Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rattlesnakes and Albatrosses

My first love was the blues. Oh, okay, that's a complete lie. My first love was Marc Bolan. But my second or third love was the blues. Or so. Anyway, it was in there somewhere. So I'm a slut, sue me.

Due to my age, I missed out on the first flowering of British Blues, and had to catch up by working my way back using as a starting point the Immediate Anthology of British Blues (that's the URL for the only volume I can find on Amazon, vaguely similar to the old vinyl volume II I have at home) and Pete Frame's Rock Family Trees as clues to chase down the remnants of the not-long vanished culture. I doubt if I discovered anything amazing you couldn't discover yourself. In fact, today I actually wanted to point out something I didn't discover at the time.

I only found out about early Fleetwood Mac a few years ago.

I was inoculated against Fleetwood Mac by my unadulterated hatred of the work they were producing by the time I started searching out older records. I thought that any band which was multi-platinum and featured floaty, soft-focus women in even more floaty gauzy dresses couldn't possibly have developed from a prior stage that was more to my liking. I was wrong about that. Like many bands of the period, FM started out as a pure blues band. In its line up it featured one of the three or four best British blues guitar players, Peter Green. Together with Danny Kirwan he produced twin-lead guitar that is, as they didn't say in those days, to die for.

I've still never bought a Fleetwood Mac album, for fear that it might have a Vaseline-lensed female lurking somewhere inside the cover, but I have caught up with a few tracks here and there, and some of those are now on available for your vidding pleasure on YouTube.

I'll lead off with a gem, a short (and unhappily truncated version) of Fleetwood Mac playing live at the Playboy Mansion for Hugh Hefner and his bunnies. Peter Green, who must have had all of his marbles at the time, chose to play Rattlesnake Shake, a song about an activity strongly associated with Playboy magazine and I don't mean Golf or even single malt drinking. The track also features an outstandingly pretentious intro by Heff himself that marks him out as a complete practitioner of the art discussed supra.

Rattlesnake Shake

That's cool and ironic and stuff, but if you want to feel the emotional charge of Peter Green's playing, try this one, World Keeps Turning. Danny Kirwan's broken a string and to fill the gap, PG rips out a solo number that just blows me away. BB King once said Peter Green made him sweat – with this one, you can see why. Watch his right hand (no, he isn't doing the rattlesnake shake).

World Keeps Turning

Here's my personal favorite. Oh Well. Watch Peter Green crack up after a flub. It's great to see him smile. Then, Shake Your Moneymaker (this one is slow to load; give it a chance.) A clip from the Peter Green Story. And to round it off, the famous Albatross. I normally hate songs about seabirds, but I give this one a pass. Barely.

PS – YouTube videos come and go like spring flowers. If the links die, in this message or any other, give me a holler and I'll try to refind one. If you want to do it yourself, or explore YouTube, double-click on the embedded video and it will take you straight to their website and you can search.

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