Fleetwood Mac

The Vaudeville Years of Fleetwood Mac: 1968 to 1970

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Two long CDs' worth of outtakes, alternate versions, and full-length versions from the Peter Green era, most in exemplary sound quality. Although much of this is interesting, and it's occasionally very good, it resembles Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Live at the BBC in its unevenness, both in aesthetic quality and in stylistic tone. One is struck by how much the numbers featuring Green's singing and songwriting surpass those in which the other guitarists come to the fore. When Jeremy Spencer's in charge, it means you get 1950s rock pastiches and blues satires (though he does an OK Elmore James schtick with "Talk to Me Baby" and "My Baby Is Sweeter"). These aren't without their amusing points -- there's the entire session of songs that would have made a bonus EP with Then Play On, on which Spencer does fairly humorous impressions of Alexis Korner and John Mayall -- but deathless art it's not. Green shines on a live version of "Oh Well" (everything else here, incidentally, is from the studio) and alternates of "Showbiz Blues" and "Love that Burns." There are also alternates of "Man of the World" and "The Green Manalishi," though frankly these aren't so different from the familiar renditions that they'll jar you into taking notice. Some of the cuts are nothing more than shapeless jams or instrumental tracks with ideas that sometimes got pumped up into full tunes on official albums. So it's kind of like having a high-quality, easily available bootleg of the Green-era Mac, accent on the Then Play On era. But those who like that period of Fleetwood Mac a lot will want to hear this, its luster enhanced by a 48-page booklet with an essay by Green biographer Martin Celmins.

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