One benefit gleaned from this music review site came from attending concerts of bands I otherwise would have passed on.
Then, a few months ago I started the debut album series getting me in touch with the beginnings of accomplished bands by listening to their often iconic or lost first albums. Which brings us to Fleetwood Mac.
Outside of their radio fare, and much exists, I had little experience with these 70s rockers prior to seeing them in 2013 in a mostly classic lineup consisting of singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass guitarist John McVie but absent singer Christine McVie, the ying to Nicks’ vocal yang. That concert had some special moments, some forgetful and my wife fell asleep.
Fleetwood Mac remains a touring act and has McVie back as a vocalist (missed her by a year) but no longer employs Buckingham as a result of a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances more equated with high school drama. At any rate, Fleetwood Mac charges a premium for tickets thus my reason for taking a pass on their last tour.
With or without McVie, with or without Buckingham, today’s Fleetwood Mac looks a bit different and sounds wholly different than their 1968 self-titled 35 minute 12-song debut album also referred to as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. McVie and Fleetwood remain from that original line-up along with singer and guitarist Peter Green, who also contributed on harmonica, Bob Brunning on bass and singer Jeremy Spencer the latter three eventually went their own way.
Fleetwood Mac Debut Album Review
For a British-based band at the time, Fleetwood Mac’s first album sounds rather Americana though British blues was in full swing by then. However, the four of the 12 songs on the album are covers by American blues artists. In short, expect songs you’d hear at a country fair in the Midwest with lots of harmonica, blues guitar, slide guitar and pretty simple chords to offer a relaxing day at the picnic table, beer in hand, family all-around.
Much of the songs end the same with that winding down 2-stroke guitar chord. Enjoy a fun, fast-paced rendition of the popular Elmore James song, also reinvented by several other bands, most notably, the Black Crowes and Jimmy Page. The original “Looking for Somebody” sounds a bit like “Stand By Me,” which is kind of funny because the premise of Stand by Me the movie was a bunch of kids looking for somebody, even if he was dead.
You get a taste of 60’s rock on the original songs “I Loved Another Woman” and the more bluesy “Merry Go Round” but Fleetwood Mac was formed as a blues act and Green a blues guitarist so expect a full blown blues album especially prominent with the tranquilizing “Merry Go Round,“ the snail’s pace tempo of “Cold Black Night” and the BB King like “The World Keeps on Turning”
Green’s vocals hardly harmonize but he doesn’t sound bad, actually a classic raspy grit to his singing that fits well with the accompanying slide guitar and country honky-tonk feel but really no different than the lead singer for a popular local cover band that plays at annual summer concerts in the park series.
The harmonica gets a bit old, for me anyway, a needed instrument for the blues but a much more prominent sound on this album than the guitar work. None of the songs really have much of a distinct and melodious arrangement so sit back, listen and enjoy but this Fleetwood Mac’s debut album might prove difficult for those who enjoy a deep dive into an record’s intricacies and overall intonation. Otherwise, play this as background music during your next summer BBQ and watch the expressions when you tell people its Fleetwood Mac.
If they ask.
Debut Album Grade: B
Overall Grade: B
Blues Album Grade: A-
Fleetwood Mac Debut Album Songs:
- My Heart Beats Like a Hammer
- Merry Go Round
- Long Grey Mere
- Hellhound on My Trail
- Shake Your Moneymaker
- Looking for Somebody
- No Place To Go
- My Baby’s Good To Me
- I Loved Another Woman
- Cold Black Night
- The World Keep on Turning
- Got To Move