Future Games (1971)


 
1. Woman of 1,000 Years 2. Morning Rain 3. What a Shame 4. Future Games 5. Sands of Time 6. Sometimes 7. Lay it All Down 8. Show Me a Smile

 

While touring for their last release, Kiln House, guitarist Jeremy Spencer announced to the band during a stay at a hotel that he was going up the street to a book store. On his way there, he got sidetracked and ended up joining a religious cult and never came back. So the band that just lost Peter Green, one album prior, was now without their other lead guitarist. Yep, it seemed things couldn't get much worse. Fortunately, somehow, they managed to re-recruit Peter Green to help finish the tour in Spencer's absence, but his weirdness from his flip out seemed more of a liability than an asset, and he made it obvious that he wasn't coming back permanently.

Well, they still had Danny Kirwan, who basically had been their salvation at this point anyway, and they decided to add keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie (the now wife of bassist John McVie) and brought in another guitar player in Bob Welch. Welch was a bit of a surprising choice. He was definitely of the laid back, trippy California vibe and not a thing like Green or Spencer. Since Kirwan was, himself, already distanced from the earliest styles of Fleetwood Mac, the band must have decided to aggressively go in this new direction, effectively erasing all hints and styles of the late sixties Mac.

Unlike their last release that also had them fumbling in the dark, they come out o.k. this time around. They seem to all unite behind the new style that they were seeking, and they now have a feeling and vibe reminiscent of the free love, hippy commune that resembled the culture at the time. Even the album cover seems to be photographed at such a location (although that's probably my overactive imagination).

Some of the album works better than other bits. Bob Welch's title cut is quite mesmerizing, and it fits his style beautifully. At eight and a half minutes long, the band seems determined to tell us that this is definitely the new direction of the band. O.K., so he sounds nothing like Peter Green (nor Lindsey Buckingham, for that matter) but his playing was a perfect fit to what this band was trying to do at the time. Kirwan is not about to be outdone, and he continues his brilliant (yet underrated) performances in Sands of Time and Woman of 1,000 Years. Christine McVie writes her first classic in the closing ballad Show Me a Smile and she manages to come up with a decent up-tempo number in Morning Rain as well.

They sometimes sound a bit like they're trying too hard to be too many things at the same time in some cases. Sometimes has all of the elements of a great song, but it sounds little too forced and, well "common" to stand out. The same can be said for the instrumental What a Shame, that never seems to have purpose, and sounds very much out of place. The other Welch composition Lay it All Down also has aged quite poorly, but it does "rock" as well as anything else this lineup could manage.

While many were upset that the "old" version of this band was gone for good, it was least admirable that they seemed to be picking up the pieces and moving in an appropriate direction - no matter how different it was.

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