A Glimpse into the Early Years of Fleetwood Mac/ "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac: Live at the Marquee"

Robert Russell By Robert Russell, 27th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2har8dgc/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Listening To Music

"Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac: Live at the Marquee" provides a historical document that provides interesting insights and glimpses, not only into the beginnings of Fleetwood Mac, but also into the blues/ rock scene that was emerging in London in 1967. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and John Mayall had laid the groundwork and new bands such as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group and Led Zepplin were beginning to emerge who were carrying the blues torch forward.

Background

Peter Green was selected by John Mayall to replace Eric Clapton in the Bluesbreakers after Clapton's departure. Clapton's work with Mayall quickly earned him the reputation as the best guitarist in England. He left Mayall to form Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Clapton fans were skeptical that Green, or anyone for that matter, would be able to fill Clapton's shoes. Green work on the Hard Road album and his live performances with Mayall quickly won the majority of Clapton's fans over to Green's side. Like Clapton, Green's tenure with Mayall was brief. Green joined Mayall in 1966 and left in 1967 to form Fleetwood Mac.

The career of Fleetwood Mac is usually divided into at least two stages; Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and the 1970s version of the band that featured Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. The second version of the band was one of the most commercially successful bands in rock n' roll. Green's Fleetwood Mac were very successful in their own right rivaling the popularity of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in England. Peter Green's original version of the band was heavily steeped in the blues. Jeremy Spencer's slide guitar supplemented Green's own guitar work.

One of the interesting things about Live at the Marquee is that is provides a glimpse into the formative days of Fleetwood Mac. It was literally the second gig the band played. The band's debut had been at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. Fleetwood Mac played at the bottom of the bill. Some of the major acts included Jeff Beck, Cream, and John Mayall. Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac eventually added a third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, and their sound evolved into a rock-jam sound reminiscent of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.

Fleetwood Mac rehearsed for only a month prior to the Windsor and Marquee gigs. In addition to Green and Spencer on guitars, Mick Fleetwood was the drummer. The original bass guitarist was Bob Brunning and not John McVie.

The Album

Live at the Marquee is a must have album for Peter Green fans, however, the album is not without its flaws. The sound quality is quite poor. The performances at the Marquee were recorded on the sound board of the club and the result is that it sounds like it was recorded in a cave. If you are interested in the album, keep in mind is that is more of a historical document. It wasn't intended for public release as an album. At the time of the recording the band had only been playing together for a month. There are obviously many rough edges. Finally, although it was Peter Green's band, he didn't feel comfortable in the spotlight so he shares guitar and vocal duties with Jeremy Spencer. Green's guitar work is featured on only six of the twelve songs.

The first three songs, Talk to Me Baby, I Held My Baby Last Night, and My Baby's Sweet feature Spencer. Spencer was something of a one-trick pony with the band, or two-trick pony. His specialty was Elmore James covers and 1950s rock covers. Spencer does the James thing very well, and I am a huge fan of Elmore James, but after a while Spencer's mimicry gets somewhat tiresome. The last three songs on the album also feature Spencer doing Elmore James covers.

Peter Green steps into the spotlight on the fourth song Looking For Somebody but he puts down the guitar to play harmonica. Nevertheless, the song puts Green's talents on display. The song was penned by Green and it shows his skills as a composer and lyricist. He picks up the guitar for Evil Woman Blues which is a slow blues number. The guitar work makes it clear that Green, in 1967, could easily hold his own with Clapton. Watch Out For Me Woman is a blues shuffle that reveals a strong B.B. King influence in Green's playing. King was very impressed with Green's playing. He said: "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats." Green's guitar prowess is also featured on the cover of Howlin' Wolf's No Place To Go with Green paying tribute to Wolf's guitarists Hubert Sumlin.

The album clocks at just over 59 minutes. As mentioned above, half of that time is devoted to Jeremy Spencer and slightly less than half features Green on guitar. Despite the poor recording quality, the album is interesting on a number of levels; (1) it shows Green staking out territory as a bandleader, composer and important blues guitarist, (2) it documents another the emergence of Fleetwood Max as an important British blues/rock band that could easily compete with the new bands such as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group and Led Zepplin. (3) it provides a glimpse into the very beginnings of Fleetwood Mac. The final touches were added when John Mcvie replaced Brunning on bass. McVie had played with numerous bands including the version of the Bluesbreakers that featured Clapton.

Tags

British Blues, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Peter Green

Meet the author

author avatar Robert Russell
I play guitar professionally in a Cajun/zydeco band named Creole Stomp. We are a nationally touring band that have been together ten years. I also have a PhD in philosophy.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
27th Nov 2011 (#)

Wow you gave readers a lot of information on the starting years of Fleetwood Mac.

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