Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Seven years before conquering the world in the mid-’70s with a vastly different lineup, Fleetwood Mac was an incredible electric blues band led by Peter Green, a guitar hero who (in my opinion) outshone Eric Clapton after taking over for him in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Right from the start there was something special about them as proven on their self-titled 1968 debut, also known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Although the name and rhythm section remained throughout their career, this version of Fleetwood Mac couldn’t be more different than their more famous lineup, and even the other incarnations of the band in between. When it comes to British blues, it doesn’t get much better than this.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 5:
There were countless white British musicians playing pure blues in the ‘60s but few were as powerful as Fleetwood Mac. Prior to the multiple personnel changes that eventually resulted in the mega successful mid-‘70s lineup, former John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers members Peter Green (guitar & vocals), Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass) teamed up with Jeremy Spencer (guitar, piano & vocals) and unleashed this stellar debut. They combined covers of Howlin’ Wolf (“No Place To Go”), Elmore James (“Shake Your Moneymaker”) & Robert Johnson (“Hellhound On My Trail”) with originals that sat comfortably alongside those classics (most notably, Green’s “Merry Go Round,” “Long Grey Mare” & “Looking For Somebody” and Spencer’s “My Heart Beat Like A Hammer” and “My Baby’s Good To Me”). This version of the band continued for a few more albums of straight-up blues and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, and then they briefly expanded their sound before splintering. Their first album and its follow-up, Mr. Wonderful, are the best places to hear why they were such an important part of rock & blues history right from the start. In addition to the 6-string talents of Green & Spencer, the often overlooked rhythm section of Fleetwood & McVie has been the cornerstone of the group throughout its history. It’s no surprise that the band was named after them.
Who else loves this album (and the Peter Green era) as much as I do? If so, do you also like later versions of the band, or is this the only one for you?
Perhaps not surprisingly, my introduction to Fleetwood Mac was Rumours. I was hooked on that album from the get-go and still dig it. As a blues rock fan, I also like the Peter Green era, even though it was a very different band.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Rumours was also my introduction to them, when I was only 11. I didn’t hear any of the earlier material until my late-teens or early-20s, and it took some time for me to really appreciate the Peter Green-era recordings. Now I think I enjoy them as much as any of the later incarnations of the band. In many ways it’s similar to our discussions about Pink Floyd, where the Barrett-era is best appreciated when you think of them as a completely different band. Are you familiar with any of the John Mayall material from the ’60s? I know Clapton became a guitar legend when he was with Mayall, and he was pretty great, but Green was every bit as good if not better and gets much less recognition.
LikeLiked by 2 people
While I wouldn’t call myself a John Mayall expert, yep, I definitely know some of his music.
In fact, last December, I did a post on him in the wake of his 85th birthday, though it only included two 60s tunes with the Bluesbreakers, since it covered his entire career – quite amazing who has played with him!(https://christiansmusicmusings.wordpress.com/2018/12/09/john-mayall-has-turned-85-and-no-plans-for-retirement-after-more-than-50-years/)
Thanks for sharing the link to that post. You are more of an expert on Mayall’s career than I am now that I’ve read everything you wrote about him. I know a lot of the music but not the history. Seems like he’s been happy just making music with great musicians and being the launching pad for so many guitar gods.
Is it me or do I detect a little of the Cream sound in “Long Grey Mare?” I admit, this is a Fleetwood Mac I hadn’t experienced and I must say that I’m quite impressed.
I never made a direct connection between “Long Grey Mare” and Cream but I can definitely hear the similarity, especially with the bluesy side of Cream. Good call. Glad you’ve enjoyed what you heard from this era of Fleetwood Mac.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for redirecting us to the premise behind this series again – Now that you are a few posts in, I totally understand what you’re doing here, and why. Great idea (and very eco-friendly!).
That said, the only Fleetwood Mac lineup I am familiar with is the Rumours one, although the single Albatross was a massive hit for them when I was much younger. Not sure what the lineup would have been on it. As for this Blues album, not sure if it’s really my thing although no doubt a great example of its genre. Struggle with tall, white, English dudes “singin’ the blues” although that’s my problem really.
Haha…thanks for noticing the eco-friendly angle of this series. I figured most of these early selections wouldn’t be in your musical wheelhouse so I appreciate you checking in. You will probably have a similar reaction to my next post, although there’s a certain singer involved that I know you like so perhaps we’ll make a connection.
As for “Albatross,” it’s a great track and the lineup was almost the same as the debut album, except Danny Kirwan replaced Jeremy Spencer. One English dude in place of another.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m intrigued – will be checking in next Saturday!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m not familiar with this album, but I appreciate that the sampled songs are fairly short. I’d rather a song end too soon than overstay it’s welcome.
Although I’m a fan of long songs (I am a prog-rock lover, after all), I also agree that there’s something special about “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” songs.
Well, a song should be as long as it needs to be – Immigrant Song is 2 1/2 minutes and Kashmir is 8 1/2 – if the times were reversed, neither song would be as great as it is. A lot of jam-band or blues-rock songs are 10 minutes long with only 5 minutes of song.
More great points. Yep, all the best songs are the length they’re supposed to be. There have been times over the years I’ve pointed out how certain songs are great but they’ve overstayed their welcome, and the extended time takes away from my enjoyment. Seems like we’re on the same page here.