For almost ten years, their quantity certainly surpassed their quality, and even after the big breakthrough in they didn't manage to encompass anything truly substantial , if you know what I mean. Innovation and originality are certainly not the terms to be associated with the band. On the other hand, their body of work in retrospect looks quite solid and, well, entertaining at the least.
If anything, these guys and girls had a fantastic tenacity - and a good skill at creating not too bright, but very often catchy and sympathetic tunes. You gotta give them their due, they deserve it.
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I originally gave them an overall rating of B, but as time passed on and on, I found out that Lindsey Buckingham was hitting me on my brains every night and holding demonstrations of protest inside my conscience, so I just had to raise the rating one point and let him get away with satisfaction. Maybe the most striking thing about Fleetwood Mac is their rapid evolution over the years. Having started off around as a hardcore blues band whose main ambition was to put to shame Cream, in less than a couple of years they'd discovered that this direction was a dead end and switched directions in a twinkle of an eye.
They dragged along with this sound for five more bleeding years before finally discovering it was a dead end just as well , and new members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks finally shaped the band's identity into what they are mostly known for today - a slick, super-professional and highly commercial pop entity. No band had ever run over a distance that great in its evolution - Genesis is what comes up on one's mind immediately, but Genesis always revolved around the axeman Tony Banks whose distinctive sound characterizes the band's sound now just as it did thirty years ago.
I even thought of giving several different ratings to the band's three main periods, but, on second thought, replaced them with an average rating. I guess you'll have no problem in 'reconstructing' the original three ratings from reading my reviews. Now let's get on with the lineup. The Blues Period: John McVie - bass guitar; Mick Fleetwood - drums. This is the trusty rhythm section that gave the band its name, actually, and the band's only stable skeleton.
Peter Green - guitar, vocals; Jeremy Spencer - guitar. The early Mac were pretty much dominated by Green's blueswailing, but Spencer did contribute to the band's sound seriously, too. In the band were joined by Danny Kirwan on guitar, and the big changes began Green and Spencer both quit in after having mental breakdowns and joining religious sects I wonder what Danny's coming had to do with that?
Kirwan got fired in for erratic behaviour and was replaced not for long by Bob Weston. However, both Bobs quit by , and the band seemed almost on the brink of dissection, when suddenly The Serious Pop Period: Thus is brought on the most famous line-up that recorded some of their biggest sellers and which lasted, hmm, until - a real long time, ain't it? However, the original line-up had suddenly reformed for a live album in , which - fancy that - turned out to be their best record in at least fifteen years. So, as you see, the band's a vivacious one. And quite a prolific one, too.
Wow, I feel I'll be sweatin' when I end up these here reviews There's just one more thing I'd like to add about the Buckingham-Nicks lineup. Like I said, it could hardly be called substantial - and yet, there was at least one thing that the band managed to encompass with practically no equals. Nobody but Buckingham could really express a person's dark, angry or sad emotions with so much finesse, subtlety and genius.
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That's why so many people find Mac to their liking - quite a lot of their songs from that period, especially from Rumours but not only are easy to associate with one's personal troubles and sufferings. And when Lindsey delivers his material, he does it with such passion and sincerity, regardless of the real time or state he's in, that it can't but burn into your soul - listen to 'I'm So Afraid' or 'Big Love' the live acoustic version for proof.
If anything, Buckingham is the right opposite to Motown 'soulless' soul performers who do their job with a lot of professionalism but not an ounce of sincerity, and must be acclaimed as such. One point off for The early derivative blues days, the latter manneristic days Mostly for the sake of Buckingham stuff like 'I'm So Afraid' gotta rank with the most viciously emotional songs ever written. Well, at least nobody could outbeat these guys in holding up through all the lineup changes. Granted, with so many different people going through the band, it isn't THAT unpredictable.
Year Of Release: Track listing: It's a long way from the Marquee Club to Rumours , so I'll start this from an appropriately far away angle. My name's George S. I am what people who don't like me call a "wannabe rock star", or what people who like me call "an insightful reviewer". Whatever be the case, I'm your typical 'little guy'.
I don't have a radio show, I don't propagate free love, I don't go into politics, I don't dabble in arts, I'm hardly likely to make a huge impact on the world. I'm just sitting here "beating on my trumpet" as Bob Dylan would say, putting up rock and pop reviews for no apparent reason other than having some sort of way to express meself as an individual. This is why I can certainly identify with Bob Brunning. Bob Brunning is also a typical 'little guy'. He's probably known to only a few more people than myself, and most of these would probably refer to him as "that accidental freak", even if they don't mean it.
He even sort of looks like me, and not just because he's wearing glasses. I figure that if I were a rock musician at some point in my life, I would probably be very similar to Bob Brunning. Quietly standing with my little guitar or bass in the corner, doing my little thing out there, and throwing shy glances at the "great artists" standing to the right of me, playing their hearts out. There'd hardly be anything more for me in the business. I'm not sure, though, whether I'd swallow my being kicked out of the band as easily as Bob did.
Yes indeed, his serving as Fleetwood Mac's first ever bass player was a bit misguided. But John initially declined - the only reason for their hiring Brunning instead.
Once the band's first appearances were noted, though, and the first positive reviews started rolling in, McVie apparently understood what he was missing, and Mr Brunning was given the boot. A less nicer and agreeable person might have spent the rest of his life letting the air out of the band's van's tyres or cutting off power in the middle of their biggest concerts; Brunning, on the other hand, became the band's biggest fan and even went as far as to write their official biography. Well - I've always had a weak spot in my heart for the pleasant Gandhi-like type, even if I'm far from being one myself.
That said, the Gandhi motives are still put under heavy suspicion by the release of this album. Now, I've got nothing against historical curiosities, and likewise, I can see that this issue perfectly ties in with the Mac's politics of releasing as much of everything that somehow ties in with "the early years" as possible see below on that.
Moreover, it's, like, the second ever live gig played by the band, which certainly gives it a unique flavour; the "supergroup" concept was only drawing its first breath in , and I suppose the only band at the time who could risk releasing their second live gig, be it then or later, without falling flat on its face, were Cream. But they didn't. Yet all of these considerations turn pallid once you actually hit the play button. All of this record - and I really mean it - sounds like it was captured on a hand-held tape recorder, stuffed by Brunning deep into one of his boots. More probably, Brunning didn't have anything to do with it why would the others object to having nicer recording equipment, anyway?
That nice sunny or horrid rainy day in August, , Fleetwood Mac might have been playing like the devil, making the audiences and themselves go crazy with blues longing and rock and roll drive - but if you weren't there on the spot, this recording sure ain't gonna confirm that. Granted, I managed my three listens, and by the middle of the second one, I got a little used to the fact that I could hear the ladies and gentlemen of the audience discuss their personal problems about as fine as I could hear Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer sing the blues.
But then I put on something normal for a change, and by the time I got around to my third listen, I had to start getting used all over again. A discomfortable situation if there ever was one. I'm not going to discuss their repertoire, not only because of the sound quality, but also because it's more or less the same stuff that's been later recorded in the studio for their first two albums where you could actually distinguish between the two guitars, at least , and you can learn all about my attitude towards the earliest stage of Fleetwood Mac out there.
As far as I know, two of the three Peter Green originals on here 'Evil Woman Blues' and 'Watch Out For Me Woman' did not appear on any other Mac albums, which would make Live At The Marquee an essential purchase for those conducting serious research on the man's evolution as composer.
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But hardly for anybody else: Only 'Looking For Somebody', with its spooky, jerky harmonica lines and "stuttering" rhythmics, offers a couple hints at originality, and that one can be easily located in fine quality on the band's official debut. And speaking of Spencer, while on later records he would often act as the band's great entertainer by offering hilarious rock'n'roll parodies, on here he is still strictly sticking to Elmore James.
Which Brunning sort of speaks with adoration about in the liner notes, but me, I'm bored. Unless it's 'Shake Your Moneymaker', which is really a dang fine performance to close the show with. Two duelling slide guitars on a fast track - wowser! Unless it's really just one and I can't hear the other. As you can see, that's some pretty slim credit out there. All the more dishonest, I think, is for Brunning to not mention the quality of this recording even once , leading the potential consumer into believing this might be of equal value to the band's BBC recordings, which it mightn't.
Clearly my ass. That's one hell of a euphemism if I ever heard one. Like I said, I can feel a certain inner sympathy for Bob Brunning, and understand his motivation, but forgiving is one thing, and forgetting is another. Some fine blueswailing, but it's easy to see why they didn't maintain their status as a blues band for very long Hardcore blues. That's what the record is, from top to bottom. Eh, but what could you expect from a group that graduated out of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers?
The only question is: God only knows. A possible guess is that Britain had already gotten kinda sick and tired of Mayall, and Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood thought that a new hardcore blues band, with some injection of new blood and a relatively fresh approach, would rekindle the interest in 'roots-rock', so shamefully lost since the advent of the 'psychedelic' era.
Thus the Mac took on an honourable function: They performed that function with verve - proudly carrying the blues on their shoulders through and and caressing it as best they could until it became obvious that other bands, starting from the Beatles and especially the Stones, were getting back to their 'roots' as well - that's when the Mac started relinquishing theirs. But fascinating as that little historic excourse might have seemed, let's get back to business - after all, this site doesn't exactly rate records according to their historical importance.
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Seriously, now, from a thirty-years-on point of view this particular record ain't very entertaining. Never would be, too: You tell me. The only arguable virtuoso in the band was guitarist Peter Green, and he does have a distinctive sound - but it's hugely derivative of his blues heroes whose songs he's singing and whose licks he's valiantly copping. If you've heard enough Muddy Waters and Elmore James in your lives, you won't need this record. Not to mention that even the production sucks: The sound is flat and pedestrian; for comparison, take a listen to the far superior John Mayall's Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton with its deep rumbling echoes and a guitar that sounds like it's coming somewhere from the stratosphere rather than from somebody's bellybutton.
To be more precise, the band runs the gamut from straightforward, ear-piercing, dumb-lyricized tunes 'My Heart Beat Like A Hammer'; 'My Baby's Good To Me' , to slow, 'philosophical' shuffles 'Merry Go Round', the moody 'Cold Black Night' and even some fast rockers 'Shake Your Moneymaker' , although speed is certainly not characteristic of this record.
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It is obvious that these guys could play fast when they wanted to, but they simply wouldn't do it - probably so that they wouldn't be accused of making a rock'n'roll record. By the way, you know that Mick Jagger once said around something like 'I hope we're not being considered a rock'n'roll band'.
Funny what time does to some people! The problem is, they don't have enough genius or creativity to make anything outstanding - they're just following the pattern established long ago, and both Spencer's and Green's originals are practicably indistinguishable from the covers. This stuff is not bad, but I couldn't call it more than 'okay', since only maybe, like, two songs are able to attract my attention at all. By the way, that's the only track on this record that features original bassist Bob Brunning - yes, there was a time when the band was called 'Fleetwood Mac' without the 'Mac' being actually backed up by a real 'Mac'.
I also think that the gloomy rhythm of 'Looking For Somebody' is kinda distinctive, but that doesn't make the song a particularly outstanding piece. At least they try out enough styles and moods to make it possible to sit through the entire record in one go quite unlike Mr Wonderful , that is. But really, I think blues historians are the only people who should be seriously interested in it.
I forgot to mention the best song on the album. By accident? I guess not.