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A neglected gem
on 24 April 2014
(NB. This is a review of the 2013 deluxe extended reissue.)
In a recent issue of Uncut magazine, they rated all Fleetwood Mac`s albums - a mad idea in itself, since the original band were nothing like the later, blander version. They unaccountably, and all too predictably gave the bafflingly overrated Rumours a full ten out of ten, while Then Play On picked up eight. Had I been rating them, Rumours would have got five or six at most, and TPO would have got nine or ten. To these ears Rumours is to TPO what Michael McIntyre is to Dylan Moran, or Dan Brown to Ian McEwan.
Alright, rant over.
TPO has been somewhat neglected since its release. It did well back in 1970, but has fallen off the radar, partly perhaps due to early Mac albums not getting a proper CD reissue programme till now.
This welcome new edition of a unique record is the bee`s knees. It was the last one Peter Green made before his demons sent him into freefall (thank goodness he`s still with us) and he`s very much to the fore, as is Danny Kirwan, their differing styles of both singing and guitar complementing each other beautifully.
The Kirwan-sung tracks are lyrical, melodic and rather innocent - though he was to have his own demons; and he`s still with us too. (Amazingly, against all odds, the Mac are one band who, as far as I can tell, have not lost any members to the Grim Reaper, quite a rare thing in rock.) Green`s songs are both bluesy (the rousing Rattlesnake Shake) and mourfully soulful (the lovely Closing My Eyes).
Jeremy Spencer, as the excellent booklet notes tell, us, hardly plays on this one, seeming content to pop into the studio and lay down only one or two licks.
The whole set is more like a seamless `suite` of songs, with two instrumentals dedicated to a devoted Mac fan named Madge punctuating them. I bought the original LP and played it a lot. It sounded unlike anything else at the time, and it still has a unique feel to it. What is such a relief is to find how wonderful it still sounds, after so long.
Bonus tracks consist of both parts of Oh Well and the darkly ominous, scarifying The Green Manalishi, plus a fine Kirwan instrumental called World In Harmony, all the latter having been recorded at the sessions for TPO.
Don`t give me Rumours! This is what mattered then and, to me, matters now. This music has guts, soul, sincerity, and a thoroughly distinctive sound that later manifestations of F Mac could only dream of.
One of the finest albums of its illustrious late 60s/early 70s era.
Beautiful, unique, essential.