Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac”

Ultra Fidelis’ Musical Favorites

fleetwood_fm(Epic LP) 1968

Fleetwood Mac may best be characterized as a “franchise” rather than as a “band”. Ironically, namesakes Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass) share the distinction of contributing only marginally to the diverse sound of any of the band’s incarnations while comprising the glue that held this U.K./Southern California juggernaut together for almost three decades. Fleetwood Mac released some twenty albums that ran the gamut from stripped-down electric blues to slickly produced pop tunes, but talk about the ultimate crossover band! The vast majority of Mac fans profess an affinity for one genre and distaste for others, but the band was successful, both critically and commercially, throughout its history. Peter Green, and to a lesser degree Jeremy Spencer, dominated the blues-era Fleetwood Mac, which only lasted a few years. The “second coming” of Fleetwood Mac, under the collaborative influence of Danny Kirwan/Bob Welch/Christine McVie, abandoned the blues and embraced a more melodic and progressive style. Moderately successful abroad, “superstar” status eluded them until they relocated to California and recruited Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in the mid-seventies. The next thing I knew, they were up on stage with Bill and Hillary celebrating their imminent move to a swanky Pennsylvania Avenue address.

I’m one of the few people who love nearly everything Fleetwood Mac recorded, but this 1967 eponymous debut (also called “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac” on more recent re-issues) happens to be my personal favorite. This is a straight-up blues record and Fleetwood Mac pulled it off better than any of their contemporaries. The influences of Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James are all over this record, even though most of the songs are Green and Spencer originals. If you like Chicago-style electric blues this record should be right up your alley. (If “Rhiannon” is your holy grail however, you may want to take a pass!) The best sounding version for analog hounds is the original yellow label Epic pressing, but it is difficult to find in decent shape and a near-mint copy can easily fetch upwards of $50. The Simply Vinyl 180g re-issue is one of the few this label got right and the CD re-issue sounds pretty good as well.

(Note: Other great examples of this part of the Fleetwood Mac repertoire can be found on “Albatross”, “Mr. Wonderful”, “Pious Bird of Good Omen”, and “Live In Chicago”. The last chronicles a number of loose studio sessions with Otis Spann, Honeyboy Edwards, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy and is also a gem, in spite of some modest shortcomings in terms of the recording quality.)

-Scott

 

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