Peter Green’s First Studio Session
Peter Green’s first studio recording was as the lead guitarist for the Peter B’s.
Best guesstimates have Green joining the band (then called Peter B’s Looners) shortly before Christmas, 1965.
The band performed a three-song set for the BBC Light, “Jazz Beat” program on February 02, 1966 (the three numbers, ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’, ‘Soul Dressing’ and Outrage’ were released on “Show-Biz Blues – Fleetwood Mac 1968 to 1970 Volume 2” on the Receiver label in 2001(now out of print) but they all can now be found on YouTube.
Before the month was out, the band would go into the studio to record two songs for their first (and only) single, a cover of Jimmy Soul’s ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ backed with a Peter Bardens original ‘Jodrell Blues’
There is little surviving information as to the session itself, including the location and date, thought to be sometime in February, but what can be gleaned from the label of the 45 whets our appetite for more.
The record is billed as a “Rik Gunnell Prod.” Gunnell was the groups “manager” and booking agent. The “Rik Gunnell Prod.” credit can be found on a number of singles by acts signed to the Gunnell Agency, such as Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe and Zoot Money.
Whether he had anything to do with the actual production of the songs, or if he was even in the studio at the time of the recording, is now impossible to know.
The B-side, a Peter Bardens’ original, shows that Gunnell also owned the publishing for the number.
Even more intriguing is the producer’s credit, which reads, “Directed by Eddie Kramer”.
Kramer went on to work with everyone from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Traffic, and of course Jimi Hendrix. To the best of my knowledge, he never used the appellation, “Directed” on any other release (nor has anyone else).
Green can barely be heard on the A-side, a showcase for Barden’s organ. Unfortunately, they have chosen to emphasize the number’s calypso origins at the expense of the rock ‘n roll drive fueling Soul’s recording, smoothing the number out to an “easy listening” bit of fluff.
It seems possible that this approach to the material, an attempt to achieve a “commercial” sound, was Gunnell’s contribution.
Jimmy Soul’s original recording, (adapted from the 1934 song ‘Ugly Woman’ by Trinidadian calypso singer Roaring Lion) was released at the end of 1962 and has maintained a resilient popularity over the decades, most likely because of, rather than in spite of, it’s misogynistic marital advice.
It was covered in 1963 by both The Dovells (‘The Bristol Stomp’) which closely copied the original and Trini Lopez, whose smooth performance managed to make the lyrics sound deceptively benign.
Bobby Gregg, who would play drums on many of Bob Dylan’s seminal 1965 – 1966 recordings, also recorded an instrumental version of the song for the Laurie label in 1966, credited to Bobby Gregg and the Desert Sounds.
Bill Wyman recorded a fairly faithful version on his second solo LP “Stone Alone” in 1976 and in 1983 Kid Creole and the Coconuts paid (unwitting) homage to the Peter B’s recording, returning the focus to the calypso beat and using an organ as the main instrument.
The Peter B’s’ studio recording has never been released on CD to the best of my knowledge, and only once on LP (see correction, below) and is currently unavailable on YouTube.
There is an “Alternate Take” of the song in circulation among collectors but I believe that this is somewhat misleading; the recording is the same as the one released, albeit in the gratingly tinny sound of a test-pressing. The running time of the song is 3:02 (the first five seconds are the needle attempting to find the groove) and the released version is 3:08 – the five second difference is the intro on the released version. The faux-Caribbean voices also heard during the fade, are more prominently featured at start; otherwise the recording is the same.
One would imagine that the B-side, ‘Jodrell Blues’ was more representative of the band’s sound as a club act other than the fact that Bardens would have been playing organ, not wanting to lug a piano around from gig to gig.
Playing piano here rather than organ, toughens the sound and Green gets to do a quick break, one that is very much of its time but still containing the seeds of Green’s own style, one that he will nurture and grow during his time with Bardens, in both the Peter B’s and Steampacket and later in Mayall’s finishing school as a Bluesbreaker.
In “A Love That Burns, Volume 1, Chapter 2, I stated that the original Peter B’s recording of ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ was available on Peter Bardens Write My Name In The Dust –The Anthology 1963—2002 (Castle 2005).
The recording on that collection is from the band’s February 02, 1966 BBC session.
To the best of my knowledge, the only “official” release of the song on CD is on “The Fleetwood Mac Family Album” (Connoisseur 1996).