Monday, July 16, 2007

Number 591 - Fleetwood Mac

Number 591

Fleetwood Mac



Fleetwood Mac for me, started way back in the Tindalls Bay era in the early '70s (see Numbers 964 & 917) Albatross was my first introduction into the then Blues band. It was my first introduction into true guitaring. Praise be Peter Green. Hey, i was only 7.
Fleetwood Mac changed many styles over all the decades since, from the Blues to Classic Rock & all the way to contemporary Pop, they did it all and with success every time. And not only that, we had the yearly saga of the beautiful Stevie Nicks and ..... well whoever. Now, don't be worried you dont this "tune" by Fleetwood Mac, after all it was 1969, but do hope you do get to enjoy it.
The roots of Fleetwood Mac lie in John Mayall's legendary British blues outfit, the Bluesbreakers. Bassist John McVie was one of the charter members of the Bluesbreakers, joining the group in 1963. In 1966 Peter Green replaced Eric Clapton, and a year later drummer Mick Fleetwood joined. Inspired by the success of Cream, the Yardbirds, and Jimi Hendrix, the trio decided to break away from Mayall in 1967. At their debut at the British Jazz and Blues Festival in August, Bob Brunning was playing bass in the group, since McVie was still under contract to Mayall. He joined the band a few weeks after their debut; by that time, slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer had joined the band. Fleetwood Mac soon signed with Blue Horizon, releasing their eponymous debut the following year. Fleetwood Mac was an enormous hit in the U.K., spending over a year in the Top Ten. Despite its British success, the album was virtually ignored in America. During 1968, the band added guitarist Danny Kirwan. The following year, they recorded Fleetwood Mac in Chicago with a variety of bluesmen, including Willie Dixon and Otis Spann. The set was released later that year, after the band had left Blue Horizon for a one-album deal with Immediate Records; in the U.S., they signed with Reprise/Warner Bros., and by 1970, Warner began releasing the band's British records as well.
Fleetwood Mac released English Rose and Then Play On during 1969, which both indicated that the band was expanding its music, moving away from its blues purist roots. That year, Green's "Man of the World" and "Oh Well" were number two hits. Though his music was providing the backbone of the group, Peter Green was growing increasingly disturbed due to his large ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs. After announcing that he was planning to give all of his earnings away, Green suddenly left the band in the spring of 1970; he released two solo albums over the course of the '70s, but he rarely performed after leaving Fleetwood Mac. The band replaced him with Christine Perfect, a vocalist/pianist who had earned a small but loyal following in the U.K. by singing with Spencer Davis and the Chicken Shack. She had already performed uncredited on Then Play On. Contractual difficulties prevented her from becoming a full-fledged member of Fleetwood Mac until 1971; by that time she had married John McVie.
Christine McVie didn't appear on 1970's Kiln House, the first album the band recorded without Peter Green. For that album, Jeremy Spencer dominated the band's musical direction, but he had also been undergoing mental problems due to heavy drug use. During the band's American tour in early 1971, Spencer disappeared; it was later discovered that he left the band to join the religious cult the Children of God. Fleetwood Mac had already been trying to determine the direction of their music, but Spencer's departure sent the band into disarray. Christine McVie and Danny Kirwan began to move the band towards mainstream rock on 1971's Future Games, but new guitarist Bob Welch exerted a heavy influence on 1972's Bare Trees. Kirwan was fired after Bare Trees and was replaced by guitarists Bob Weston and Dave Walker, who appeared on 1973's Penguin. Walker left after that album, and Weston departed after making its follow-up, Mystery to Me (1973). In 1974, the group's manager, Clifford Davis, formed a bogus Fleetwood Mac and had the band tour the U.S. The real Fleetwood Mac filed and won a lawsuit against the imposters -- after losing, they began performing under the name Stretch -- but the lawsuit kept the band off the road for most of the year. In the interim, they released Heroes Are Hard to Find. Late in 1974, Fleetwood Mac moved to California, with hopes of restarting their career. Welch left the band shortly after the move to form Paris. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, [All Music Guide]
For Stevie Nicks see Number 707
For Cream see Number 554
For Jimi Hendrix see Number 718
For Eric Clapton see Number 537
For Bob Welch see Number 865
What does Rolling Stone think about Fleetwood Mac?
The best thing Fleetwood Mac has ever done is "Oh Well," a single currently available only in England. On part one, the two guitars work with and against each other in perfect balance, and when the music pauses, there's these fine lyrics, post-Dylan, rock and roll sassy: "I can't help it 'bout the shape I'm in/I'm not pretty, can't sing and my legs are thin/But don't ask me what I think of you/I might not give the answer that you want me to." Part two, an instrumental, gets a bit cumbersome, but still attracts where similar songs on the album repelled. The reason this is available only in England is that the band's manager is positive that "Rattlesnake Shake" (an album cut distinguished from the others only by the fact that it's uptempo) will hit as a single in America and on the European continent. That man is 1969's False Prophet of the Year. I'd trade this whole album straight across for "Oh Well," and would be getting the better deal. (RS 48)
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (We struggled with the lyrics) and the Album ranked at (However, that Stevie Nicks...)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 72.4 out of 108

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