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Cream of The Crate: Album # 177 - Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac

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  • Cream of The Crate: Album # 177 - Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac

    "Fleetwood Mac adds up to an impressively smooth transitional album."(Rolling Stone - 1975)
    "
    Fleetwood Mac represents not just the rebirth of the band, but in effect a second debut for the group."
    ( Stephen Eriewine - AllMusic
    "This album introduces a sound that would not just become familiar, but much loved."(This review)

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    This is album review number One hundred and seventy seven in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and CD albums from my collection.


    The series is called Cream of The Crate and each review represents an album that I believe represents significant musical value, either because of its rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of a music or because there is something unique about the music, the group or the particular production. The first fifty reviews were based on vinyl albums from my collection, with the following fifty on CD albums from my collection. Links to all these reviews can be found at the bottom of the page.

    One of the great complaints about much of the music of the early to mid 1970's, was that it was the era of the endless guitar solos (at the best), and endless guitar noodling (at the worst). then there was the massive overproduction and the finessing of the music until all semblance of originality was gone. This was a major reason for the rise of the punk movement, but, not all the music from that period was in either style.

    This fantastic group was known as Fleetwood Mac and this, a vinyl album is self-titled - Fleetwood Mac. Released by Reprise Records in 1975, it has the identifying code of MS 2225. The album only has eleven tracks, six on the first side and five on the other side.

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    The story of Fleetwood Mac is the story of a band that started its life on one side of the Atlantic Ocean (in the UK), and finished up living, working and recording on the other side of that ocean, in the USA.

    The members of Fleetwood Mac that came from the UK to the USA were renegades from the great British blues group - John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. They were John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. The early form of the group, which incidentally is made of of the names of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, and very early forms of the group consisted of guitarists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch. Sometimes the group operated with three guitarists and sometimes they operated as a as a quartet, the word "fluid' comes to mind.


    According to their bio in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - "There are arguably three “definitive” Fleetwood Mac lineups. One of them is the blues-oriented band of the late Sixties, which arrayed three guitarists (Green, Spencer and Kirwan) around the rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie. They are best represented by 1969’s Then Play On, a milestone in progressive blues-rock. After Green’s exodus in mid-1970, the remaining members cut the more easygoing, rock and roll-oriented Kiln House. Early in 1971, a born-again Spencer abruptly left the band during a U.S. tour to join the Children of God. The second key configuration found Fleetwood, McVie and Kirwan joined by keyboardist Christine McVie (born Christine Perfect, she’d married bassist McVie) and guitarist Bob Welch, a Southern Californian who became the group’s first American member and a harbinger of new directions".

    This configuration produced a pair of ethereal pop masterpieces, Future Games (1971) and Bare Trees (1972). Kirwan, who was having personal problems, was asked to leave in August 1972. The remaining foursome, joined by new recruits Dave Walker (vocals) and Bob Weston, recorded Penguin (1973); sans Walker, they cut Mystery to Me (1973). Again reduced to a quartet with Weston’s departure, they released Heroes Are Hard to Find in 1974.


    By 1975 the best loved and what has been described as the "platinum" version of the group formed when Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined John and Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood.

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    The "Platinum" lineup: Fleetwood, Nicks, McVie J, McVie C & Buckingham

    This is the lineup on this album, which produced their tenth and much loved album - called Fleetwood Mac but also known as the "White Album". This album went to #1 in the UK, #2 in Canada, #3 in Australia and #4 in new Zealand. It scraped into #23 in the UK, where they were still moaning about the group moving away from their blues base!

    Now while the album was successful it is not but not by any stretch of the imagination, or fact, their most successful! That would come to be their next album - Rumours, which went to #1 almost everywhere. Another seven studio albums, including Rumours, followed taking the group up to 2003. These were supplemented by eight live albums and twenty two compilation albums.

    The group has been a tangled mess of 'comings and goings' by various members of the "platinum" lineup, and as recently as 2014 when Christine McVie who left permanently in 1998 returned. Seriously, the machinations involving members and personal issues, professional issues and just plain craziness makes the group's history a downright mess!

    What is indisputable, is the brilliant reputation they gained, particularly with the "platinum" lineup. I chose the "White Album" as my Cream of The Crate album over my Rumours copy because it is in fact the first of this great lineup, and it so shows the beautiful chemistry between the members and, despite it not having the magnitude of "hits' of other albums, it does have some ripper tracks that clearly define the direction of the group.

    Track Listing:


    Side One

    Monday Morning
    Warm Ways
    Blue Letter
    Rhiannon
    Over My Head
    Crystal

    Side Two

    Say You Love Me
    Landslide
    World Turning
    Sugar Daddy
    I’m So Afraid

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    Rear cover

    Monday Morning kicks off side 1 of this album with the voice of Christine McVie providing lead vocals for a Lindsey Buckingham composition. Bright, uptempo and it does have a strong element of "pop" about it - but, so what? The fact that in earlier incarnations the group was blues based simply means they eventually realised that if they wanted to eat, they had to reach a broader audience. They achieve this because the song is well constructed, played with a bright and confident feel with a melodic overtone and really, it captures that "California Feeling" so popular at the time. At 2:45 it was made for radio, but was actually never released as a single.

    The group would often open live shows with this track and it's easy to see why, or rather hear why, as it bounces along and is a "feel good" track.


    Monday Morning


    Track 2 - Warm Ways was in fact released as a single, at least in the UK, but was a different version to that which appears on this album. Written and performed by Christine McVie it is a gentle ballad, a really nice track.

    Following this is Blue Letter, track 3. Noteable as the only track on the album not written by one or more members of the group, it it matches up well with Monday Morning as a good uptempo track and received much acclaim. It still stands the test of time today.

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    Track 4 is Rhiannon and I make no bones about it, one of my all time favourite Fleetwood Mac tracks, and a damn fine track on this album. Written and delivered by Stevie Nicks, she convinced us all that not only was she a "Welsh Witch", but she added an element to the group's vocals that helped them stand out both as a lead singer and backing vocalist. She cut a pretty damn fine figure on stage as well!.

    As she has told the story, while she was a struggling musician in 1974 (shortly before joining Fleetwood Mac) along with her then boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, young Stevie Nicks read a novel, called Triad, about a girl named Rhiannon. She thought it was a beautiful name and decided to write a song about it.

    According to Stevie - "Rhiannon is the story of a lady that is from another world ~ called the Bright world ~ and she leaves her kingdom to become the wife of a king ~ a mortal king ~ but goddesses really can't marry mortal kings, if they do they lose their powers ~ their magic powers. And they don't lose the knowledge of them they just ~they know everything that's going to happen they just can't do anything about it. Which is a much more difficult way to live than not having magic powers is to not be able to use them and know exactly what's coming and to not be able to tell anybody. So she comes down and does her whole trip, and it's just a whole story ~ it's a wonderful story.

    And she has these birds that sing and that is the legend of the song of the birds of Rhiannon. And they sing this song that is uh, said takes away pain and suffering and if you hear the song you just sort of blank out and go away and then when you wake up everthing's all right. And it is a wonderful, wonderful story which I use a lot, because there's a lot of ~ there seems to be a lot of need for the story of Rhiannon around lately, because if people are sad or have lost anybody or something the story really makes a lot of sense
    ." [Stevie Nicks, Starsound Special RKO Radio, December 21, 1981]


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    Stevie Nicks is, Rhiannon

    The song rises and falls, it cascades with a silvery vibrato and the guitar work of Buckingham is superb! In fact it is a master-class of playing an understated guitar solo that proves "space" is just as important as "fill". Really, the whole musicianship on this track is perfect! As for the performance of Stevie Nicks, well it is simply outstanding.

    Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night and
    Wouldn't you love to love her?
    Takes to the sky like a bird in flight and
    Who will be her lover?

    All your life you've never seen
    A woman taken by the wind
    Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
    Will you ever win?

    She is like a cat in the dark and then
    She is the darkness
    She rules her life like a fine skylark and when
    The sky is starless

    All your life you've never seen
    A woman taken by the wind
    Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
    Will you ever win?
    Will you ever win?

    Rhiannon
    Rhiannon
    Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    She rings like a bell through the night and
    Wouldn't you love to love her?
    She rules her life like a bird in flight and
    Who will be her lover?

    All your life you've never seen
    A woman taken by the wind
    Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
    Will you ever win?
    Will you ever win?

    Rhiannon
    Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    Taken by
    Taken by the sky

    Taken by
    Taken by the sky

    Taken by
    Taken by the sky

    Dreams unwind
    Love's a state of mind

    Dreams unwind
    Love's a state of mind

    Dreams unwind
    Love's a state of mind

    It is almost a trance like/narcotic like/magic like ending as the song dissolves into a soul stirring conclusion as Stevie repeats the "Taken by the sky" the chorus in the background is both beautifully placed and is beautifully balanced.


    Rhiannon


    The following track is Over My Head. This isn't a spectacular track, it hasn't got the passion and mystery of Rhiannon, yet it is a most pleasant soft-style rock track that features Christine McVie on vocals.

    Released as a single from the album and it struck a chord in the hearts and ears of music fans and as a consequence was really their first "hit" track. It only reached the #20 position in the USA but more importantly, it drew the buying public's attention to the album, which resulted in a very nice 8 million units sold worldwide.

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    A young Mick Fleetwood

    The 45 RPM single version of the song—released for radio airplay—was a remixed, edited version that differed noticeably from the version on the this album. The singles version is easily distinguished by a cold start (versus the fade-in intro on the LP version), louder guitar strums in the choruses, and less ensemble vocal work overall. In addition, whereas the single version fades during its 3-bar instrumental outro, the album version tape-loops it to 6-bars upon fade out. Finally, while the album version has relatively wide stereo soundstage, the single version is mixed very narrowly (essentially mono) with stereo reverberation effects on some bongo passages and select guitar flourishes. [Wikipedia]

    The version available to you to check out is from the album. Incidentally, many writers and reviewers have claimed it was Christine McVie's attempt to write about her failing marriage to John, although to my knowledge she never confirmed this. Despite the bongos being drawn out of the mix in a more effective manner in the "single version", they are nonetheless quite effective, courtesy of Mick Fleetwood, and whereas as an instrument were often used during the 1950's, by the 1970's were rarely heard.


    Over My Head

    Track 6 - the final track on side one is, Crystal. A nice track it is dominated somewhat by organ and acoustic guitar melodies.

    Turning over the album, track 1 on side 2 is Say You Love Me. Taken from the album as single #4 it charted very well reaching #11 on the Billboard Top 100. Written by Christine McVie and featuring her singing lead vocals it was possible almost as well known as Rhiannon. The guitar work in this track is pretty damn sweet, and all over it is a nicely balanced and well produced piece of music, more than ably demonstrating Christine's lyric writing abilities.

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    Christine McVie

    The nice thing about this album version is that it has overdubbed guitars which definitely gives the track a richer sound.

    Have mercy, baby on a poor girl like me,
    You know I'm falling, falling, falling at your feet,
    I'm tingling right from my head to my toes,
    So help me, help me, help me make the feeling go.

    'Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down,
    And there's not another living soul around,
    Then you woo me until the sun comes up,
    And you say that you love me.

    Have pity baby,
    Just when I thought it was over,
    Now you got me running, running, running for cover.
    I'm begging you for a little sympathy,
    'Cause if you use me again it'll be the end of me.
    'Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down,
    And there's not another living soul around,
    Then you woo me until the sun comes up,
    And you say that you love me.

    Baby, baby, hope you're gonna stay away,
    'Cause I'm getting weaker, weaker everyday,
    I guess I'm not as strong as I used to be,
    And if you use me again it'll be the end of me.

    'Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down,
    And there's not another living soul around,
    Then you woo me until the sun comes up,
    And you say that you love me.

    'Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down,
    And there's not another living soul around,
    Then you woo me until the sun comes up,
    And you say that you love me.

    And you say that you love me.
    And you say that you love me.

    Fallin' fallin' fallin
    Fallin' fallin' fallin


    Say You Love Me



    The following track is Landslide - a very nice ballad featuring the voice of Stevie Nicks with some pretty acoustic guitar and a small but very nice piece of electric guitar. It wasn't a track I had intended playing, but as I relistened to it while writing this review, I realised that is was a track often overlooked among the more power-based tracks on the album. It is a very poignant track, maybe wistful even, and maybe it is a reflection that I have now lived far more years than I have left, that it struck a fresh chord - a fresh note of emotion in me - so here it is.


    Landslide


    Track 3 on this side is World Turning. The song is credited to
    Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, but it's roots go way back to the group's first album, when a track with the same name was written by Peter Green, the then guitarist/founder of the group. Some ten albums later the track was revisited, and reworked by Buckingham and McVie until this version eventuated.

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    Lindsey Buckingham

    The track has many good features if not innovative for the time. They make use of the now well known "talking drum", made by them by a Nigerian friend of the group, and an instrument that they used many times of world tours. It is hard not to like the Dobro guitar sound on the track, and I must say well played by Lindsay Buckingham. It is a perfect track for demonstrating the power of Christine McVie's voice - overall it is a brilliant track. The harmonies are tight and the drumming is even tighter, and no wonder that they often extended to 20+ minutes on tour performances.


    World Turning


    Track 4 - Sugar Daddy. well, if an album has to have a weak track, for me, this is it!

    The final track - I'm So Afraid leaves me with mixed feelings. It does have some very nice guitar work, once again from Lindsey Buckingham almost with an overtone of "terror"! Was it reflective of his breakup with Stevie Nicks? After all, as she said in a recent interview in the Guardian newspaper in 2015 - "He and I will always be antagonising to each other, and we will always do things that will irritate each other, and we really know how to push each other’s buttons.
    That antagonism was hard to disguise at the time this album was made.

    I believe the solo was often extended for up to 7 minutes in live performances. it is a nice production but . . . . what a down-tempo track to finish off with. OK, so better music minds than mind were involved in the track placement - but I would not have finished off a great uptempo album with this track!

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    John McVie

    So, there we have it. Not their most popular album, not the one that sold the most copies, but it was the one that announced to the world that this line-up of Fleetwood Mac was an "El Primo" lineup. What we find is that this album introduces a sound that would not just become familiar, but much loved. The album itself is by enlarge well balanced with a good combination of fine 'rockin'" tracks, a really nice ballad, some classics and fully represents the qualities the group would come to build an even stronger set of music on in the future.

    The good news is that in December of 2015 Stevie Nicks said she would commit to a new album, after a lot of vacillation, she announced that, "... the group is making “a whole album,” adding, “We have plenty of songs.” Information published online indicates that Stevie, Christine McVie, drummer Mick Fleetwood, singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and bassist John McVie — all are expected to be involved, which would mark the band’s first studio effort featuring all five since 1987’s Tango in the Night. [Article link]

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    Fleetwood Mac - 2015

    So it is definitely an album to have in any collection, even if you have other Fleetwood Mac vinyl or CD's in your collection. This album, the self titled Fleetwood Mac (or the White Album) is the key that unlocked the door to a very good musical future.

    It is readily available, and while I will always prefer the vinyl product, the re-released Cd does contain some additional tracks that are worthy of having but the great news is, that there is a re-released vinyl set with additional material as well.

    The original version (this album), is available on Ebay for between $25 and $55.00.

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    VIDEOS - A drop into Youtube reveals some very good live performances of material from this album.


    Blue Letter


    Rhiannon


    I'm So Afraid



    If you are interested in checking out the first fifty vinyl albums reviewed, just click here

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    If you are interested in checking out the first fifty (50) CD's reviewed by me, just click here

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    If you are interested in checking out reviews 101 to 150 (Vinyl & CD) as reviewed by me, just click here

    ​​
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    Past album Reviews - Numbers 151 onward:

    Number 151 - The Shaggs: Philosophy Of The World
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5204-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-151-The-Shaggs-Philosophy-Of-The-World

    Number 152 - The Animals: The Animals
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5231-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-152-The-Animals-The-Animals

    Number 153 - Omar Khorshid: Live in Australia 1981
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5288-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-153-Omar-Khorshid-His-Group-Live-In-Australia-1981


    Number 154 - Alan Parsons Project: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Edgar Allan Poe)
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5333-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-154-The-Alan-Parsons-Project-Tales-of-Mystery-and-Imagination-Edgar-Allan-Poe

    Number 155 - Billy Thorpe: Tangier
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5369-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-155-Billy-Thorpe-Tangier


    Number 156 - Aretha Franklin: The Best Of
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5397-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-156-Aretha-Franklin-The-Best-Of

    Number 157 - Big Bill Broonzy: Big Bill Blues [His 23 Greatest Songs]
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5439-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-157-Big-Bill-Broonzy-Big-Bill-s-Blues-(his-23-greatest-songs)

    Number 158 - The Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5471-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-158-The-Supremes-Where-Did-Our-Love-Go

    Number 159 - The Band: Stage Fright
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5499-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-159-The-Band-Stage-Fright

    Number 160 - Ray Brown & The Whispers: Hits and More 1965 - 1968
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5523-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-160-Ray-Brown-And-The-Whispers-Hits-More-1965-1968

    Number 161 - Guitar Junior: The Crawl
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5553-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-161-Guitar-Junior-The-Crawl

    Number 162 - Jimi Hendrix: Radio One
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5567-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-162-Jimi-Hendrix-Radio-One

    Number 163 - Memphis Minnie: Queen Of The Blues
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5574-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-163-Memphis-Minnie-Queen-Of-The-Blues

    Number 164 - Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5583-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-164-Eno-Taking-Tiger-Mountain-(by-Strategy)

    Number 165 - The Loved Ones: Magic Box
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5611-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-165-The-Loved-Ones-Magic-Box

    Number 166 - Various Artists: On The Road Again [An Anthology Of Chicago Blues 1947 - 1954]
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5620-Cream-Of-The-Crate-Album-166-On-The-Road-Again-An-Anthology-of-Chicago-Blues-1947-1954

    Number 167 - Janis Joplin: Greatest Hits

    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5629-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-167-Janis-Joplin-Greatest-Hits

    Number 168 - David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5637-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-168-David-Bowie-Ziggy-Stardust-The-Motion-Picture


    Number 169 - Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5645-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-169-Red-Hot-Chilli-Peppers-Californication

    Number 170 - Chain: Two Of A Kind

    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5652-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-170-Chain-Two-Of-A-Kind

    Number 171 - Bob Marley and The Wailers - Legend
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5661-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-171-Bob-Marley-Legend

    Number 172 - Coco Taylor: What It takes
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5675-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-172-Koko-Taylor-What-It-Takes

    Number 173 - Stevie Wonder: Original Musiquarium
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5685-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-173-Stevie-Wonder-Original-Musiquarium

    Number 174 - Various Artists: The Unissued 1963 Blues Festival
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5696-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-174-Various-Artists-The-Unissued-1963-Blues-Festival

    Number 175 - Noeleen Batley: Little Treasure
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5710-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-175-Noeleen-Batley-Little-Treasure

    Number 176 - B.B. King: The Best Of
    tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/5733-Cream-of-The-Crate-Album-176-B-B-King-The-Best-Of
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      "Sam & Dave created some of their century's most enduring music in the pop form." (Stylus Magazine January 2007)
      "
      There can be no argument that as a duo, Sam and Dave introduced the previously successful sound of the black church music, so successfully to pop music." (This review)



      This is album review number One Hundred and Ninety Seven in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and CD albums from my collection.
      ...
      5 August 2016, 08:52 AM
    • Cream of The Crate: Album # 196 - Ma Rainey: Ma Rainey
      by Rob Greaves
      "Her deep, almost-vibratoless contralto sounded rough and unsophisticated compared to other commercial blueswomen but she projected a great depth of feeling and was adored by audiences." (US Library of Congress
      "Ma Rainey was one of the first singers to popularize the style (the blues)." (Joe McGasko - Bio May 2015)
      "
      When we listen to Ma Rainey, the recordings are very crude, but even so the power and mesmerism of her voice shows that pure talent and commitment to an audience makes Ma Rainey stand out even more today.
      " (This review)



      This is album review number One Hundred and Ninety Six in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and CD albums from my collection.
      ...
      29 July 2016, 10:18 AM
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