Peter Green

Soho Sessions

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Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London, this two-disc set captures much of the essence of Green with the Splinter Group, his backing outfit for the last several years. And it's an interesting mix of material they come out with, from blues covers, a set of Robert Johnson material, as well as a trawl through the old Fleetwood Mac songbook -- which might well be the big draw here. However, welcome as it is to have Green back as a regular performer, he's not the man he once was, and it's notable the guitar solos aren't defined -- you can never tell who's playing, as colleague Nigel Watson has his tone and style down perfectly. In many ways, the most satisfying segment comes with six Robert Johnson tracks, which arrive without Green baggage or expectation, and really do satisfy, while the addition of the Street Angels, a gospel group, on vocals, strengthens the sound, which already has plenty of backbone. "The Supernatural," once one of Green's most incisive instrumentals, seems to have lost its bite -- but that's true of all the old material. "Green Manalishi" was heavy as lead when it originally appeared, and now it's weightless, while the subtleties of "Albatross" have vanished, and "Black Magic Woman" seems oddly formless. This isn't to say it's a bad album by any means. It's perhaps unfortunate that Green has to deal with his own history. There are moments when the old genius shines, but they're few and far between. He's lived the blues, but his ability to transform that into music has mostly vanished. Satisfying if you take it on its own terms and don't expect the god-like playing that once defined Peter Green, the Soho Session is a British blues outfit with taste, chops, and occasional transcendent moments.