(4 / 5)
A pretty credible line-up of special guests on this album. Walter Trout, Debbie Davies, Mike Zito, Mike Finnigan and Dennis Gruenling. Mega producer David Z in the chair on these 13 tracks. Alastair Greene on lead/harmony vocals and guitar, Austin Bede on drums and Jim Rankin on bass and harmony vocals.
A dozen originals penned by Greene and one cover; the Billy F. Gibbons cut, “Nome Zayne” at track three. The album delivers circa 54 minutes of quality blues rock. Trout plays guitar on one cut, “Another Lie”, Debbie Davis guitar on “Rain Stomp”, and Zito on the penultimate track, “Down To Memphis”.
Bonnie Raitt’s go-to guy for organ and piano, Mike Finnigan, pops up on three songs, “Another Lie”, “Daredevil” and “Iowa” (the latter song dedicated to the memory of Greene’s grandmother Violet Green). Harmonica supplied by Dennis Gruenling on one cut, “Daredevil”. “Song For Rufus” is dedicated to Alastair’s beloved late “feline buddy, Rufus”.
Greene’s combination of blues, Southern rock, and jam band vibes have been in demand for nearly two decades. With recent appearances at the Chicago Blues Festival and the Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas, as well as guest appearances with such luminaries as Eric Burdon, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, Savoy Brown, John Nemeth and Debbie Davies.
Alastair took the giant leap into a solo career in May 2017, stepping down after seven years touring the world as the guitarist and singer for rock legend, Alan Parsons. But he was itching to pursue his own musical dream.
He is in safe hands here with producer David Z at the helm, whose production credits include Buddy Guy, Gov’t Mule, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang. The songs range from ballsy, hard driving blues rock to stripped back instrumentals.
The 46-year-old guitarist, singer and songwriter has been a prominent member of the Southern California music scene for more than two decades. In his childhood, Alastair’s mother played piano at home and he plundered her extensive record collection, while his Dad’s tastes were more about Bach and Beethoven.
Master Greene was inspired to pursue music by his Grandfather, Chico Alvarez, who played trumpet in Stan Kenton’s band in the 1940s and 50s. Young Alastair took piano lessons and played the sax before discovering the guitar at High School. Alastair was awarded a scholarship for the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied for two years, before returning to California to play in rock and blues bands in the 1990s.
He played on albums by Alan Parsons in 2006 (Grammy-nominated) and 2013, Aynsley Dunbar (2008), former War member Mitch Kashmar (2005), Glen Phillips (2012), Franck Golwasser (2007) and he has appeared on many independent releases by other artists. He has released seven solo albums and one of his songs appeared on the TV show “Saving Grace”.
The Alastair Greene Band was formed in 1997, and has opened for such acts as Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Mayall, Robin Trower, Lonnie Brooks, Jonny Lang, Billy Boy Arnold, Joe Bonamassa and many more. He plays around 100 dates a year with his own band, and more in other bands as a sideman.
November 2014, Alastair toured with Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. Alastair filled in on lead guitar for guitarist John Roth who was on tour with the rock band Winger. On tour, Starship opened several shows for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The title track on Greene’s “Dream Train” opens proceedings with a steel toe-capped boot in the nuts; harder end of Southern rock and some uber-cool slide guitar from Greene; a formidable slide player for sure. I cannot listen to poorly played or weak slide playing, and this cat has REALLY got it goin’ on with his slide skills, which we hear on only a couple of tracks here. I’d be first to buy a full album of all slide guitar, if this guy was strapped to it. Nods to the late and great Duane Allman, perhaps.
There’s a slide and lead guitarist from the UK I really dig, and he writes great songs, covered by a lot of good people. His name is Bryn Haworth and he operates mainly in the Christian music world. If he dropped the religious thing, I am sure he’d sound just like Alastair Greene on the second cut here, “Big Bad Wolf”. A kind of ZZ Top core riff. Another strong cut; a commercial sound with a fabulous groove. His lead break strips paint. The vocal has enough power to punch through and match the music.
The laid back slow blues cut “Another Lie” is spot on. Trout and Greene may sound like an accountancy firm, but it is actually a pair of guitar masters who are well “at it” here. Many may compare this track – the playing and the vocal – with the late Gary Moore. I’m not arguing.
Some sweet acoustic work on the one minute and 56 second instrumental interlude, “Song For Rufus”, before the hard rockin’, “I’m The Taker”. Nice boogie shuffle on “Daredevil”, with some fine smoky blues harp from Dennis Gruenling.
This is an impressive album from a very decent artist – with or without the VIP guests – who is new to me and I am sure, to many others in the UK; and who clearly deserves a much wider audience. Let’s give it to him…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’