September 18 – Fleetwood Mac, Phase Two

9/18/70: Fleetwood Mac – Kiln House

The winds of change were blowing in 1970. From a purely musical standpoint, this date 50 years ago stands out, especially in the realm of blues rock. Most significantly and sadly, Jimi Hendrix passed away in the early morning hours. And when Fleetwood Mac’s fourth studio album went on sale that day, it was the band’s first without blues guitar master Peter Green. There are still some heavy moments on Kiln House with guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer, the latter making his final appearance with Fleetwood Mac, but we also hear a group trying to find a new direction with elements of blues, folk, 50’s retro, and soft rock mixed together. The album also marks the first appearance of Christine McVie, though she was not yet an official member of the group. She also designed the album cover.

Fleetwood Mac - Kiln House - D - 1970--- | Upper left : Dann… | Flickr

Kiln House – named for a hops drying building that the band and their families lived in communally at the time – lacks cohesiveness yet contains some very good music. Danny Kirwan’s Station Man is my favorite track. It’s a grungy goulash in the vein of early-70’s Stones, Delaney & Bonnie, and Little Feat. Jeremy Spencer’s take on Big Joe Turner’s Hi Ho Silver is a rocker, as is the mostly instrumental Jewel Eyed Judy. Kirwan’s instrumental Earl Gray is a nice interlude after the kitschy Buddy Holly tribute, and the guitar work on Tell Me All the Things You Do suggests the drop off with Green leaving was nowhere near fatal. As for the subjective negatives, I could do without Spencer’s 50’s tributes such as This Is the Rock and Buddy’s Song.

Kiln House, Truncheaunts Lane, Alton © Oast House Archive :: Geograph  Britain and Ireland

That sense of searching for a sound seems to have plagued the group for a six album stretch starting with this one and lasting through 1974’s Heroes Are Hard to Find, yet that may be due in large part to the high standard set during the Peter Green blues years as well as those of the most widely known Fleetwood Mac era of Buckingham and Nicks which followed Bob Welch’s departure. In other words, there’s some really good music on the 1970-74 albums that deserves much wider reappraisal, and Kiln House is but the first of them.


Side One:

  1. This is the Rock
  2. Station Man
  3. Blood on the Floor
  4. Hi Ho Silver
  5. Jewel-Eyed Judy

Side Two:

  1. Buddy’s Song
  2. Earl Gray
  3. One Together
  4. Tell Me All the Things You Do
  5. Mission Bell


Kiln House

August 31 – August ’68 Music Wrap-Up & Other Notables

Where did August go?  Time to finish off yet another month:

Dion – Single:  Abraham, Martin, and John 

Written by Dick Holler in response to the assassinations of MLK and RFK and first recorded by Dion for release in August of ’68, this tune reached #4 on the US pop singles chart.  Numerous cover versions followed.

James Brown – Live at the Apollo, vol. II

Brown’s follow-up to (you guessed it) Live at the Apollo was recorded in June of ’67 and released in August of ’68.


8/4  Yes performs for the first time at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex.  Early sets were formed of cover songs from artists such as the Beatles, the 5th Dimension and Traffic.


8/5-8/8   Nixon wins Republican nomination over Rockefeller and Reagan.


8/10  Ten Years After – Undead

I feel somewhat bad about relegating this album to the month-end notes, but there’s not a lot to say about it other than it’s a really good live document which captures Alvin Lee’s sometimes frenetic guitar work in these blues ‘n boogie tunes.  It was recorded in a jazz club in London in May of ’68, and features the showstopper I’m Going Home, which the band performed at Woodstock a year later.  Time for me to pull this one out at home and crank it.

8/11  Charlie Sexton Born – This is probably the first 50th birthday I’ve mentioned in these pages, and I’m adding this one because to me it’s hard to believe.  Sexton, the prodigy guitar slinger from Texas, first broke through in 1985 with his solo hit Beat’s So Lonely and later he was a member of the Arc Angels.  He has also done three stints as Bob Dylan’s lead guitarist, totaling roughly 11 years.


8/17  Mason Williams – Single:  Classical Gas

Originally titled Classical Gasoline, Williams wrote and recorded this instrumental with members of the Wrecking Crew while serving as head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, where he debuted it.  Classical Gas won three Grammys in 1969.

8/20    Soviets invade Czechoslovakia, ending the Prague Spring.


8/23    Fleetwood Mac – Mr. Wonderful

This rather quick follow-up to the Mac’s highly successful debut was a bit of a come down.  It’s not a bad album, but one that relies a little heavily on the same Elmore James-sounding riffs throughout.  Christine Perfect (later McVie) made her debut with the band on keyboards on this album.


8/26    Mary Hopkin – Single:  Those Were the Days 

Those Were the Days was originally a Russian romance song titled Dorogoi dlinnoyu, literally “By the long road,” which was first recorded in the 1920s.  The tune was given new English lyrics by American musician Gene Raskin, whom Paul McCartney heard performing in London.  McCartney subsequently suggested to Mary Hopkin that she record a version which he would produce for the Beatles’ fledgling Apple label.  She did, and it was a smash hit.  The song reached #1 on the UK singles chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind Hey Jude).

It was released in the US on the same day as Hey Jude/Revolution, which seems odd to me that Apple would let that happen (it was released four days later in the UK, providing at least a small buffer vis-à-vis the Beatles’ monster single).  That fact doesn’t seem to have stunted its success though.,_Martin_and_John,_Volume_II





February 24 – Not Your Mother’s Fleetwood Mac (but if it is, your mother’s cool)

Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

There’s Fleetwood Mac, and then there’s Fleetwood Mac.  And then again, there’s Fleetwood Mac.  As Fleetwood, McVie x 2, Buckingham, and Nicks gear up for their Farewell Cash Grab 2018 World Tour®, today is a reminder that Fleetwood Mac is nothing at all like the band it was when it formed in 1967.  That’s not a judgement, just a fact.  There have been three rather distinct incarnations of the group:  the current, “classic” Rumours lineup, the underappreciated early 1970’s Bob Welch era (Bare Trees is a personal favorite), and the original late 1960’s British blues rock band.  Despite the various lineups and drastic changes in musical direction, the namesakes of the group, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, remain as the rhythm section.  And it was 50 years ago today that their debut album, Fleetwood Mac (a.k.a. Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac) was released.


In 1967, guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood, and bassist John McVie, all members of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at the time (actually, Fleetwood had recently been let go), decided to form their own blues group.  They recruited slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer, and Fleetwood Mac was born.  This initial release is straight-forward blues rock, with four covers and eight Green and Spencer originals.  These guys certainly didn’t invent the blues, but along with contemporaries including all the bands where Clapton, Beck, Page, Hendrix, Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Alvin Lee resided at one time or another, they played it with reverence for the innovators and continued to spread the word to a mostly white audience not overly exposed to the greatness of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Elmore James and the rest.

Fleetwood Mac in 1968:  (L-R) Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer


Side One:

  1. My Heart Beat Like a Hammer
  2. Merry Go Round
  3. Long Grey Mare
  4. Hellhound on My Trail
  5. Shake Your Moneymaker
  6. Looking for Somebody

Side Two:

  1. No Place to Go
  2. My Baby’s Good to Me
  3. I Loved Another Woman
  4. Cold Black Night
  5. The World Keep On Turning
  6. Got to Move