Fleetwood Mac – The Collection Vol.2

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.   

Disc 1

  1. Homeward Bound
  2. Child of Mine
  3. Sentimental Lady
  4. The Ghost
  5. Earl Grey
  6. Future Games
  7. Woman Of 1000 Years
  8. Sands Of Time
  9. Sometimes
  10. Spare Me A Little Of Your Love
  11. Sunny Side Of Heaven
  12. Morning Rain
  13. Hi Ho Silver
  14. Tell Me All The Things You Do
  15. One Together
  16. Dust
  17. Show Me A Smile

Disc 2

  1. Remember Me
  2. (I’m A) Roadrunner
  3. Angel
  4. Coming Home
  5. Keep On Going
  6. The Derelict
  7. Heroes Are Hard To Find
  8. Bad Loser
  9. Emerald Eyes
  10. Believe Me
  11. Night Watch
  12. Dissatisfied
  13. Revelation
  14. The City
  15. Prove Your Love
  16. The Way I Feel
  17. Bright Fire
  18. Come A Little Closer
  19. Caught In The Rain
  20. Why

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