Then Play on
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The roots of the pop juggernaut Mac became lay here! You'll still hear lots of the Peter Green bluesy stuff, too; their first hit Oh Well joins Rattlesnake Shake; Coming Your Way , and the rest of this 1969 turning point.
Before they set sail for California and a new life as consummate pop songsmiths, Fleetwood Mac were pedigreed British blues rockers with roots in Britain's seminal John Mayall's Blues Breakers and their hearts orbiting Chicago and the Mississippi Delta. One of the few surviving albums from that ill-fated, earlier Mac, Then Play On captures them at a potent turning point: the original two-guitar quartet, with founder Peter Green's sinuous leads complemented by Jeremy Spencer's shimmering slide guitar, had been augmented by third guitarist Danny Kirwan, a Green protégé. Buttressed by Mick Fleetwood's muscular yet restrained drumming and John McVie's steady-as-a-heartbeat bass lines, this edition of the band reveled in moody, compelling guitar showpieces that savor texture and line over sheer speed or volume. Accordingly, the lyrics don't benefit from close study, but the guitars surely do--and when the quintet launches into the best-remembered track here, the classic "Oh, Well" (which reunites the separate electric and acoustic sections originally released as two sides of a single), it's understandable that Green, in his day, was mentioned comfortably in the same breath with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. --Sam Sutherland
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Fighting / Searching for Madge just rips up in a Santana mode- and stands up against anything of it's time, including the Allman Bros or Clapton in his heyday. The spectacular "Before the Beginning ", "Showbiz Blues", the beautifully crafted "Closing My Eyes " and of course "Oh Well " ( parts 1 & 2) and don't leave out "Rattlesnake Shake". YIKES -There are other songs by Kirwin that I mean no disrespect by not talking about how good they are, but the force of this group was Peter Green, and if not for the tragic emotional breakdown- we can all see where this was going- unbelievably great album- THIS is Peter Green at his finest.
Since the earlier days of CD we have had to be content with the inferior American version of this album. This new remaster of "Then Play On" reflects the multitrack technology of the time. It was not a very dynamic sounding recording in the first place, however this new digital transfer gives us what's on the master tapes with more punch. At last we have the original 54 minute edit of the UK LP running order along with bonus tracks of the last two 45 singles from this group, "Oh Well" (Parts 1 & 2), "The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown)" and "World in Harmony". The total playing time for this new CD reissue with it's original feel and segues is a generous 69:53. All tracks are Stereo except for "Oh Well" (in it's original mono mix). Also included in the booklet are 8 pages of fascinating new liner notes and graphics.
"Then Play On", one of the masterpiece British albums of the late 60's, alongside John Mayall's "Bare Wires", demonstrated how the British blues movement had evolved into a polished art form all of it's own. The darkness of "Then Play On" anticipates the murkiness of "Exile on Main St." by the Rolling Stones 3 years hence. We will never know where this Fleetwood Mac might have gone next...
This is a desert island disc.
I recommend this to all fans of early Mac. This is some great stuff here and it has never sounded better. Nice dynamic range complements more bass and separation plus it sounds cleaner finally. The old recording was terrible and this one is very good. Get it.
Noticed that the bonus cuts on the new one of the two singles of "Oh, Well" Pt I and II, on the new one are separate, and in mono, where they are one track, part of the "original" reconfigured US album, and stereo on the old WB CD (probably still some studio trickery).
As for the album, this is the first major label release for FM with the original line-up. Don't expect Rumours here. Check out the Blue Horizon releases. A wonderful, ramshackled rollicking romp into British blues jam.