PETER GREEN SPLINTER GROUP Album

Artisan SARCD 101

Given his well-publicised tribulations over the past three decades, it is little short of a miracle that Peter Green is still around to play guitar at all, never mind mustering the degree of control exhibited on this comeback offering. The erosion of vocal clarity is another matter, though admittedly less of a drawback in the blues than most other genres. So what if he sings like a sackful of gravel when his six-string diction is so eloquent?

There are no surprises on this mostly live trawl through some old blues classics, though in some cases - particularly a moving version of Little Walter's "Help Me" - the songs acquire a deeper resonance from their relevance to Green's personal struggles. His guitar-playing, while understandably lacking the extreme sensitivity of his work with Fleetwood Mac, is still a matter of wonder, both on the acoustic versions of Robert Johnson songs and the electric readings of Freddie King material which furnish the album's best tracks. Indeed, on a re-run of King's "The Stumble", Green's trademark instrumental from his Bluesbreakers period, you can sense old digits being gradually re-acquainted with youthful disciplines. The only mistake is in the placement of the two (acoustic) studio cuts at the beginning of the album, rather than the end: they are fine performances, but too low- key to lead with. Otherwise, a welcome return.

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