As you can probably guess from the picture, this is not an article about the latest iteration of Fleetwood Mac, but the first. Now I am not here to say that one version of the band is better than another. I love the Nicks/Buckingham version and there was a reason for their overwhelming popularity – they are a damn good band.
But as much as I like that band, I really want to talk about the original blues-based version of the band and their stellar guitarist, Peter Green. These guys were – in a word – terrific. They played not only straight up Chicago-style blues – even recording in Chicago with the likes of Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon – they also did some dreamy stuff like “Albatross.”
Peter Green was the guy who replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. His vibrato-laden tone once inspired B.B. King to say, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” High praise or what?
The Boston Tea Party was a small club that was open in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Like a lot of clubs at the time, it was a vital venue for up-and-coming bands like Zeppelin, Allmans, etc. This next song, “Oh, Well Part 1” was recorded there and is a great indicator of their ballsy two-guitar sound. The current band sometimes plays it. I personally cannot get enough of their stuff. (There’s a nice video of Jimmy Page performing this song with Black Crowes up on You Tube.)
Carlos Santana was another disciple of Peter Green’s. He covered the song “Black Magic Woman,” tying it together with jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen.” This was a big hit for Santana but I’m not sure that that particular Mac lineup ever escaped the underground blues band label. Their version of “Black Magic” ends with a nice two guitar lead shuffle. I liked the way these guys played simultaneous lead (Jeremy Spencer and later, Danny Kirwan).
Sadly, Green eventually had problems with drugs and schizophrenia. I seem to recall reading articles about him being seen sleeping in train stations around London. The good news is that he has since recovered (medication?) and has sometimes played out with various eponymous bands.