Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Fleetwood Mac – Preaching the Blues – In Concert 1971

This is an interesting document of Fleetwood Mac in flux. Peter Green has left, “Christine McVie Perfect” has just joined, Jeremy Spencer is about to depart, yet the group is still very much a blues band and nothing like the MOR/Pop group they later became.

This is evident in the opening number, the slide-driven, “Madison Blues”, sounding quite like the Elmore James original. “Purple Dancer” though, does mix the blues (more excellent slide work) with a bit more of a psych/pop tune and this pop tendency continues in guitarist Danny Kirwan’s “Open the Door”. But the return firmly to the blues with their terrific cover of Son House’s “Preaching the Blues” and their take on Elmore James’ version of “Dust My Broom”, both featuring Spencer’s terrific slide playing.

Christine takes the lead vocal on her original “Get Like You Used To Be”, a blues/pop song, that doesn’t really stand out – or show what they would become – but is not bad, either. Straight back into the hard-core blues for “Don’t Go, Please Stay” before the bit more ambitious twin-guitar/harmony vocal work on “Station Man” – not unlike a rougher Wishbone Ash, oddly enough. “I’m On My Way” continues with more psych/pop, with a bit of funky wah-wah, changing things up a bit.

I never really cared for Spencer’s fascination with re-creating 50’s tunes, despite him being quite good at it. On “Jailhouse Rock” he does spit out some fierce guitar lines, but it doesn’t really save the number, and his Elvis imitation, “The King Speaks”/”Teenage Darlin’” is plain goofy – maybe it worked in person but it’s just embarrassing on record. Thankfully, they redeem themselves with a rockin’ “Honey Hush” as their closer.

I enjoyed this CD quite a bit, but it does sound like what they were at the time – a group in transition and not 100% sure what will happen next. Still, some superior blues-rock work here with fairly amazing sound quality (love the loud, present guitars!) and well worth it on that level.