Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 25 January 2015

Album box-set: Peter Green, The Anthology (Salvo)

Drawing on all stages of his career, from early work as a sideman in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Peter Bardens' Looners, through to his resurgence with his own Splinter Group around the cusp of the new millennium, this four-disc compilation gives the most comprehensive portrait so far of the reclusive genius whom no less a fan than BB King acknowledged was "the only guitar player to make me sweat".

You can hear what he means: for Peter Green the blues was more about touch and feel than speed and volume, and the subtlety of his playing cuts deep into your emotions. Listen to his delicate, liquid tone on the original "Black Magic Woman"; or to his diffident approach on Fleetwood Mac's version of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad": this is an artist quietly at work, not some jobbing axe-hero hewing away for ego's sake. His lack of ego torpedoed Green's career just as it was reaching its zenith: there's an air of resignation and almost nihilist apathy in songs such as "Oh Well" and "Man of the World" (with its sombre plaint "I just wish that I had never been born") that was later echoed by Kurt Cobain; mercifully, Green's disenchantment took a less self-destructive form.

Pick of the Album: 'Black Magic Woman', 'Need Your Love So Bad', 'Stop Messin' Around', 'Oh Well Pts 1 & 2', 'The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)'

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