Green On Red

Green On Red were always slackers and contrary with it. Given the opportunity to put a session together for Radio One to showcase their music, they turned up with a batch of semi-rehearsed country covers and proceeded to jam them in that apparently doped-out way they had. It was either going to put you right off or grab you by the lapels. Me being someone who first really clicked on them when I heard them deliver a twenty-minute version of the old blues number Smokestack Lightning, pushing, stretching and soloing over it; I take to that kind of approach. Radio sessions strip out a lot of studio trickery – with a few hours to knock four songs into shape, there’s not much time for working a duff voice up with Pro Tools. Green On Red always sounded like frazzled and hammered veterans of the road, with Chuck Prophet exuding the sweat and cool of thousands of miles of highway. Here we get a slightly scruffier and looser version of the records, with some different songs and a wee bit more jamming and blues-ing.

Although they admit now to yearning after critical acclaim (Dan Stuart – founding member claims to have once offered John Peel a blow job if he’d give them a session…), the atmosphere exuded is one of tired but wired veterans, doing what they do for its sake alone. Perhaps that’s why Andy Kershaw picked them twice and Bob Harris saw merit too. By the time they got to Johnny Walker’s session, they’d swapped much of the personnel and arrived as a blues duo that could have stepped out of a radio in a road movie. Songs cover the standard territory of drugs, drink, women who done wrong, men who do wrong, death, how very tall Nick Cave is (eh?), guns, partying and it’s all like the soundtrack you’d dream of for a Stateside version of Shameless.

A couple of listens to this had me looking out my old tapes of the band for a larger dose of rolling rhythm and blues. A band I’d forgotten I miss – nice to be reminded and time to remind you that Chuck Prophet still tours regularly and is well worth checking out.

Ross McGibbon