Review of Fleetwood Mac: "Blues Jam In Chicago"

Robert Russell By Robert Russell, 28th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3o3he6ao/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Listening To Music

Peter Green's Fleetwood started off as a blues band. Green' version of the band, while not as successful as the Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham version of the band, was very successful nonetheless. The blues roots of the band eventually gave way to a more rock aesthetic before Green eventually left. In 1969 Fleetwood Mac recorded a blues album in Chicago in collaboration with Marshall Chess and Willie Dixon.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Blues Jam

The Blues Jam in Chicago was recorded January 4, 1969 under the musical guidance of Willie Dixon with less than perfect results. The original goal of the project was to record with some of the major stars of the Chicago blues scene such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy WIlliamson. The original idea was to record the album in 1968. The January 4th date was less than ideal because many of the hoped for artists were on tour, away for the holidays or skeptical about legal entanglements that may result from recording with a different record label. Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, the two major blues enthusiasts in the band, were excited about the project but the other band members were more indifferent. Dixon was able to convince Buddy Guy, Honeyboy Edwards, Otis Spann and Walter Horton and a few others to participate in the recording sessions.

The involvement of the Chicago blues men is very limited. Buddy Guy and Honeyboy Edwards appear on Red Hot Jam versions 1 and 2. Walter Horton plays harp on several numbers. Otis Spann plays piano on I Need Your Love, Horton's Boogie Woogie, and I Got the Blues. On the one hand, more than anything else, the Blues Jam is a Fleetwood Mac album. Mike Vernon, who produced the album along with Marshall Chess, remarks in the liner notes that the album "was the lease successful commercially and the most ignored by Mac Fans." On the other hand, the album helped to initiate a link between Chicago blues artists and the young British blues musicians they inspired. The Howlin' Wolf London Sessions (1971) and the Muddy Waters London Sessions (1972) for Chess Records were much more successful than the Blues Jam in Chicago. British blues artists such as Eric Clapton, members of the Rolling Stones, Stevie Winwood as well as others, play the role of sidemen as Waters and the Wolf are front and center. An interesting footnote to the Wolf recordings is that Clapton insisted that Hubert Sumlin, Wolf's longtime guitarist be included in the sessions. Clapton refused to play if Sumlin wasn't there.

It is unfortunate that the original plan failed to materialize but Blues Jam In Chicago is an interesting album for Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac fans nonetheless. This is so for a number of reasons. (1) The blues is front and center. The sound of the band is more stripped down and bare bones sounding, similar to the sound of their Chicago heroes. (2) Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer for than matter, play some of their nicest blues licks. (3) Although the participation of the Chicago blues artists is limited it is still nice to hear Green exchanging guitar licks with Buddy Guy and Honeyboy Edwards.

Tags

British Blues, Buddy Guy, Chess Records, Chicago Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Muddy Waters, 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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