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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Then Play On (Extended Edition)
Format: Audio CD|Change
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OK - here goes.

THE LP: When "Then Play On" was first released on vinyl in the UK and USA in September 1969 - fans found that the album differed on both sides of the pond. The British LP had 14 tracks while the USA issue had only 12 - and a slightly different track running order. To add further confusion to the album's history - the split 7" single "Oh Well" became a sizeable chart hit in the UK in September and radio presence in the USA in November 1969 - so Reprise USA decided to relaunch the US album that November with 11-tracks - this time incorporated the hugely popular "When I Talk To God..." song. But instead of including "Oh Well" split into Part 1 and Part 2 (like the UK single) they edited it together as one long song with a small amount of repetition added on in error (the American album version runs to just over 9 minutes). The two Danny Kirwan tracks "Without You" and "One Sunny Day" that appeared on the original UK LP were dropped from the US variant because they'd already appeared on the band's 2nd US album "English Rose" in February of that year. There are also giggles and huffs and puffs at the end and beginning of certain tracks that got messed around with too. What this all means is that 1969 effectively saw the release of three "Then Play On" LPs.

THE CD: The dull-as-dishwater basic CD on Reprise that we've had to live with all these decades (released in November 1988) is an un-remastered mishmash of all those line-ups (13 tracks, 54:14 minutes). So for the sake of clarity I'm going to show how this 19 August 2013 Extended CD on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122796443 (18 tracks at 69:53 minutes) will finally allow fans to sequence all three variants of "Then Play On" LP - and the singles that surrounded it (just about). The track number is after each song title...

September 1969 UK LP on Reprise RSLP 9000 with 14 Tracks:
Side 1:
1. Coming Your Way [1]
2. Closing My Eyes [2]
3. Fighting For Madge [3]
4. When You Say [4]
5. Show-biz Blues [5]
6. Under Way [6]
7. One Sunny Day [7]

Side 2:
1. Although The Sun Is Shining [8]
2. Rattlesnake Shake [9]
3. Without You [10]
4. Searching For Madge [11]
5. My Dream [12]
6. Like Crying [13]
7. Before The Beginning [14]

September 1969 USA 1st Pressing LP on Reprise RS 6368 with 12 tracks:
Side 1:
1. Coming Your Way [1]
2. Closing My Eyes [2]
3. Fighting For Madge [3]
4. When You Say [4]
5. Show-biz Blues [5]
6. Underway [aka Under Way] [6]

Side 2:
1. Although The Sun Is Shining [8]
2. Rattlesnake Shake [9]
3. Searching For Madge [11]
4. My Dream [12]
5. Like Crying [13]
6. Before The Beginning [14]

November 1969 "Reissued" USA LP on Reprise RS 6368 with 11 tracks:
Side 1:
1. Coming Your Way [1]
2. Closing My Eyes [2]
3. Show-biz Blues [5]
4. Underway [6]
5. Oh Well (Full Length Version) [15 and 16 - minus the minute in error]

Side 2:
1. Although The Sun Is Shining [8]
2. Rattlesnake Shake [9]
3. Searching For Madge [11]
4. Fighting For Madge [3]
5. Like Crying [13]
6. Before The Beginning [14]

Rattlesnake Shake b/w Coming Your Way - September 1969 USA 7" single on Reprise 0860 [NO UK Issue]
Oh Well (Part 1) b/w Oh Well (Part 2) - September 1969 UK 7" single on Reprise RS.27000
Oh Well (Pt. 1) b/w Oh Well (Pt. 2) - November 1969 USA 7" single on Reprise 0883
The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) b/w World In Harmony - May 1970 UK 7" single on Reprise RS.27007 (Rare Copies Have A Picture Sleeve)
The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) b/w World In Harmony - June 1970 USA 7" single on Reprise 0925

First up it's in a stickered jewel case and not a digipak. The booklet is superbly extended to 12-pages with great liner notes by DAVID FRICKE of Rolling Stone magazine which also features a Mick Fleetwood interview that is both witty and informative. Photos of US demo 7" singles on Reprise and boxes of master tapes festoon each page and the band photo that was the inner sleeve of the gatefold is reproduced on the last pages. There's even master-tapes pictured under the see-through CD tray.

The original British track running order has been re-instated also (Tracks 1 to 14) which for US fans will mean that the album they've grown up with (including the erroneous 9-minute "Oh Well") technically isn't here. But as it's a British band and Peter Green sanctioned the UK track list - in my mind Rhino gets it right. Besides the bonus tracks more than make up for any niggles on that one.

SOUND: the original 1988 CD has been described by some as a benchmark on how 'not' to master an old album. The new disc is 'mastered' by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman mastering (says remastered on the sticker but not in the booklet?) and isn't really an improvement. Those expecting sonic miracles will be massively disappointed. In fact I think the results will probably ranker more than please. It has to be said that there's very audible levels of hiss on almost every track and the top end still seems muddied and ragged. I suspect this has more to do with the original tapes and how the songs were recorded - but bluntly - on a good turntable my original UK vinyl LP sounds better than this...

MUSIC: You'd have to say that "Then Play On" in its English form is an acquired taste. Parts of it sound horribly dated ("Coming My Way") while "Without You" has that amazing "Albatross" vibe that sounds eons ahead of its time. One of the albums other great unsung heroes turned up on 1971's "Greatest Hits" - the blasting "Rattlesnake Shake" (lyrics from it title this review) and here it sounds just fabulous. The re-instating of the two Danny Kirwan songs (especially the rocking "One Sunny Day") bolster the listen experience hugely. They certainly show that both the album and the band at that time wasn't all Peter Green. The bluesy "Show-Biz Blues" and "Under Way" are other highlights and I love the quiet majesty of "Although The Sun Is Shining". And what can you say about the truly astonishing "Oh Well" (either part) - it's 44 years old and rock magic - every time you hear it - it has the power to amaze and influence.

I've had the non-album b-side "World In Harmony" on some CD compilation these past few years - but Rhino are claiming the first official worldwide release of it on this CD. I wish I could say it was a bit of a find but it isn't - it's starts out nicely but descends into a rather dull and meandering Danny Kirwan instrumental. You can't say the same for the blistering A-side which astonishes to this day - "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)". WOW! Musically - lyrically - what a blast. It would have been nice to have the rare UK Picture Sleeve (I proudly own one) pictured in the booklet (along with other European variants) - but alas.

To sum up - there's good liner notes for sure, but the sound is iffy at best and bound to divide and disappoint fans who've waited decades for this reissue. The four extra tracks are mostly worthy of the moniker 'bonus' and it has a price tag that isn't some ludicrously inflated deluxe box set rip-off. But in truth - a lot of me wishes this was a lot better than it is.
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on 6 February 2001
Then Play On features Peter Green near the peak of his songwriting and guitar playing powers. I know that sounds cliched but it is true. This album has a range of styles that showcases the incredible talents of the band as a whole but it is worth buying simply for the classic playing of Green. It is a classic Rock album and has everything from hit single material (Oh Well) to free flowing jams (Searching for Madge) to heartbreaking soul searching. Wonderful drumming and percusion (listen to Coming your way) great guitar courtesy of Green and Danny Kirwan (Jeremy Spencer did not play on this one..See Vaudville Years for the Spencer contributions and the outtakes of this album)and well...what more could you want? It is a great album.
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on 16 October 2013
I felt I had to write a review of this reissue as after listening to my copy and indeed the original vinyl and the first issue CD I don't know what the other reviewers are carping on about? I think they must be "Aurally challenged" or just plain picky. This remaster is a wonderful, long overdue addition to the FM discography. I found the sound through my modestly expensive system to be wonderful. This work was well ahead of it's time, masterful. Just imagine what Peter could have achieved if not for drugs and disrupted health.

So the message from me is don't listen to the carpers, if you like this era of FM get this reissue. Carpers go put your anoraks on!!
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on 18 September 2013
I took the plunge with the new CD edition having listened to this classic only on vinyl previously and find the whole project very pleasing - minimal differences between the two formats - albeit that the vinyl is worn and inevitably superior at the bass end . However my policy is not to subject this type of music to the scrutiny of head phones, in the perhaps old fashioned belief that blues should be played / heard live in a small club preferably having consumed in the order of 4 pints of beer. The David Fricke essay is fine (despite references to the 'British' version of the album - wait a minute this IS a British record!!!), I was unaware that the original black cover which I prefer was not the original choice. The Danny Kirwan B side World in Harmony is rightly sighted for its inclusion.
PS don't forget the post PG single Dragonfly authored by Danny ,a rarely mentioned piece of wonderment
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on 26 August 2013
First off, why do Amazon still persist on lumping all the reviews for a particular album together? The older reviews for this album pertain to the original CD release of Then Play On not the new 2013 CD issue. Just makes it more confusing for the casual fan who may be trying to find out about a particular version!

Anyway, rant over (almost!). I've been waiting for this album to be properly remastered and reissued for YEARS. I'm a huge fan of the Peter Green era of FM. I have all the Blue Horizon remastered CD's and they sound fantastic - which makes this album all the more frustrating. They've got the running order right, seperated Oh Well into parts 1 and 2 as it should be, added the singles as bonus tracks and supplied a great booklet. (I doubt Mick Fleetwood was interviewed for this album, more likely his quotes about the album have been lifted from elsewhere, but hey-ho). Even the pre-order price of £6.99 was great. But the sound.....come on!?

I was hoping to hear Oh Well properly remastered in stereo, but no, its still the mono version. The sound is identical to the CD issue of the old CBS Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits that came out 25 years ago (at least). Here was an opportunity to offer properly remastered, complete sterephonic sound of this album and singles and its been squandered. Ok, I know theres the argument about mono v stereo (Beatles etc) but why not offer both versions as bonus tracks?? As said elsewhere there is hiss all over the place and the high end is clipped badly, especially during Oh Well Part 2 - its sounds like its being played off an old cassette from years ago (and not a Maxell even, one of those cheap ones from Poundstretcher!). I can only imagine they couldn't find the master tapes, that's the only excuse thats close to forgiveable! The main album is a little better mainly because its in stereo but I can't hear too much improvement over the original CD.

Its a double edged sword, I'm glad the album has been reissued and I can now complete the studio output of that era of the band. The UK version of the album has been neglected for such a long time and now its available for people to discover. But... on the other hand I feel that someone from Rhino has been on the blogs regarding the The Top Ten Forgotten Albums and someones thought, "we could license that and put it out". Unfortunately, not taking the proper care and attention that a release such as this deserves. After all, the sound is what its about, not the fancy booklet.

I've given the album a generous 3 stars. 5 for the music and genius of Peter Green but 1 for the poor sound. It sounds like this CD was put out in 1983, not 2013.

Also, have a look at the reviews of the Fleetwood Mac 1969-72 Vinyl box that Rhino have just released which also includes the vinyl version of this album. People are complaining that they've been skimping on the vinyl and they're being put out on 120g not 180g so they're warped. Maybe this cost cutting can also explain why they haven't invested in properly dealing with the sound on the CD. They've probably cut a master with the vinyl box set in mind and used that, rather than mastering one specifically for the audibility of CD. Just a hunch though.
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on 20 August 2013
I first stumbled across this oft-ignored Fleetwood Mac album in a box of LP's left in an old office I took over (oh it was joyous, An Electric Storm was in there too). It had the black (UK issue I think) cover. The difference between it and even the comparatively recent Fleetwood Mac was startling.
I sold or lost that LP many years ago, and have been struggling along with the appalling CD issue with the US / mixed up tracklisting... until now.
Finally Fleetwood Mac (well, Rhino) have done a superb remastering job, and re-aligned the original UK track listing. So now we have the missing tracks back, the giggle at the beginning of Like Crying, and my favourite Showbiz Blues - well, turn it up.. sounds amazing.
There are three bonus tracks in the form of Oh Well, rightly split into two tracks, The Green Manalishi and a gorgeous Kirwan track World In Harmony.
Trust me folks, you can FINALLY play frisbee with the old Reprise CD and buy this. Its awesome, and about flipping time.

Now, dare they issue remastered UK track listing Blue Horizon Mac stuff, but without all the stupid studio false starts etc?!?!
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on 11 November 2009
It has been correctly mentioned that this release of 'Then Play On' is the U.S. listing, not the original U.K. listing. We all know that 'Oh Well' was added, but, which two tracks were omitted? Both songs that were left off were written by Danny Kirwan, 'One Sunny Day' & the beautiful 'Without You'. In this age of 70+ minute CDs, omitting these two tracks is really stupid, take the 14 original tracks, add 'Oh Well' and you have a playing time of just 60 minutes, well within the scope of a single CD. So shame upon the record company! If, like me, you want the missing tracks, well, they are on an album called 'Original Fleetwood Mac', but be warned, I think there may be 2 albums with that title! So check the track listing (I think they are tracks 17 & 18).

As for 'Then Play On', a masterful album with some wonderful tracks, well worth adding to any collection, too many good tracks to mention, just listen to the album.

And why only 4 stars? That is for the record company.

BTW, the original CD releases by the Rolling Stones suffered that same fate - U.S. listings instead of the original U.K. Someone should tell record companies that we are not the 51st State! (or are we?)
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on 20 August 2011
I brought this CD for the classic track 'Rattlesnake Shake' and 'Oh Well' and based on other reviews describing this as the best early Fleetwood Mac album.

There are some great solid tracks such as My Dream & Coming Your Way and some real clunkers such as Searching For Madge & Fighting For Madge amongst others really don't do the band justice.

There are some brilliant moments that show the incredible musicianship the band had but the production values do let this down in my opinion. The 4 track sound doesn't do this band justice especially the sound on Rattlesnake Shake compare to the 'Live In Boston' Live CD absolutely kills this by sheer brilliance in sound and performance.
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on 22 February 2014
this great disk has nearly nothing by jeremy spencer, and his solo 1970 disk could have been an interesting addition to the deluxe addition. but it is inexcusable that it lacks 14 brilliant danny kirwan songs from the time he joined to this release . exactly the same time frame of 1968-1969, so it is unforgivable of fleetwood mac, management, and the record company . meanwhile, unlike his fabulous hybrid blues songs here on ''then play on''( ''when you say'', ''although the sun is shining'', ''like crying'', ''coming your way''), the missing songs are mostly blues greats , but with a superlative buddy holly song (''when i see'', better than anything i have ever heard by holly) , and a gorgeous tribute to peter (''farewell", fit for a king ), a stellar cover of j. roger's ''worlds in a tangle'' (lovely anti -communist war song), and another 40's style gem called ''tell me from the start''. his superlative blues songs are ''only you'' ( not lionel ritchey's song of the same name), ''like it this way'' ( here is the #1 song of dueling guitars ever and it is , guess , yes, it is danny kirwan's .), ''something inside of me'', ''talk with you'', ''mind of my own'', ''blues with a feeling'', ''early morning comes'' , ''loving kind'', '' jigsaw puzzle blues'', and ''love it seems ''( this one is so wonderful i could listen thousands of times ) . ''jigsaw puzzle blues'' is the b-side of ''albatross'' . since peter said ( about 10 years ago) that there would not have been a #1 hit ''albatross" without danny , i expect that danny should be credited from now on. ''without you'' is back again on this release( it is the best blues song from texas to the end of the universe and back). , ''one sunny day'' has returned too.. all of these missing songs but the j. roger's cover are kirwan originals, all feature his words ,his voice , his guitars, and at 18 years comprise a staggeringly magnificent and exquisite debut , but those songs are not here. peter wrote his first songs witha cg adams, or clifford davis . in any event peter's reputation rests more on his guitar skills, than his songs, and i am just letting people know that peter did need help with lyrics and music. i wrote earlier that danny's songs are superlative. they are superlative compared to all i have heard from lightning hopkins to hubert sumlin to albert king, or buddy guy , or peter green. kirwan's blues songs are to me great blues songs and they are the bulk of what blues i listen to. whenever i made playlists on cassettes in the past i always added peter's ''albatross'' and ''underway'' to a mix of only danny kirwan's songs. same goes for today , now burning cds, so it is comforting to know all these years later that peter credited danny on ''underway'', his second most wonderful song. interestingly , with ''albatross'' they are peter's 2 greatest songs . danny' s ''my dream'' is another super instrumental . meanwhile ''green manalishi'' and ''man of the world'' are peter's last songs with fleetwood mac. one is an Lsd song( manalishi) , and the other is his best song without danny , as his best songs we now know included some help by danny. he has one more song with danny ; danny gave him a completed ''world in harmony '' , and asked peter to put a solo on it . peter is credited. i wish danny had added his own solo, though . i think there is a kirwan only version that is better. imo , peter went on to create, but nothing remarkable . danny continued to create a sublime magical world of my favorite beautiful songs, maybe 18 more with fleetwood mac, and then 32 + as a solo artist. also, danny plays the lead on ''oh well part 1'', peter's song. moving on, imo danny could have dominated blues and country /western ('' i can tell'' is cool and confident as in ''coming your way'' ) or led the way for a western film style / cowboy music , which is i believe preferable to c/w . peter called danny 'ragtime cowboy joe' . danny's later pastoral songs are pure bliss and timeless( they do not grow old) . finally, it seems to me that coupled with guilt and drugs peter realized that danny was not just a 'wunderkind ' beyond peter's capabilities, but that danny could eclipse everyone in modern music if he wanted to. so peter left . in my world , my little world i have and hold and love danny kirwan , and always welcome him, couldn't ever leave him . he didn't want to eclipse everyone in modern music, but i think that he did. and then he left.
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on 7 February 2005
While 'Then Play On' is a masterpiece, beware that this is not a straight reissue of the original UK release - 2 tracks are missing and 'Oh Well' has been grafted in to a revised running order, as was done on European & US releases at time of issue. However, it will have to do until WEA or an enlightened re-issue specialist decides to issue the album in its entirity - hopefully boosted by the 'Oh Well' and 'Green Manalishi' singles.
In the meantime, as other reviewers say, marvel in the talent on show - a band at their peak.
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