http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/29069a3c5ec63b5ab58c04e8b77bd6ef1d347f7f.jpg Mystery To Me

Fleetwood Mac

Mystery To Me

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January 3, 1974

Though they're all probably excellent musicians with talent coming out of their ears, the fact still remains that ever since Fleetwood Mac lost its three guitarists extraordinaire they've become increasingly less interesting. Things that are better felt than expressed have brought Fleetwood Mac to a point where the band just doesn't seem to matter much anymore.

Though performed with great proficiency and occasionally enlightening subtlety, the first side of Mystery To Me turned out to be so abysmally dismal that I gave serious consideration to just stopping it right there and chucking the damn thing out the window at a passing bird. All the songs were the same faceless blend of tired, low-key English rock. Things proceeded at a funeral pace, and whenever Christine McVie assumed the vocal chores she could be counted on for the same old bland-as-sand mood mouthings.

Side two turned out to be considerably better, though hardly comparable to the fire associated with the name Fleetwood Mac during the residencies of Messrs. Green, Spencer and Kirwan. At least the flip side could be said to have a little life, and in fact several of its songs might be said to be a trifle on the invigorating side. "Miles Away" flat out moved, propelled into the domain of the current Savoy Brown by compelling, solid rhythm work and Bob Weston's enticingly electric musings on lead guitar. And "Somebody" turned out to be compatible with the group's earliest work, a bluesy shuffle with hefty helpings of boogie bite.

"For Your Love" was a patent example of a successful exercise in extrapolation, with the band turning the Graham Gouldman/Yardbirds original around and doing it their own way. Weston's lead guitar was again the star, punctuating vocal phrases, leading the rest of the band through updated instrumental changes. A true lead guitarist at work. His bottleneck intro into "Why" also proved to be on the interesting side — showing that he, too, has listened to Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night."

Unfortunately, Weston just can't do for this group what his predecessors accomplished. In the long run, he wisely chooses not to even try. As for Mystery To Me, uhm, it's sad that four songs that should have been average turned out to be the best the album had to offer. Mediocrity really is a drag.

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