Peter Green was one of the most promising and talented guitarists of his generation, someone who in just a few short years had influenced everyone from Carlos Santana to Gary Moore, and even Jimmy Page. Having written such seminal songs as “Albatross”, “Black Magic Woman”, “The Green Manalishi”, along with one of my personal favourites, “The Supernatural”, an instrumental from his days when he was a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
As unofficial leader of Fleetwood Mac, this man of the world, quite literally, had the world at his feet. However when the group went into the studio in February 1970 to record a song Peter had only recently written, “The Green Manalishi”, little did they know that it would turn out to be Green’s own way of handing in his resignation letter. Because soon after, he would inexplicably leave the band, while at the height of its popularity, something which must have left the other members in a state of shock, not to mention disbelief, and one of those ‘what the fuck do we do now’ moments. Though it must be said, that Green’s struggles with mental illness have been well documented, so the decision he made should come as no real surprise, at least some forty years after the fact. Actually, Green probably did the band a favour when looking back with the benefit of hindsight.
But Peter wasn’t finished with music just yet. Before he would finally descend into a Barrett-like fog of confusion, within a few months after quitting Fleetwood, he released his solo debut, the appropriately titled The End of the Game, an album which bears scant resemblance to anything Green had done before, much less since.
Opener “Bottoms Up” is little more than a jam, where Peter’s wah wah guitar is the dominate feature. Certainly there’s some furious playing going on here, which isn’t surprising, considering that joining him on his little cosmic odyssey was none other than Zoot Money (piano), Nick Buck (keyboards), Godfrey Maclean (drums) and Alex Dmochowski (bass), each of whom were extremely capable musicians in their right and who obviously knew what they doing.
“Timeless Time” is a gentle atmospheric piece, which doesn’t really take the listener anywhere particularly remarkable, still on is glad they heard it all the same. “Descending Scale” has Green go all Hendrix on us, except for the avant-garde rhythm section behind him. Or should that be in front, the side, or somewhere in the kitchen? I have no idea, because the mixing of this album is awful. Then again it could be the CD transfer, which is usually horrible anyway. On the next track, “Burnt Foot”, Green and his band of multi-instrumental minstrels are a mission; namely to expand the listener’s mind and perhaps even their inner consciousness – the sort of thing I can’t imagine this recording ever doing any time soon, not then or now. “Hidden Depth” harkens back to Peter’s Fleetwood days; that is all soft and pleasant playing, of the sort designed to sooth the soul and mend the heart.
The title track begins with some Hendrix-like histrionics, before slowing down into a drowsy blues, during which Green noodles his way around the guitar, seemingly heading somewhere and yet no-where all at once. And as the track fades, so too was Peter’s mental state.
With the exception of a couple of extremely rare singles recorded later (neither of which I have been able to track down), The End of the Game would represent the final chapter of Green’s astonishing career. He might have re-emerged briefly every now and then, with the odd album here or there, but nothing he has ever done since has matched the ferocity and intensity of his early days. What he was trying to communicate on this LP I cannot say, except that it will forever remain a disjointed reminder of an often tempered genius, one in the process of falling into disarray.