FLEETWOOD MAC was the most successful of all the British blues-boom groups of the late sixties and also a major singles hit maker. Then, after a few years in limbo, the band reappeared playing With a different line-up and style to achieve mega-stardom in California. Through it all the constant factor was the rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, who had given the band its name in the first place. This collection features the very best of the band's work in its first phase from 1967 to 1970, recording for Blue Horizon and Immediate, featuring as members Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, McVie and Fleetwood and later on Danny Kirwan.
The original grew largely as an offshoot of John Mayall's Bluebreakers. Green, after periods with such obscure ensembles as Peter B's Looners and Shotgun Express, shot to fame as Eric Clapton's replacement in that band, and Mayall in his sleeve notes for "A Hard Road" put him on the same pedestal as Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Clapton for "emotional greatness". Mick Fleetwood and John McVie played alongside Green in the Bluesbreakers and came together in the summer or 1967. They were joined by Jeremy Spencer, a slide guitarist who had played in The Levi Set Blues Band. Spencer's exuberant style. owing about 90% to Elmore James and 10% to Elvis Presley, complemented Green's more subtle emotive guitar-playing and vocals to produce the perfect British blues band. In fact, the original line-up of the band did not feature John McVie until December as he lingered behind with Mayall and the initial period from the debut at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival on August 13th saw Bob Brunning on bass.
The first album for Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label (7-63200) achieved remarkable success for a straight blues album and spent nearly all of 1968 in the album chart. The first four tracks here come from that LP. "Long Grey Mare" is one of very few tracks to feature Bob Brunning. "Shake Your Moneymaker" shows the high energy unleashed when Jeremy Spencer got stuck into an Elmore James song, whilst "I Loved Another Woman" illustrates Peter Green at his most mellow on his own composition.
"Mr. Wonderful" (7-63205) released in September 1968 was in similar vein to the first album, only a bit rougher with horns added and session work by Christine Perfect on piano. She, of course, after hitting the charts with the Mac's label-mates, Chicken Shack, was to loom large in the band's renaissance in the seventies. The tracks here are "Doctor Brown", "Love That Burns" and "Lazy Poker Blues" showing again the differing talents of Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green.
The band's first two singles, "Black Magic Woman", one of Peter Green's most successful compositions, and Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad", hit the lower reaches of the charts and showed a band perhaps on a higher, more subtle level than most of the material on the first two albums suggested. It was their third single, "Albatross", a tune quite out of step with anything produced by the Mac before, that sped them to the top pf the charts in late 1968 and gave a real treat to everyone who had waited to see a blues band on Top of the Pops, even if it wasn't exactly the blues they were playing.
Just before "Albatross", the band had been joined by the youthful Danny Kirwan on guitar and vocals, which gave the band yet another frontman. On this collection his talents are most strongly featured on the short and melodic "Jigsaw Puzzle Blues."
"Albatross" was only the first of the Mac's top 10 singles. The next single, their only recording on the Immediate label, "Man of the World," also did very well and once again showed Peter Green's mastery of intensity and introspection. The 'B' side of this single, billed as Earl Vince and the Valiants, "Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite" captures some of the riotous live antics of Jeremy Spencer in an Elvis, as opposed to Elmore, mood. Jeremy also recorded a couple of solo blues efforts for Immediate, featured most recently on "White Boy Blues". Two further singles, "Oh Well" and "Green Manalishi" which both featured Peter Green prominently, kept the band in the charts in 1969 and 1970.
There were three further albums released between 1969 and 1971 which concluded the band's recordings in their first phase of existence. "The Pious Bird of Good Omen" was a collection of singles, 'B' sides, album tracks and some session work with Eddie Boyd. "The original Fleetwood Mac" released in 1971 contained recordings by the band from 1968, which here include "Drifting", "Love That Woman" and "Fleetwood Mac". "Blues Jam at Chess," recorded in 1969 in the Chess Studios in Chicago during an American tour, features the Mac playing alongside some of their black blues heroes. "Rockin' Boogie" has Jeremy Spencer backed by amongst others the legendary Willie Dixon on bass and Elmore James' original sax player, J.T. Brown. "Homework" with Peter Green at the front also has Otis Spann, probably the best post-war blues pianist, in the band.
In 1970 and 1971 the Green, Spencer, Kirwan, McVie and Fleetwood line-up gradually fell apart as Peter Green left to become something of a recluse, reappearing later in the decade but without much of his earlier sparkle. Then Jeremy Spencer disappeared in the middle of a U.S. tour to join the Children of God. His later recordings are of more interest to students of religion than those studying the blues. After this double body blow, the band continued, aided by the assistance of Christine Perfect and Bob Welch, but they didn't hit a winning groove again until the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in Januray 1975. However, that was a different band and is an altogether different story.
All tracks licensed from CBS Records except "Man Of The World" & "Somebody's Gonna Get (Their Head Kicked In Tonite)" licensed from Interworld Communications
This compilation (C) 1987 Castle Communications PLC
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