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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 16 - The Mac 1967-1974

Mention Fleetwood Mac to those who don't know too much about them and they will always assume that you are talking about the current line-up that features Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. But speak to someone who knows a bit about music and The Mac and you'd surely begin your conversation talking about the line-up between 1967-1970 that featured Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer,  Mick Fleetwood and Bob Brunning (who would eventually be replaced on Bass by John McVie).

The band has it's roots in John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. Peter Green joined the band after Eric Clapton had departed. He played a full year with Mayall between July 1966 to July 1967. Mick Fleetwood had joined the band in April 1967 replacing Aynsley Dunbar. John McVie had been with The Bluesbreakers since 1963 (the first nine months of his tenure on the bass he also held down a job as a Tax Inspector!).

John Mayall apparently gave Peter Green some free studio time at which he, Fleetwood and McVie recorded 5 tracks, included was an instrumental named after the Rhythm section of The Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac.

Green and Fleetwood left The Bluesbreakers in April 1967 and tried to tempt McVie to follow by naming the new band Fleetwood Mac but McVie stayed for the steady income (at least for the time being). They draft in a young Slide Guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist Bob Brunning (who joined with the proviso that he would leave as soon as McVie came to his senses and joined the band!). The live debut for the band took place at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival (Click here for an instrumental recorded at that debut show) and they were billed as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Featuring Jeremy Spencer. McVie joined the band not too many weeks after this show.

The debut album (see below) was put out as Fleetwood Mac in 1968 (though people to this day still call it Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac). It was strictly a Blues album but the band when they played live were not adverse to playing rock and roll songs, much to the annoyance of the "Blues Purists" (of whom Peter Green had no regard for - "Just because you're a blues band, it doesn't mean you are going to play blues numbers all night. We don't, we do some rocking numbers, as well" - Green in an interview with Melody Maker in August 1968). Bob Brunning played on only one track of the debut (Long Grey Mare), the rest of the bass duties were taken by John McVie.

The follow up, Mr Wonderful, would feature a young lady from Chicken Shack on keyboards who would go on to feature heavily in the history of Fleetwood Mac, Christine Perfect who would officially join the band in 1970  (not yet McVie). It was another all-Blues album. By the end of 1968 they also had their first (and only) #1 single in the UK with a beautiful instrumental called Albatross. When it was re-released in 1973 it just missed out going to the top again as it peaked at #2. Man of the World single also was a huge hit for the band in 1969 peaking at #2. And that was followed up with another #2 smash hit, Oh Well.

September 1969 saw the release of what would be the last album for Peter Green - Then Play On (there's a couple of tracks missing off the playlist in the link), Jeremy Spencer is not featured (though Mick Fleetwood says he's there on some piano parts), a new member had joined the band Danny Kirwan. Uncredited additional personnel included once again Christine Perfect on piano (who by this time had married John McVie but was still using her maiden name for the moment).

Kiln House would be the last album to feature Jeremy Spencer (There's whole bizzare tale about his departure from the band that I won't go into here). The album was released in September and featured Christine McVie doing backing vocals (she also provided the artwork for the album cover), she became a full member of the band shortly have the recording of the album was completed (though she had been performing with them live since 1969). In the UK the album didn't do so well only reaching #39 in the chart (their previous albums had all been Top Ten). It would actually be their last hit album in the UK until 1975, though in the States their albums continued to chart.

The band would have one last hit with Peter Green (even though he had already departed the band) and it was the #10 hit The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) - a very bizzare drug-induced song by Green.

Green has explained that he wrote the song after experiencing a drug-induced dream, in which he was visited by a green dog which barked at him. He understood that the dog represented money. "It scared me because I knew the dog had been dead a long time. It was a stray and I was looking after it. But I was dead and had to fight to get back into my body, which I eventually did. When I woke up, the room was really black and I found myself writing the song."

Briefly the rest of the albums: Future Games (1971) #91, fatured new guitarist Bob Welch and was a further drift away from the Blues. Bare Trees (1972) #70, was the last album to feature Danny Kirwan, he had been fired from the group mid-tour for the album. Penguin (1973) #49, Mystery To Me (1973) #67, was the last Fleetwood Mac album to be recorded in England. 1974's Heroes Are Hard To Find reached the highest position of #39. This was also the last album that Bob Welch would be a part of as he left the band at the end of 1974.

Fleetwood Mac wouldn't have another hit single until 1975 and that was with a very different line-up and a very different sound You can read about the changes that were about to happen by clicking here.

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
Blue Horizon
Produced by Mike Vernon
Released 24th February 1968
UK Chart #4
US Chart #198

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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