Throughout the centuries, Richmond Upon Thames has contained many pubs within its boundaires. Here I am joined by Richard Holmes, author of Pubs, Inns and Taverns of Richmond to look at some of those that are no longer with us.
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What can I say about this era of Fleetwood Mac that has not been said before. Absolutely nothing so I will be brief. There is a reason why this era of the band is so well known. They sold an absolute ton of records and put out Rumours, the only classic album to have been produced whilst the band members were partaking in liberal amounts of cocaine. The classic era dates from 1975 when Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined. This line up was also the most stable in the bands history, which is surprising considering the collapse of two of the relationships that band members were in, and then two having an affair and the aforementioned drugs. How they produced anything at all, let along five albums of at worse, pretty good to at best, absolutely classic music is beyond me.
Like the first compilation of Mac material, this era had so much quality music that I put together a CD set. I didn’t finish in 1987 when Lindsey Buckingham left, but with the album that signalled the end of the band as regular recording act in ‘Behind The Mask’. This is not classic Mac, but still competent enough for inclusion here. I gave the next album after this a listen, but the ‘Time’ record is just awful. It doesn’t help that drummer Mick Fleetwood felt it was time to include a seven minute spoken word piece to see it off. Buckingham would return, and go again (or fired depending on your point of view). Nicks and Christine McVie would go and come back, but behind the ever rotating members up front are the bedrock of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. The rhythm section has pretty much been the same since day one (apart from stop gap bass player Bob Brunning from the very early days). Fleetwood Mac is now just a touring band with attempts to record a new record coming to nothing since 2003s ‘Say You Will’. I’d moved on by this point but I will always have a soft spot for the Mac as they were the first band I really got into as it were. I love the music and how they managed to survive after Peter Green left, and then come back even stronger is a testament to great song writing and great playing. For that, I say thank you. Enjoy.
When Fleetwood Mac started in 1967, they were a British Blues band that ended the decade outselling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. After numerous line up changes and relocating to the USA, the band released ‘Rumours’, one of the greatest and biggest selling albums of all time. With an album, how do you follow it up. Lindsey Buckingham, the man who pretty much kept the sessions for Rumours going even with a mountain of cocaine and the collapse of the inter band relationships trying to get in the way, through that ‘Tusk’ should be competing with the New Wave acts dominating the charts at the time. ‘Tusk’ sold well, but nowhere near a much as ‘Rumours’.
Then there was ‘Mirage’, the forgotten album from the classic Buckingham/Nicks era of the band. This album did something ‘Tusk’ and ‘Tango In the Night’ did not, which was to make Number 1 in the USA but in terms of singles, none really cut it in either the US or UK charts. Well, ‘Hold Me’ made the top 5 in the US but that was about it. Listening to the ‘Mirage’ album though, it could be argued that the band members who wrote the songs were not producing their best work for the band at this time. Stevie Nicks has realised ‘Bella Donna’, her first solo, which had reached Number 1 on the US Billboard chart and was very successful in other territories as well.
Lindsey Buckingham had also release this first solo album in the shape of ‘Law & Order’ which was not in any way shape or form as successful as Stevie Nicks. Mirage came out a year later and then there was five year gap before the next Mac album, ‘Tango In The Night’. In-between ‘Mirage’ in 1982 and ‘Tango In The Night’ in 1987, each of the band songs writer released a solo album. In fact, ‘Tango In the Night’ started life as a Lindsay Buckingham solo album until he was convinced otherwise, but what would have happened if the band had decided to have release another record in 1985 instead of the solo albums. Well, here is an attempt at answering that question.
Go Insane – Go Insane
Who’s Dreaming The Dream – Christine McVie
Gate & Garden – The Wild Heart
I’m the One – Christine McVie
Stand Back – Stevie Nicks
Slow Dancing – Go Insane
Loving Cup – Go Insane
Nothing Ever Changes – The Wild Heart
The Smile I Live For – Christine McVie
Bang The Drum – Go Insane
Beauty & The Beast – The Wild Heart
Enchanted – The Wild Heart
Nightbird – The Wild Heart
Ask Anybody – Christine McVie
D.W. Suite – Go Insane
I thought that being democratic with each of the three song writers receiving four songs each, taking the total songs on the record to 12. However, unless we did what Dire Straits did at the time which was was to do some editing here and there so that the album would have a different run time on vinyl and CD, then this was not going to happen. The songs are quite long apart from Stevie Nicks, who only seems that have one way of writing songs. Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham produced records that did not sound as though they would fit on the Mac album. Anyway, I digress. McVie would only have three songs on this record with Buckingham and Nicks having four each.
I may have been critical of Stevie Nicks, but when putting this album together, her songs were the most commercial and are arguably the best ones on this record. Her album, ‘The Wild Heart’ is pretty good and she had so much material knocking about that she was able to release another album in 1985, which was called ‘Rock A Little’. As albums go, I feel that this would have been a stronger collection than ‘Mirage’, but still not up there with the best albums this line up produced.
This record was geared to a the length of a vinyl LP, so there were a number of good songs left over. I felt that it would have been a shame to lose them so in this time line, these would have been used a B-Sides. The Stevie Nicks songs, like those used on the main album are the strongest here. If this had been, I am sure that Nicks would have been rather annoyed that she had produced so many quality songs that were not allowed to be on the parent album. I can hear her arguing with Buckingham about the inclusion of Nightbird, which is a good song. However, I can hear Buckingham saying ‘We cannot have Nightbird on the album as it sounds too much Gypsy form the last album’, which would no doubt get Nick’s back up.
By this point in music history, Mac were releasing 12” singles so there was room for some of the longer more experimental songs on the B-Sides. Whatever the A-Sides would have been, there are four B-Sides for you to enjoy. In reality, there is no way on God’s Earth that this album would have been released. It is amazing that they actually managed to get their act together to release ‘Tango In The Night’. That album came out in 1987 and in thirty four years since then, they had produced three albums of new major. To put that into context, before that, they had released fourteen albums. The band essentially finished in 1982 and ‘Tango’ aside, they have become like the Beach Boys. Releasing the odd album here and there but essentially going out on the road to perform old hit for ever increasing ticket prices. Fleetwood Mac are one of the greatest bands of all time but they have never been the same since.
The front cover is adapted from the promo CD release of the Stevie Nicks box set compilation, Enchanted. They band name is at the base of the quill to have the effect that the person has just written it. There are no band pictures from 1984 so I went with this image instead. Fits quite nicely I think.
It has been pretty much a year since I had a look at the early years of Fleetwood Mac, so it was about time that I had a look at their career after founder member and legendary guitar, Peter Green, left the band.
In my post from August 2020, I lamented that the blues era of the band had been poorly served by compilers of the groups archive. If I thought that the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac has been poorly served by the endless reissuing of only the most successful tracks from time or poorly research archive compilations, well, the next era is a virtual desert. When Peter Green left Fleetwood Mac, the band continued to make records and tour but without the blues guitar hero up front, the sound began to change from blues, to rock, to soft rock. Between 1970 and 1974, Fleetwood Mac released an album a year but from the 2018 50 Years Anniversary Compilation, you would hardly now it.
On the 1 disc set which I suspect was designed to appeal to the casual buyer did not contain a single song from this era. In fact, only three songs from the twenty on the disc came form the Peter Green Era. On the three disc set, only disc one covered the first seven and most productive (in terms of releases) period of the band. With seventeen songs to cover this period, nine songs are from this forgotten second era which is not bad and the majority were single edits that I had never heard before. Nice touch but it really shows where the band through the money is as the rest of the set is from 1975 onwards. For the average Mac fan, this is most probably all they know. All of the Reprise label releases from 1969-1974 were released in a box set in 2020, but the lack of unreleased songs, be it in the studio or live was noticeable. This is a shame as this second era from contained its fair share of top notch songs.
Mac kicked things off in the 70s by releasing the ‘Kiln House’ album and this is the weakest of this era’s records. It is a band trying to find their feet after their leading light and driving force left. It is not a great album, but it does have some good playing and a couple of good songs. As if losing one founder member wasn’t enough, by the time the next album came out, Jeremy Spencer had also left. This is where they drafted in the guitar playing who would play on all of the remaining albums throughout this era and who’s departure in 1974 would lead to Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining the band.
This man was Bob Welch and ‘Future Games’ was the first album he appeared on. This album is one, possibly two songs away from being a lost classic. It is also as far from the blues as you can get and it is not a surprise that the band lost a lot of their key UK audience around this period. Who wants to listen to soft rock with a sunshine Californian jazzy feel that came courtesy of American Welsh? Not the bands British fan base at any rate. The same line up continued on to the next album, ‘Bare Trees’ which also contained Welsh’s signature song, ‘Sentimental Lady’ which became a top ten US hit when he recorded a solo version in 1977. For Danny Kirwan though, this would be the end of the road. He had struggled since Peter Green left and his drinking had become a problem. After one too many incidents of erratic behaviour, Kirwan was out and the band regrouped with ex Savoy Brown singer Dave Walker and guitar player for hire Bob Weston coming in.
The band’s next album, ‘Penguin’ is not a great album with a pretty pedestrian cover of I’m A Road Runner making up the numbers. Penguin is notable for having a brief appearance by Peter Green on the song Nightwatch. At the time, this was the first Mac record to make any headway in the US, even though is did nothing in the UK. Walker did not last long as the band were not ready for a front person who didn’t play a guitar or keyboards and he was gone by the time the sessions for their next album which was called ‘Mystery To Me’. This was an improvement on the previous record and continued with the trend of their early 70s albums to do reasonably well in the US, but not in the UK. However, band harmony didn’t last long as it was found that Bob Weston was having an affair with Mick Fleetwood’s wife. The tour fell apart and Clifford Davis, the band’s manager sent a fake Mac on the road claiming he owned the band name. This fake Mac would end up changing their name to Stretch and release a number of records of their own.
After a suggestion from Welch, the band relocated to the US and have pretty much stayed there ever since. The recorded their first US based album and it was called ‘Heroes Are Hard To Find’. Even though the album was the first Mac album to break into the US top 40, Welch felt it was time to move on. He felt that he had given all he could to the band and with his marriage failing, he moved on to pastures new.
I was pleasantly surprised to find all of these songs on Spotify, especially as their were quite a number of songs from the Peter Green era that meant I could not create a play list on the platform. These compilations CD show a band in transition, but there is enough good songs in here to show that these albums are unduly being ignored with a lack of deluxe reissues. Bizarrely, all of the albums Danny Kirwan was on were given a Vinyl Box Set reissue in 2013 but apart from the addition of the single Oh Well (Parts 1 & 2) was the only bonus track. There have been a rare occasion when this era does get a compilation, this normally throws in a couple of rare or unreleased studio cuts with a load of live tracks. Why not put out some deluxe editions record label? Come on Warner Brothers Records, you can do better than this. The label was not swallowed up by Universal so the bands archives did not catch fire in 2008 so surely there is more in the archive?
This era might be the bridge between the blues era and the multi million dollar selling soft rock behemoth but it does show how the band went from one to the other. So for now here is, to my mind anyway, the best of the years 1970-74. Enjoy.