Very quietly, blues legend Peter Green has just released Time Traders, the fifth release by his band the Peter Green Splinter Group since it began in 1996.
The former John Mayall guitar player and founder of Fleetwood Mac was once a leading light of the British blues scene as well as author of some of the era’s classic tunes like “Oh Well” and “Black Magic Woman,” which Santana took to multi-platinum status. Following a two-decade battle with mental illness during which he did menial jobs and was even homeless for a while, he resurfaced as singer and guitar player for the Splinter Group, which was founded by guitar player and longtime friend Nigel Watson, who had previously collaborated with Green on two post Fleetwood Mac singles in the early Seventies.
Time Traders falls in step with prior Splinter Group releases; it’s anchored by mellow, bluesy grooves and a raspy-voiced Green delivers most of the vocals, a little fret-work and some harmonica. Watson and keyboard player Roger Cotton write the lion’s share of the material, but there is a track credited to Green — an informal reworking of “Underway,” a jam from Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 album Then Play On — with friend and former collaborator Snowy White.
“I didn’t write it at all,” says Green about the instrumental. “It was spontaneously composed by the whole lot of us all just playing in the studio and recording whatever we came up with — free form. It’s what I used to play before I had my problems.”
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“Snowy White came by, so we just jammed on it,” adds Watson. “We got in there and just did it in one take.”
In keeping up with the times, the Splinter Group has also made a video of “Real World Blues.” The song, written by Roger Cotton for Green, starts off with the line, “I’d like to think I could make a lot of money and give it all away,” a direct reference to Green aggressively refusing royalty checks at the peak of his mental illness.
“I didn’t want to give it all away!” says Green, laughing. “I found myself feeling this compulsory urge to give it all away, but I never was going to do that. I [just] wanted to contribute something!”
The Splinter Group hopes to follow its current European tour with a U.S. tour in February, and the band has also completed another eleven-track CD, which it plans to sell at shows. “It’s a little blues album of old favorites that we like,” explains Watson. “It’s got [covers of] the three Kings — Freddie, B.B. and Albert — Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf,” explains Watson. We’ve finished it — it’s just got to be mastered and packaged.”