Peter Green – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
John McVie – Bass
Danny Kirwan – Lead Guitar
Mick Fleetwood – Drums
Jeremy Spencer – Vocals, Guitar
Between the years 1968 and 1970 Fleetwood Mac recorded some of their best tracks, including Albatross, Black Magic Woman and Oh Well. In this short spell before the line up change, Fleetwood Mac were the biggest Blues rock group in the United Kingdom. In a 1969 poll they even ranked higher than the Beatles! This collection of twenty-one songs documents the best of this period, and in my opinion Fleetwood Mac’s finest period!
If your new to Fleetwood Mac and your expecting to hear some pop classics like Little Lies or Dreams let me stop you here. This is a completely different sounding Fleetwood Mac to the one with Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. Albatross the most well known Fleetwood song starts off this collection. With its mellow discreet guitar licks, steady rhythmic drumming and gentle bass line leading from the top it’s the perfect way to open a collection of some of the finest Blues rock to come from the 1960s. B.B. King was not exaggerating when he proclaimed Peter Green to be “the greatest”; he really was a masterful guitarist, but John McVie deserves such high praise also.
Black Magic Woman and Need Your Love So Bad are also two timeless classics, and keep up the impeccably high standards of the opening of this collection. Both exhibit well controlled and sombre rhythmic instrumentals, Peter Green’s vocals on the latter come across soulful and sincere and the gentle guitar solo’s send you to heaven in short blissful blasts.
My Heart Beat Like a Hammer is a less gentle track written and performed by Jeremy Spencer on vocals. Spencer has a harsher sound to Green, but the blues guitars take you right back to the sounds of the 30’s. Rollin Man follows this trend, but with Green on vocals. The Green Manalishi is more of a haunting song, written about Green’s struggles with LSD the jagged guitars, short sharp drumming and spooky echoing “ooohs” in the vocals set a harrowing trippin’ feeling. Not so much an enjoyable listen, but masterful in its execution and effect. Man of the World returns to the mellower sounds of the earlier tracks, yet the murmuring vocals are once again haunting.
Something inside of me written by Danny Kirwan and Looking for Someone which features long stints of harmonica separate these more sombre tracks before another classic.
Oh Well parts 1&2 is my favourite Fleetwood Mac song of all time, the racing guitars at the beginning followed by Peter’s classic line
“cant help the shape I’m in, I cant sing, I aint pretty, and my legs are thin, don’t ask me what I think of you I might not give you answer you want me too”
Part one of this song is extremely upbeat despite the self-deprecating lyrics, whereas part two features a long acoustic instrumental piece similar to albatross. Peaceful, and enchanting it reminds me a lot of Native American, it has that sort of essence with what I can only describe as pan pipes.
Rattlesnake shake,Merry Go Round and I Loved Another Woman are all fairly mellow blues tracks, but nothing as outstanding as the previous tracks from the collection. Need Your Love So Bad is another Jeremy Spencer song, and the clanging guitar riffs are yet another reminder of Blues past and his strained vocals make this a particularly enjoyable track. Worried Dream the B.B. King cover is another tender song for Green to get his teeth into. Peter Green really thrives on these soulful, slow ballads and McVie’s bass is particularly empowered on this track. Danny Kirwan’s Dragonfly and Messin’ Around are both decent tracks, but in comparison to what has gone before do not register as anything special. The cover of Elmore James’ classic Shake Your Moneymaker is a very lively number, paying homage to the Blues great that Kirwan and Spencer greatly admired. Kirwan does a good job on vocals and Spencer’s slide guitar makes this a very fun and enjoyable track to listen to. The final two tracks I’d Rather Go Blind performed by Christine Perfect (later to become McVie) and Chris Coco’s remixing of Albatross end the collection on a rather meagre note. I’m not a great fan of the later version of Fleetwood Mac nor am I too impressed by the “modifying” of Albatross. All in all this is a great collection for anyone interested in 1960s British rock, Blues or a passing interest in the history of Fleetwood Mac.
Shake Your Moneymaker