Wherein Peter Green, main guitar man for the early Fleetwood Mac, lays down a blueprint for a blues rock that aims to move so far beyond the bounds of either blues or rock that a new name will probably be required – something that contains the fierce grit of the Mississippi Delta circa 1930, waters rising, levees about to overflow, but also the majestic sweep of a Ennio Morricone Spaghetti western soundtrack, that scene where the cold eyed killer looks into the mirror and sees something monstrous looking back. Which sadly, is what happened to Peter Green, sort of. He got swallowed by the monster – the Green Manalishi he called it in another song. Some say it was just money, greed. Others that it was the devil himself. Either way, Mr. Green disappeared down his own nasty psychedelic wormhole, went mad for a while, got lost. As for Fleetwood Mac, they did what any proper blues outfit would do. They played on.
The melody’s nice here but it’s more the overall mournful mood that sets Albatross free. But, of course, the early Fleetwood Mac being a blues band, it’s not really that kind of albatross, is it? It’s the kind that you carry as a curse, hanging around your neck, weighing you down, reminding you and all the world that you blew it, you killed a beautiful thing for no damned reason. Which is sort of what happened to Peter Green, the man who wrote Albatross, his career pretty much over within the year, psychedelic drugs and mental illness finding each other in yet another brutal implosion of tortured genius.
The Fleetwood Mac story is long and confusing if nothing else. We all know the stuff that made them mega-rich and cocaine famous, but there’s an entire decade that precedes all that, and deep it goes, often with completely different singers and players working entirely different worlds and angles. Except the rhythm section, Mr. Fleetwood and Mr. Mac. You might even say the original line-up isn’t just the best Mac, they’re one of the best damned bands EVER, with guitarist Peter Green spearheading things, taking the old school blues, amplifying and psychedelicizing them, giving us stuff that barreled along at least neck and neck with what guys like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were doing at the time. 1969’s Then Play On is the key album, capturing not just the breadth Mr. Green’s genius, but also hints of the psychosis that would soon tear him apart. Beautiful and gone, lost to ozone whilst Searching for Madge.
“Speaking of ear worms, this Eric Clapton track is definitely one of mine, always just lurking there, ready to slip into my consciousness if I’m feeling sorry for myself or whatever. Not that I’ve ever been a huge Clapton fan (Jimi Hendrix was always better, and Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Neil Young, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Pete Townsend even). Nor have I been perpetually lonely, and where the hell is home anyway? “It’s back there somewhere,” as my friend Steve used to say, thumb pointed over his shoulder and far away, “Always in the rear view.” (Philip Random)
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Twenty-Nine of the journey went as follows:
Buffalo Springfield – broken arrow
Electric Light Orchestra – Shangri-La
Aphrodite’s Child – the system
Aphrodite’s Child- seven trumpets
Aphrodite’s Child – Altamont
Tommy James + the Shondells – crimson and clover
Barclay James Harvest – suicide
Barclay James Harvest – hymn
Gentle Giant – the runaway
King Crimson – cat food
King Crimson – groon
Fleetwood Mac – oh well
Genesis – ripples
Genesis – in the rapids
Genesis – it
Genesis – watcher of the skies [live]
Fresh episodes air pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
This continues to be Randophonic’s main focus, our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era (presented in countdown form) – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part twenty of the journey went as follows:
T-Rex – once upon the seas of Abyssinia
T-Rex – king of the rumbling spires
Electric Light Orchestra – new world rising + king of the universe
Strawbs – starshine angel wine
Triumvirat – illusions on a double dimple
Yes- time and word
Yes – then
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso – miserere alla storia
Fleetwood Mac – albatross
Fleetwood Mac – hypnotized
Genesis – I know what I like [in your wardrobe]
Genesis – los endos
Caravan – nine feet underground
Fresh episodes air pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook.
John Mayall being the man whose former band members couldn’t seem to help launching mega careers back in the day. Sitting in the Rain being an obscure old track that eventually showed up on a 1969 compilation. Does it classify as a proper Mississippi Delta blues? Probably not. But it sure works on a rainy day.
Fleetwood Mac have been any number of different bands in their time, not just in terms of lineup but overall sound. 1970’s Kiln House may have offered a nicely benign album cover, but the back story was altogether darker, Peter Green, the band’s main singer, songwriter, guitar god having only recently gone psychedelically AWOL,never to fully return, leaving the rest of the band left to pick up the pieces. Which they did wonderfully at first, Kiln House being the best Fleetwood Mac release of the 1970s … until Lindsey + Stevie signed on and kicked things into cocaine supernova.