Fleetwood Mac – Then Play (Deluxe Expanded 2013 Edition) (1969)

LPFrontCover1Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band, formed in London in 1967. Fleetwood Mac were founded by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, before bassist John McVie joined the line-up for their self-titled debut album. Danny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. Keyboardist and vocalist Christine Perfect, who contributed as a session musician from the second album, married McVie and joined in 1970.

Primarily a British blues band at first, Fleetwood Mac scored a UK number one with “Albatross”, and had other hits such as the singles “Oh Well” and “Man of the World”. All three guitarists left in succession during the early 1970s, to be replaced by guitarists Bob Welch and Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker. By 1974, Welch, Weston and Walker had all either departed or been dismissed, leaving the band without a male lead vocalist or guitarist. In late 1974, while Fleetwood was scouting studios in Los Angeles, he heard American folk-rock duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and asked Buckingham to be their new lead guitarist, and Buckingham agreed on condition that Nicks could also join the band.

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The addition of Buckingham and Nicks gave the band a more pop rock sound, and their 1975 self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac, reached No. 1 in the United States. Rumours (1977), Fleetwood Mac’s second album after the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks, produced four U.S. Top 10 singles and remained at number one on the American albums chart for 31 weeks. It also reached the top spot in countries around the world and won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978. Rumours has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history. Although each member of the band went through a breakup (John and Christine McVie, Buckingham and Nicks, and Fleetwood and his wife Jenny) while recording the album, they continued to write and record music together.

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The band’s personnel remained stable through three more studio albums, but by the late 1980s began to disintegrate. After Buckingham and Nicks each left the band, they were replaced by a number of other guitarists and vocalists. A 1993 one-off performance for the first inauguration of Bill Clinton featured the line-up of Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Nicks, and Buckingham back together for the first time in six years. A full reunion occurred four years later, and the group released their fourth U.S. No. 1 album, The Dance (1997), a live compilation of their hits, also marking the 20th anniversary of Rumours. Christine McVie left the band in 1998, but continued to work with the band in a session capacity. Meanwhile, the group remained together as a four-piece, releasing their most recent studio album, Say You Will, in 2003. Christine McVie rejoined the band full-time in 2014. In 2018, Buckingham was fired from the band and replaced by Mike Campbell, formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House.

Fleetwood Mac have sold more than 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands. In 1979, the group were honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1998 the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2018, the band received the MusiCares Person of the Year award from The Recording Academy in recognition of their artistic achievement in the music industry and dedication to philanthropy.

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Then Play On is the third studio album by the British blues rock band Fleetwood Mac, released on 19 September 1969. It was the first of their original albums to feature Danny Kirwan (although he is also listed on two tracks on the earlier compilation The Pious Bird of Good Omen) and the last with Peter Green. Jeremy Spencer did not feature on the album apart from “a couple of piano things” (according to Mick Fleetwood in Q magazine in 1990). The album offered a broader stylistic range than the straightforward electric blues of the group’s first two albums, displaying elements of folk rock, hard rock, art rock and psychedelia. The album reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming the band’s fourth Top 20 LP in a row, as well as their third album to reach the Top 10. The album’s title, Then Play On, is taken from the opening line of William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night — “If music be the food of love, play on”.

Then Play On is Fleetwood Mac’s first release with Reprise Records after being lured away from Blue Horizon and a one-off with Immediate Records. The label would be the band’s home until their self-titled 1975 album. The initial US release of the album omitted two tracks that were previously issued on the American compilation English Rose, while the second US pressing further abridged the tracklist with the addition of the hit single “Oh Well”. The original CD compiled all the songs from the two US LP versions, both of which omitted the “English Rose” tracks that are on the original UK version. In August 2013, a remastered edition of the album was reissued on vinyl and CD, restoring its original 1969 UK track listing and adding four bonus tracks from the same era.

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Fleetwood Mac’s previous albums had been recorded live in the studio and adhered strictly to the blues formula. For the recording of Then Play On, editing and overdubbing techniques were used extensively for the first time. Green had recently introduced improvisation and jamming to the band’s live performances and three of the tracks on the album including “Underway”, “Searching for Madge”, and “Fighting for Madge”, which were compiled by Green from several hours of studio jam sessions.

Green, the de facto band leader at the time, delegated half of the songwriting to bandmate Danny Kirwan so he could sing more lead vocals. Music journalist Anthony Bozza remarked that Green “was a very generous band leader in every single way. And Peter gave Danny all of that freedom. You just don’t hear about things like that.” Jeremy Spencer, the band’s other guitarist, was retained even though he did not play on any of the album’s original tracks. Green and Spencer had planned to record a concept album — “an orchestral-choral LP” — about the life of Jesus Christ, although the album never came to fruition. Instead, Spencer released a solo album in 1970 with the members of Fleetwood Mac as his backing band.

A German re-issue edition from 1973:
Re-Issue1973

Although “Oh Well” was a hit in the UK, it was not the group’s first single released in America. Instead, Clifford Davis, who was Fleetwood Mac’s manager at the time, selected “Rattlesnake Shake” to be released in the US. While Davis thought “Rattlesnake Shake” would become a big hit, it failed to chart anywhere. After the failure of “Rattlesnake Shake”, “Oh Well” was chosen as the second single for the US market. The second single fared much better, becoming the band’s first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Mick Fleetwood ranked the song in his top 11 favourite Fleetwood Mac songs list.

The “Oh Well” single … all ove the world:
Oh Well Singles

It incorporated the freedom to go off on a tangent, to jam – the classic ‘Do you jam, dude?’ We learned that as players. You hear that alive and well in the double-time structure that I put in at the end, which on stage could last half an hour. It was our way of being in The Grateful Dead.

The painting used for the album cover artwork is a mural by the English artist Maxwell Armfield. The painting was featured in the February 1917 edition of The Countryside magazine, which noted that the mural was originally designed for the dining room of a London mansion.

Illustration

Contemporary reception of the album was mixed. Writing for Rolling Stone magazine, John Morthland said Fleetwood Mac had fallen “flat on their faces”, and later dismissed the album as mostly “nondescript ramblings”. On the other hand, Robert Christgau was more positive. He described the album’s mixing of “easy ballads and Latin rhythms with the hard stuff” as “odd” but “very good”.

However, modern reviews of the album are highly positive; The New Rolling Stone Album Guide labeling the album as a “cool, blues-based stew” and considered it the second best Fleetwood Mac album. The Telegraph described Then Play On as a “musically expansive, soft edged, psychedelic blues odyssey”. Clark Collins of Blender magazine gave the album five stars out of five, and described “Oh Well” as an “epic blues-pop workout”. (wikipedia)

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This Peter Green-led edition of the Mac isn’t just an important transition between their initial blues-based incarnation and the mega-pop band they became, it’s also their most vital, exciting version. The addition of Danny Kirwan as second guitarist and songwriter foreshadows not only the soft-rock terrain of “Bare Trees” and “Kiln House” with Christine Perfect-McVie, but also predicts Rumours. That only pertains to roughly half of the also excellent material here, though; the rest is quintessential Green. The immortal “Oh Well,” with its hard-edged, thickly layered guitars and chamber-like sections, is perhaps the band’s most enduring progressive composition. “Rattlesnake Shake” is another familiar number, a down-and-dirty, even-paced funk, with clean, wall-of-sound guitars. Choogling drums and Green’s fiery improvisations power “Searching for Madge,” perhaps Mac’s most inspired work save “Green Manalishi,” and leads into an unlikely symphonic interlude and the similar, lighter boogie “Fighting for Madge.”

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A hot Afro-Cuban rhythm with beautiful guitars from Kirwan and Green on “Coming Your Way” not only defines the Mac’s sound, but the rock aesthetic of the day. Of the songs with Kirwan’s stamp on them, “Closing My Eyes” is a mysterious waltz love song; haunting guitars approach surf music on the instrumental “My Dream”; while “Although the Sun Is Shining” is the ultimate pre-Rumours number someone should revisit. Blues roots still crop up on the spatial, loose, Hendrix-tinged “Underway,” the folky “Like Crying,” and the final outcry of the ever-poignant “Show Biz Blues,” with Green moaning “do you really give a damn for me?” Then Play On is a reminder of how pervasive and powerful Green’s influence was on Mac’s originality and individual stance beyond his involvement. Still highly recommended and a must-buy after all these years, it remains their magnum opus. (by Michael G. Nastos)

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Personnel:
Peter Green (vocals, guitar, harmonica, bass, percussion, cello on 16.)
Mick Fleetwood (drums, percussion)
Danny Kirwan (vocals, guitar)
John McVie (bass)
Jeremy Spencer (piano on 16. only)
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Sandra Elsdon (recorder on 16.)
Big Walter Horton (harmonica)
Christine Perfect (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Coming Your Way (Kirwan) 3.46
02. Closing My Eyes (Green) 4.52
03. Fighting For Madge (Fleetwood) 2.43
04. When You Say (Kirwan) 4:31
05. Show-Biz Blues (Green) 3.52
06. Underway (Green) 3.05
07. One Sunny Day (Kirwan) 3.12
08. Although The Sun Is Shining (Kirwan) 2.26
09. Rattlesnake Shake (Green) 3.30
10. Without You (Kirwan) 4.35
11. Searching For Madge (McVie) 6.57
12. My Dream (Kirwan) 3.32
13. Like Crying (Kirwan) 2.26
14. Before The Beginning (Green) 3.28
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15. Oh Well – Pt. 1 (bonus mono track) (Green) 3.25
16. Oh Well – Pt. 2 (bonus mono track) (Green) 5.40
17. The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown) (Green) 4.37
18. World In Harmony (Kirwan/Green) 3.27

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LinerNotes Re-Issue1973_1

The inlets of the 1973 re-issue:
Inlets (Re-Issue)

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More from Fleetwood Mac:
More

The official website:
Website

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