I was sure that Peter Green’s departure from Fleetwood Mac signaled the end of that band. And it did. That band went under. It was, after all, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac in the beginning, and although never a mere showcase for Green’s all too obvious talents, he was still most decidedly the Kingfish of the Kombo.
OK. That band folded, but the band didn’t fold. Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer took up the slack and built a new engine for the Fleetwood Mac machine. They didn’t try to drive around or hide what most people thought would be a most conspicuous hole in the band (Green’s place), but rather shifted gears and made a quick high speed turn off the cosmic trail Green had left them on and headed out the two lane highway of high-class vintage rock & roll.
The road wasn’t new to them. Perhaps a year or two ago, Jeremy Spencer made a solo English album (not released in the States), and it was apparently one of those things he had to “get out from under his skin.” It, too, was vintage R&R, but it was also a parody of sounds ranging from Buddy Holly to Jan and Dean and even Presley’s more maudlin stuff. It wasn’t exactly a stellar performance on Spencer’s part, but it was a lot of fun. The band that backed him on the album was the band that is today Fleetwood Mac. Peter Green only played banjo on one track.
Kiln House, on the other hand, is not a parody, and it is a much more carefully conceived and prepared album, as opposed to the “hey, let’s record all this raunchy stuff I have laying around my flat” that the Spencer album indicates. Spencer’s album would make both Holly and Vincent blush; Kiln House, on the other hand, is a venture that would make Holly and Vincent unabashedly proud as godparents to the album.
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This isn’t merely another rock & roll revival album. Fleetwood Mac is only dependent upon the past for certain flavorings, and is not tied to the same Oldie-Goldie Trip in the jejune manner that, say, Cat Mother was, or any of the other hotshit bands attempting to resurrect the past on the past’s own lost ground. With Kirwan keeping Spencer’s apparent excesses in tow (“Blood on the Floor” could have been terrible had it gotten away from them. It didn’t, however, and survived admirably.), and with more time to fuck around in the studio, Fleetwood Mac has ferreted out the early subtleties of classic R&R rather than dealing with the early excesses that plague so many of today’s Revivalists. The best of the oldie-moldie is met on Fleetwood Mac’s own ground and own terms, and the sound is that much wiser for it.
The roots aspect (“Let’s see, isn’t ‘High Ho Silver’ based upon John Lennon’s Plastic Ono, which originally was based etc, etc…”) eventually goes by the boards, and what emerges is one of those albums that hangs on to your head for a long long time, and one which you seek out as relief from all those insipid-and-virtually-unlistenable-after-two-times-through albums making the rounds these days. Pick it up today and you’ll find yourself humming “Tell Me All the Things You Do” for the next few months.