Alastair Greene – Live From The 805
Rip Cat Records RIC 1805
20 songs – 101 minutes
West Coast firebrand Alastair Greene follows up on his critically acclaimed 2017 studio album, Dream Train, with this two-disc set captured in front of an enthusiastic crowd in his hometown, Santa Barbara, Calif.
This release solidifies his commitment to the blues-rock idiom after splitting much of the past seven years as lead guitarist for one of the most enduring rock groups of all time, The Alan Parsons Project. It displays Greene’s talents at their best, delivering wave after wave of intense, powerful music that gives listeners little time to catch their breath.
Now in his late 40s, Alastair is the grandson of trumpet player Chico Alvarez, a member of Stan Kenton’s band, and trained as a pianist and sax player. He picked up the guitar in high school and studied at Berklee College Of Music in Boston for two years before returning home and embarking on a professional career, working both in blues and rock.
Greene formed his own band in 1997, but has often shared his talents. In addition to Parsons, he’s worked with guitarists Aynsley Dunbar and Franck “Paris Slim” Goldwasser and harp master Mitch Kashmar. His own unit has opened for dozens of top acts, including Mickey Thomas, Jonny Lang, John Mayall, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and others.
Delivered in a format that might remind some listeners of Gov’t Mule, Cream or ZZ Top on steroids, Live From The 805 is a stripped-down, balls-to-the-wall effort. He’s backed here by Jim Rankin on bass and harmony vocals and Austin Beede on drums. Their only assistance comes from Chris Chalk, who handles lead vocals on one of the 20 cuts, most of which are live versions of tunes from Greene’s previous four CDs.
Alastair fires out of the gate with “The Sweetest Honey,” the account of “stealing honey” from the sheriff’s wife. Now the lawman’s out to take his life. It’s chockful of the rapid-fire, single-note runs Greene’s known for. The tempo slows slightly and the rhythm gets a little funky for “Big Bad Wolf.” Three blues shuffles – the speedy “Trouble At Your Door,” which puts his picking skills on display, “3 Bullets” and “Red Wine Woman,” in which Alastair’s guitar runs form a chorus with his vocals – follow before the rhythm section is featured in the percussive “Say What You Want.”
A rock-steady take on Albert King’s “Love So Strong,” the first of four covers in the set, is up next. The rocker “Down To Memphis” precedes an interesting cover of Junior Wells’ familiar “Lawdy Mama” and “Lucky 13,” a blues-rock pleaser.
Disc two opens with “Dream Train,” the fiery title tune from Greene’s latest release while “Back Where I Belong,” up next, is a driving boogie. A military drum beat opens “T’other Way,” which has an airy, almost psychedelic feel before erupting into a rocker. “Last Train Around The Sun” an unhurried, stop-time rocker, flows into “Love You So Bad,” which keeps the interesting beat going, and “Rain Stomp,” which features Alastair on slide.
Green reinvents Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” next before Chalk takes the mike for “First Born Son.” A cover of Gwendolyn Collins’ and Hugh Williams’ “Shoe On The Other Foot” follows before “Walking In Circles” closes the set.
Available through Amazon and iTunes, this one’s for you if you’re into blues-rock. Fair warning, though: Eat your Wheaties and take your vitamins before you listen to it. At an hour and 40 minutes in length, this one will leave you exhausted unless you’re well-prepared!