The Pious Birds of Good Omen


 
1. Need Your Love So Bad 2. Coming Home 3. Rambling Pony 4. The Big Boat 5. I Believe My Time Ain't Long 6. The Sun is Shining 7. Albatross 8. Black Magic Woman 9. Just the Blues 10.Jigsaw Puzzle Blues 11.Looking for Somebody 12.Stop Messin' Roung

 

The only thing more confusing than the various lineups of this band over the last forty years, is the cataloging of their albums during the band's first few years of existence alone. Especially with the advent of CD technology - there have been so many "early years Fleetwood Mac" compilations, it's enough to make your head spin. Personally, I've managed to stay away from most of them - trying to limit my purchases to only studio releases that seem to feature material not really available anywhere else. Although this is a compilation of some sort, it has enough new material for me to justify including it here. In other words, if you see a Fleetwood Mac release somewhere that's not in my list of reviews, it probably means it's a cheap compilation - or not worthy of reviewing.

The great thing about this release is that the songs that are somewhat new, and you can actually hear this band expanding and growing a bit. Yes, they're definitely still rooted deep in the blues, yet they seem to be adding their own color to their personality - instead of trying to replicate the classic Chicago Blues sound that permeated most of their work to this point. It probably helped somewhat that they added a third guitarist around this time - the very talented Danny Kirwan. That's not to say Spencer and Green needed any help, but maybe it was this outside influence that allowed them to step out of their comfort zone a bit.

The opening cover of Little Willie John's Need Your Love So Bad sets off the tone beautifully, with it's sweeping slow melody accompanied (I think) by, believe it or not, a string section. Peter Green never sounded so soulful. As a matter of fact, it's really Peter Green that carries the new songs on the album. I mean, Green was always the "carrier" of the old Fleetwood Mac, but his compositions really are about the strongest things that he had done at this point. His best known song Black Magic Woman is featured here as well, and yes, this is the exact same song that the group Santana covered and made famous a couple of years later. I've always preferred the Fleetwood Mac original, but the differences aren't too major.

His other major contribution is the spacey (as in spaced out) instrumental Albatross, another well known track. To be truthful, there's nothing "bluesy" about this piece, but it's more of a trippy illegal substance laden tune that fits in perfectly with the times. His other new piece Rambling Pony adds to the variety of the album. It's not as well known as the others, but it holds up nicely.

Newcomer Danny Kirwan makes his presence known (and welcome) with his little ditty Jigsaw Puzzle Blues. Why this song is under one minute and forty five seconds is beyond me - it ends far too early and one wishes he would have had a little bit more time on his debut to make his presence felt a bit better. The rest of the album is mostly recycled stuff. Why they picked what they did from their old releases to feature here is a bit of a mystery to me (I know - bad pun). Espeically since they had masses of material that was unreleased (at least at this point). Still it was great to see them growing up a bit.

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