Let’s get one thing on the level. I have a deep, deep obsession with blues music. I don’t know why and I don’t know how. But it’s there. Maybe I’m a depressive (this just in: I’m definitely a depressive), but there is something about the twang of the blues that gets at something deep in me. I’m no expert, but I would say I’m an enthusiast. I’ve covered the basics. Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Son House, B.B. King, and Howlin’ Wolf etc. in the true blues and Clapton, The Rolling Stones, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, etc. for the British blues. I don’t know much or everything, but I appreciate the depth of soul from the blues. To actually play the genre you need to feel it. Blues musicians have feeling in every note of their music.
And I’ll admit that I sometimes walk around pointing out the lack of feeling in the overproduced bubblegum bullshit pop music that churns itself into number one hits over and over and over… But I am also not ashamed to admit when I am big-time wrong. Case in point: Justin Bieber’s album Purpose* (2015) was one of the best pop records produced. Period. You can try to fight me on that, but I’m not going to listen to your argument. I made fun of that record for, at least, three weeks. I then commenced eating my words like I hit the $10 buffet.
More to the point: I had no idea there were two incarnations of Fleetwood Mac and, more importantly, I did not know that the first incarnation is some of the coolest blues music you could compile. There are some days where you need to face your idiocy. So, here I am.
If you’re a fool like me, here’s what you need to know. The two incarnations of Fleetwood Mac differ on one key aspect: Peter Green. Now, Peter Green is one of the most influential and interesting blues guitarists to come out of the 60s and 70s. Driven by his songwriting and guitar playing, the first four Fleetwood Mac records are a straight blues cruise to the other side, man.
The problem comes in the 70s. Peter Green ditches the band and Fleetwood Mac continues to evolve out into an entirely new type of rock music. If you’re like me, you know Fleetwood Mac primarily because of Rumours (1977). I think we all know Rumours. It’s a record of radio hits and its a good record. But it’s not the hard-line driving blues of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, etc.
So, in conclusion. I’ve operated under the assumption that I know something about the blues and never knew about Peter Green until last week. And here I am eating humble pie and begging you to throw on the first four Fleetwood Mac albums. Just do it. Fleetwood Mac (1968) is all covers and I stand by the idea that you can judge a blues band by how they handle covers (If you don’t believe me, listen to Blue and Lonesome (2016) by The Rolling Stones. They’ve got as much soul in this album as their first record). Every other album is Peter Green’s masterclass in blues guitar.
Here’s the list:
- Fleetwood Mac (1968)
- Mr. Wonderful (1968)
- Then Play On (1969)
- Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (1969)
Well, the lesson for today is never forget that you’ve always got something to learn. That counts double for the things that you love. I learn something new about my partner almost every day and it makes our relationship better. And more blues music is never going to stifle my flame.
* I operate under the hardline belief that Purpose is actually an album where Bieber is making up for being a pretty shitty person. “Sorry,” one of the biggest hits, I take to be an apology to his audience. He says, “Is it too late now to say sorry? / Yeah I know that I let you down / Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?” No. No. It’s not too late, because I’m loving this fucking album. And, yes, I tell these things to myself to justify falling in love with the record, but that doesn’t mean that my theories aren’t true.