OG Fleetwood Mac
Listen – Fleetwood Mac – Albatross – MP3
I hope the day finds you well. My brain is – as is almost always the case – battered, tattered and throwing sparks. As a result I’ve decided to pull a gem from the UK rock crates guaranteed to put even the most savage breast (look it up…) to rights.
I’d also like to take a moment to let you know that Funky16Corners has jut passed the 1,000,000 hit mark and I’m celebrating with the fourth podcast composed entirely of Beatle covers (soul, funk, jazz etc). Check it out if you get the chance.
If – like me – you came of age in the 70s, the name Fleetwood Mac is sure to conjure up all kinds of memories, but mostly the kind that prominently feature Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. It wasn’t until I picked up my first John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers LP that I realized that the history of Fleetwood Mac was a much deeper thing than I had assumed (but then most things are…).
That realization came with seeing the name (and face) of John McVie on the sleeve.
It was in 1967 that McVie, along with fellow Bluesbreakers, guitarist Peter Green and drummer Mick Fleetwood jumped ship to form Fleetwood Mac.
Along with Jeremy Spencer they recorded three, mainly blues LPs for the Blue Horizon label. Teenage guitarist Danny Kirwan joined the band in 1968 and the sound of the band started to change. Green and Kirwan started to move the group away from a blues revival/purist sound to a more expansive, vaguely psychedelic sound.
I’ve always felt Fleetwood Mac mk2 (after Kirwan joined but before Green left) suffered from a mild case of musical schizophrenia, with the progressive faction (led by Green) doing battle with Jeremy Spencer, who always sounded as if he’d have been pleased to sit in a pub playing Elmore James tunes all day long. The record that signaled the changing course of the band (in a BIG way) was 1969s ‘Albatross’. The mellow, reflective instrumental was a Number One hit in the UK (and Top 10 on the Continent). If ‘Albatross’ sounds eerily familiar, consider the fact that it has been long rumored to have been the inspiration for the Beatles ‘Sun King’ (it sure sounds like it to me).
The feel of ‘Albatross’ is echoed in the sound of the group’s next album (my personal fave) ‘Then Play On’, which saw them mixing hard edged rock (‘Oh Well’, ‘Rattlesnake Shake’) with gentler, hippy friendly material like ‘My Dream’ and ‘Although the Sun Is Shining’ (both written by Kirwan).
Peter Green’s tenure in the band – as his growing status as one of the original UK 60s guitar gods – came to an end by the Spring of 1970, at which time he had a breakdown of sorts and dropped out of the music business entirely (except for a brief return to the band in 1971 when Spencer bailed out to join a cult).
Later in 1971, both Christine Perfect (later to marry John McVie) and Bob Welch would join the band, taking it in yet another direction, with the Buckingham/Nicks era still four years off.
I hope you dig the tune.