Alastair Greene’s musical qualifications are impressive. He has guested with such luminaries as Eric Burdon, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, Savoy Brown, John Nemeth, and Debbie Davies.
Now, after touring the world as the guitarist for the Alan Parson Project, Alastair has released a solo album called Dream Train. As he says, “I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity Alan gave me to handle guitar and vocal duties in his band. After 7 years, the time has come for me to truly pursue my own musical dream.” Hence the album title one would assume. (A great interview with Alastair is available here on Bluesdoodles Alastair Greene Interview by Wes O’Neill
It is clear from the people he guested with previously and who appear on this album where his musical roots lie. Here we are treated to blues variations aplenty, with shuffles, boogies and rocking tracks with soul sensibilities mixed in.
His touring band provides a solid, rhythmic background across the whole album with special guests filling out the sound on selected tracks. Greene is a skilled guitarist and has a subtle feel for electric blues and can transfer this subtlety to acoustic playing too. That’s not to say he doesn’t unleash a stinging solo or three along the way. Throughout the album, I hear hints of S.R.V., Trower and Snowy White in his playing, although the style is very much his own.
The opener and title track is an out and rocker with alternated picking and slide driving a fast, almost 12 bar riff. Then comes a superb slide solo; just what a good blues/rock track needs, although it is far too short. Big Bad Wolf has the vocals following the guitar melody making an effective build before a full-fat solo. The bass guitar on this is stunning too.
Nome Zayne is the only non-Greene composition. This one is written by none other than Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame. The title is deliberately obtuse; when it is sung it becomes “Know what I’m sayin’”! Typical Gibbons lyrically and musically and well executed here.
Another Lie has typically beautiful complimentary guitar from Walter Trout. A slower paced traditional electric blues. It also benefits from the warmth of the keyboard fills courtesy of Mike Finnegan (a Hammond B3 specialist who has played with Hendrix and the Phantom Blues Band amongst many others). Both guitarists stuff more feeling into this track than most blues albums can boast.
Acoustic skills are to the fore on the simply complicated instrumental, Song For Rufus. A purposeful oxymoron, for the tantalizing slide in the bridge, creates a complex weave to produce a brilliantly crafted and, for an instrumental, a lyrical composition. Grateful Swagger features Debbie Davies, known also for her work with Duke Robillard, Coco Montoya and J Geils amongst others. She adds a funky touch to this sweeping blues instrumental. This also has a rare, albeit short, great bass solo.
Lucky 13 has Mike Zito, a blues legend in his own right as well as being a co-founder of Royal Southern Brotherhood, sharing guitar duties. A faster paced blues with a ‘standard’ approach and the two guitarists trading sections brilliantly.
Greene may not be the strongest vocalist you’ll hear but has sufficient depth to carry all of the demands of this varied and wide-ranging blues album. The songs, the musicians and the production ensure that Dream Train is never less than engaging. Most of it is a thrill and if you keep your feet still throughout, then you probably need to seek medical attention!
Alastair Greene – Dream Train – Rip Cat Records
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Dream Train
- Big Bad Wolf
- Nome Zayne
- Another Lie
- Song For Rufus
- I’m The Taker
- Dare Devil
- Grateful Swagger
- Rain Stomp
- Demons Down
- Down To Memphis
- Lucky 13
Alastair Greene: guitar and vocals
Jim Rankin: bass
Austin Beede: drums
Walter Trout: guitar track 4
Mike Finnigan: organ tracks 4, 7, & 11
Dennis Gruenling: harmonica track 7
Debbie Davies: guitar track 8
Mike Zito: guitar track 12
ALL SONGS WRITTEN BY
Alastair Greene, except Nome Zayne written by Billy Gibbons