Wednesday, 16 September 2020

"On The Shore" by TREES – February 1971 UK Second and Last Studio Album on CBS Records - featuring Celia Humphris, David Costa, Tobias 'Bias' Boshell, Barry Clarke and (Stephen) Unwin Brown (February 2007 and July 2008 Europe and UK Sony/BMG 2CD Reissue (First in a Card Digipak, Second in a Jewel Case) – Paschal Byrne (CD1) and Adrian Hardy (CD2) Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...







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"...Sally Free And Easy..."

In his superlative 2010 oversized paperback book "The Great Folk Discography Volume 1: Pioneers and Early Legends" – king of discography tomes Martin Strong tells of how passionate fans of the second and last album by England's Trees describe it as the "...cat's pyjamas". 

They might do, others aren't so generous, calling them derivative Fairport Convention clones where the soloing parts go on for too long. And as ever, the dapper dude of facts is bang on the even-handed money with his fair and realistic in-between appraisal of 7 out of 10. Some history...

Formed in 1969 London through a circle of mutually interested friends - TREES made two rather good albums that received praise but sold diddly squat and then disbanded in 1972 broken-hearted and broke (would we have it any other way). Both their British CBS LPs (neither received US releases) have been darlings of the Prog-Folk collecting scene for years. Quickly deleted and listed at sums in excess of £400 and £450 respectively ever since – they can easily sell for twice that and more in genuine Mint condition (they had flimsy card sleeves and are notoriously difficult to find in good nick). 

As luck would have it, singer Cee-Loo Green and Producer Danger Mouse of the British chart-topping act Gnarls Barkley sampled the Acid Folk guitar and drums sound of Side 2's "Geordie” on their 2006 track "St. Elsewhere" – thereby bringing the group's sound and their two rare albums to a wider public. Suddenly Folk, Folk Rock, Psych Folk, Acid Folk and all its myriad variants became the new cool (so said the influential taste-barometer of London's "Time Out" magazine). Reissue giant Sanctuary of the UK even released a CD called "Garden Of Delights" in 2006 on Sanctuary DQFCD022 (Barcode 5050441402227) – a folk compilation compiled by Pete Lawrence and AJ of The Big Chill Radio programme. And although our heroes weren't featured on that set, it gave Folk-Rock bands with a historical twist like Trader Horne, Dransfield, Mr. Fox, Fotheringay, Pentangle and Gryphon pride of place when these troubadours and contemporaries of Trees had remained underground cult acts for decades. It was only a matter of time before reissue attention turned to these melodious rarities...

Newly Remastered in 2007, both Trees albums saw proper appreciation in lovely Sony CD Reissues in August and September of 2008 – 16-page booklets, band involvement in the mastering and even newly formed tracks from old tapes. Both are expanded editions, April 1970's debut album "The Garden Of Jane Delawney" with four bonuses on a single CD while February 1971's "On The Shore" is stretched to an extra nine bonuses on CD No. 2. They have been done before, but not as good as this. 

There are actually two variants of this 2CD Reissue; the first issued February 2007 on Sony/BMG 88697057652 (Barcode 886970576529) came in a gatefold digipak. That was deleted and replaced with a jewel case version in 2008. It's that reissue we're dealing with...to the details...

UK released 8 July 2008 – "On The Shore" by TREES on Sony/BMG Music Entertainment 88697316542 (Barcode 886973165423) is a 2CD Expanded Edition Jewel Case Version Reissue with Nine Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows:


CD1 "On The Shore" Album (49:02 minutes):

1. Soldiers Three [Side 1]

2. Murdoch 

3. Streets Of Derry 

4. Sally Free And Easy 

5. Fool [Side 2]

6. Adam's Toon 

7. Geordie 

8. While The Iron Is Hot

9. Little Sadie 

10. Polly On The Shore 

Tracks 1 to 10 are their second and last studio album "On The Shore" - released February 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64168 (no US release). Produced by TONY COX - it didn't chart. 


CD2 BONUS TRACKS (41:59 minutes):

1. Soldiers Three (Remix)

2. Murdoch (Remix)

3. Streets Of Derry (Remix)

4. Fool (Remix)

5. Geordie (Remix) 

6. Little Sadie (Remix)

7. Polly On The Shore (Remix) 

8. Forest Fire (Original 1971 BBC Recording) 

9. Little Black Cloud (1970 Demo)


TREES was:

CELIA HUMPHRIS – Lead Vocals

BARRY CLARKE – Lead and Acoustic Guitars

DAVID COSTA – Acoustic Guitar, Electric 12-String Guitar and Dulcimer

TOBIAS 'BIAS' BOSHELL - Bass, Acoustic 12-String Guitar, Piano and Vocals

(STEPHEN) UNWIN BROWN – Drums, Percussion and Vocals

With help from band-members Boshell and Humphris, uber-fan and champion of the flame STEWART LEE has written the affectionate, illuminating and witty liner notes to this elegant Sony/BMG CD reissue. They enlighten us on the mysteries of their two highly revered Psych-Folk albums - April 1970's "The Garden Of Jane Delawney" and "On The Shore" which followed only 10-months later in February 1971. The text is peppered with super-cool period photos and unbelievably, out-takes from the Hipgnosis/Storm Thorgerson cover shoot of a giddy Katherine Meehan swishing her drink in the garden (she's the daughter of Tony Meehan from the Shadows). There are also explanations dated January 2007 on the Disc 2 bonuses – for instance that Celia added Harmony Vocals to the "Streets Of Derry" remix that the band felt had always been missing – lost Bob Harris sessions for the BBC in 1971 now found and aired and even an obscure demo. The Trees website is in fact called ontheshore.net after this weird, lovely and ethereal LP. 

PASCHAL BYRNE of Audio Archiving did the Remasters for the album on CD1 with restoration and mastering done by BIAS BOSHELL and ADRIAN HARDY for the nine extras on CD2. This is a fabulous listen – care and attention given to the transfers - and along with the lush presentation of the booklet and picture CDs – gives me a thrill to see and hear these records in such top quality again. To the music...

Sounding like its history-steeped title, the two-minutes of "Soldiers Three" recalls money-lacked and the demon-drink luring gullible lads into bad decisions (the Bass and Acoustic guitars are beautifully clear). Up next is one of this album's substantial tracks "Murdoch" - chosen for Grapefruit's June 2017 Mini Clamshell Box Set "Milk Of The Tree..." - a 3CD Anthology set exploring female singers in Folk and Folk Rock between 1966 and 1973. The lead vocals of Celia Humphris is the gal in question, singing here about Harvest Moons and rivers of sand to the south and pagan myths hard to grasp - a song that literally came to Tobias Boshell in a dream (to this day he still can't quite explain it). For many this is where the 'sound' of Trees begins proper - the guitars of Barry Clarke and David Costa battling into Folk Rock that isn't quite Fairport Convention (although you can still so hear Richard Thompson's lead guitar style influencing everything) but something slightly different - perhaps something a bit more spacey as they stretch out.

Complaints of the same (long solos) are often levied at the 7:32 minutes of the "Streets Of Derry" – a Traditional air completely reworked. But I would argue that its precisely the way Trees organised the song that makes it – a muddle of guitars to begin with, soon succumbing to Celia's lone voice as it holds stage like a shimmer, then a Bass builds instruments into a very 1974 Richard Thompson "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" groove. It isn't cluttered – it's brill and cleverly paced. Side 1 ends with 10:08 minutes of the majestic and epic "Sally Free And Easy" – a rapid keyboard roll opening making it feel like a Keystone Cops movie reel before it mellows down into melodious piano notes – like great early Elton John. As the acoustic guitars then slip in like trickling water, you can feel that the album has produced its first genuine magical moment. Trees weren't the first or last act to sense something special in the Cyril Tawney tune "Sally Free And Easy" – Pentangle would do their version on the "Solomon's Seal" album (Transatlantic Records in 1972) while Marianne Faithfull had touched upon the song as far back as 1966 on her third LP "North Country Maid" on Decca.

Side 2 opens with "Fool", 5:09 minutes of philosophy and untimely incidents and the world turning oddly in 1971. That bevy of guitar overdubs in "Fool" feels lighter for sure but its not as un-muddied as I would have liked. At 1:10 minutes, the acoustic instrumental "Adam's Toon" feels like a vibe interlude that probably didn't need to be there. But it is quickly followed by something that does - as I walked out one misty morning over London Bridge - our hero meets a lamenting maid in the atmospheric swirl of "Geordie". You can so hear why the plaintive drums and guitar passage at its centre was such a draw to samplers - Barry Clarke channelling his inner Richard Thompson and Tom Verlaine as he plays that great lead. 

"While The Iron Is Hot" is all nineteenth century history telling us of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and workingmen shipped off to Australia in search of a living wage (it bursts into a wild guitar solo just when you least expect it). "Little Sadie" is a pretty little tune in the vein of Country-Folk Matthews Southern Comfort - a tale of young lad called Lee accused of mowing young Sadie down – a crime he denies. And the album finishes in the merry month of May when "Polly On The Shore" finds a cocky youth being warned to avoid bad company lest he too end up in stocks (another great Folk-Rock groove - you can so hear why this cut makes its way onto so many compilations).   

In some ways CD2 is even better for us that have grown up with the album. You get seven 'remix' versions of albums tracks done by surviving members of Trees alongside a badly recorded 1971 BBC session and a 1970 piano/vocal demo that just about rises above bootleg standard. Neither tracks 8 or 9 interested me much and disappointed a lot. But the remixes are different beasts entirely - my fave being an extended "Murdoch" that pushes the 5:08 of the original up to 6:35 minutes by adding acoustic passages. You can also feel the slight and subtle changes in the others - sympathetically boosting the oomph in recordings previously lacking - very cleverly done.

In September 2020, this 2CD reissue of "On The Shore" by Trees is available for less than seven quid new, and even cheaper on the used market. I'd suggest that's a deal you might want to haul into your parlour and get cosy with by the peat fire. I've also reviewed the Sony/BMG CD reissue of their 1970 debut "The Garden Of Jane Delaney" (use Barcode 886973567128 to locate it) - another acquaintance worth warming too...

"...It's A Visual Medium, My Dear..." - BOMBSHELL on BLU RAY - A Review by Mark Barry...


"...It's A Visual Medium My Dear..." - Bombshell on BLU RAY

Trump defenders and other history re-writing knob-heads have derided this December 2019 movie because his vicious Presidential campaign that displayed his appalling 'locker-room' attitudes towards women is featured large in "Bombshell" and in a not so warm and fuzzy post Nobel Peace Prize Nominee light. 

But I still thought despite a few missteps into convenient naivety on the part of smart women that would know men's lust and the kickbacks they would want for career advancement - "Bombshell" is still a stunning ballsy film about a very awkward subject indeed. 

Featuring a truly exceptional cast - especially the three leading ladies - Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie play seemingly successful glamorous women working varying positions in the toxic environment of News TV USA - where the quips are scripted and the tables the babes sit behind are see-through for leggy-rating reasons and not their Feng Shui set aesthetic.

The three Hollywood heavy-hitters are backed up to the hilt by a virtual army of top-drawer support cast placements - Kate McKinnon, Rob Delaney, Liv Hewson, Mark Duplass, Stephen Root, Connie Britton and many more fine actors you will know (award winners galore). And this is before we get to Alison Janney as a lawyer and Malcolm McDowell as a convincing Rupert Murdoch – the Australian media magnate who ultimately owned Fox and the News Of The World rag in the UK.

But more than most starry vehicles like this - "Bombshell" has the conviction of the leading ladies - a belief in the subject matter that seems to emanate from literally every pore of them. Theron is amazing at Megyn Kelly, an out-front Fox gal with a sharp tongue, a questionable past she'd rather forget and a husband in Mark Duplass that supports her no matter what is hitting the fan. 

Robbie too defies her extraordinary beauty to actually move you. There is a scene where Margot's character Kayla calls her 'secret friend' on her mobile. Kayla is stood outside a city restaurant at night with a male date abandoned inside wondering what happened to the gorgeous woman he arrived with. From a scene earlier in the movie where Kayla enters Roger Ailes' upper floor office (and you just know as does she that they're not going to discuss baking cookies for the boy scouts) – Kayla is being eaten alive on the inside with guilt. An admired Anchor Woman who isn’t afraid to ask hard-hitting questions (Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson) has had enough and filed a personal lawsuit against her ex boss Roger Ailes for physical and mental harassment. But he of course has been spreading terror in his own sly way and closing down leaks in his staff with ruthless precision. Crying on her mobile, Kayla should speak out – should support her co-workers – should do the right thing – but Robbie's character feels filthy - like oil has been poured over her and she can't shower it off. In a truly moving performance, Robbie makes you feel every second of this woman's disgust and humiliation - because she gave in - in order to get on – Roger’s secret rallying cry to newbees during interviews. Its powerfully told and brilliantly staged and a moment where the hurt becomes palatable and real.

But once again - and after his incredible turns as Churchill in "The Crown" and a lawyer in the brill but overlooked "Perry Mason" - it's John Lithgow who utterly amazes as the repulsive and reptilian Roger Ailes - top dog at the biggest and most influential media outlet in the USA – FOX NEWS. A vehicle of supposed truthful public information that has the ear of Presidents and powerful lobby groups, head honcho Lithgow is like a squat toad licking his lips as his prey wanders into his office only to be told to do a twirl because TV is a '...visual medium, my dear...' 

All through the film – Ailes rants – he raves – he demands – he spouts bile. His arrogance knows no bounds and is accompanied with an incrimination-repulsing charade of being Mr. Helpful and Mr. Nice Guy to his staff. Rumours have abounded in quiet rest room conversations, but no one has ever had proof or dared take on the tyrant. Lithgow is amazing throughout all of these permeations. But then he gives you more. Just like the media snakes Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein (whose similar abuse and shadows loom in the background) - there is Roger Ailes agog - his absolute incredulity at being caught – not displaying the tiniest bit of empathy or sorrow for the misery and degradation he's caused so many women trying to legitimately get on in a male-dominated world. It takes big acting chops to fill these fat and loathsome shoes and Lithgow is simply priceless in the role – nailing the boundless narcissism of the man to a point where he might actually make your skin crawl. Oscar nominations ahoy methinks...and not just for him...

"Bombshell" could have been a preach-fest too or a 'who looks best in a short skirt' pervy flick (and at times it has to be both to show the culture at Fox – many of the women are wearing pants by the end of the movie when the story breaks). But the writing from Charles Randolph (he did "The Big Short") and the direction from Jay Roach are smart enough to not go down that road except to illuminate. Combine this with a cast that knows they are working on genuinely important material and you really do 'feel' the women's bravery and their fear in the face of such life-destroying power. The picture quality on the BLU RAY is gorgeous too and the extras very illuminating.

"Bombshell" is not perfect for sure, but I still thought this movie the bomb (if you'll forgive the obvious pun) – brave, timely and so horribly necessary. Well done to everyone involved...

Monday, 14 September 2020

"Wet Willie/Wet Willie II" by WET WILLIE – August 1971 US Debut LP and August 1972 US Second Studio Albums - Both On Capricorn Records (3 July 2020 UK Beat Goes On Reissue – 2LPs onto 1CD – Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Have A Good Time... "


Formed in 1969 and hailing out Mobile, Alabama – WET WILLIE moved to Macon, Georgia in 1970 where they were influenced by and knew people around The Allman Brothers – that good-time Blues Boogie supergroup already signed of course to Capricorn Records – home of all things Southern American Rock.

 

Taking their name from a prank (and not something ruder my dear) and firmly in the arena of say Grinderswitch or The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie's brand of Blues-infused Swamp Rock 'n' Roll took its time to strike a note with listeners in the USA. Not charting until their third album, and not surprisingly from the live arena where they were best suited - "Drippin Wet/Live" hit the Billboard LP charts in May 1973 and peaking at a modest No.189. With Lynyrd Skynyrd in full flow by 1974 and already onto their fantastic second album "Second Coming" - the one with "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Call Me the Breeze" on it - Wet Willie's next from May 1974 rode the wave of that popularity. Their fourth record - the studio set "Keep On Smilin'" - made them a name in the USA and peaked at No. 41. Never quite huge like their contemporaries in twin-guitars crime - there have, however, been no less than six other albums (including a Greatest Hits set) that charted in the lower end of the US Top 200 after that - right up until 1979. They are still a popular band in the South where Mama likes her Red Hot Chickens and Grits Ain't Groceries...

 

In the UK, however, Wet Willie meant very little, their debut released November 1971 on an Atlantic Records Plum Label LP with imported US gatefold artwork and (because it sold naught) every album thereafter unreleased in Blighty. You had to seek out "II" as an import and I recall there simply weren't that many copies around at the time. Which brings us here...

 

This July 2020 digital-twofer from England's Beat Goes On (BGO) goes back to Wet Willie beginnings – the Allmans meets Elvin Bishop groove of the debut LP from 1971 aside its funkier Area Code 615 vs. Little Feat follow-up from 1972 (both on Capricorn Records). Lumped together and remastered onto one generously timed CD, it’s not all genius by any stretch of the imagination (lack of fiery guitars and actual killer tunes), but each LP genuinely has moments well worth savouring and Butterfield-type Harmonica playing that thrills (their second helping very definitely a notch up on the first). Let's get to the details and have a good time...

 

UK released 3 July 2020 - "Wet Willie/Wet Willie II" by WET WILLIE on Beat Goes on BGOCD 1419 (Barcode 5017261214195) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (76:33 minutes):

 

1. Have A Good Time [Side 1]

2. Dirty Leg

3. Faded Love

4. Spinning Round

5. Low Rider

6. Rock And Roll Band [Side 2]

7. Pieces

8. Shame, Shame, Shame

9. Beggar Song

10. Fool On You

Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album "Wet Willie" - released August 1971 in the USA on Capricorn Records SD 861 and November 1971 in the UK on Atlantic Records 2400 162 using imported US gatefold cover art. Produced by EDDIE OFFORD - it didn't chart in either country

 

11. Shout Bamalama [Side 1]

12. Love Made Me

13. Red Hot Chicken

14. It Hurts Me Too

15. Keep A Knockin' [Side 2]

16. Airport

17. Grits Ain't Groceries

18. Shotgun Man

19. Shaggi's Song 

Tracks 11 to 19 are their second studio album "Wet Willie II" - released August 1972 in the USA on Capricorn Records CP 0109 (no UK release). Produced by EDDIE OFFORD - it didn't chart

 

WET WILLIE was:

JIMMY HALL - Vocals, Harmonica, Tenor Sax and Percussion

RICKY HIRSCH - Lead Guitar and Background Vocals

JOHN ANTHONY – Electric Piano, Organ, Piano and Background Vocals

JACK HALL - Bass Guitar and Background Vocals

LEWIS ROSS – Drums and Percussion

WICK LARSEN – Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Acoustic and Moog (2nd LP only)Guests:

Donna Hall – Backing Vocals on "Beggar Song"

Ella Avery - Backing Vocals on "Shout Bamalama"

Susie Storm - Backing Vocals on "Shaggi's Song"

Scott Bayer – Pedal Steel Guitar on "Love Made Me" and "Shaggi's Song"

 

The card slipcase lends these BGO reissues a feel of class and the 16-page booklet with new NEIL DANIELS liner notes not only provides original artwork, but also gives a full band history including interviews with founder Vocalist and band custodian Jimmy Hall. If I was to criticize, it’s that these liner notes spend more time telling you about the group's history than the actual album's they're reissuing. For instance fellow Birmingham, Alabama songwriter Frank Friedman gave four songs to the debut and would later join Wet Willie - the notes don’t mention this or that his "Beggar Song" (from the debut) was sampled by Jay-Z.

 

The remasters are by long-standing Audio Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON and while Daniels claims in the liner notes that the audio on the debut is great while the second is a tad lacking (compressed) - I'd argue that it’s the other way around. The debut is a 'getting there/stepping stone' affair and feels ever so slightly clunky. But with EDDIE OFFORD of Yes fame at the Production helm - it still sounds great to me. The funkier follow-up goes up a notch - way better Audio-wise. Sure it feels manic in places - a little rough and loose around the collar, but much better for it - the band playing with conviction and using sexier rhythms and tunes (including some inspired covers). To the music...

 

A Dr. John piano groove opens "Have A Good Time" - Lead Singer Jimmy Hall advising us to "...forget all your troubles...leave them behind..." Despite some crappy machismo lyrics like "...she don't need to be a beauty queen..." - the second cut "Dirty Leg" introduces some lowdown funky clavinet keyboards - like Foghat had discovered Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" three years before the event. Fellow Alabama songwriter Friedman provides the first of four tunes - a rather sappy piano ballad called "Faded Love" - its title summing up how dated it now feels in 2020. "Spinning Round" is so much better - Hall informing us that even though he's kinda ugly, he's still a ton of fun to be with (great guitar work in this one as it fades out). "Low Rider", "Fool On You" and tunes like "Rock And Roll Band" are ok but reaching - none with a tune that is memorable. Better is "Pieces" where our Southern hero contemplates what he's worth as he looks around at the little he owns. But for me the best cut is the slinky groove achieved in "Beggar Song" - Donna Hall providing subtle background vocals - Wet Willie sounding not unlike England's Snafu all funked up.  

 

Probably short on original tunes, four of the nine on platter number two are covers - a rollicking Side 1 opener in "Shout Bamalama" from Otis Redding, very cool struttin' Blues with "It Hurts Me Too" by Elmore James, the manic Little Richard rocker "Keep A Knockin'" (which I swear England's Fumble nicked note for note for their version on "Poetry In Lotion" album in 1975 on RCA Records) and Titus Turner's "Grits Ain’t Groceries" made famous by Little Milton on Checker in 1968. All great - but my crave is a fantastic instrumental (few vocal shouts) called "Red Hot Chicken" - Hall on Saxophone and Harmonica as the band gets Funky Rock worthy of any Little Feat vs. Area Code 615 jam. It's 4:46 minutes in a 'funky funky' moment in the Rock world that will appeal to Soul boys and dancers alike.

 

For sure there is a very definite feeling that Wet Willie lacked the sheer musical attack and tunes of Lynyrd Skynyrd or say The Allman Brothers - but Hall and Co. could Paul Butterfield Blues Band with the best of them and that long-standing vibe began here. And the Remasters rock too...

 

PS: Other BGO Reissues covering WET WILLIE are:

1. Keep On Smilin' (May 1974)/Dixie Rock (March 1975) - 2LPs onto 1CD

Released June 2009 on Beat Goes On BGOCD873 (Barcode 5017261208736)


2. The Wetter The Better (March 1976)/Left Coast Live (May 1977)

Released August 2013 on Beat Goes On BGOCD1087 (Barcode 5017261210876)


3. Mannerisms (January 1978)/Which One's Willie? (May 1979)

Released December 2013 on Beat Goes On BGOCD1133 (Barcode 5017261211330)

Saturday, 12 September 2020

"The End Of The Game" by PETER GREEN [of Fleetwood Mac] – December 1970 UK and USA Debut Solo LP on Reprise Records featuring Zoot Money and Nick Buck on Keyboards, Alex Dmochowski on Bass and Godfrey MacLean on Drums (February 2020 UK Esoteric Recordings 50th Anniversary Expanded Edition CD Reissue with Four Bonus Tracks – Paschal Byrne Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...






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"...Descending Scale..."

 

Fans are a funny bunch (me included). I've tried in vain for over 50 years to actually like the whole of this record - but in truth I can stand only two tracks. Its always felt like a contract-outer Green slapped together (he owed them a solo LP, so let Reprise have whatever emerged from a five-hour studio session one night in a central London studio) and to say that most of it is underwhelming is an understatement. I've returned to it across the decades because I worship at the feet of all things Mac (and in all their many band line-up incarnations), but other than two out of six, naught doing...

 

Yet there are others who proclaim "The End Of The Game" a masterpiece – a joy incarnate and an unfairly forgotten gem from the beginning of the Seventies. Well at least this new and very prettily put together February 2020 CD reissue and remaster from those terribly decent chaps over at Cherry Red's Esoteric Recordings gives me another chance to reassess Greeny's first solo effort from 1970 (bolstered up into a 50th Anniversary Extended Edition by four fan-pleasing extras of rare stand-alone single-sides). But again, on re-hearing it, alas, this is no "In The Skies" from 1979 (and that was only partially good as well). To the bared teeth and the net-trouncing repercussions of such dissent...

 

UK released Friday, 21 February 2020 - "The End Of The Game" by PETER GREEN on Esoteric Recordings QECLEC2710 (Barcode 5013929481084) is a '50th Anniversary Expanded Edition CD Reissue and Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks' in a Card Digipak that plays out as follows (48:47 minutes):

 

1. Bottoms Up [Side 1]

2. Timeless Time

3. Descending Scales

4. Burnt Foot [Side 2]

5. Hidden Depth

6. The End Of The Game

Tracks 1 to 6 are his first solo album after Fleetwood Mac "The End Of The Game" - released December 1970 in the UK on Reprise RSLP 9006 (reissued November 1971 on Reprise K 44106) and February 1971 in the USA on Reprise RS 6436. Produced by PETER GREEN - it didn't chart in either country.

 

BONUS TRACKS:

7. Heavy Heart

8. No Way Out

Tracks 7 and 8 are the non-album A&B-sides of a June 1971 UK 7" single on Reprise RS 27012

It was reissued in November 1971 in the UK on Reprise K 14092

Credited to PETER GREEN - Side 1 by Peter Green, Nigel Watson, Chris Kelly and Mataya Clifford Cheweluza – Side 2 by PG and Nigel Watson

9. Beasts Of Burden

10. Uganda Woman

Tracks 9 and 10 are the non-album A&B-sides of a January 1972 UK 7" single on Reprise K 14141

Credited to NIGEL WATSON and PETER GREEN - Side A by both, Side B by Nigel Watson

 

The card digipak is pretty to look at with a tiger pictured CD label and a 12-paged booklet featuring new MALCOLM DOME liner notes that at last illuminate this strange LP. There are two classy black and whites photos of Green with his trademark Gibson in hand. Zoot Money also gives poignant recollections of the marathon five-hour sessions (written obviously before PG passed) – talking on fans still wanting copies signed by him fifty years after the event – fondly remembering 10-minute breaks with biscuits and other substances that weren't perhaps digestives. It's a nicely presented card digipak and does his legacy proud given his horrible passing in July of 2020. The Audio is a new PACHAL BYRNE 24-bit Digital Remaster from original tapes and is a vast improvement on the crappy 90s edition CD I've had for decades with a gatefold information-less inlay and dullard sound. To the music...

 

The ambling nine-minutes of "Bottoms Up" opens Side 1 and just sort of instrumental noodles its way to a nowhere finish. At least the pretty 2:38 minutes of "Timeless Time" features some lovely touches on the fretboard and the Remaster has given this majestic little ditty beautiful clarity. We end the side with 8:18 minutes of free-flowing Jazz-Rock where Zoot Money's keyboards make their presence known big time. It's all bass plucking, high-hat snaking and feels like an impromptu jam – which is exactly what it is. Greeny turns up about 1:38 minutes in and they go into whig-out mode – his guitar playing probably the most Jazz and experimental its ever been.

 

"Burnt Foot" opens Side 2 with 5:16 minutes of an instrumental jam – the remaster making the Alex Dmochowski Bass notes so clear. "Burnt Fool" feels a little Miles Davis in its reaching for something that remains ever out of reach. Green roles those notes on his guitar while Godfrey Maclean gets to flourish and solo on his Drums. My other big like on the album is "Hidden Depth", 4:54 minutes of piano and guitar that deceptively begins in Funky-Rock mode – Zoot jabbing away on the Grand Piano as Green solos. But then it quietens down about a minute in and suddenly "Hidden Depth" feels etherial – like an "Albatross" or "Dragonfly" moment – the instrumental toing-and-froing between Green and Money being gorgeous all the way to its fade-out end. The album's title track "The End Of The Game" finishes proceedings but although his playing is firey, it all feels like fun for them but not much else for us. The singles are terrible – both of them – regularly received 2, 3 and 4 out of ten ratings on Net sites – the magic quite clearly gone ("Heavy Heart" was actually given a 'Top Of The Pops' outing). Still fans will love the fact that their rare four sides are on CD at last and in cracking audio too.

 

In November 1971, Reprise Records UK reissued the January 1970 solo LP "Jeremy Spencer" by Jeremy Spencer of Fleetwood Mac on Reprise K 44105 – one catalogue number below the reissue of Peter Green's "The End Of The Game" on Reprise K 44106. Spencer's wildly confusing effort featured cod Rock and Roll and parodies of retro material threw most people and appalled many into the bargain – never even receiving a US release. In fact it wasn't until January 2015 that Real Gone Music of the USA gave it a proper CD remaster on RGM-0409 (Barcode 6546987290040) – its first official outing on CD with a 45 B-side rarity tagged on as a Bonus Track. I mention ace axeman Jeremy Spencer and his first solo platter because both his album and Greeny's "The End Of The Game" elicit something of the same response – reverence and revulsion in equal measure. One man's poison is another man's nectar...

 

Fans will absolutely have to own this 2020 Expanded Edition CD variant of "The End Of The Game" by Peter Green because of the great new audio, the classy presentation and those four rare bonus cuts. But others might want to nab a listen first before being swayed by nostalgia. I'm off now to play "Then Play On" and restore my faith in him and them...

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