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THEN PLAY ON - JUST AS IT SHOULD BE...,
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This review is from: Then Play On (Extended Edition) (Audio CD)
For this particular music buff, this new edition of Fleetwood Mac's expansive 1969 album THEN PLAY ON is quite possibly the key reissue of 2013. Having had to put up with that awful butchered version for all these years and thinking that the genuine UK version of the record would never come out on CD, I gave up the ghost and some months ago forked out some fifty quid on an original vinyl copy just so that I could listen to this album in the configuration that it was originally intended. Now, lo and behold, miracles do happen: Rhino Records have put the original 14-track UK edition onto CD at last.
With Peter Green moving away from the pure blues and second guitarist Danny Kirwan being actively encouraged to blossom as a songwriter, THEN PLAY ON represented a major progression for Fleetwood Mac. 'Coming Your Way', Kirwan's pulsating opening track, and his wistful 'Although The Sun Is Shining' stood proudly alongside Green's increasingly introspective compositions like 'Closing My Eyes' and his truly sublime album closer 'Before The Beginning'. THEN PLAY ON is not without its flaws - the cut-up jam session 'Fighting For Madge'/'Searching For Madge' does tend to disrupt the flow of the album to some extent - but overall the collection offers up many indicators as to the Mac's future course.
I've read some negative comments about the remastering (as usual). I would agree that it's perhaps not the most dramatic sound make-over I've ever heard, but compared to the vinyl copy I bought (which was in pretty good nick) I think it all sounds fine. Mick Fleetwood's bass drum patterns really hit home on 'One Sunny Day', for example, while 'Before The Beginning' - surely a number that influenced Santana - has a beautiful resonance to it. I must admit, however, that the associated singles included here as bonus tracks, namely both sides of 'Oh Well', its follow-up 'The Green Manalishi', and the latter's gorgeous Danny Kirwan-penned b-side 'World In Harmony', do sound a little more dynamic than the album tracks for some reason; to be honest, 'Oh Well (Part One)' sounds absolutely awesome on here and is worth the price of the CD alone.
The packaging is perfectly satisfactory. The original gatefold cover has been nicely reproduced around the jacket of the booklet with the design continuing onto the back of the actual jewel case, while journalist David Fricke's eloquent essay lays bare the background to the album, bolstered with some additional quotes from Mick Fleetwood.
To sum up, I have no real complaints over this release. It is just how I've always wanted THEN PLAY ON to be released on CD - the bonus tracks selected are just the right choices - and its welcome appearance fills a long-vacant space in my collection.