Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Peter Green
End Of The Game

Released 1970 on Reprise
Reviewed by achuma, 29/12/2005ce

[Note: this review was first written in Sept. 2003, and has previously appeared at http://www.progclub.com/phpBB2/index.php under my first name, just in case someone who first saw it there thinks I've ripped it off; I've only ripped off myself for the benefit of you fine folks]

Peter Green was the original lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, but don't let that put you off. The original Mac, for those of you who aren't aware, were not yet the successful hit makers of the later 1970's, whom many readers of these pages will probably know and detest [for those who know but do not detest, my apologies!]. No, the original group were a highly regarded [at least in the U.K.] bunch of blues rock merchants who did indeed make some good music. I haven't heard any Fleetwood Mac which compares to this album, however - indeed, they are pretty tame and very conventional in comparison.
I had seen and ignored this album for many years, with its distinctive front cover featuring a snarling leopard [or is it a jaguar?] and back cover of a snoozing lioness showing off her twat, as nothing had ever given me the impression that it contained anything particularly worth hearing. Indeed, the entry for this LP in The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock [one of my few sources of archival musical tips as a young-'un] reads "There was a half-hearted solo single and album, the End of the Game, in late 1970 - a lacklustre, badly-produced collection of jam tracks which captured little of his former magic". Hah! Whoever wrote that piece of nonsense must have been hoping for something more
predictable, and gee, where are the 'songs'? This is a wholly instrumental album, and indeed it has few conventionally cohesive moments, certainly the mark of an album not destined for commercial success in the world of popular music. However if, like me, you actually have a preference for instrumental non-commercial music - and if you also like the idea of 'free rock' and improvisation - you may well agree that this album is far from lacklustre or magicless [and I wouldn't say that it's badly produced, either].
For this first album after leaving Fleetwood Mac [after which the Mac's horrible metamorphosis began], Peter Green [electric guitar] is joined by Godfrey MacLean [percussion], Alex Dmochowski [bass guitar], Zoot Money [grand piano] and Nick Buck [electric piano and organ]. It's a bit on the short side at around 35 minutes duration, but it does seem a good length for the album - at the end of the last track I feel satisfied with it, anyway.
'Bottoms Up' begins with wandering freeform trio [guitar, bass, drums] jamming, leading into some stomping bass riffing with fluid wah-guitar, a bit reminiscent of the Groundhogs in improv-mode, or Ash Ra Tempel circa side one of 'Join Inn' [though perhaps not as good as that], continuing into funkier rockin' realms. 'Timeless Time' follows discretely with mellow guitar wanderings and tasteful, subtle cymbal washes.
'Descending Scale' announces its jangling presence with hyperactive piano, organ, bass and guitar rumblings - almost free jazz-rock akin to some of Miles Davis' early-70's funky improvs - into really free-form abstract noodlings and weird atmospherics, then becoming more cohesive for a shuffling jazzy and psychedelic improvisation to finish.
'Burnt Foot' is the most rocking and cohesive track on the album, beginning with fluid echo guitar lines hovering over a gradually coalescing bass line that is most definitely both ballsy and funky, constantly changing but never quite settling in one place, into a jazz drum solo, and finally into an absolutely stomping rock-out with piledriving bass, funky wah guitar [somehow heavy yet, as on the whole album, crystal-clean sounding and without resorting to power-riffing], double-kick drum action... ooh yeah! Bring it on! This builds to a certain level of pumping intensity [actually at
this point you can just make out the only discernable vocal sounds on the album - seems like one of the guys was having such a ball he couldn't help but wail out, which was probably picked up by a drum-mike] and then subsides neatly into the next track.
In 'Hidden Depth', crystalline keyboard trills and that oh-so-sweet fluid guitar again preside over the proceedings, underpinned by subtle and effective bass and drums improvisation. This piece has a kind of gently rolling tranquil seaside sunset vibe.
'The End of the Game' closes the album with some fairly loose noodling which seems to be building up to something and never quite gets there. It leads to an atmospheric tension that is also kind of relaxed, oddly enough.
Then, before you know it the album is over. No memorable hooks to sing to yourself while waiting for a bus, so you'll just have to listen again and again to this timeless music! This shouldn't be too hard to find either on CD or second-hand vinyl.

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