Song of the Week – Tell Me All the Things You Do, Fleetwood Mac

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

I recently learned that Danny Kirwan, one time guitarist and songwriter for an early version of Fleetwood Mac, died last June.  I was very surprised that I missed the announcement of that news until now.

Fleetwood Mac has been around since 1967 but many fans are only familiar with the band as it has been constituted since Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined in 1975 and released a string of major hit singles and albums including Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk.

But the history of the band is way more complicated than that, having gone through at least 3 or 4 other major phases before the Buckingham/Nicks formation.  You can read a summary on Wikipedia, but he best way to get a comprehensive, thumbnail appreciation of the various personnel combinations of the band is through a copy of Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees.

But back to Kirwan…  He joined the band after they released their second album, as their 18 year old, third guitarist.  (Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer were the other two.)  Kirwan had built a reputation as a guitarist for his ability to play a pure vibrato.

The first single Mac released with Kirwan on it was their signature “Albatross” (UK #1).  Band leader, and guitar hero Green said of Kirwan’s contribution to the recording, “If it wasn’t for Danny, I would never had had a number one hit record.” 

By 1970, Green had left the band, so Kirwan and Spencer soldiered on.  The first release without him was the band’s fourth — Kiln House – that contains today’s SotW, ““Tell Me All the Things You Do.”

“Tell Me…”, a jaunty rocker, showcases Kirwan’s guitar playing and also features him on lead vocal.

Unfortunately, Kirwan’s later life became another sad story of a famous rock star that ended in years of destitution.  In 1993, The Independent reported that he was found sleeping on a park bench and sometimes living in St Mungo’s – a homeless shelter in West London.  He later found his was to a South London care home where he died in his sleep, aged 68, of pneumonia.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Hypnotized, Fleetwood Mac

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

Fleetwood Mac has gone through numerous line-ups in its 50 year career though it’s been pretty stable since Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined in 1975. But for the first 8 years the band went through several incarnations. The first was the blues based band led by guitar hero Peter Greene. When Greene left, Danny Kirwan took over as the main songwriter. Version 3.0 came about when Bob Welch stepped forward with his songwriting and vocals.

Today’s SotW is Welch’s “Hypnotized” from the album Mystery to Me (1973).

In a 2012 article for Rolling Stone, David Fricke wrote “The best song Welch ever gave the Mac, “Hypnotized” was urgent noir propelled by a shuffling mix of guitars and (Christine) McVie’s electric-piano understatement, with Welch singing in a sleepwalking cadence like a Raymond Chandler detective musing to himself in a late-night rain.”

“Hypnotized” was released as a single, but it was buried as the B-side to Mac’s cover of The Yardbirds “For Your Love.” (If you’re a vinyl album geek like me, you’ll try to find a copy of the album that erroneously lists an unreleased song called “Good Things (Come to Those Who Wait)” that never made it onto the album because it was dropped at the last minute and replaced by “For Your Love.”) Fortunately for Welch and the Mac, “Hypnotized” became an FM rock radio staple in the 70s.

It starts with a very catchy Mick Fleetwood drum pattern – a snare crack and three beats on the bass drum under an insistent patter on the high hat. Once the beat is firmly established it’s followed by some slick guitar interplay. Christine Mac and Bob Weston provide soothing backing vocals.

The lyrics have an early 70s, Carlos Castaneda (The Teachings of Don Juan) inspired, mystical vibe.

They say there’s a place down in Mexico
Where a man can fly over mountains and hills
And he don’t need an airplane or some kind of engine
And he never will

According to Mojo (Jan 2013), “Welch apparently wrote this eerie electric blues after dreaming that a UFO piloted by a Navajo shaman had landed on the tennis court in Fleetwood Mac’s communal country pile.”

Sadly, Welch died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in his suburban Nashville home in 2012. But he left us a strong legacy of music in his work with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist, especially the album French Kiss (1977).

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Black Magic Woman, Fleetwood Mac & Gypsy Queen, Gabor Szabo

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

Santana’s most commercially successful album was probably Abraxas. Released in 1970 it contained three of the band’s best known songs – “Oye Como Va” “Hope You’re Feeling Better” and “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen.” Released in September 1970, the album reached #1 on the Billboard album charts – no doubt benefiting from the March 1970 release of the Woodstock movie where their incendiary performance of “Soul Sacrifice” was a highlight of the film.

“Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” was not an original composition. In fact, it was a combination of two covers that are today’s Songs of the Week.

“Black Magic Woman” was originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac. Not the Bob Welch (Bare Trees, Mystery to Me) version or the Buckingham/Nicks (Fleetwood Mac, Rumours) version, but the Peter Green led band.

Peter green was a blues guitar virtuoso that replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. When his stint with Mayall had run its course, he formed the original Fleetwood Mac. “Black Magic Woman” was the first single from their 1968 debut.

“Gypsy Queen” was originally recorded by Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo.

The Santana version follows the Szabo template very closely and signaled that Santana would soon be led into a more jazz influenced direction later in his career. Santana’s style is a bit “heavier” and more Latin influenced, but the guitar riffs are near identical.

Although I almost always favor the version of a song that I heard (and loved) first, it’s always interesting to hear the originals. Don’t you think?

Enjoy… until next week.