Monday, November 7, 2022

Rick Berthod: “Tribute To Peter Green” (2022) CD Review

Everyone loves Rumours. That record plays like a greatest hits compilation. However, it is not my favorite Fleetwood Mac album. I prefer the early blues stuff before Peter Green left the band. I am especially fond of Then Play On, the last studio album to feature Green before his departure. The title comes from the first line of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.” And the album features such gems as “Coming Your Way,” “Before The Beginning” and “Oh Well” (though that last was apparently not on the original pressing). Blues guitarist and singer Rick Berthod pays tribute to Peter Green on his new album, focusing on those first few Fleetwood Mac records and the early singles. Joining him on this release are Ronee Mac on bass and vocals, Brett Barnes on drums and vibes, and Bill Truitt on organ and piano, along with some guests on certain tracks.

Rick Berthod opens the album with “If You Be My Baby,” a totally delicious blues song from the Fleetwood Mac album Mr. Wonderful. He delivers some nice guitar work during the song’s opening section, and then adds great touches throughout. This track also features Junior Brantley on piano and vocals. I especially love that work on piano, and wish the song went on just a bit longer, for that lead at the end is cool. That song is followed by “Black Magic Woman,” one of Fleetwood Mac’s earliest singles. The song did fairly well, but it was Santana’s cover of it that became the bigger hit. Rick Berthod delivers a really good rendition here. “Got your spell on me baby,” indeed!

“Jumping At Shadows” is an interesting choice for this album, because it wasn’t written by Peter Green, or any other member of Fleetwood Mac. It was written by Duster Bennett, and performed in concert by Fleetwood Mac in those early years. It was included on a live Fleetwood Mac album released in the mid-1980s titled Live In Boston, featuring concert recordings from 1970. Rick Berthod turns in a cool, sincere rendition that includes some excellent stuff on guitar. “There ain’t much to tell/I’m going downhill/I blame myself/But I’ve been jumping at shadows/Thinking about my life.” It’s followed by another song not written by Peter Green, “Need Your Love So Bad.” This one was written and originally recorded by Little Willie John, and recorded by Fleetwood Mac and released as a single in the late 1960s. The version on this album features some great stuff on keys.

Then we get a couple of songs from Then Play On. The first of those is “Oh Well.” On the original Fleetwood Mac single, this song was divided into two parts, the first part being a blues tune, the second part being an instrumental track. Rick Berthod’s version is the first part only, and it has an unexpected and interesting introduction before that familiar heavy rhythm comes in. This is one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, and Rick Berthod digs into it, particularly in his guitar work. It’s not quite as raw as the original, but is really good. The second song from Then Play On is “Rattlesnake Shake,” and Rick Berthod delivers a good, faithful rendition. “Yeah, you do the shake/And shake away the blues/Now shake it.”

“Albatross” is a rather pretty instrumental track that Fleetwood Mac released as a single in 1968. The version contained on this disc begins with the sounds of the ocean to set the mood, and has that wonderfully soothing quality. John Zito plays slide guitar on this track. The track concludes with the sound of waves hitting the shore. That’s followed by “Stop Messin’ Around” (here listed as “Stop Messing Around”), which was the lead track on Fleetwood Mac’s Mr. Wonderful. Rick Berthod’s rendition is lacking the saxophone of the original, but features the work of three guest guitarists – Stoney Curtis, Chris Tofield, and Mike Varney. “Drifting” (here listed as “Driftin’”) is a song that was included on the 1971 record The Original Fleetwood Mac. Rick Berthod delivers a really good vocal performance. “If you could see my woman, you’d realize that nobody could take her place.” The musicians jam on this track, taking the opportunity to stretch out a bit. And as the track fades out, you get the sense that jam goes on quite a bit longer. The album then wraps up with “I Loved Another Woman” (here listed as “Loved Another Woman”), a song with some similarities to “Black Magic Woman.” On this one, Jason Walker joins Rick Berthod on guitar.

CD Track List

  1. If You Be My Baby
  2. Black Magic Woman
  3. Jumping At Shadows
  4. Need Your Love So Bad
  5. Oh Well
  6. Rattlesnake Shake
  7. Albatross
  8. Stop Messing Around
  9. Driftin’
  10. Loved Another Woman

Tribute To Peter Green was released on October 29, 2022.

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