Fleetwood Mac (1968)


 
1. My Heart Beat Like a Hammer 2. Merry-Go-Round 3. Long Grey Mare 4. Hellhound on My Trail 5. Shake Your Moneymaker 6. Looking for Somebody 7. No Place to Go 8. My Babys Good to Me 9. I Loved Another Woman 10.Cold Black Night 11.The World Keep on Turning 12.Got to Move

 

No band that I know of has gone through as many personnel changes, personal upheaval and musical styles as these guys. When you say "Fleetwood Mac", most people think of the popular 70's band that put out Rumours with such names as Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, and Stevie Nicks. What a lot of people don't know is that those individuals didn't join this band until very "late" in the ball game. It's also worth mentioning that the earliest incarnation of the group sounds absolutely nothing like the above mentioned multi-platinum laid back California sounding outfit.

The only members that stayed with this group since the beginning were drummers Mick Fleetwood and Bassist John McVie - hence the band name. Although they were a solid rhythm section, they never really took the microphone and/or wrote any of the band's material - so in that aspect it's easy to see how the band changed its styles so much. For this early release, they were a hardcore blues band - nothing more. Drummer Fleetwood had previously been in John Mayhall's Bluesbreakers and the "blues" music was very much in vogue in England in the late 1960's. Also in the freshman lineup were guitarist and singer Jeremy Spencer, that handled this style beautifully and sounded exactly like many of the blues pioneers from decades past. The real presence in the band, though, was the other singer and lead guitarist - a chap named Peter Green. Green was...well...you just have to hear him. One listen to any early Fleetwood Mac song with Peter Green at the mic was enough to convince you that this band had an incredibly bright future as long as he remained in the band.

This first album is an incredible classic. Not to be confused with the 1975 album of the same name, fans would distinguish this album by calling it either "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" or "The Dog and Dustbin album" (see the front cover). I must confess that I'm really not a fan of Blues music. So someone such as myself that can find so much euphoric joy in listening to this tells you just how good it is. There's no "generic" sound here, Green and Spencer go all over the place, so whatever your "style" is, it's covered in some form or fashion here.

There's plenty of slower, whinier pieces (i.e. typical blues) that would appeal to the traditionalist, but the band can definitely kick it up several notches on songs such as Shake Your Moneymaker and the album opener My Heart Beat Like a Hammer. One of my personal favorites is No Place to Go which is very reminiscent of the classic Green Onions that was written by Blues Brother Band member Steve Cropper and covered by just about anyone with a passing fancy in the blues.

It needs to be said that even though these type of bands were popping up all over the place around this time, the challenge was to bring something new to the sound that could make it somewhat unique to the times. How to you take a genre like The Blues and make it a bit different, unique, yet still appealing? Well, this is where Peter Green's real gift was. I Loved Another Woman is a classic example. It's definitely a blues piece, but there's something so infectious and memorable about his guitar playing that screams "late sixties", yet never bastardizes this well known style of music. This is probably the strongest cut on the album - and the whole album is incredibly strong. Not quite as "popular", yet easily as influential is his The World Keep on Turning which is done only accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Green's voice is so powerful and resonating that we forget it's a sort-of "unplugged" piece.

The above mentioned personnel changes throughout this band's history were mostly non-voluntary, several key members having one sort of breakdown or another, and they would sadly never quite capture the pure sound of this early record. They would make plenty of great records, but this early one was definitely one of a kind.


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