Review Summary: No steps forward, several steps back.Fleetwood Mac Discography: Part II
If Fleetwood Mac’s debut album saw them playing the blues with style, grace, and dignity, then their sophomore album is the complete opposite, perhaps being the textbook definition of a sophomore slump. This is certainly a shame; the band’s bluesy, if slightly generic sound, worked most of the time on their debut album, forgoing the shortcomings of the genre. Unfortunately, the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac succumbed to blues conventions with Mr. Wonderful
, their second release in 1968, resulting in a record that is best left forgotten.
There’s just no excuse for the laziness in songwriting and performing on Mr. Wonderful
. Green’s was vocally on top form on Fleetwood Mac
, providing genuine emotion and showing a wide range that propelled the music forward. Here he is content to be vocally conservative, sticking to gruff mannerisms, and it often sounds like Green is drunkedly wandering through the music. The production adds further insult to injury, as it muffles his voice rather than amplifying it and makes the instruments sound murky. The vocals aren’t entirely the problem, however. The guitar leads here are repetitive and uninspired, as is the bass, and the foundation isn’t helped in any way with the addition of a horn section, which merely adds an extra layer of cheese to an already-subpar album.
Sadly, there are few standouts on Mr. Wonderful
because of these flaws; the songwriting here is several levels below their debut album. Although there are only a few covers on the record, you’ll struggle to differentiate them from the originals because of the weak songwriting. Clifford Adams and Peter Green teamed up to write most of the songs, which makes one wonder if Adams was part of the reason that the album falls flat. Peter Green’s previous songwriting was always above-average, but the material here is decidely generic. Take this for example: four songs begin with an identical riff lifted from an Elmore James song (although only one of these was penned by a band member). Possibly the only highlight on the record is “Love That Burns,” which could have been a golden standout if it didn’t run too long. It’s an evocatively low-key piece led by piano and a swaying brass-section, a quality blues song that’s a definite gem of their early catalog.
Overall, Mr. Wonderful
is an album that can only be recommended to the completist or blues rock-devotee. This record is an uninspired exercise in blues that is as unappealing as animal feces, but taking into regard how difficult it is to create a good song in a genre as oversaturated as blues rock, perhaps it can be excused. Perhaps.
’s Fleetwood Mac was...
~ Peter Green – vocals, guitar, harmonica
~ Jeremy Spencer – vocals, slide guitar
~ John McVie – bass guitar
~ Mick Fleetwood – drums
“Love That Burns”