Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fleetwood Maximum I: Then Play Onstage

We're back at it this morning with the first of two wildly divergent consecutive posts about the same band, one about a passing and the other about a birthday.
Today we memorialize the departure of one of this band's formative members, who was asked to join them at the tender age of 18 when their original leader was introduced to his playing.
For many of us, this band's finest work happened during these initial years, before they became global megastars with an almost completely different cast.
For those many, there can be no underestimating the contribution of today's honoree.
They began as so many English bands of then did, emulating American Blues with accuracy and feeling, even though none of the Brit Blues Boomers had ever been to the Mississippi Delta or Sweet Home Chicago.
What set this particular combo apart was the presence of not one, not two, but three full-on guitar monsters, each with his own skill set and coterie of strengths.
Most of the accolades went to the leader, as massive a White Blues player as has ever existed and as keen an improviser in the idiom as any of the last 50 years.
So much of their pinnacle period, though, was anchored by our hero of the day, who unfortunately passed on June 8th from pneumonia. His name was Danny Kirwan, and he had kind of a rough life.
He battled alcoholism and mental illness on and off, and got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac (by tomorrow's birthday lad) in 1972 for his excesses, falling into a homeless drinking spiral he was lucky to survive. The group would survive just fine, as we'll see tomorrow.
He went on to make solo records, but he'll always be revered -- and be a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, inducted in 1998 alongside his FM compatriots -- for his part in creating one of our era's most beloved and lasting bands.
Full disclosure: I'm not big on the Buckingham/Nicks FM incarnation. I like those tunes, but I'm a Peter Green/Danny Kirwan Fleetwood Mac person through and through. My personal favorite record of theirs is Then Play On, made in 1969 and IMO as good as any record made in the 1960s.
He really saved them, this guy. When Peter Green went full Fuck The Music Business and they were left without a frontman and songwriting force, he stepped up on those (awesome) LPs like Dragonfly and Bare Trees, bridging the gap until the drummer could round up some witchy Californians with whom to top the charts. Without Danny Kirwan, there would likely never have been any Rumours.
To commemorate his death, we've upped an hourlong FM set taped from the desk by the crew of The Grateful Dead, for whom the Mac were opening around the US at the start of 1970. This one is remastered by a fan and will give a fine, 60-minute glimpse into what made the original FM the FM for a lotta folks.
Fleetwood Mac
The Warehouse
New Orleans, Louisiana

01 introduction
02 Before the Beginning
03 It Takes Time
04 Like It This Way
05 Only You
06 Madison Blues
07 Can't Stop Loving You
08 Albatross
09 The Green Manalishi
10 World In Harmony
11 Stranger Blues

Total time: 59:09

Peter Green- guitar, vocals
Jeremy Spencer - guitar, vocals
Danny Kirwan - guitar
John McVie - bass
Mick Fleetwood - drums

unknown gen soundboard reel, recorded by the Grateful Dead's crew and remastered in 2010 by Liriodendron
I'll be back in a mere 24 hours with the pop-rock, cocaine breakup rejoinder set to this concert, but for now we are gathered here today to remember Danny Kirwan, a severely underrated player whom the world owes a debt of gratitude for helping begin one of our age's most revered groups.--J.
5.13.1950 - 6.8.2018

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