Peter Green Splinter Group – Blues Don’t Change (2012)

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After years of ups and many more downs, Peter Green — the deposed co-founding member of Fleetwood Mac, one-time British guitar hero, and former member of John Mayall’s Bluebreakers — has rediscovered the curative powers of the blues.

And it is here, playing very old tunes (scalding in their honesty, ageless in their sense of community, brutal and beautiful in their intense simplicity) that all of Green’s late-1960s promise comes rushing back.

Blues Don’t Change, a group of 2001 recordings finally being officially issued today, July 24, 2012, on Eagle Records, has only previously been available at Peter Green Splinter Group shows and through the band’s Web site. Green is joined on a slew of classic tracks associated with the likes of Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King, Freddie King and Jimmy Reed on this new release by keyboardist Roger Cotton, bassist Pete Stroud, drummer Larry Tolfree and guitarist/vocalist Nigel Watson.

Green, who was out of music after lengthy bouts with substance abuse problems even as his former group Fleetwood Mac became a multi-platinum West Coast pop juggernaut, finds the robust sense of redemption in songs like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Blues Don’t Change.” At the same time, the group rouses itself with rollicking, foot-stamping runs through “I Believe My Time Ain’t Long” and “Little Red Rooster,” and moves with gritty determination through the emotional turbulence and hard-won victories of sides like “Take Out Some Insurance on Me” and “Honey Bee.”

Then there are songs like “Honest I Do,” a track that in Reed’s hands played like sweetly conveyed, almost whispered words of love. Green approaches the lyric with a devastating sense of nostalgia, like someone who has lost everything — and is just trying to get this one thing back.

It may be too late for Peter Green to similarly regain the audience he once commanded, after so many solo missteps, after so long away. But Blues Don’t Change illustrates, definitively, that Green still has much to say.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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