the Splinter Group's most commercial offering to date, Reaching The Cold 100 - a line coincidentally from Johnson's Terraplane Blues. Guitarist caught up with the band midway through yet another tour, in deepest downtown Barnstaple, in darkest Devon.

"I'm very pleased with the new album and hopefully it'll help to make us a mainline act," says Peter. "Nigel suggested the title - I was going to call it Greenstuff or something like that. It took us about 10 weeks to record, most of the work being done at our keyboard player Roger Cotton's studio, before we mixed the tracks at Sarm West Studio near Portobello Road. I think there's a very 'live' feel to the album because we usually lay down all the rhythm tracks first, before we do any fiddling around on top. With most of the songs we would usually get together at Nigel's house and see what we could make out of an idea, then if it worked we'd take take it to the studio. I'd like to think that it sounds as up to date as life gets - it's not ultra modern but it's within the realms of what we feel comfortable about playing."

Although he's indelibly linked to the blues, any quick listen to the old Fleetwood Mac back catalogue will remind the listener that there always was far more to Peter Green than a 12 bar.

"That's right - as much as I love the blues I've always found the format to be quite restrictive. A lot of the songs that I've written in the past, like Man Of The World, were a long way removed from any blues structure. I've always felt that my roots were in skiffle and rock'n'roll anyway. I was a big Beatles fan, used to listen a lot to The Stones, and Bob Dylan's early stuff - I'm not really a blues man - it's not my saviour. Looking back I realise that it was just a period in time when it happened to be the form of music that gave me the opportunity for me to be expressive. These days I'm a great fan of what they call world music and listen to a lot of Arabic music, Chinese music - which is probably my favourite - along with Greek bazouki music, and belly dancing music which I go to see whenever I can; all kinds of stuff. I do still listen to blues but it's in there with everything else."

From the opening track, Nothin' Gonna Change, where Peter's husky familiar blues voice tells that he, Quit drinking wine and alcohol because it makes a fool of you, and that he, Still has the blues inside, there's a very autobiographical feel about much of the album. On the haunting Don't Walk Away - and there are no prizes for guessing the subject material - the man sounds so convincingly torn apart that his neat, inspired Spanish guitar solo almost comes as a welcome relief from his pain.

These days no-one knows Peter better than Nigel Watson and it comes as no surprise to find that not only did he play the closing solo on the aforementioned track - his tone cleverly reprising the cavernous echo of Peter's Black Magic Woman glory days - but also wrote the lyrics to six of the songs on this record.

"I've always found it important to write about something tangible, rather than some abstract idea, and being around Peter is an excellent source of material," he laughs. "On Spiritual Thief - which has lines like, When they say it's easy to ignore the spirit voice, I tell them you don't have a choice - I'm trying to get over the idea about just how Peter copes with the voices that he hears in his head.

"Then there's Legal Fee Blues - which Pete plays harmonica on - is also about the way I see his life; as far as I can see it, he's never done anything wrong to anyone but for some reason - and I know his lawyers will probably shoot me for saying this - his legal fees always seem to be quite hefty!

"In fact, most of the songs are about Pete, now I come to think about it," chuckles Nigel. "I know him so well now that I can almost know what's going on in his mind and how he's feeling; we're pretty close. And Peter's playing is getting top notch again - we get better day to day, standing ovations and everything. He's got a life now, a purpose, and he loves it. Along the way it's been fraught with danger but we have a lot of fun."

And although this is The Splinter Group's second major outing within just five months, Peter obviously still relishes his new found life touring as a road warrior

"Apart from waking up in the morning and feeling half dead, most of the time I do enjoy being on the road," he confirms, "Actually I love it. The only down side is that I've always suffered from stage fright and sometimes I get pretty nervous before we go on. But when that happens I can't find a better way of getting around it other than getting out there on stage and just seeing what happens. Nigel always manages to get me through it though - he's not scared of anything."

Thanks for MS for bringing this to our attention.