Tribute to Peter Green (The Fleetwood Mac Years)
A Beautiful and Thoughtful Homage to a Forgotten Master Blues Guitarist.
Rick Berthod appears to have been around the American Blues scene forever, playing alongside and/or supporting most of the Legends in a career that has also produced 8 previous albums; and today he finds himself fronting the house band at The House of Blues in Las Vegas.
A couple of nights ago I was out with some ex-colleagues; all younger than me and mostly music fans. After a couple of pints I got mischievous; asking “who was the guitarist in Fleetwood Mac?”
To a man they agreed on Lindsay Buckingham; and when I asked the follow up; “Not Peter Green?” Their faces were left scrunched up, as they didn’t know who I was talking about …. although they had heard (of) Albatross.
Which is why this album is a) an oddity and b) essential listening for the younger generation.
OK there probably is a version of the legendary Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits floating around e-Bay; but Rick Berthod’s song selection and beautiful homage to a Master Guitarist is well worth checking out; and/or giving as a Christmas present.
Although the opening track, If You Be My Baby isn’t one of the better known tracks from this period; but the guitar playing is simply ‘liquid gold’ …. no; scrub that ….. ‘liquid platinum’ and it never leaves that trajectory all the way through to the finale Loved Another Woman.
The other thing about that opening song; is Berthod’s voice; beautiful yet melancholic and simply aching with the longing that these songs all conjure up.
When I was at senior school in the 70’s selecting and then defending your selection of Favourite Guitarist was a key part of the day; and while I was always a Rory Gallagher fan; Peter Green was always a great back up.
Coming back to the album and it’s contents; when I first scanned the track list my first thoughts were “does the world need another version of Black Magic Woman?”
Well; in this case … yes. Berthod slows it down to a feisty shuffle and after a minute or so you forget that Carlos Santana ever recorded his version; as this is short, sharp and timeless; with a vocal performance worthy of a Chicago speakeasy in the mid 60’s.
There a few songs here that I either can’t remember or have not heard before; but the sting in the tail that Rattlesnake Shake left me was staggering; and if I’d heard Stop Messing Around in a ‘blind tasting’ I’d have sworn it was from John Mayall’s ‘Beano’ album, featuring the best guitar playing Eric Clapton ever managed.
The Peter Green Classics are all here of course; and are all played with loving care and not a note out of place; most notably on the sublime Need Your Love So Bad (with additional Prof Longhairesue piano interludes) and Oh Well; which both benefit from Berthod’s distinctive world weary vocals; which puts a new spin on them; as they now sound like the original youngster, looking back on life in 2022.
Albatross is …. well…. Albatross; spellbinding of course; and had to be included, but no one is ever, ever going to compete with Green on his Masterwork, will there?
On an album like this I always look for something unexpected as a Favourite Track; and here there are another two songs that I have no memory of and both stopped me dead in my tracks as I tried to do some paperwork.
Jumpin’ At Shadows is heartbreakingly beautiful and with hindsight; sounds as if it was written many years after Green left The Mac, as it sounds like a love story to the man himself; and there are times the guitar playing brought tears to my eyes the first time I played it.
The other, in the tie; is the majestic Driftin’ … which fits in somewhere between Hank B Marvin, Clapton and Joe Bonamassa in the guitar stakes (remember what I said about ‘liquid platinum’ …. but here it’s the actual song; Blues so dark it’s almost black that I’ve fallen in love with!
It’s a Peter Green ‘original’ but I’m pretty damn sure he was immersing himself in BB Kings older albums before writing it.
So; my overall thoughts? I like it …. a lot; mostly because of Berthold’s lovely and ‘lived in’ vocals sufficiently different from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘originals’ to make it well worth recommending … esp if you know a young person (under 50 hahaha) who doesn’t know who Peter Green was.
Released October 29th 2022
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