http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/8e2dacf79d023643860c93896a30f038963e7617.jpg Then Play On

Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On

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December 13, 1969

Nowadays Fleetwood Mac is stepping out on its own. Tired of being another British blues band, the group has said goodbye to Elmore James and is moving into the pop-rock field. On this album, they fall flat on their faces.

Most of the music on the album is slow and wandering — instruments in search of an idea. Of the songs in this category, "My Dream," with its pleasant melody, is the only one that works. The eclecticism is excessive here, most of the songs sounding like warmed-over early Fish, with traces of such bands as the Doors. Plus several two-guitar raveups. Peter Green, once such a promising guitarist, is merely competent — nothing more, nothing less. Even the blues material is inferior to their earlier work. To be sure, there are bits and pieces of interesting, spacey music scattered throughout the album, but it's the nondescript ramblings which dominate the set.

The best thing Fleetwood Mac has ever done is "Oh Well," a single currently available only in England. On part one, the two guitars work with and against each other in perfect balance, and when the music pauses, there's these fine lyrics, post-Dylan, rock and roll sassy: "I can't help it 'bout the shape I'm in/I'm not pretty, can't sing and my legs are thin/But don't ask me what I think of you/I might not give the answer that you want me to." Part two, an instrumental, gets a bit cumbersome, but still attracts where similar songs on the album repelled. The reason this is available only in England is that the band's manager is positive that "Rattlesnake Shake" (an album cut distinguished from the others only by the fact that it's uptempo) will hit as a single in America and on the European continent. That man is 1969's False Prophet of the Year. I'd trade this whole album straight across for "Oh Well," and would be getting the better deal.

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