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They always say 'If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't really there' and certainly for many that was the case. It was a time when drugs, soft and hard, were easily obtainable and many of the drugs were of the mind altering and experimental kind. Though many fell under the influence, it was the music industry which was most vulnerable to the allure and one band which seemed to suffer more than most from the fall out drugs created was Fleetwood Mac.
The band was formed in the late Sixties by Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood and a little later were joined by John McVie and they enjoyed a good deal of chart success before Peter Green's drug taking had serious repercussions on his mental health and he left the band. Fleetwood Mac went through several line- up changes following Peter Green's departure but to my mind, the music they produced from then on somehow lacked its original edginess.
Though I'm not a huge fan of compilation albums, this one brings together all the music produced by Fleetwood Mac at the beginning of the band's career and with their more or less original line up and it showcases the song writing talents of Peter Green who was definitely the main musical force within the group in the beginning. He'd previously been with John Mayle's Blues Band and the blues/rock influence was very evident in those early days and is a heavy influence throughout this album. After he left, sadly, the band became much more bland and pop-orientated and for me at any rate, they lost their edge.
As there are 20 tracks on this album, I'm only going to select those which stand out for me.
The album begins with what is arguably Fleetwood Mac's greatest hit, the superb instrumental, Albatross. This certainly wasn't anyone's idea of rock 'n' roll but musically it's a tour de force which still gets plenty of air play some 45 years on. If ever a piece of music painted a picture this is it. With just four guitars and a drum kit, the listener is transported to a seascape complete with crashing waves and seagull cries and through it all flies a serene sea bird with a huge wingspan riding the ocean's thermals. It's simply a musical masterpiece.
Black Magic Woman is firmly rooted in the blues tradition from which both Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood had cut their musical teeth. Even though this is the studio version it isn't a polished piece of music but has a raw energy which seems so lacking in much of what modern bands produce. The single slightly discordant guitar chord heralds a bluesy number with an insistent beat provided by a combination of bass guitar and drums and threaded through is the wailing masterly guitar playing of Peter Green who I feel was every bit as good as Clapton. Just when the listener has been lulled into thinking they're listening to a blues number, the rhythm completely changes to a more rock beat. This is a great track but rather foreshortened on the album. Having seen Fleetwood Mac perform this song live, I have to say that the studio track falls a little flat especially with the final rocky section cut down. (There is a live version on YouTube which gives a flavour of just how good this track could be. There's a link at the end of this review.)
The full length US version of Need Your Love So Bad demonstrates just how good this band were at playing the blues. This is a slow blues ballad given a more orchestrated sound by the addition of strings but, again, it doesn't come across as some slick studio production but retains an elemental rawness. Peter Green may not have had the sweetest or most musical voice going but it's imbued with a depth of feeling which more than makes up for any musical shortcomings.
In case anyone thought that early Fleetwood Mac was all about the blues, The Green Manalishi puts the record straight. This is pure Sixties rock with psychedelic overtones. Don't try to understand the words, just go with the music which is all clashing guitars, heavy bass and insistent and rhythmic drumbeat. This is one of those pieces of music which immediately transports me back to those days in the late Sixties when the world was changing around us and the bands of the day wrote the soundtrack for the history which was taking place.
Man of the World is the most poignant song on the album and my favourite. It's a slow, very sad and deceptively simple ballad which begins with an electric guitar picking out the song's refrain. Apparently, the song was the first hint that all might not be well with Peter Green's mental state. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia which could well have been exacerbated by his increasing drug habit. Whatever the truth of that, his vocals are perfectly suited to the angst-ridden words of regret and desperation of this song.
'Guess I've got everything I need
I could't ask for more
And there's no one I'd rather be
Oh but I just wish I had never been born'
The middle section becomes more rocky before returning to the original simplicity and ending in as melancholy a way as it began.
'I could tell you about my life
And keep you amused I'm sure
About all the times I've cried
And how I don't want to be sad anymore
And how I wish I was in love'
This is one of those songs which makes me feel so low after listening to it, that I generally have to stop playing the album because it seems unfeeling to go on to listen to something more cheerful!
Oh Well is a two-part rock number which was released as a double sided single back in 1969 and it sounds as musically innovative today as it did back then. Many of the bands back in the Sixties fed off each other's creativity and there is musical phrasing on Albatross which The Beatles 'borrowed' for Sun King a year or so later. In the slow sections of this track there are musical elements which wouldn't seem out of place on a Pink Floyd album. There are also parts where the electric guitar is being used in a very classically Spanish way worthy of Segovia. Like Albatross, Oh Well is musical genius and it's tragic that because of his health issues, Peter Green never truly fulfilled his musical potential.
Of the bluesy numbers on this album, Need Your Love Tonight and Please Stop Messin' Around more than proves that you don't have to be from the American Deep South to sing or play the blues even if it does have a slightly British twist to the sound. Most of the other tracks tend towards early rock and though the track listing isn't in any chronological order that I can see, it does move through the various early developmental stages of the band.
There are two inclusions on this album which, for me, don't sit quite as well with the other tracks. The first is Chicken Shack's version of I'd Rather Go Blind and I'm guessing this is included because Christine Perfect, the lead singer, married John McVie and later joined Fleetwood Mac herself. It's a great blues song and for my money is a better version than Etta James's but I just feel it isn't quite
right for this album. The same could be said of the final track which is an easy listening version of Albatross by Chris Coco and is, quite frankly, an abomination!
Of the 20 tracks on this album, many of them reflect the blues/rock musical roots of Peter Green so it's fair to say that this probably wouldn't appeal to anyone who prefers the more pop sound of the later incarnation of the band. This is a great album for fans of early Fleetwood Mac or for people who appreciate the history of British blues/rock music. For those, like me, who remember the Sixties, this will be a great trip down Memory Lane and will leave you with a sense of regret that Peter Green, along with a couple of other early members, didn't get to stick around longer.
Copies of this album can be picked up for around £5.
* Link to Black Magic Woman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWkqACt1Xi8)
Further to my review on Fleetwood Mac's "Mr Wonderful" and its links with Gary Moore and his album "Blues for Greeny". I would like to introduce the album before "Mr Wonderful" which was called simply "Fleetwood Mac".
It is the famous dog in the alley with dustbins album.
I have the LP from years ago but have since bought the CD album which features more tracks than the original LP with different takes of "I loved another Woman" and "Cold Black Night" it also has two extra songs not on the original LP.
These are "You're So Evil" and "I'm Coming home to stay".
As stated in the "Mr Wonderful" review Gary Moore has covered tracks from this first Fleetwood Mac album on his "Blues for Greeny" album, 5 tracks in total. He also took track one from "Mr Wondeful", to complete his Blues for Greeny tribute.
All of these songs were recorded at various locations in 1967 on the equipment of the time, so even with cleaning up of the tracks which I assume would have been done, this album shows what a class act the original Fleetwood Mac were and why Gary Moore chose to honour a guitar great on his album.
The album tracks are as follows:-
1. My Heart Beat Like A Hammer (take 2) - Jeremy Spencer plays slide guitar and harmonica on this rocking number, in the Elmore James style, with the full band. Written by Jeremy Spencer.
2. Merry Go Round (take 2) - Peter plays and sings an excellent slow blues with John McVie on Bass & Mick Fleetwod on Drums, in my opinion one of the best slow blues songs ever. Written by Peter Green.
3. Long Grey Mare - This music is the Blues so you can interpret the words of this song in any way you wish, it has Peter on Guitar, vocal and harmonica with Bob Brunning playing the Bass and Mick. This has a very heavy bass line. Written by Peter Green.
4. Hellhound On My Trail (take 1) - Jeremy plays sings a solo piece, very nice rendition of this piece. Traditionally arrangr=ed by Peter Green.
5. Shake Your Moneymaker - Again interpret the song any way you wish, Jeremy on slide and vocals, Peter on Guitar with the rest of the band. Written by Elmore James.
6. Looking For Somebody - This is a slow haunting song with Peter on Guitar, vocals and harmonica also John and Mick. Written by P.A. Green.
7. No Place To Go - This song is in the style of the old Bluesmen and has slow deliberate playing with Peter on Guitar, vocals and harmonica also John and Mick. Written by Chester Burnett.
8. My Baby's Good To Me - Jeremy on slide again playing a more of a lead guitar role with vocals also bringing in his slide chords, with Peter, John and Mick. Written by Jeremy Spencer.
9. I Loved Another Woman - This is a beautiful song with Peter on Guitar and vocals, John and Mick. This one was the one I saw Gary Moore play at the MEN in Manchester. Written by P.A.Green.
10. Cold Black Night - Jeremy on slide and vocals, showcasing yet a different style of playing, with the rest of the band. Written by Jeremy Spencer.
11. World Keeps On Turning - This is Peter on Guitar and vocals playing acoustically and in my opinion shows how good a guitarist he really is. Written by P.A. Green.
12. Got To Move - Jeremy on slide and vocals playing the guitar in yet another style with the rest of the band. A very good track on which to finish the original album with all four members of the band playing. Written by Elmore James and Marshall Sehorn.
13. My Heart Beat Like A Hammer (take 1/bonus track) - As track 1.
14. Merry Go Round (take 1/bonus track) - As track 2.
15. I Loved Another Woman (takes 1-4/bonus track) - As track 9.
16. I Loved Another Woman (takes 5-6/bonus track) - As track 9.
17. Cold Black Night (takes 1-6/bonus track) - As track 10.
18. You're So Evil (bonus track) - I think this is similar to "Hellhound on my Trail" but with different words but still is a good track. Jeremy on piano and vocals singing about a girlfriend?
Written by Jeremy Spencer.
19. I'm Coming Home To Stay (bonus track) - Jeremy on slide and vocals with the rest of the band finishing this particular album in typical Elmore James style. Written by Jeremy Spencer.
There are extensive sleeve notes by Mike Vernon who produced the album.
This album is a good introduction into the Blues in our country, by the pioneers of the time.
Thanks for reading this and I hope a few of you will investigate Fleetwood Mac, who are I believe, were at their best, before their single Albatross.
However, Albatross was the first single I bought of Fleetwood Mac for the excellent guitar work, from which I searched out and was bought Mr Wonderful and therefore I suppose a reason for me getting into blues music. For that I am grateful
© dvdsprks2 2007
This is the first album by Fleetwood Mac, released in 1968, almost ten years before the line-up that most people know from the Rumours album. The Mac were formed by guitarist Peter Green when he left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, taking drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie with him. With the addition of slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer, Fleetwood Mac were formed. They quickly made a big name for themselves in the blues clubs around London, and Peter Green became renowned as a guitar God, said to be the only guitarist that Eric Clapton feared. When their first album was released, it remained in the charts for nine months, and became one of the most successful albums of the period. Clocking in at 35 minutes, the album contains 12 songs. Most of the songs are written by either Green or Spencer, but three cover versions are also included. From traditional blues-rock guitar numbers such as My Heart Beat Like A Hammer, to the slower tracks like I Loved Another Woman, there isn't a bad song to be found. It is not just brilliant guitar playing either. Hellhound On My Trail is purely piano, and Long Grey Mare features some great harmonica. For me, though, the best track is easily The World Keep On Turning, a slow, unaccompanied acoustic song by Green, which is spellbinding. I haven't yet found a blues album that comes close to this. If you have never given blues a try, or are just curious as to how Fleetwood Mac started out on the road to global fame, then this has to be the place to start.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Black Magic Woman
3 Need Your Love So Bad
4 My Heart Beat Like A Hammer
5 Rollin' Man
6 Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)
7 Man Of The World
8 Something Inside Me
9 Looking For Somebody
10 Oh Well
11 Rattlesnake Shake
12 Merry Go Round
13 I Loved Another Woman
14 Need Your Love Tonight
15 Worried Dream
16 Dragon Fly
17 Stop Messin' Around
18 Shake Your Moneymaker
19 I Would Rather Go Blind