The Class of 1970: Peter Green’s ‘The End of the Game’
For the most part, the career of British blues guitarist Peter Green, who passed away in July, could be categorized like this:
Peter Green 1.0 — John Mayall’s Blues Breakers (’66-’67)
Peter Green 2.0 — Fleetwood Mac, Otis Spann, Eddie Boyd (’67-’70)
Peter Green 3.0 — solo career (’79-’84)
Peter Green 4.0 — Peter Green’s Splinter Group (’97-’04)
That is an oversimplification, to be sure, but it includes his major recording and playing highlights. After closing out his time with the band he founded, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, on the brilliant 1969 album Then Play On and concerts into 1970, he appeared on a few albums, including former FMac mate Jeremy Spencer’s eponymous debut and The Answer by Pete Bardens. His mellower solo albums began with In the Skies in 1979.
But there was a one-off, a remarkable psychedelic romp titled The End of the Game, recorded in May and June of 1970 and issued in December on Reprise, the label which had published Then Play On. The album had deep acid rock grooves, mind-bending jazz/rock fusion and free-form magic.
The band featured: Peter Green, guitar; Zoot Money, grand piano; Godfrey MacLean, percussion; Nick Buck, electric piano, organ; Alex Dmochowski, bass guitar. Money was very popular in the U.K. and led his Big Roll Band. Dmochowski recorded with Frank Zappa (’72-’74) and was originally referred to as “Erroneous” on those album credits.
Green produced the session with Martin Birch as recording engineer. The cover design was by Afracadabra, with fabulous photographs by Keystone. It was issued as Reprise RS 6436. All selections were by Green.
The End of the Game
“Bottoms Up” (9:00) is a masterful space jam with Green making full use of his wah-wah pedal while Dmochowski’s bass throbs through the entire track, all driven by MacLean’s power drumming. There is nothing else in Green’s catalog even remotely like this and the following songs. Buck’s electric piano enters the picture about four minutes in, and they romp. This is brilliant power trio +1 rock.
“Timeless Time” (2:30) is a quiet revelation, soft guitar, percussion in the background. If you could imagine “Bottoms Up” on John McLaughlin’s album Devotion, this one would fit in with the music on My Goal’s Beyond.
Zoot Money on grand piano appears first on “Descending Scale” (8:10), followed by Buck on organ, with bass rumbling underneath. MacLean works the cymbals, and then Green roars in, wah-wah pedal again at the fore. This is free-form magic. It quiets down almost to silence, musicians adding bits and pieces atop a consistent rhythm track. Money strums the strings inside the piano, and Green evokes trippy sounds from his guitar.
Dmochowski stands out again and again, this time on “Burnt Foot” (5:12) with Green very reserved as MacLean drives a jazz beat. MacLean takes a brief drum solo before guitar and bass come crashing back into the maelstrom. This is another heady jam; indeed, the entire recording seems to have been a jam session.
“Hidden Depth” (10:06) opens with piano, organ, and more really trippy guitar, lighter and more airy than “Burnt Foot.” The Spotify version below is apparently only half of the original song, which becomes a lovely duet between Money and Green.
The deep acid jam returns with “The End of the Game” (5:10), Green demonstrating again his incredibly range while Dmochowski and MacLean do the same, another power trio jam. They bring the band down as Green noodles over similar incursions from bass and drums.
BONUS CD TRACKS
“The Heavy Heart” (3:21) features that laid-back guitar with some unusual percussion sounds and minimal bass.
“No Way Out” (3:14) is similar to the throbbing sections of “Bottoms Up.” Dmochowski and MacLean are huge here. Green is vocalizing on top of the jam and offering stripped-back guitar sounds atop the rhythm tsunami.
Green sings “Beast of Burden” (4:05) atop more wall-of-sound from guitar, bass, and drums. His guitar runs are searing, and it is double-tracked, because his rhythm playing underneath the leads is superb. This is a powerful message about man’s mistreatment of animals.
“Uganda Woman” (2:51) is another vocal tune. These last two do not match up with the jams on the original album. This is a lovely ballad.
A 50th anniversary edition with the bonus tracks was released earlier this year.