Blues

Peter Green “In the Skies” (1979)

So, after eight years away from the music scene does Peter Green still have it? Of course he did! This album is almost, for me, a testament to the longevity of raw talent. Considering all that Peter Green had been through throughout the decade, it’s quite something that he could come up with something this good (as well as putting out a record better than 1079’s effort from his former bandmates). The only slight downer is the uncertainty over which songs Peter Green actually plays lead on due to his ill-health, but that doesn’t really detract from the quality of these songs. There’s a really laid back feel to the album, like mellow blues. “A Fool No More” was the only song I’d heard prior to purchasing the album and it’s probably this song that sounds most like Green’s Mac efforts (it was originally written for the first Fleetwood Mac album). The guitar playing and vocals are strong, as they are on the other vocal led tracks “In The Skies”, “Seven Stars” and “Just For You”. “In The Skies”, “Tribal Dance” and “Proud Pinto” have Santana-esque rhythm sections and drums, underpinning the laid back mood and displaying Peter Green’s musical influences. “Slabo Day” has a really nice riff and emotive leads (the sleeve notes state that Snowy White plays lead on this track), and “Apostle” is a beautiful closer to the album, displaying the feel and sensitivity of Green’s compositions. As the first of Peter Green’s many  comebacks, “In The Skies” is a great effort and a worthy addition to the man’s catalogue. –Tom

Taj Mahal “Taj Mahal” (1968)

Taj Mahal’s debut is a perfect example of how The Blues and Rock are one and the same. It smokes from start to finish, greatly thanks to Ry Cooder’s presence on guitar. There’s a lot of use of the word “baby”, but it seems to mean something deeper than when you hear it today in the latest cancerous pop morsel. I’ve always admired singers who seem to be able to sing right from their gut, like Howlin’ Wolf and Taj Mahal. Of course, no Blues album is complete without a reference to a gypsy woman, which Taj Mahal was aware of. hahaha. –Rob

Fleetwood Mac “Then Play On” (1969)

If I was forced to name a favorite album, then I think I might go for “Then Play On”. I can’t really think of another album I consistently enjoy as much. With Danny Kirwan on board the expectation no longer falls squarely on Peter Green’s shoulders and Kirwan’s arrival had already bore fruit with the preceeding “Albatross” and “Man of the World” singles. There’s a much broader feel on here than the previous Fleetwood Mac albums and “Then Play On” includes everything you could want on an album: soul-searching ballads (“Closing My Eyes”, “Before the Beginning”), raucous rock ‘n’ roll (“Coming Your Way”, “Rattlesnake Shake”, “Oh Well (Part One)”), McCartney-esque pop ditties (“Although the Sun is Shining”, “When You Say”), serene instrumentals (“My Dream”, “Underway”, “Oh Well (Part Two)”) and breathtaking jams (“Looking for Madge”, “Fighting for Madge”). Listening to “Then Play On” is particularly interesting when you consider how troubled the chief song writers would become in the ensuing months, years and decades. You can almost sense something ominous on Peter Green’s horizon when listening to “Closing My Eyes”, “Show-Biz Blues” (which includes the line “and you’re sitting there so green, believe me man I’m just the same as you), the acoustic section of “Oh Well” or “Before the Beginning”. There’s something incredibly sad about Peter Green’s contributions here although he still gets down and dirty for “Rattlesnake Shake”, an ode to masterbation. Danny Kirwan proves himself to be a phenomenal song writer with his delicate, beautiful ballads and his album opener “Coming your Way” has an epic guitar outro. There isn’t one dud to be found here and “Then Play On” is never anything less than an engrossing, moving, imaginative, flawless, impressive album from a band who may not have even hit there peak yet. –Tom