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PETER GREEN SPLINTER GROUP Blues Don't Change Eagle Records EAGCD483 (2012)

Peter Green Splinter Group

Recorded back in 2001 and originally only available at gigs, 'Blues Don't Change' has now been issued as a sensible mid price release with 12 live in the studio renditions of blues standards that only occasionally recall the magic of the early Fleetwood Mac era Peter Green.

This album has the feel of one of those blues veteran recordings, but by the time of this cut, the Splinter Group had been with Peter Green for some 5 years, which doubtless contributes to their intuitive approach in making the best of a difficult job.

Blues Don't Change' isn't so much a ropey performance as the starkly mapped out gap between unrealistic expectations and the reality at hand. On 'Take Some Insurance' for example, the band hit a cool shuffle as Peter adds his best harp solo of the album, but you somehow sense that it isn't going to get much better than this. Peter's world weary vocals hover between deep routed expression and the more mundane task of completing the song.

Whichever way you look it, this is the blues played by a band worthy of their leader's aura, if not his diminished abilities.

Peter's harp playing is a feature of an album that rarely rises above the pedestrian. Yet you can't fault the band for trying their best to get a performance out of him. On 'When It All Comes Down' they add a call and response sequence which doesn't quite work, and it's in the quieter more reflective moments that we get glimpses of Green's true forte.

The title track is a well chosen highlight on which Peter's croaking vocal brings just enough expression to cut across Roger Cotton's intuitive piano lines and infuse the track with real feel. The band slips into a subtle groove to provide Peter with the opportunity to soak in the ambience and deliver his lines. Similarity 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' is almost the dreamy Peter Green style of old, with Larry Tolfree's crisp percussion and the band restrained performance acting as the perfect foil for some wavering but emotive vocals.

Peter adds more harp over Roger Cotton's delicate piano and Nigel Watson's acoustic on 'Honest I Do', providing another example of Peter's less is more approach. In truth these three tracks provide the highlights with a lamentable version of 'Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out' best forgotten.

'Blues Don't Change' has limited appeal, mainly for Peter Green compleatists and those fans that saw this line-up in action, rather than blues fans in general.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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