Peter Green

August 8, 2006


A Hard Road, 1967

This was the only album Green recorded with the Bluesbreakers, but it served to establish him as a worthy successor to Clapton. In addition to tracking a lively version of Freddie King’s “The Stumble,” Green cut a second instrumental, “The Supernatural.” Featuring long, singing, feedback-driven notes, the tune established Green as a master of Les Paul tone.

7936 South Rhodes, 1968

Green served up some of the tastiest licks of his career backing Chicago blues pianist Eddie Boyd on this album. Compared to the howling textures that normally characterize Green’s solos, the tones here are quiet, clear, and shimmering. Green’s lines are so sweet and soulful it’s easy to ignore the plodding bass and drums (provided by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood—Fleetwood Mac’s rhythm section).

The Biggest Thing Since Colossus, 1969

Having played piano for many years with Muddy Waters, the late Otis Spann knew great guitar when he heard it. When Fleetwood Mac trekked to Chicago’s Chess Records in ’69 to record with some of their African-American heroes (including Spann), the sessions went so well the piano legend drafted Green, Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac’s second lead guitarist and Green protégé), and bassist McVie to join him and master blues drummer S.P. Leary in the studio. Green and Kirwan play beautiful lines—sometimes in harmony—and the groove is solid throughout. A superb example of “fathers-and-sons” blues, this album successfully merges the sounds of Chicago and London.

The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions: 1967-1969

The six-disc box set includes virtually everything Green and the original edition of Fleetwood Mac recorded for the British Blue Horizon label during the band’s first years. This includes Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (’68), Mr. Wonderful (’68), the 1969 release English Rose (which offered Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and the haunting instrumental, “Albatross”), the compilation Pious Bird of Good Omen (’69), and the double LP Blues Jam in Chicago, as well as loads of false starts, band banter, and general studio chaos. Many of the tracks feature Jeremy Spencer and his derivative Elmore James-inspired slide. However, Green’s squawky solos and hip phrases (played on his legendary ’59 sunburst Les Paul with its phasoidal dual-pickup timbres) more than make up for Spencer’s shenanigans. For Green freaks, this is the treasure trove of tone. Well worth the box-set buckage.


Then Play On, 1969

This is the last Fleetwood Mac album to feature Green. He and Kirwan provide some ferocious dueling guitars (“Searching for Madge” and “Fighting for Madge”) and beautiful guitar harmony (“Coming Your Way”). The album also contains two of Green’s most memorable songs—“Oh Well” and “Rattlesnake Shake.”

Live at the Boston Tea Party, Part One-Three, 1970

Recorded during a weekend residency at Beantown’s fabled rock hall, the performances on this three-disc set capture Green’s mojo at its peak. Soon after, he would spiral into mental illness and his playing would no longer have the power evidenced so clearly here. The albums are also available individually, so if you’re not a completist start with Part One, which contains the classics “Black Magic Woman,” “Jumping at Shadows,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” and “The Green Manalishi.” (Green allegedly wrote the latter after a bad acid trip.) The three discs include Spencer’s questionable slide songs and some supremely irritating doo-wop featuring Earl Vance (Spencer’s Elvis-impersonating alter-ego), but when Green and Kirwan dig into their guitars, as in the 25-minute version of “Rattlesnake Shake” on Part Two, the riffage is transcendent.

Shrine ’69, 1969

Green’s cutting, feedback-drenched bends and dynamic phrasing are in full force on this live album, which was recorded when Fleetwood Mac opened for the Mothers of Invention in L.A. There are moments where Green plays like a man possessed, and his Les Paul tone on “Rollin’ Man,” “If You Be My Baby,” “Albatross,” and “Need Your Love So Bad” could change your life. The album’s emotional wallop compensates for some occasionally iffy audio quality.


Live at the BBC, 1967-1971

This mix of oldie parodies, blues, and wacko rockabilly illustrates how the early Fleetwood Mac could be both brilliant and irksome. Green sneaks in a few cool licks, but most of the performances on this two-disc set are lackluster.

The Robert Johnson Songbook, 1998

Though listenable, this collection of Robert Johnson covers lacks the passion of the bluesman’s originals or Green’s best work.

Hot Foot Powder, 2000

Backed by Nigel Watson and the Splinter Group, Green returns to Robert Johnson’s catalog to record the remaining songs that didn’t make it onto Songbook. Despite guest appearances by Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Hubert Sumlin, this is not a fiery guitar album.

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