27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2001
I really love this album. I like every song on it. Every music guide or reference I've ever seen does not rate it very high, but I think its fantastic musicianship. Drums, guitar, lyrics, etc I love it all and if you are in a mellow mood its a fantastic CD to throw on. Personally I think "Revelation" sounds like it could be Sting singing. If you like good, mellow music, check Penguin out.
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2003
Even during their extended middle period as they made the transition from blues-rockers to melodic popsters, you couldn't fault Fleetwood Mac for not being prolific. 1971's FUTURE GAMES could safely be called the first pop-oriented Mac album because it was their first one without guitarist Jeremy Spencer, thereby cutting off the last tie to their blues roots. 1972's BARE TREES was as spare as its title states, peeling away the layers of the previous album & letting the music speak for itself. After both of those albums sold dismally (but I believe they've at least gone gold by now), the Mac went back to the studio to record 1973's PENGUIN.
The remarks about PENGUIN being the rare sour grape in the Mac's large catalog are a tad exaggerated, for while it is by no means a masterpiece, it's unfair to call it a stinker. While Christine McVie & Bob Welch may have been the main creative guides during this period, PENGUIN was probably an attempt at a true group effort (which at this point was a sextet), for the songwriting & singing isn't strictly the work of McVie & Welch (though they do collaborate on one song); guitarist Bob Weston & vocalist/harmonica player Dave Walker (both added after the departure of guitarist Danny Kirwan) get a chance to shine here, too. Such democracy would hint at 1979's double album TUSK & like that epic, it's mostly hit & miss.
Walker's tune "The Derelict" is a country-based affair, complete with the banjo & harmonica (both done by Weston). As can be expected, the song is certainly no masterpiece, but it's a pleasant tune that closed out side one of the vinyl album. Walker also got the chance to vocalize on a cover of Jr. Walker & The All-Stars' Motown classic "[I'm A] Road Runner". While such a gravel-voiced soul rave-up would seem like an odd choice with the proto-pop sound the Mac was exploring around this time, it comes off surprisingly well, sure to bring up any dull party. "Caught In The Rain" closes out the album & is an acoustic instrumental performed by Bob Weston with piano & an angelic chorus. Nice, but corresponding lyrics to such a title could have improved it.
As for the Mac's main songsmiths, Bob Welch comes out the winner with 3 solo compositions & a collaboration with McVie, hinting at the promise that would be manifested when he went solo. "Bright Fire" is a slightly ethereal number with lyrics that are a bit hard to decipher, but the slightly Pink Floyd vibe the song gives off is very soothing. "Revelation" is a Santana-inspired rocker with guitar work worthy of Senor Carlos himself. The epic of the album (which is only 36 minutes long) is "Night Watch" & contains the soft-spoken voice you'd know from Welch's solo hit of "Sentimental Lady" (the Mac's version appeared on BARE TREES). The backing harmonies are an excellent lift from the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young rule book.
While Christine McVie would become quite a dependable songwriter in later years, I guess she was still easing her way in at this point, for she only contributes 2 of her own songs, both of which were probably not even her best ones at the time. The opening "Remember Me" is a light, feel-good number that breezes by in its 2 1/2 minutes without leaving much of an impression. "Dissatisfied" is better with a little Motown flavor of its own, especially with the overdubbed backing vocals by Christine. Mick Fleetwood's drums alone make you wonder if the band had brushed up on their Motown before recording this. The calypso-flavored "Did You Ever Love Me" (love the steel drums) is the McVie/Welch team-up & is apparently more Christine's work than Bob's for she sings lead with Bob Weston on this bittersweet "end of the affair" love song.
The Mac's choice of producer in Martin Birch (who worked as an engineer on previous Mac albums) was an odd one, for he had cut his teeth on albums by bands as hard-edged as Deep Purple & would eventually work with similar groups like Iron Maiden, Blue Oyster Cult & Whitesnake. But this was his one of his first albums as a producer I believe, so he hadn't yet found his specialty & I guess with PENGUIN, he wanted to be as less intrusive as possible. Like BARE TREES, Birch lets the music stay as it is with little sweetening & I guess the Mac was happy enough with his work to use him again on their second album of 1973, MYSTERY TO ME.
PENGUIN is certainly no creative wonder by any stretch of the imagination, but interestingly it became their first album to chart in the U.S. (peaking at a respectable #49), so something about it won over music buyers. For an album that was only recorded in a month (in January 1973, with it hitting stores 2 months later), PENGUIN has the sound & feel of it, making for an album that is pleasant while it plays, but only small parts of it are memorable. Musical band members would start again (with Dave Walker being the one to leave), but Fleetwood Mac seemed to take it all in stride, moving towards the recording of their equally transitional (yet superior) MYSTERY TO ME in a matter of months. In hindsight, PENGUIN is a good time-marker in the Mac's long career, but definitely not the bomb it has long been made out to be.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2000
Guitar Gods be damned, Fleetwood Mac had/has more to offer than blues licks and rock riffing. As their personnel roster fluctuated and the band searched for a cohesive musical identity, the songwriters in Fleetwood Mac never failed to offer (at least) a half-dozen unrefined, tuneful gems. "Penguin" is perhaps their least impressive album from the post-Green, pre-Buckingham/Nicks era, but it is still a very likeable and memorable collection.
Christine McVie's bluesy but uptempo "Remember Me" is an obvious standout, along with the shuffle-Pop of "Disattisfied." Her vocal lead on Bob Welch's Caribbean-flavored "Did You Ever Love Me" is one of her most affecting performances. Welch does himself proud on the shimmering "Bright Fire," and the frenetic musical drama of "Revelation." Guitarist Bob Weston's elegiac "Caught In The Rain" also has it's charms.
Dave Walker's contributions to this album are negligible...a hoarse vocal on the Holland/Dozier/Holland chestnut, "(I'm A) Roadrunner," and the inebriated blues original, "The Derelict." It's to the band's credit that they recognized him for the weak, regressive presence he brought into the group, and jettisoned him before the next album.
Aside from a few overlong musical excursions and lapses in sincerity, "Penguin" does not disappoint. And if this kind of tuneful Pop-Rock isn't enough to satisfy fans of the Green God, they need to clean their ears. Peter Green has an uncredited solo on the original B-side of this album.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2009
"Penguin" was the first pre-Lindsay Buckingham/Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac album I had ever seen or heard at the age of four. I was already in love with the "Rumours" line up of the band so my mother thought she's enlighten me to the fact the band had existed BEFORE Lindsay or Stevie joined. In her record collection was her original copy of "Penguin" which she purchased at the time of it's release. I remember staring at the inside gatefold picture, being intrigued by the unfamiliar faces I saw. There were approximately three of them; Dave Walker, Bob Weston, and Bob Welch. "Penguin" would be Walker's sole album with Mac while Weston would last two albums before being kicked out for having an affair with Mick Fleetwood's wife Jenny. Not a good decision that. Bob Welch had been with the band since 1971 and would last until 1974. "Penguin" was hastily recorded and released at time of great upheaval in Mac's career....AGAIN! With an uneven track sequence and the bizarre addition of Dave Walker, "Penguin" has often been dismissed as the dud of Fleetwood Mac's catalog. That's overstating the case a bit though.
One thing that should always be noted about Fleetwood Mac is that the band has ALWAYS boasted excellent musicians and they have never sucked! Regardless of how their individual albums were received, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie always knew good musicians when they heard them and were always guided by their keen instinct when making these decisions for the good of the band. Dave Walker was added to the band in late 1972 from out of British blues rockers Savoy Brown. Though a curious choice, he wasn't completely a mistake. Walker was talented with chops, had a variety of vocal styles, and could play a mean blues harp. But he was ultimately out of place in Mac. He had been hired on because management had been pushing the group to get a front man, one who could rile up a crowd. Mac was rapidly developing their laid back California pop rock sound, something to which Walker was a bit of a stranger. He was let go before the band proceeded any further, but like all Mac musicians, left his mark during his brief tenure. Bob Weston came from Long John Baldry's group and fit nicely into Mac's lead guitarist lineage (following Peter Green with Danny Kirwan and before Lindsay Buckingham).
Despite all the turmoil, "Penguin" is a fairly good album. Definitely not a record that comes together as a whole but has moments of greatness scattered throughout. Like 1970's "Kiln House," "Penguin" probably could have used a good re-sequencing of it's tracks in order to bring it together. However, the songs stand on their own merit. The Mac member who shines the brightest on "Penguin" is definitely Christine McVie, whose songwriting seemed to be reaching an early peak with this album. She contributed three songs to "Penguin": "Remember Me," "Dissatisfied," and "Did You Ever Love Me." Both "Remember Me" and "Did You Ever Love Me" were selected as singles in order to promote the album. However Bob Welch, Mac's other main songwriter during this period, would see better days, especially on the group's late '73 follow up album "Mystery To Me." I saw a review for this album that stated Bob Welch would "put you to sleep" on this one. It's true his songs here are slight, but they're not bad. "Bright Fire" features the same transcendental vibe as 1971's "Future Games," but with less dynamics. "Night Watch" is creepy, haunting, and majestic all at the same time. "Revelation" sounds like Welch trying to conjure up the spirit of Peter Green and only half succeeding. It has a Latin tinged groove that says Bob was under the influence of Santana for this one. Dave Walker's two contributions are what most fans site as the problem with "Penguin." Referring to the original vinyl, side one closed with Walker's killer rendition of "(I'm A) Road Runner" that features some of his blistering harp work. However, for the start of side two Walker does a complete about face with his folk warble "The Derelict" on which you'll notice, when listening carefully, is MISSING A BASS TRACK! How that happened is anyone's guess. My theory is that John McVie hated the song and flat out refused to work on it, but that's only theory. It's a hummable tune but Walker's lyrics make little sense ("No more get out of here's from a man who hates lady?"). And his singing sounds like an imitation of a folk singer instead of what he was really capable of, which was displayed on "Road Runner" in all it's gruff glory! Putting Walker's two contrasting moments in the spotlight back to back is probably the biggest error "Penguin" makes.
Christie McVie did no wrong at all on "Penguin." "Did You Ever Love Me" is probably the album's biggest highlight with lyrics offering up heartbroken sentiments of a failed relationship (a theme she'd revisit quite often), it's infectious Caribbean rhythm and melody featuring steel drums that play a fantastic solo during the song's extended coda. As far as great Christine McVie songs go, this one is right up there with her best and should have been a Top Ten hit. "Remember Me" opens the album and "Dissatisfied" is the third song on side one, both insanely catchy! The record closes out with Bob Weston's "Caught In The Rain" which would be the band's last instrumental. Very similar to Danny Kirwan's instrumentals on previous Mac albums, it is a beautiful piece with hushed blowing scat harmonies by Bob Welch and Christine McVie.
"Penguin" doesn't deserve the bad rap it gets but it's not one of Mac's best. This album gets a recommendation on the strength of Christine's songs alone. With all the personnel changes Mac had survived thus far, it's surprising "Penguin" got made in the first place.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2010
Penguin represents the genesis of the band's enormously successful run that commenced with Fleetwood Mac (1975) just two LPs and two years down the line. For instance, Christie McVie's Dissatisfied could slide without a beat onto either Fleetwood Mac or Rumours. I think that this record has always received an unwarranted bad rap. I suspect that many of the negative reviews emanate from those who regretted the passing of the blues oriented Mac, people for whom this music is simply not their cup of tea. I loved the band from the very beginning and have their first three LPs on vinyl and play them still. However, as Green, Spencer and Kirwan all left and were replaced I stayed with the band. I like Bob Welch's compositions and his voice and I disagree with those who find Bob Weston a deficient guitarist. He's no Peter Green, but then who is? Other than Road Runner I enjoy every song on this album. Penguin reached number 49 in the US album charts - the band's highest entry to that point in its career. Stardom, fame and fortune are just around the corner for Mick, John and Christie.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2010
Going to the beach with my friend Chuck. Listened to this and Robin Trower's For Earth Below on 8 track. Been listening to both ever since.Wish it was remastered.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2011
On Fleetwood Mac's seventh album, Penguin, the band took on yet another member in whiskey swilling bluesman Dave Walker, fresh off his incendiary three album tenure with Savoy Brown and stoked for a new pedestal to carry on his devil-may-care persona. In addition to Walker joining up for the moment, the band had just turned loose guitarist Danny Kirwan, ironically trading out one alcoholic musician for another who would likewise go the same route after the album was finished. Concerning the work itself and the reputation, it's likely that the first instinct of the avid Fleetwood Mac listener is to almost completely disown the pair of songs on which Dave Walker is present and insist upon the handful of slick Bob Welch tunes to be the album's best work, uplifting an otherwise drab affair at key parts. They wouldn't be too far off base either as popular opinion would dictate. After all, keep in mind the historical context in which Penguin was released. By the early 1970s, public interest in the blues as an appealing form of popular music was waning faster by the minute coupled with the lauded emergence of progressive rock and jazz fusion into the mainstream amongst other styles which were becoming increasingly mantled onto the charts as the decade wore on.
On other such albums where the musicians are many and the songwriting credits are almost completely modulated from one track to the next, it can be hard to pinpoint where exactly one artist's influence ends and the other begins. On Penguin, however, the contrast is plain as day. Bob Welch's songwriting of course dominates the record in many parts with tracks like "Bright Fire" and "Night Watch" boasting a distinguished commercial sheen reminiscent of contemporaries Steely Dan and the Eagles. Christine McVie also writes some numbers of her own in "Remember Me" and "Dissatisfied" whose breezy boogie seems to have more in common with Dave Walker's output than with Fleetwood Mac. Speaking of his contributions, Walker belts out an excellent Jr. Walker & the All-Stars cover in "(I'm A) Roadrunner", merging honky tonk piano riffs with just the right amount of Motown swagger for a spirited highpoint. Shortly thereafter is its country-tinged counterpart "The Derelict", the only track on the album actually penned by Walker coming off as a cliche-ridden but nonetheless enjoyable slowburn that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Lion's Share a year earlier. Immediately following this, "Revelation" allows Bob Welch a few crucial moments to pull off an infectious groove bordering on samba territory in the vein of Santana. Bob Weston also provides his own singular contribution in the majestic instrumental closing track "Caught in the Rain".
The grand sum of styles present on this album is myriad and because of its versatility, Penguin can be queued comfortably alongside many other rock LPs from the period with virtually no clash. Regardless of how one may feel toward the album or whether it is uncovered by way of the Savoy Brown connection or by pouring through Fleetwood Mac's extensive back catalog, Penguin appears as a creative fork in the road indicating not only the transitory amalgam of sound the band were exploring at that particular moment in time but also the future trajectory of mainstream rock and roll for the remainder of the decade.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2007
i basically bought that album because i'm a huge bob welch's fan, i think he was the best member that fleetwood mac ever had (except for peter green of course), and i thought that this one was not as good as "future games" or "bare trees" but still have maybe my all-time favorite mac's song ever "bright fire", typical from bob welch, very recognizable style, something californian about it cause it's very fresh and something about the 70's but most of all a beautiful melody that will live through the years and remain as magic as it's always been.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2003
There's not much more I can say about it that hasn't been said in other reviews. I do have to agree that it doesn't deserve the reputation it has for being the dud of their catalog.
It seems that of all the Welch era stuff I reach for this one and Heroes Are Hard To Find the most. It's not even that I love the entire album, but there's several tracks on it that are some of my favorites by the band.
"Dissatisfied" is one of Christines best songs ever, and when it comes to Chris's mid-tempo boogies I'll take this one over "Don't Stop" any day. "Did You Ever Love Me" is a great collaboration between her and Welch, and although some of the vocals sound a little clumsy, the breezy, calypso feel of the track is totally irresistable. "Remember Me" is a pleasant enough tune, although somewhat forgettable. She was a much better writer during their mid-period than what she's given credit for.
As far as Mr. Welch he'll put you to sleep on this one. He wrote great songs for every Fleetwood Mac album he was on except for this one. "Bright Fire" and "Revelation" will breeze by you without making much of an impression. At least he knocked himself out with one of his tracks, the eerie mini-epic "Night Watch," which has some of the best production and instrumentation of any Fleetwood Mac track, complete with mellotrons, plucked piano strings, and appropriate sound effects on the fadeout. This is all without mentioning the fantastic vocal harmonies.
As far as Dave Walker, including him in the band was pointless. They already had two strong songwriters in the band, why they felt the need to get a separate lead singer who only contributed a cover and a half-assed original is beyond me. The cover he does contribute is a highlight of the album though, which is a rockin' cover of Junior Walker And THe All-Stars "I'm A Roadrunner." His other song "The Derelict" is OK, but sounds sketchy and unfinished. Want to know why? It is. The band just threw it on the album at the last minute because they didn't feel like working on it. If you wonder why it sounds so thin it's because there's no bass track on it.
Bob Weston, who really didn't write much for the band, contributes the gorgeous acoustic instrumental "Caught In The Rain" to close out the album. The overdubbed choral of Bob Welch's vocals on this one is especially nice.
At 11 bucks it will be hard to regret purchasing this one. It doesn't soar to the musical heights that Mystery To Me and Heroes Are Hard To Find did, nor does it rock like Bare Trees. It's a wierd album, showing a band struggling to find its feet. Overall though the result is decent, and even though theres a few clunkers there's enough great songs to keep even the casual Mac fan (like me) happy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a very pleasant album. Light rock, moving toward the heavily commercialized Lindsay Buckingham era. If you like Fleetwood Mac during the Buckingham/Nicks era, you should enjoy this (Buckingham and Nicks were not yet in the band.) Personally, I liked every incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, including this particular album. I like it because I find Bob Welch easy to listen to. Mostly though, Christine Perfect-McVIEs' smoky husky vocals make me squirm (in a good way.)