Fleetwood Mac's 4th vinyl outing was a double-album called "Blues Jam At Chess" issued on Blue Horizon Records S 7-66227 in the UK and Blue Horizon BH 3801  in the USA. Recorded in one day, 4 January 1969, and released just a few months later, it was produced by MIKE VERNON and MARSHALL CHESS at the Chess "Ter-Mar" Studios in Chicago. The artists involved were FLEETWOOD MAC, OTIS SPANN on Piano, WILLIE DIXON on Bass, WALTER "SHAKEY" HORTON on Harmonica, J.T. BROWN on Tenor Sax, GUY BUDDY on Guitars (Guy Buddy is a pseudonym for Buddy Guy), HONEYBOY EDWARDS on Bass with S.P. LEARY on Drums.
A word about the less than exciting UK and US 'original' artwork and why it 'hasn't' been used on this reissue. The original UK issue had a wavey backdrop and titled sleeve - no real effort in the art department - while the original US copy didn't fare much better - credited as "Fleetwood Mac - In Chicago" - it was also issued in a a very dull red cover. However, the double was reissued again in the USA in 1970 as two 'separate' volumes - "Blues Jam In Chicago, Vol.1 and 2" on BH 4802 and BH 4803 respectively - and it is these two volumes with their far prettier artwork (pictured above) that were used for "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967-1969" 6CD Box Set issued in 1999 - and are now individually issued again here in 2004 as these much extended editions.
Also, in order to show the musical differences, I've detailed the vinyl first, then the extended CD...
(Volume 1 is Side 1 and 2 of the original double; Volume 2 - Side 3 and 4 - is a separate review)
1. Watch Out [Peter Green song]
2. Ooh Baby [Chester Burnett aka Howlin' Wolf cover]
3. South Indiana - Take 1 [Walter `Shakey' Horton cover]
4. South Indiana - Take 2 [Walter `Shakey' Horton cover]
5. Last Night [W Jacobs cover]
6. Red Hot Jam [Peter Green Instrumental song]
1. I'm Worried [Elmore James cover]
2. I Held My Baby Last Night [Elmore James/Jules Taub cover]
3. Madison Blues [Elmore James cover]
4. I Can't Hold Out [Elmore James cover]
5. I Need Your Love [Jimmie Rogers cover]
6. I Got The Blues [Walter `Shakey' Horton cover]
EXTENDED CD (68:24 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 5 are the same as the LP above
Track 6 is "Red Hot Jam" [Take 1 with Studio talk - An Inserted Previously Unreleased Track]
Track 7 is "Red Hot jam" [Take 2 - The Master Version, Track 6 on the LP]
Tracks 8 to 11 are "I'm Worried" through to "I Can't Hold Out" and are as per the LP
Track 12 is "Bobby's Rock" which is an inserted Previously Unreleased cover of an Elmore James song
Track 13 is "I Need Your Love" (same as the LP)
Track 14 is "Horton's Boogie Woogie [Take 1 with Studio Chatter - an Inserted Previously Unreleased Version]
Track 15 is "I Got The Blues" is the Master but with inserted Previously Unreleased False Start
The tapes have been digitally remastered to STUNNING SOUND QUALITY - as fresh as a politician's new excuses and the booklet has informative and detailed liner notes by MIKE VERNON.
WALTER HORTON plays Harmonica on CD tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14 and 15
BUDDY GUY, HONEYBOY EDWARDS and WILLIE DIXON are on 6 and 7
JEREMY SPENCER replaces Peter Green on Guitar and Vocal for 8, 9 10 and 11 - these tracks also feature J.T. BROWN on Tenor Sax with WILLIE DIXON on Upright Bass
OTIS SPANN plays Piano and S.P. LEARY plays drums on 13, 14 and 15
Fans greet the album itself with equal amounts of affection and disdain because at times it sounds like one long rehearsal - and a slightly uninspired and dull one at that. It's not that its bad - it just isn't red hot like you'd think it should have been. Highlights, however, include the lovely shuffle of "Watch Out", the harmonica driven slow blues of "Last Night" and the slashing Elmore James riffs in "I Can't Hold Out" (lyrics above). "Bobby's Rock" is a rubbishy extra, but Take 1 of "Horton's Boogie Woogie" is fantastic - alive and kicking and worth the price of entry alone. I play it a lot and it picks me up every time.
To sum up then - this is a 5 star presentation of a 3 to 4 star album - but there's still enough magic on here to recommend it. And for Mac and Blues fans, it's a necessity.
PS: For those wishing for more, the Blue Horizon label Fleetwood Mac UK albums are:
1. Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (1968)
(original album, known as "Fleetwood Mac" in the USA)
2. Mr. Wonderful (1968)
3. The Pious Bird Of Good Omen (1969)
(compilation of non-album 7" singles, their B-sides, collaborations and other rarities)
4. Blues Jam At Chess (1969)
(original 20-track 2LP set often referred to as a Various Artists compilation.
Its full credit is to: Fleetwood Mac, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Shakey Horton, J.T. Brown, Guitar Buddy
(Buddy Guy), Honey Boy Edwards, S.P. Leary. Originally a 2LP set on release, it was broken into 2 volumes
for the "Complete" box set and renamed "Blues Jam In Chicago Volume 1" and "Blues Jam In Chicago
Volume 2". It is ONLY these singular re-sequenced releases that are available today.)
5. The Original Fleetwood Mac (1971)
(although released in '71, this LP has recordings from August 1967 through to October 1968, all of which
were previously unreleased at the time)
PPS: I've reviewed about 20 of the excellent Blue Horizon CD reissues - see LISTMANIA for a full list